399km (247 miles) NE of Lisbon; 113km (70 miles) E of Porto
The capital of Trás-os-Montes is a lively little town built on a hilly plateau in the foothills of the Serra do Marão. Bridges across the ravines link some parts of town. Gorges cut by the Corgo and Cabril rivers, which flow together here, are visible from a terrace high above, where a castle once stood. The lookout is reached in a direct line from the cemetery. From this vicinity, you can also see houses overhanging the ravine of the Corgo.
You can spend a worthy 2 hours or so wandering through Vila Real's historic core and enjoy a glass of port in one of the cafes, which brim with youthful energy. The main sights and buildings of interest are along the Avenida Carvalho Araújo.
The agricultural town makes a good base for many beautiful trips into the area, including the Parque Nacional do Alvão to the northwest, with its waterfalls, flower-filled valleys, and ravines. The tourist office provides maps and suggests places to visit. To drive to the park, follow the IP-4 west for 10km (6 1/4 miles), turning onto N304 heading for Mondim de Bastro and Campeã. This stretch takes you through some of the most scenic areas of Trás-os-Montes -- once you've passed through the dreary modern suburbs of Vila Real, which are in marked contrast to the mellow historic core.