Only 7 kilometres from Porto, Gondomar is a lovely town that also has a lot to offer visitors. It runs right along the bank of the river Douro and as such has some beautiful riverside beaches.
Gondomar also has a fantastic industrial history and is also well-known for its gold production!
Here are our top 10 highlights of Gondomar:
Quinta de Villar d’Allen
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, a lot of the wealthy people within Porto would look to the outskirts of the city to build second homes.
Sadly, most of these were then left to ruin. However, this is an example of one that has been amazingly well maintained.
There are over 5 hectares of beautiful gardens here, demonstrating a romantic English style, with stream, ponds and even a waterfall! These were the first romantic gardens to ever be designed in Portugal. There is one section that has over 600 camellias! The Baroque architect Nicolau Nasoni – whose work can be seen all around the Porto region in the Clerigos church and tower, the cathedral, Freixo palace, to name just a few – was the mastermind behind the sculptures and fountains that you see in the gardens.
The home itself has belonged to the Allen family since 1839 when English businessman John Allen was able to buy it at a public auction. The house is also styled in a romantic fashion. The main living room features interesting examples of mythological figures, while the “Stue Room” is a big rectangular room, the niches within which, are filled with figures which represent each of the four seasons. The house has been recognised as a Building of Public Interest since 2010.
The Allen family themselves offer tours of the house and gardens, which also include port tasting. The home and gardens are open Monday to Saturday between 10 am and 5 pm.
The tour costs 16 euro per person and lasts approx 120 minutes. Advanced booking is mandatory, so they know in advance of numbers. To book or for answers to any questions you may have regarding the tour or the house and gardens etc, you can email:
Igreja Matriz de Gondomar
A 17th-century Baroque style granite and whitewash facade church with a bell tower. It has beautiful examples of gilded woodwork and the statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary at the altar are definitely worth seeing.
This church rather unusually has two saints, rather than one – the twin saints Cosme and Damião. The saints’ images can be seen in the granite statues of them displayed on the front facade of the church.
You can visit the church any day of the week from 9 am to 7 pm, with completely free entry. It’s a great option to get out of the sun for a bit, or if you love the architectural and religious history of Portugal.
Museu Mineiro de São Pedro da Cova
This museum was created in 1989 to demonstrate the mining history of the São Pedro da Cova parish. It is in one of the old Casa da Malta houses that were originally built as accommodation for the miners who used to travel from all over to work there!
A visit to this museum will present you with examples of the different tools miners would have used in the breaking down, treating and shipping of the coal. As well as this, there are also examples of what the daily lives of the mining families would have been like, with examples of clothing and other everyday objects they would have used.
The museum is closed Sundays and Mondays. It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 12:30 pm, then from 2 pm to 5:30 pm. It is completely free to enter and provides an interesting insight into this aspect of Gondomar’s industrial history.
Praia Fluvial de Zebreiros
The banks of the River Douro extend for 37.5 kilometres throughout Gondomar and this is definitely one of the most popular beaches on these banks.
This beach has a car park right at the start of it as well as a nice beach bar. It also has good facilities such as bathrooms and showers, a first aid station as well as an access ramp for anyone who has mobility issues.
It is a beautiful stretch of sandy beach with crystal clear water for bathing, during the summer (June to September) there are also lifeguards present on the beach.
Visit the Douro Valley
The Douro Valley in Portugal is the third oldest protected wine region in the world and from Gondomar, you really don’t have far to travel to visit this amazing valley!
It is situated on the hillside running alongside the Douro river, with vineyards as far as the eye can see. The grapes in the vineyards have been producing Portugal’s famous port for centuries and also produce a variety of wines.
There are many wineries, hotels and restaurants throughout the valley, where you can sit down to incredible tapas lunches. Many have stunning views throughout the valley and over the river below. The people running these establishments have become experts at being able to pair wine with your meals. Many of the wineries also offer tours, where you can see their underground cellars, with bottles of wine stacked high!
If you visit in September or October, they will be harvesting the grapes and you can have the opportunity to take your own little basket and help with filling it up. You may also be able to have a go at treading some grapes!
Explore the Douro River
Given Gondomars location on the banks of the River Douro, it makes it a fantastic location from which to enjoy some water-based activities.
There are a variety of rental services available, situated all along the banks of the river, from jet skis, sailing, canoeing, and rowing!
There are also several little companies that provide the option of being able to rent out a little boat, without having to have a sailing license. It’s a nice option for those not as keen on the high adrenaline options such as the jet skis. You can take the boat out, sail at your own pace, enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the river while taking in some amazing sights.
Rota da Filigrana
Gondomar is famous for its goldsmithing and is commonly referred to as the “Capital of Goldsmithing”. Filigree is a type of intricate metalwork involving tiny metal threads and sometimes beads being soldered onto the surface of another piece of metal to create, intricate, artistic designs.
The Filigree Route in Gondomar provides you with a tour of workshops where you can see this process being carried out as well as also learn about the history of the art and how artists today use this ancient technique to create contemporary pieces of metalwork and jewellery. You also then have the option to purchase any pieces that may catch your eye – directly from the artist themselves and at a much better price than you’d find elsewhere!
The workshop visits are completely free! They do need to be booked in advance (with at least 3 business days notice), this can be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
There you have it, some of our highlights of Gondomar. There’s something for everyone, whether you like architecture, wine tasting, learning about industrial history or perhaps purchasing some lovely gold jewellery.
Perhaps Gondomar was somewhere you were already considering, perhaps it wasn’t somewhere you knew a lot about, either way, we hope this list has given you some incredible ideas about what spending some time in Gondomar could be like!
If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about Douro Valley Wine tour from Porto