Brand new in summer 2009, the accommodation at Villa Manuela is spread over three floors. It has four spacious double bedrooms with fitted wardrobes, one of which has en suite bathroom and a roof-top terrace; a large lounge/dining room with English language satellite TV; and a fully equipped kitchen. Outside, there's a great barbecue area, a double garage, and narrow terraced gardens leading up to a private 8m x 4m swimming pool, with extensive views over the woods towards the sea (not visible, but it's close enough to know it's there!). No expense has been spared in providing everything you might need for a holiday, making this a luxurious home-from-home. Ideal for a summer holiday for a large family or a group of friends, but also in a perfect location for short off-season breaks all year round (and with special rates for small numbers). Shops, beaches and restaurants are all within walking distance, and although a car is recommended, Gelfa is accessible by train from Porto.
Beaches: Gelfa beach underwent a €1.5 million 'makeover' last year, with wooden walkways across the dunes giving easy access to the protected woodlands of Pinhal de Gelfa and the family seaside resort of Vila Praia de Âncora further along the beach. Already a beautiful beach, it's fast becoming an even more perfect holiday spot. 'Camarão', a quality fish restaurant, is one of the Costa Verde's only beachside restaurants, and overlooks Gelfa beach.
From here, the many safe, clean beaches of the Costa Verde stretch for miles - surf beaches, sandy, rocky, wide, discreet, romantic beaches - you can go to a different one each day to suit your mood. At Afife there's a surfing beach (& a surf/body boarding school for tourists); at Caminha a beach with one side on the Atlantic, the other on the River Minho; or you can hire a ferryman to take you out to a deserted island; on Serra de Arga there are fresh mountain pools and waterfalls; and there are also warm, sheltered river beaches on the River Lima.
Touring the countryside and historic towns: For rugged, wild countryside, visit the Peneda-Gerês National Park, or go further to the Douro Valley. Gelfa lies at the base of Serra d'Arga (784m), and the villages and country lanes in its hills offer a landscape from an earlier era. History, churches and monuments, culture and nightlife abound in a dozen towns within a short drive, or for more sophisticated entertainment, there's the Casino at Póvoa de Varzim. For the more active, there's karting, canoeing, surfing, 10-pin bowling, fishing, cycling and horse riding. A visit to the World Heritage City of Porto is a must, as are the traditional local Romarias, with folklore, singing, dancing, decorative crafts and the famous cuisine of the Minho region. And the famed cuisine of the Minho region can be found in restaurants galore, accompanied by Portuguese wine - one of the world's best kept secrets! Minho is also something of a secret destination, still untouched by the pleasure playgrounds of other holiday spots.
Golf and fishing: For golfers, the excellent Ponte de Lima course is 35km away. Part of “a bucolic scenery of mountains, vineyards and fruit gardens”, it's a course typical of the Minho region. Par 71, 6005m, including Portugal's longest hole at 622m (par 5).
If you like fishing, there are some great opportunities here, in the rivers and on the shoreline. Licences are easy and cheap to obtain from the ATM machines, and the Minho, Lima and Âncora rivers have some wonderful spots to while away the hours.