Solar Egas Moniz

Penafiel, Porto, Douro & Minho, Portugal Book from Book from £83 per night

A charming, family-run guesthouse in a historic country town, 30 minutes from Porto
If you’re after Portuguese authenticity, combined with warmth and charm, head for this delightful guesthouse. Solar Egas Moniz is the sort of place where you find yourself escorted on a hike in the hills one day, and chatting by the fire over a glass of vinho verde another. It is a family-run affair, hosted by Iva and her bright young team. The breakfasts are delicious, the housekeeping is meticulous, and the house, named after the tutor of the first king of Portugal - a typically quirky touch - stands on the outskirts of Penafiel. You have the town on one side, the valley below, and the river Sousa flowing into the Douro a few miles down.

Catch the train to Porto for day trips, or set off for the beautiful Parque Natural do Alvao. Less well-known than the Park Natural Peneda-Geres, it stands 260m above sea level with incredible views and bird watching. If you like history, follow the ‘Romanesque Route’ – 8km by bike; the Paco da Sousa Church and the Igreja de São Gens are highlights. Return to ‘petiscos’ (tapas) in the garden, wine tastings in the cellar, and lazy swims in the pool. The 10 bedrooms are light, airy and serene, touched with whimsical art and personal detail. We're yet to visit in person but those who have say it's very special.

Highs

    • Homely touches combined with every imaginable comfort, including a lovely pool and bikes to borrow
    • A tranquil setting among vines and fruit trees, and a perfect base for exploring northern Portugal's natural parks and history, including the Paiva Walkways
    • Great value and kids under 12 stay for free
    • Wonderful breakfasts, and authentic dinners
    • Just 30 minutes from Porto city and its airport

Lows

  • Dinners only available seasonally, with 72 hours' notice. The nearest good restaurant is 7km away but you can taxi there easily
  • No great views: the area is a suburb of Penafiel
  • The house overlooks a dairy farm with occasional associated smells
  • Some noise in the garden from the motorway
  • Breakfast doesn't officially start til 9.30am

Best time to go

Springs are glorious, when the vines and the valleys burst with green. Summers can be extremely hot and autumns are stunning. September is wine harvest time - take a trip to the vineyards and tread the grapes.

Our top tips

The nearest excellent restaurant, for lunch or dinner, is Wine Bar Casa da Viuva in the medieval hamlet of Quintandona (7km) – authentic, atmospheric, and an easy drive. Take a taxi - it's not easy to find!

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 10
  • Breakfast + picnics and dinners on request
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 15 December - 15 March
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Historical Double

Rooms

Rooms are immaculate, with upholstered bedheads, contemporary bathrooms and gleaming wood floors. In the old house, there are grand Superior Doubles, with exposed stone walls, 2 Family Rooms, and a Junior Suite, once the library, with a sitting area and a small veranda.

The folk-art style Doubles are set in a modern one-storey wing. Note TVs throughout are small, with Portuguese channels only.

Features include:

  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is worth waking up for. They prepare an elegant platter of fresh fruits for each guest, and you choose from a buffet of juices, cereals, cheeses, homemade cakes and the much-loved pastel de nata. Eggs are done any way you like them (with bacon a further option).

Picnic baskets are available for lunch, or you can order port and local cheeses to have in the garden, or sparkling wine with strawberries and homemade biscuits. Don't miss the opportunity to do a tasting of local wines during your stay, accompanied by ‘petiscos’ (meats, olives, cheeses, ‘caldo verde’ and local vegetables). On-request dinners, according to those who’ve stayed, are delicious: roast chicken with baked potato, cod with a chickpea and egg salad, that sort of thing. (Available seasonally, with 72 hours' notice). The nearest good place to eat otherwise is 7km away.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Go walking in the pristine Parque Natural do Alvao, home to one of Europe's largest waterfalls and crystal-clear wild swimming holes. Keep your eyes peeled for peregrine falcons and golden eagles
  • The spectacular Paiva Walkways is an 8km adventure along wooden paths over the Paiva River and its river beaches
  • Set off by bike for the Quinta da Aveleda: gorgeous gardens dotted with swans, goats and hens, and bookable wine tours
  • Or pedal along Penafiel's Romanesque Route (8km long) to admire historical architecture; the Paco da Sousa Church and the Igreja de São Gens are highlights
  • Relax in the thermal baths of nearby São Vicente
  • Take the train to Porto (34km). Explore the steep cobbled Ribeira, starting with the Romanesque cathedral; Lello, one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops; and Casa da Música, the city's boldest icon, with an eclectic programme of music and a cool café. For traditonal bacalao (traditional cod dishes) in a modern setting, head for Traça; for francesinha (the king of sandwiches!), Bufete Fase is where the locals go
  • Take the EN222 to Pinhão (one of the most beautiful roads in the world) and chug down the Duoro river on a traditional rabelo wooden boat, Instagramming tumbling vineyards on the way
  • You’re 5 minutes from the motorway for day trips to historic Coimbra (150km), pretty Aveiro, with its colourful houses and canals (96km), medieval Braga (71km) and Guimaraes, a Unesco site (52km)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome and stay for free up to the age of 12; the hotel considers itself to be "very family friendly." Toys and games are available, and there's a pool and play area. Babysitting on request.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

There are 2 Family Rooms, each a good size, with a sofabed that sleeps 2 children under 12. The Junior Suite can fit a baby cot or rollaway bed. 13+ year olds will need their own room.

Baby equipment:

Baby cot, toys and games.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities nearby:

Children under 10 will be delighted by Magikland, a small theme park on the outskirts of Penafiel.

Families Should Know:

The pool is unfenced.

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 mins' drive (Oporto)
  • Shops: 5 mins' drive
Kid Friendly:

Location

Solgar Egas Moniz is on the edge of the small town of Penafiel in northern Portugal, a 30-minute drive from Porto (Oporto).

By Air:
Fly into Porto's Francisco Sá Carneiro airport, a 30-minute drive. From here we'd recommend hiring a car, although you could take a taxi or book a transfer with the hotel.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.com.

Airports:

  • Porto (Oporto) 35.0 km OPO

Other:

  • Beach 35.0 km
  • Shops 2.0 km
  • Restaurant 2.0 km

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