Portugal has over 200 river beaches and I am keen to explore as many as I can. Some river beaches are also leisure zones (Zona de Lazer). We stumbled across Valeiro do Barco on our drive home from a local river beach and I said to hubby, we must return here. It is situated in Sarzedo, Arganil, right on the bank of the river Alva and only a 20 min drive from our home. It’s a beautiful river beach with a huge grassy bank and has a swimming pool, bar/cafe/restaurant with music, tennis court, volley ball and BBQ area. There is a campsite nearby so I was very surprised at how empty it was for a weekend which made it very peaceful. I am also surprised that It’s not exclusive use for campsite members only. It’s all free and there is no cost for entrance to pool or parking. The car park was empty when we arrived but full when we left. I think this river beach/leisure zone does not open until 1pm and the swimming pool opened at 2pm and has a lifeguard.


I just about managed to squeeze my chunky body into my size 12 shorts and bikini even though I’m much bigger now. So that was a sign: Game on! I swam in the river for the first time ever and it was epic! The only other time I have done something similar to this was when I was 18 and backpacking around the world and we embarked on a group tour in New Zealand and visited a natural hot thermal spring. So I can now say I have officially swam at a river beach! Something to tick off my bucket list. The water was pleasantly warm although it was a bit of a challenge entering and exiting the river over an area with sharp stones. There is a ladder further up by the water wheel which I probably should have used. I swam right out to the water fountain, around it and back again. I did think I might get eaten by a crocodile but apparently there are no crocodiles here in Portugal, thank god!

I love the landscaped greenery and stunning trees (willows, alders and cork oaks). We spent a fantastic afternoon on the beautiful banks of the river Alva with a spectacular view of the bridge. I love to people watch and there were families canoeing down the river which was fun to watch. I also like the fact that it was tranquil and not too busy. We spent a lovely afternoon by the river with a picnic, there will always be a picnic followed by an ice cream and a coke (ha ha). I really liked the grass instead of sand bank and the only annoyance was a few ants in my pants!

There is a huge bridge and some brave youngsters were jumping off of the bridge into the refreshing river below, not me, I value my life. I really enjoyed watching a group of young men back flip off of the diving platform and even managed to snap this photo of one man mid air!

There is a lovely cafe and they have a quirky plant feature: plants in old jeans ha ha. There was also a lovely display of knitting/crocheting. We used to have a crazy knitting lady in Bristol, U.K who liked to knit squares then sew them to lamp posts. The council kept removing them all and she would just make more. Maybe she followed me to Portugal!

I am so excited to view more local attractions. I have googled all the river beaches and leisure zones close to us and there are so many to choose from. I like the ones that are not so popular and touristy. We are trying to visit as many as possible and starting with the ones which are very close to home, only a 20-30 min drive.