The Best of Both Worlds: Living in Portugal Near the Spanish Border

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Last updated on June 4, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the rich cultures of both Portugal and Spain, living in a Portuguese town near the Spanish border might be the perfect choice for you. From the northern regions to the sunny Algarve, there are several charming towns that offer easy access to Spain, allowing you to regularly experience the best of both countries. Let’s explore some of these border towns and what makes them unique.

Northern Portugal

Chaves

Chaves roman bridge

Situated about 10 km from the Spanish border, Chaves is a charming town famous for its hot springs and Roman bridge. The town’s thermal baths have been used since Roman times and are believed to have therapeutic properties. Chaves also boasts a beautiful historic centre, complete with narrow cobblestone streets and ancient architecture.

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Bragança

buildings in braganca cidatel

Bragança, located about 20 km from the Spanish border, is a historic city known for its impressive castle and beautiful natural surroundings. The town’s medieval castle offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and houses a fascinating museum showcasing the region’s history.

Once you cross over to Spain, you’ll be able to enjoy the Montesinho Natural Park, a popular green area in Northern Spain.

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Valença do Minho

Valença do minho fort

Located just 3 km from the Spanish border, Valença do Minho is a historic fortified town known for its impressive medieval walls and stunning views of the Minho River. The town’s strategic location has made it an important trade center for centuries, and today, it remains a popular destination for both Portuguese and Spanish visitors.

Living in Valença do Minho, you’ll have the opportunity to explore its rich history, enjoy delicious local cuisine, and easily cross the border into Spain for day trips or weekend getaways in Galicia, an area famed for its natural beauty and seafood dishes.

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Viana do Castelo

viana do castelo square

Situated about 30 km from the Spanish border, Viana do Castelo is a charming coastal town known for its beautiful beaches, historic architecture, and vibrant festivals. The town’s most famous landmark is the Santa Luzia Basilica, which offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding countryside.

Although this town is located a little further from the Spanish-Portuguese border, this does mean it’s also a little closer to Porto. From Viana do Castelo, it’s just a one hour drive to Porto or a 50-minute drive to Tui on the Spanish border.

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Central Portugal

Castelo Branco

castelo branco town

Castelo Branco, located approximately 50 km from the Spanish border, is a picturesque town known for its beautiful gardens and historic attractions. The town’s most famous landmark is the Bishop’s Palace, a stunning 18th-century baroque building surrounded by meticulously manicured gardens.

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Guarda

guarda square

Guarda, situated about 60 km from the Spanish border, is Portugal’s highest city and is known for its cool mountain air and stunning views. The town boasts a well-preserved medieval centre, complete with ancient walls and a grand cathedral. The cathedral, dedicated to St. James the Greater, is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture and houses a museum showcasing religious art and artifacts. Guarda is also famous for its delicious cheese, which is produced using traditional methods and is a must-try for any food lover.

From Guarda, it’s possible to drive to Salamanca in less than two hours. A historical city, Salamanca is a popular destination for those wanting to learn Spanish.

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Alentejo

Elvas

I love Elvas

Located just 8 km from the Spanish border, Elvas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its impressive fortifications and aqueduct. The town’s historic centre is filled with charming squares, churches, and museums, offering plenty to explore.

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Marvão

marvao castle walls

Perched on a hilltop just 10 km from the Spanish border, Marvão is a stunning medieval town known for its breathtaking views and well-preserved castle. The town’s narrow streets are lined with whitewashed houses and charming cafes, creating a picturesque and welcoming atmosphere.

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Algarve

Vila Real de Santo António

praca marques de pombal vila real de santo antonio

Situated right on the Spanish border, Vila Real de Santo António is a charming town known for its beautiful beaches and lively marina. The town was rebuilt in the 18th century after the devastating 1755 earthquake and features a unique grid-like layout with a central square.

Spain is literally a boat-ride a way: there’s a ferry that takes you across the drive to the Spanish town of Ayamonte. And if you’re feeling brave, you can even zip-line back into Portugal.

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Alcoutim

Located about 40 km from the Spanish border, Alcoutim is a peaceful town on the banks of the Guadiana River, which forms the border between Portugal and Spain. The town is known for its beautiful river beaches and historic castle, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

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Castro Marim

houses in central Castro Marim

Situated about 5 km from the Spanish border, Castro Marim is a historic town known for its impressive castle and beautiful natural surroundings. The town’s medieval castle offers stunning views of the Guadiana River and the surrounding salt pans, which are an important habitat for various bird species.

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Monte Gordo

monte gordo sun loungers

Located just 3 km from the Spanish border, Monte Gordo is a popular beach resort town in the eastern Algarve. The town is known for its long stretches of sandy beaches, warm waters, and lively atmosphere. It’s such a good beach, that Spanish residents often come over to Portugal to experience it.

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

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