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Updated: Apr 1

Piodao Portugal

Exploring the Enchanting Schist Village of Piodao, Portugal - one of my favorite European towns

Nestled in the heart of Portugal, the picturesque village of Piodao is a place like no other. Stone houses with blue shutters, tumble down the lush and vibrant mountain. Exploring Piodao and its surroundings feels surreal and almost mystical. The landscape is breathtaking and the views of the village from afar are stunning. Prepare to be enchanted by the quaint charm and timeless beauty that Piodao has to offer.

This town of about 120 has been isolated in the valley for centuries. It wasn't until the 19th century that roads were built to connect the town with the outside world. It is said that all the shutters are blue because the store selling paint only had blue and the village was too isolated to go elsewhere. Another legend states that Piodao was so remote, it was the perfect hiding place for fugitives running from the law.

Schist house, Piodao

What are Schist Villages?

The schist villages, also known as "Aldeias do Xisto" in Portuguese, are a collection of historical villages located in the central region of Portugal. What sets these villages apart is their distinctive architecture, with houses constructed from schist, a type of metamorphic stone found abundantly in the region. The use of schist not only lends a unique aesthetic to these villages but also reflects the resilience and resourcefulness of the local communities.

Getting to Piodao

Piodao is nestled in the Serra do Acor mountains. The journey there is absolutely gorgeous. It is lush and green with terraced hills and scenic valleys. You really feel like you have left Europe and entered a magical land.

Expert tip:

This area seems to have its own weather system. It will be cooler than the surrounding areas. It can be quite rainy and foggy with the weather changing quickly so be prepared. We were there in March and it was quite cloudy and rainy. This, however, just seems to add to the mystery of the place.


By Car:

For those seeking the flexibility to explore at their own pace, traveling to Piodao by car is an excellent option. The village is nestled in the Serra do Açor mountains, offering a scenic drive through winding roads and lush landscapes. From Coimbra, a major city in central Portugal, the journey takes approximately two hours. Follow the signs to Arganil and then onto Piodao.

Expert tip: The road is winding, narrow and doesn't have guard rails most of the way. There are steep drop-offs. It is not a relaxing drive. Take this into consideration if you are a nervous driver. We were driving a 12 passenger van. While I was loving it, my children were not so enthralled.

Drive to Piodao

Public Transportation:

If you prefer public transportation, you can take a bus from Coimbra to Arganil and then catch a connecting bus to Piodao. The bus journey allows you to relax and enjoy the stunning countryside views.


Several local tour operators offer day trips to Piodao, providing insights into the history and culture of the schist villages. This is a great option if you don't want to worry about anything and love the extra information. Of course, with group tours you are always on their timetable. Hiring a private driver would give you flexibility and relaxation.

Exploring Piodao

River beach Piodao

No vehicles can drive in Piodao so you will have to walk in, but it is not far and you can get some great pictures along the way. Beneath the town is a river with two bridges. This area is called Praia Fluvial do Piodao, or the river beach. This is a great place for a refreshing dip after a hike in the summer months. It is very picturesque so make sure you visit that area. If you hike up the road a bit you can get some amazing pictures looking back at the town.

Piodao shops

When you enter Piodao, there is a small square with a few shops and restaurants. A great souvenir is a clock made from the schist rock. There is also a small museum in the tourist office where you can learn the history of the town and see some local crafts.

Piodao village

The white building at the bottom of the village is the Our Lady of the Conception parish church. This church was built in the early 19th century by the villagers.

houses in Piodao

The only way from there is up. Piodao is on the side of a hill so there are a lot of ups and downs. You really can't get lost as the town is small, but meander through all the lanes and alleys to find hidden gems and picturesque buildings.

Piodao house

Where to Eat in Piodao

There are a handful of restaurants in Piodao where you can savor the local flavors. The restaurants offer traditional Portuguese dishes, showcasing the regional culinary delights. From chanfana, a hearty stew made from lamb or goat, to freshly caught fish, you'll find a variety of options to satisfy your taste buds. Don't forget to try the local specialties, such as the famous Serra da Estrela cheese and regional wines.

Foz d'Egua

Portugal Foz d'Egua

Located just 4 km from Piodao is the absolutely charming area of Foz d'Egua. This area looks like a little hobbit village with two stone bridges, a suspension bridge and a few charming buildings. You really feel like you have left reality and jumped into the pages of a fairytale. There are trails leading from Piodao to Foz and the hike takes about an hour. If you don't have the time or inclination to hike, you can make the drive in about 5 minutes. This really is a magical place. I would highly recommend taking some time to enjoy.

FKoz d'egua suspension bridge portugal

Other Hikes Around Piodao

Surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, Piodao offers excellent opportunities for hiking enthusiasts. Explore the well-marked trails that lead you through lush forests, across crystal-clear streams, and to panoramic viewpoints. The "Rota das Aldeias de Xisto" (Schist Villages Route) is a popular hiking trail connecting several schist villages, including Piodao, providing a unique perspective on the region's beauty.

view from Piodao

Piodao, with its schist-built charm and scenic surroundings, is a must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic Portuguese experience. Whether you arrive by car, public transportation, or through a guided tour, the journey to Piodao is as enchanting as the destination itself. You will love discovering the magic of this timeless schist village in the heart of Portugal.

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