The beautiful riverside town of AMARANTE is immaculately set in a gorge of the Rio Tâmega, with the wooden balconies of its old houses leaning over the water. The town has been "discovered" in recent years by weekenders from Porto and foreign visitors, and there's a definite air of prosperity about its old-town restaurants, bars, pastelarias, boutiques and jewellery shops. It's certainly a fine place to spend the night, with a wide choice of accommodation, much of it still reasonably priced.
The A4 motorway has made Amarante an easy hour's drive from Porto, but come here by train if you can. The twelve-kilometre Tâmega branch line leaves the Douro main line at Livração and from the very start it's a scenic ride, hugging the ravine of the Rio Tâmega, with pine woods and vines clinging to steep slopes, and goats scrambling across the terrace walls to nibble at haystacks.