Last Updated on 2023-09-16
The search for Nature Tourism seems to be a trend that is here to stay.
From North to South of Portugal, the offer of ecotourism and nature tourism is growing and, without a doubt, being better.
We had the opportunity to experience various activities in Melgaço that combine sport and nature in a stunning setting.
Walking trails as a family is something we’re used to, but canyoning and rafting was a first.
And if you think that by traveling as a family, nature tourism activities are not possible, then when you read this article, you will change your mind.
Although we travel as a family with our children, it was a lot of fun to try out extreme activities, and I must confess that I never thought I would enjoy it so much!
So, join us on this daring journey through Melgaço in the North of Portugal and take notes to plan your next getaway.
In fact, throughout the article, you will find links to the pages of this initiative’s partners so you can plan your adventure itinerary in Melgaço.
Nature tourism in Melgaço: Zero Footprint (Pegada Zero) program
The VI Nature Tourism Journeys took place between the 2nd and the 8th of June 2021 in Melgaço, but we only participated on the 3rd and 4th of June.
Thus, the first day was dedicated to Canyoning and the Castro Laboreiro Interpretative Trail, while on the second day we went rafting, visiting Termas do Peso, Queijaria Prados de Melgaço and the Adega da Quinta do Regueiro.
Nature Tourism Activities in Melgaço
Canyoning in Melgaço
The first radical activity in Melgaço was to do the canyoning. For those who don’t know, canyoning is a sport that consists of progressively exploring a river, using specific techniques and adequate equipment.
As safety comes first, we put the equipment like diving suits, boots, and helmets. Afterward, we did a little training to get to know the equipment and how to use it.
Then we went to the Laboreiro river, and the adventure began! The first impact into the water took a little while as the water was cold, but in a short time, that feeling disappeared.
Hélder and Filipe, the two guides, accompanied us at all times and helped us to identify the best places to cross the rocks, to swim, and where to jump.
The group had some more adventurous members and some more cautious (like us), but in the end, everyone had fun.
I never thought I would like canyoning so much, and here at home, everyone said the same! Our children loved the experience the youngest, only nine years old, managed to do the route with some help from the guides, of course. So, if you are traveling here as a family, we leave the challenge to take the kids to discover the Melgaço destination.
We did Canyoning in Melgaço with Montes de Laboreiro – Canyoning Center de Varziela, and we recommend it. Montes de Laboreiro has several nature tourism activities such as tree climbing, rappelling, slide, paddle, hiking, so there are plenty of options!
Contacts: 251 466 041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Castro Laboreiro Interpretive Trail
To enjoy the landscape, nothing better than taking a nature trail with someone who knows all the region.
Our host on the Castro Laboreiro Interpretive Trail was Sónia Nogueira, Ph.D. in Tourism Marketing and responsible for Just Natur Experiences & Events in Nature.
Always with the theme of ecotourism, ecological tourism, and tourist activities without altering or damaging the environment, we traveled a few kilometers of pristine nature.
We learned very compelling stories about plants and how they were used in the past, for example, to treat diseases.
We identified in the distance the Castle of Castro Laboreiro and heard how a thunderstorm almost destroyed it in the 17th century.
It’s a pleasure to go for a walk with someone who has so many stories to tell.
To end the tour with a sweet touch, they prepared a snack with particular products: biscuits with acorn flour, marmalade with nettle cheese, carqueja tea (a local herb), backyard loquats, and other sweets prepared with care.
Contacts: 967 200 344 or email@example.com.
Rafting on the Minho River
Another first for us was Rafting on the Rio Minho. It’s not just a boat descent on the River Lima. It’s a team effort in which it’s necessary to listen to the instructions of those who are going to the helm and handle the paddle properly.
The route started at the village of Cevide, next to the Frieira hydraulic power station on the Spanish border. We had some explanations of the practice on land, and then all of us took their place on the boat.
Our youngest son, being the smallest of the group, traveled in the center of the boat.
It takes some strength at times, but the feeling of getting into the fasts is surprising! I’ll tell you one thing: feel the adrenaline rising, see the rapids getting closer and closer, paddling fast to the guide’s voice, jumping into the boat when you enter the rapids, and holding on tight to not to fall overboard is stunning!
We still had time to take a break and dive in the Rio Minho, which was a great way to finish the activity.
Our contact is Mr. Almeida da Melgaço Radical if you want to raft on the Minho River (967 006 347 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
What to do in Melgaço (in addition to Nature Tourism)
In addition to activities more linked to nature tourism, the offer in Melgaço is quite comprehensive and includes, for example, thermal, gastronomic, and wine tourism.
So, after so much adrenaline, what do you think about unwinding at Termas do Peso? In addition to thermal treatments, the Termas do Peso Spa has a heated pool and several relaxing massages if you want to enjoy it.
In addition, the spa building is beautiful, with glazed walls and wrought iron, and inside, you can enjoy tasting the spring water.
Maybe you don’t know it, but there is a cheese factory in Melgaço. Prados de Melgaço is a family-run dairy that produces delicious goat cheese.
In fact, before the cheese tasting, we went to see the animals and where milking takes place, and it was a very appealing experience.
We tasted three types of cheese: fresh cheese, the mildest, long-cure cheese, which has a strong flavor, and cheese with Alvarinho and Pepper. The boys liked the first one, but I must say that I prefer strong cheeses, so my favorite was Alvarinho and Pimentão.
To finish our tour in Melgaço in a big way, we still had time to visit the Adega Quinta do Regueiro!
We had already heard about Quinta do Regueiro that produces award-winning wines, so the expectations for visiting the winery were high.
The tasting included several wines, but our favorites were the Regueiro Primitivo and the Regueiro Alvarinho Reserva 2020.
Restaurants and where to eat in Melgaço
We had the opportunity to return to some of our favorite places in Melgaço (Restaurante Miradouro do Castelo and Quinta de Folga), as well as try new restaurants.
The Miradouro do Castelo restaurant
We got to know the Miradouro do Castelo restaurant for a few years, and since then, it has become a reference for us. The latest works made the restaurant even more beautiful because the food is still delicious.
To start on the table was the chorizo, cheese with honey, sausage, and ham, followed by a generous portion of cod with cornbread, washed down with good olive oil. It accompanied a Torre de Menagem (Alvarinho / Trajadura) whose freshness has matched the rich cod dish.
The Quinta de Folga
Quinta de Folga is another of our favorite places in Melgaço. To get to the farm, you have to walk through the vineyards, and when you arrive, everything is green all around.
The friendly Carolina is still charming, and we love to hear her talk about wine and vineyards with a Castilian accent.
As usual, the dinner served at Quinta de Folga was inspired by the products of the farm and made by the ladies at home: sausages with their brand, pork bisaro, homemade bread, vegetables from the garden, and other delicacies that are as authentic as they are delicious.
To accompany the generous meal, we had the infusions of the house and the famous wines. At the end of the meal, a table with sweets was our undoing, from which we highlight the vermicelli, drunken pears, and some juicy cherries.
We tasted several Soalheiro wines, but our favorite is still the Soalheiro Granit.
O Adérito Restaurant
The novelty in terms of restaurants in Melgaço this time was the Restaurante O Adérito, whose lunch had the particularity of being served in the beautiful building of Termas do Peso.
The starters were delicious, and the duck rice stayed in my memory. Our children are still talking about the chocolate cake they ate (and repeated) in Melgaço, so the Restaurante O Adérito is approved by our family!
Accommodation in Melgaço
To participate in the proposed activities, we recommend that you stay at least two days in the region, so below, you can find some suggestions on where to stay in Melgaço.
We stayed at Hotel Castrum Villae in Castro Laboreiro and Hotel Boavista I in Melgaço, but, as the activities occupied us most of the days, we didn’t have the opportunity to explore the accommodations.
They are simple hotels, but if you prefer accommodation with a little more comfort, we suggest the Hotel Monte Prado.
In any case, there are several types of accommodation in Melgaço, including hotels, holiday homes, rural tourism, and local homes, so it is best to choose the one that best suits your tastes.
Final tips, to enjoy Nature Tourism in Melgaço
We think it is relevant to end the article on the Zero Footprint initiative and the VI Nature Tourism Days with a note on the influence we as tourists have on nature and the environment.
The days we spent in Melgaço were excellent, and we will return, however, so that everyone can enjoy clean rivers and paths without rubbish, everyone must do their part.
That’s why, as the saying goes, he only takes pictures and leaves only footprints in nature.
*Passaporte No Bolso participated in the VI Nature Tourism Conference at the invitation of the Municipality of Melgaço.
We are a Portuguese Family traveling around the world and sharing our journey and experiences at passaportenobolso.com. Here you can find plenty of family budget travel tips as well as practical information about numerous destinations in Europe, Africa, Asia and America. We have visited 30+ countries and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Follow our adventures on YouTube / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter / Facebook.