The village of Sistelo, in Arcos de Valdevez, is one of Portugal’s natural paradises. And it is there that you will find walkways in stunning landscapes.
Famous for its terraced landscapes, the Sistelo village does not look like a real place, rather a postcard created by an artist called Natureza, by the appetizing gangwaythe typical granite houses, the eye-catching granaries and the public washhouses, which bear witness to people and stories.
Located in the municipality of Arcos de Valdevez, in the heart of Peneda-Gerês National Parknext to the source of the river Vez, this village is very well preserved, which makes it one of the most incredible places in the country.
It is the ideal destination for a few days of rest in the open air, to reconnect with your inner self, at the same time that you can enjoy Nature in its pure state and, in some places, untouched or slightly modified, without that its essence was adulterated. For this, the walkways are the ideal place.
Sistelo: walkways you should discover
At a time when walkways are becoming more and more sought after because they allow direct contact with nature, while also combining physical exercise, the Sistelo Walkway is one of the places to visit.
Whether for hikers or mountain bikers, Passadiço do Sistelo is part of the Ecovia do Vez and passes through the village of the same name, which is part of the World Biosphere Reserve and is a candidate for UNESCO world heritage.
In total, the route is about ten kilometers and starts from the Medieval Bridge of Vilela and ends in the village of Sistelo. If you walk leisurely and want to enjoy the surrounding landscape and take some pictures for posterity – who never? – you can complete the route in three hours. You should always carry water and, why not, a small picnic lunch. And, in hot weather, also take your bathing suit, as there will be no shortage of places to cool off.
The Sistelo Walkway is absurdly paradisiacal and there are several monuments along the way, which will allow you to understand the beauty of this place. Not only for the blessings given to us by Nature, such as the green that surrounds us, the small waterfalls, the terraces in the mountains, the animals that roam freely and the kindness and simplicity of the people who live there.
And after the walk, you have to recover your energies and, for that, in Aldeia de Sistelo there is no lack of small and traditional taverns with regional products and real snacks that will satisfy the most voracious appetites and souls.
Aldeia do Sistelo or “Portuguese Tibet”?
The answer is both, because the village of Sistelo, in Arcos de Valdevez, is known as “the little Portuguese Tibet”. This comparison is due to the existence of terraces created by man as a need to increase the agricultural area in the region, thus circumventing the slopes and irregularities of the land.
The visual similarity with Tibet is evident and even though rice is not cultivated there, as in the Asian country, the focus is on the cultivation of maize, as well as taking advantage of the terraces for cattle pasture. All of this is fundamental for the survival of the local rural community.
Points of interest in the region
Although the walkways are the most attractive point of Aldeia de Sistelo, it is not the only one. And after getting to know the region, you will realize that great trips and the most special moments are not limited to those spent in large cities and international destinations.
Portugal is full of special corners, almost unbelievably beautiful and that could be the destination you are looking for so much and still haven’t found. This is so true that the village of Sistelo was elected, in 2017, one of the “7 Wonders of Portugal”, after having won in the Rural Village category.
Sistelo Castle is one of the good examples of the treasures scattered throughout our country. It is a building from the end of the 19th century, which was the home of the Viscount of Sistelo. It is currently a historic site that seems to emanate vibrations from every stone it passes. It stands out among the vegetation, as if wanting to show itself as a must-visit point, before strolling through the alleys of Sistelo and appreciating other points, such as:
- Branda de Sistelo Pedestrian Path;
- Portela de Alvite Picnic Park;
- Sistelo Picnic Park;
- Medieval Bridge of Sistelo;
- Sistelo Bridge;
- Hermitage of Nossa Senhora dos Aflitos;
- Sistelo River Beach;
- Estrica Chapel;
- Chapel of Padrão;
- Baroque Santo António Chapel;
- Chapel of São João Evangelista;
- Chapel of Senhora dos Remédios;
- Chapel of Senhora do Carmo;
- Mother Church of Sistelo;
- Viewpoint of Chã da Armada.
To learn a little more about the history of the region, then, know that Casa do Castelo is being transformed into an interpretive center of the cultural landscape, to guide tourists through the various corners of this idyllic place.
From Arcos de Valdevez, follow the N202-2 road for about twenty kilometers until you reach the pretty village of Sistelo. Go visit?