Deep in the Douro valley region and hidden away off the usual tourist trail, is the Portuguese city of Vila Real. It is home to the beautiful ‘Casa de Mateus’ — one of the most lavish manor houses in Europe. You might recognise it from the label of the Mateus wine bottle! This stunning 18th Century Palace is one of Portugal’s finest examples of Baroque architecture. It was built at the same time as Mafra Palace, when the elite families in Portugal were inspired to follow suit of the King. Casa de Mateus was turned into a museum after ‘Fundação da Casa de Mateus’ was founded (1970) and the house was opened to the public. Visitors can see the house, chapel, gardens and winery. The house runs regular tours for visitors on the hour every hour, between 11–4pm (with the exception of some Holy days or festivals).
A note about visiting the Museum — sorry to disappoint you, but the usual tours do not include wine tasting for the Mateus rose….if you really want this, you have to arrange it separately or buy it from the souvenir shop opposite! The usual visits are more to do with the house than the wine!
How to get to Casa de Mateus
Casa Mateus is not right by a train station (the nearest station is Regua), but you can take the Flixbus to Vila Real, and then get an Uber from Vila real Rodoviario (bus station) to Casa de Mateus (it cost us just €6 at the time of writing November 2023). Mateus Palace is just 4km outside of the centre of Vila Real. Flixbus operates to Vila Real from Porto, Lisbon, Braganca and Viseu.
It’s not necessary to book in advance in low season, you can turn up and pay for your ticket. It costs 15€ for adults in including a guided tour of the house and there is a discounted rate of 11€ for students who are 25 and under. Remember that at busy times, it might be better to book in advance — you can email them here: firstname.lastname@example.org. You should expect to spend one hour to 90 minutes exploring Casa de Mateus.
I would recommend going to Casa Mateus for a morning tour (aim for around 11am) and then you can eat lunch in Vila…