Chaves Travel Guide | Wandering Portugal

Chaves is a spa town in the extreme north of Portugal, near the border with Spain.

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Chaves is a provincial town in the north of Portugal (Norte Region) on the River Tâmega, 10km from Portugal’s northern border with Spain. Chaves is located in the district of Vila Real, in a historic territory called Tras-os-Montes. Braga and Porto are each two hours away by car. Chaves makes a nice stop coming from either of these tourist centers in Portugal.

Chaves has a population of about 45,000 people. Tras-os-Montes is one of the poorest areas in Portugal, and outside the town you’ll see many villages connected together with very poor roads, where subsistence agriculture is practiced. Although illiteracy is high, we found many people in rural villages who could speak a variety of languages, and were friendly to us when we inquired about road conditions and directions.

Spas in Chaves

Chaves has several spas and spa hotels. Spas in Chaves are different from those in, say, Baden-Baden in Germany. Besides being hotter (73 ºC – 163 ºF), the waters here are taken for their curative properties. To get a spa treatment, you can arrange with your hotel a preliminary doctor’s visit, who will recommend a treatment specifically for you. Popular treatments include stomach, liver, intestinal, and kidney ailments. In summer, the Pensões and smaller hotels are full of older people taking treatment in the spas.

Chaves: Where to Stay

Largely because of the spas here, there are many options for lodging in Chaves. Four-star luxury is inexpensive compared to other countries of Europe. We found the Albergaria Jaime, just below the walls of the old castle, a fine choice for lodging—air conditioning, balconies overlooking the castle (even in the bathroom) and a great breakfast can be had.

Explore the map of Chaves and vicinity to see more options on staying in Chaves

Some Food Specialties in Chaves

Presunto de Chaves is the celebrated, smoked country ham from the area around Chaves. You can eat it with the local rye bread. Smoked sausages are also popular.

Pastel de Chaves is a flaky pastry that can be filled with meat or chocolate. How important it is to Chaves is described eloquently in The Portugalist, Pastel de Chaves: Unveiling the Pastry That Captured Hearts Across Portugal & Beyond.

Chaves Attractions

Besides the spa scene mentioned above, here are some of the things you can visit in Chaves:

The Roman Bridge – Built around 100 AD, the bridge has continued to carry heavy auto and truck traffic (only recently have large trucks been banned on the bridge). While it has been modified and restored over the years, two of the columns built by the Emperor Trajan still stand.

The Medieval Quarter – Near the Roman bridge, the medieval quarter is an evocative place, and the architecture is protected by law.

The Regional Museum – Museu da Região Flaviense – Worth a visit if you develop an interest in the region and its history. A smattering of everything is found in Chaves’ most important building—from Roman artifacts (and some prehistoric ones) to modern local art.

The Chaves Castle – The castle, now reduced to a tall tower housing a military museum by folks scavenging for housing materials, is worth a walk around the gardens that surround it.

The Fort – On the hills just outside Chaves, a 17th century fort stands in a reasonable state of preservation. Built to defend the territory in the war of Independence from Spain, you can, in fact, stay inside the fort by reserving a room in Chaves’ most expensive hotel, Forte de São Francisco, which comes at a very reasonable price for a design hotel.

Enjoy planning your trip to the northern Portugal spa town of Chaves

More Places to Explore in the Norte Region of Portugal

Ponte de Lima Travel Guide

Guimarães Travel Guide

Norte Region Map

Vinho dos Mortos: Wine of the Dead and Chaves

Bom Jesus Sanctuary

Miranda do Douro Travel Guide

Categories Norte, Cities

Chaves Travel Guide originally appeared on , updated: Feb 16, 2024 © .