Vila Franca de Xira is a city in Portugal, northeast of Lisbon on River Tagus. The city is commonly associated with Portuguese bullfighting. That is the case because, according to Portugal Visitor, most bulls are reared in large farms (herdades) for the bullfights in the city. Although Vila Franca de Xira is the center of bullfighting, you would be forgiven for thinking it is the only activity that the city can offer. However, there are plenty of things you can do in this city. Without further ado, here are twenty best things to do in Vila Franca de Xira below.
20. Wine Tastings
The beauty of going for wine tastings in this city is that you will sample six wines in most restaurants. You will not just taste the wine on its own but with cheese and cured meat. Portugal has several wine regions, and each region produces wine uniquely. Therefore, sampling different wines will help you decide which wine region you like best. So, besides tasting the wine, an expert will also educate you about some of the country's wine regions.
19. Visit Adn Aquarium Design, Lda
In general, Portugal is a country rich in marine biodiversity. If you intend to install an aquarium in your place, this is the best center to visit. According to ADN Aquarium Design, you can get an aquarium with jellyfishes and seahorses, just to mention a few. Besides owning an aquarium, the company can also design lakes and indoor and outdoor waterfalls in your home. In a sense, your home will resemble a marine park. So, if you need an aquarium, you know where to go.
18. Go Sightseeing in a Tuk-tuk
Most tuk-tuk or even cab drivers do not interact with their passengers. However, it is a different case when you tour the city in a tuk-tuk. Your tuk-tuk driver is not just a driver but also a tour guide. During your tour, you will stop in the city's known locations and earliest neighborhoods. In your tour, you will also encounter some of the city's landmarks like the Monumento ao Campino, Celeiro da Patriarcal, and Monumento ao Toureiro, just to list a few.
17. Visit Restaurants That Serve Cod
If you want to try out some seafood, you should try some codfish. It is not only a popular dish in the city, but throughout Portugal. There is a reason why the country is fond of codfish. According to Portugal the Simple Life, the fish became popular once they realized how inexpensive it was to preserve it by salting around the 15th century. Besides salt being cheap, it made the fish stay for long without rotting. Since then, cod has remained popular.
16. Go for a Traditional Boat Tour
If you are not seasick, you could go boat riding in Marina Park of Nations. Your boat ride will be approximately three hours long. The journey will begin from the Tagus Estuary. As you go further down the river, you will spot avocets, herons, flamingos, and many other animals. Besides seeing some animals, you will also spot some beautiful plants your way.
15. Visit the Torres Vedras Defensive Lines
Upon your arrival at this place, you will see three forts of the Torres Vedras Defensive Lines. These forts are: the Zambujal Fort, the Alhandra Memorial Fort and the Torres Vedras Castle Fort. The forts were built to defend Portugal from attacks from Napoleon's armies in 1807. Most of the forts remain to this day; the only problem is that they are decayed. However, the Portuguese government has continued to do some renovations so that the decayed forts do not collapse.
14. Go for a Swim
You could swim in the Atlantic Ocean; however, not everyone is fond of swimming in oceans. People fear oceans because of the waves or their salinity. Sometimes, you may want to swim in a swimming pool, as is usually the case. Luckily, there are plenty of swimming centers you can visit. Also, if you are not a swimmer, you do not need to shy away from swimming. Many swimming pool centers are willing to train swimmers, so you cannot let that fear hold you back.
13. Walk on Ponte Marechal Carmona Bridge
The bridge is 1,224 meters long with a central deck of 524 meters. Initially, there was a lot of traffic on this bridge. Thankfully, the traffic issue was sorted out once the 25 de Abril Bridge was constructed. This bridge was constructed with the aim of connecting two banks of the Tagus River. The idea behind this bridge was to cross over without passing through the Capital. Vila Franca de Xira is, therefore, the main point of passage to and beyond the Tagus River.
12. Attend a Live Fado Show
For the lovers of live music, there is finally an activity you can enjoy in this city. If you are fond of traditional Fado performances, there are plenty of places that you can visit in the city. The performances normally take around fifty minutes. In a typical Fado performance, a man and a woman sing together while someone else plays a classic guitar and a Portuguese guitar. People hate attending musical shows due to the long queues. Thankfully, you will be able to beat the queues by obtaining a ticket.
11. Take a Cooking Class
Once again, you will need to tour the city on a tuk-tuk, but the difference is that you will not be sightseeing. The tuk-tuk driver will teach you about Portuguese cuisines. Additionally, you will learn about Portuguese cuisines from chefs since the tuk-tuk driver will take you to the local market. After you have learned about the dishes, the chefs will allow you to select ingredients from the market and prepare your dish. Fortunately, you can enjoy your meal with some olive oils and Portuguese wines.
10. Jog Within Certain Running Routes Within the City
Some cities do not offer you room to jog. In most instances, they are too congested, which means you will have to squeeze your way through people. Additionally, people would gawk at you since you would look out of place in a city without running routes. Thankfully, there are at least thirty running routes that you can jog without strange looks from people.
9. Visit the Municipal Library of Vila Franca de Xira
If you are a bookworm, there is also an activity for you in this city. You can visit the library, which is located on the banks of the Tagus River. Even before you get into the library, you will already associate the placement of the library with serenity. Next to the library, there is a rice processing plant. So, if you get tired from reading, you can clear your mind in the factory.
8. Walk Into Spas
If you are touring this city as a visitor, the chances are high that you will be exhausted. What better way to do that than by visiting spas? You can book a one-hour private massaging session, and you will not need to worry about your masseuse attending to other users at the same time. You will be subjected to other procedures such as hot stones, lomi-lomi, and Swedish massages in such a session. Fortunately, most spas in this city offer a variety of such massages, so any spa should be able to meet your needs.
7. Visit the Neo-Realism Museum
This museum will fascinate you if you are fond of viewing ancient artworks. You will be exposed to art pieces designed during the neo-realism era. The purpose of neo-realism was to unite several popular art movements during the 20th century. This movement spawned other movements at that time, such as Italian neo-realism. It isn't easy to summarize the art movement in this entry, but once you are in this museum, you will learn everything about the movement.
6. Embark on an E-Bike Food Tour
This tour will take place within the city's oldest neighborhoods. On this guided tour, you will ride along houses over a hundred years old and enjoy the delightful view of its cobbled streets. As with other guides, you will learn the history of the city. Finally, you will stop at a restaurant, and you will sample dishes such as roasted chorizo, codfish pastry, and custard tarts.
5. Go For Birdwatching at EVOA
EVOA is a coastal wetland with diverse habitats that can accommodate breeding and migratory birds. You will be provided with binoculars on this four-hour trip, so you do not need to carry them. Some of the birds you could spot on this site include: hoopoes, white storks, purple herons, tufted ducks, turnstones, and the list is endless.
4. Go on a Street Art-Themed Walking Tour
Graffiti remains controversial to this day. Some people view it as a form of vandalism, while others as a way of expressing their feelings. Fortunately, artists do not get criminalized for it in this city. Your tour will take place within several Vila Franca de Xira neighborhoods, and that will take roughly three hours. Since you will pay for this tour, part of the money goes into buying painting equipment. Besides admiring the paintings, you will also learn of secret street art spots.
3. Go on a Horseback Ride in the Valenca Method
The Valenca Method is a popular horse area that is only twenty minutes away from Lisbon Airport. You can choose from the three arenas to ride on in this center: "praca de toros," an indoor arena 20X40, or a covered full-sized sand and fiber arena. You do not need to be a horse expert, to do some horseback riding in this area. The institution is an academy that can train learners in horseback riding regardless of their ability to ride a horse. Most academies focus on simply riding horses, but you will learn about a horse's body language in this center. By studying its body language, you will understand whether or not it is the right time to ride on it.
2. Take Surfing Lessons
Surfing seems scary to non-surfers, so they may decide never to surf. Fortunately, many institutions can train non-surfers, so do not let your fear hold you back. Each lesson usually takes two hours, and you will decide whether you want to enroll for private or semi-private lessons. In such places, the focus is not just on learning. For instance, they offer surfboard rentals. If you are a beginner, you can hire 7' or 8' surfboards. Also, when you visit any surfing school, you do not need to worry about coming with any equipment like a surfboard or wetsuit. Your instructor will provide you with the necessary surfing gear.
1. Visit the Benfica Stadium and its Museum
As a non-soccer fan, you will probably dismiss the idea of visiting this stadium or any other soccer stadium. However, you do not need to visit this stadium to watch a soccer match. You can tour this stadium with a tour guide. This stadium is the biggest in Portugal, which explains why the entire tour of this stadium takes two hours. The stadium has a 65,000-seat capacity, and it is no wonder the site was picked for the Champions League finals in 2014 and 2020. While in this stadium, you will visit the press boxes and locker rooms and walk on the lawn. As for the museum, you will learn the history of the team and stadium and witness over 20,000 important relics.
You can do endless things in Vila Franca de Xira, so compiling a list of twenty things is just scratching the surface. At least you now know that there are other activities you can partake in besides watching bullfights. Going on trips within this city can be exciting and fun as long as you listen to your tour guide. It is not uncommon for people to get lost while exploring an unfamiliar site. Also, if you tour this city, remember to bring enough money. Some people always carry money for entrance fees but forget that they may need money to taste dishes. However, if you are an organized person, you will enjoy doing any of these twenty activities.
Written by Liz Flynn
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