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Rural life in North Portugal

Real rural holiday

Meet & greet rural life in North Portugal

Looking for your rural holiday? Portugal is often referred to as authentic, going back in time. And it is, depending on where you go and who you’ll meet. As we ourselves love to learn more about ‘the old ways’ , rural wisdom, traditions and habits, and are in the midst of such authentic villages and lifestyles,  we invite you to do the same.  Get to know this world, on your own or on one of our field trips, hikes, activities or even workshops. Even when you don’t speak a single word of Portuguese, it’s easy to make contact and even be invited to one’s home. Just show interest, be kind, and accept any invitation.

This area

This area used to be big on live stock farming, with stone bordered pastures where numerous families labored the land to feed themselves and their live stock.  Going back in history, it also was the land of the celtics, the romans and even the barbarians had a go at it. Nowadays, many medevial mountain villages have few inhabitants, still strong on extensive farming. Allthough the ox has been replaced by a tractor, time still seems to have stood still. Sheperds continue to accompany their small flocks of sheep, goats or cows on foot, and the ladies of age still do their hand wash at the communal washing place.

do some farming
meet & greet
 field trips
 workshops

rural holiday in Portugal

authentic;  pure and simple

Volta a terra

This documentary movie from Joao Pedro Placido shows the four seasons in the tiny village of Uz, at 10 kilometers from Quinta Rural. We love Uz and the ‘Uzenses’ because even though it is one of the communities decimated by emigration, their spirit is neither resigned nor depressed. Their lives might seem suspended in the time cycle of farming and animal husbandry. Kind, hard working, sober people with lots of knowledge on the old ways.

The docu-movie introduces us to young Daniel and his everyday life and the villagers preparation of the local festival.  On a fine line between reality and narration João Pedro Plácido accompanies the viewer on a journey to Uz, suspended in time, and its unexpected passions.

Field trip to Uz

 

Get to know the sympathetic village of Uz and its lifestyle, featured in the docu-film Volta a Terra. Young Helder takes you out on a strawl, following the tracks of the goats and their shepherd.  Up and down the mountain, passing old granite watermills.

Hiking in pure mountain air will surely wake your appetite, so we’ve got kind Luisa to cook for you. She’s a star in making traditional meals from scratch, sometimes using no more than a little fire on the foor and an old pot. Make sure to taste her homemade biological marmelade, liquors, raw honey, and cakes.

After this late lunch, make sure to stick around in the village for a bit to see the habitants return from the mountains or the pastures with their herd of cows, goats or sheep.

This day trip to Uz will surely get you thinking. Life’s harsh and complicated. And simple and good at the same time.

Weekly in July & August
Rest of the year on demand
Minimum participants 8

We like to renew our offer of rural activities from time to time. And have to, as your ‘guides’ often have to combine it with their other (more regular) sources of income and are not always available.
Our Uz field trip is, we are happy to say, a steady regular.  All other excursions, hikes or field trips are announced at the reception.

harsh mountain life

North Portugal’s mountain ranges shelter isolated, picturesque and intriguing villages. Most of North Portugal was quite remote untill the sealed roads of the late 20th century.  Built on the mountainous slopes, these villages must always have been considerably more difficult to access. Away from any major rivers and several kilometers from any of the larger, more established towns.

To this very day, living conditions in these remote villages  might seem somewhat medieval. Some houses have already been restored and renovated by Portuguese, emigrants and foreigners thus having the luxury of telephones and electricity. In the untouched houses however, you  can easily see that without insulation summer and winter wouldn’t be too comfortable. And don’t forget the winters used to be a lot colder, with heavy snowfall.
The steep terrain also leaves them no other option that herding livestock and farming the land: hard tough work. It’s gorgeous, authentic and rustic, but the truth is there are easier places to live. Even with modern amenities.

rural holiday in North Portugal

crumbling farm buildings & abandoned villages

Most rural villages in the remote areas of Portugal have seen their population go down with at least 75% over the past few decades. All due to lack of infrastructure and opportunities, causing mass emigration to wealthier countries such as Switzerland, France and England. The ones staying can count on high unemployment and poorly-paid local jobs.  Add falling birth rates to this all and you can easily understand why many rural villages are near ghost towns. As population has gone down, medical outposts and schools have been shut down, shops and bars had to close, causing a vicious circle of ever greater abandonment.

interesting articles

about European urban migration 

rural holiday as part of the solution

responsible tourism

Tourism seems to be one of the life savers for the rural area. More and more emigrants and foreigners as ourselves move here to start a small scale accommodation, looking for peace & quiet. If ‘done right’, this can bring opportunities for others in the community as well.

Quinta Rural = fair trade rural holiday :

  • partnering with passionate local guides, farmers, restaurants, and (un-)’ordinary people for fun activities, meet&greets, workshops, hikes, wining & dining. Extra income for them and an unforgettable experience for you.
  • no commissions, we hate working on commission! Why should an expert guide pay us 10% of his earn, just because we refer guests? Our motto is: a good activity = happy guest = good holiday = we happy.
  • fresh local ingredients from local shops and market places (we advise you to do the same when shopping, instead of going to the international supermarket)
  • sell of local products such as biological vinho verde wine,olive oil, herbal tea, raw honey, marmalade, sausages, liquors, cheese, pottery, hand made souvenirs, baskets etc.
  • fair trade prices. Mountainous areas only allows extensive farming. Lot of work, little harvest. Farmers can only survive by selling these local grown products at a normal price. That, plus the EU-funding (without it, they wouldn’t).

Spend your rural holiday with us

Check out our lodging accommodations and camping / glamping possibilities and see which one best suits your needs.
Spend your holiday in Portugal in this pristine & rugged rural paradise, up on the mountain.

Eco-Lodge

A cozy and unique hand-built  straw-bale cabin

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Log Cabins

All year comfy lodges for true nature lovers

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Farmers Tents

A summertime back to basic glamping experience

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Camping Pitches

Mountain views, starry nights and lots of space

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