Four regions: one spectacular holiday
From sunrise in the city to an afternoon sipping wine by the river, a trip to northern Portugal is a holiday offering many rewards
Try to find a postcard that that encapsulates Porto and the north of Portugal and you might struggle. That’s because its four regions offer an almost infinite number of possibilities for your next trip. Thanks to the diversity of the area’s landscapes, histories and cultures, you can easily go from a charming city break to a beautiful vineyard retreat within an hour – with many more facets to discover, from countryside hiking to urbane dining.
Each region – Porto, Douro, Minho and Trás-os-Montes – offers something unique for the curious traveller. Discover the differences and you can look forward to four holidays in one memorable trip.
One of Portugal’s oldest cities, Porto may be best known for the Douro river, but the historic city itself is also a treasure trove. Soak up its rich history with a stroll through the streets (Ribeira is one of the most attractive) and visit elegant churches and monuments. For spectacular views of the city and river, climb to the top of Clérigos Tower, designed by Baroque architect Nicolau Nasoni.
High Life tip: Explore Porto’s literary history at Livraria Lello, a bookshop that opened in 1906. Known for its inspiring staircases, it’s considered one of the best and most beautiful bookstores in the world.
Wine lovers adore Douro – not just for its port wine, but also for its luscious reds and crisp, grassy Vinho Verde. It became the world’s first regulated wine region in 1756, and has been voted one of the 10 best wine destinations ever by New York’s Wine Enthusiast magazine. It’s best to experience the area at a leisurely pace. Try fishing, boating and dining. Or simply sit on the veranda of an old quinta (estate) and enjoy the scenery.
High Life tip: between May and October, Duoro’s wineries are open for tours and tastings between 10am and 7pm and until 6pm between November and April. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Take your camera for your visit to Minho. Its landscapes are a microcosm of Portugal, from beautiful ordered vineyards, to lush, green river valleys and sparklingly clean beaches. Pull on your walking boots and explore the 17th-century Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Penha, the awe-inspiring natural amphitheatre of Peneda-Gerês National Park, and the region’s numerous Baroque churches.
High Life tip: Make time to explore the Camino Portugues (Portuguese Way) – the route taken by pilgrims flocking along the Santiago de Compostela from the ninth century to the present day.
Step back in time with a trip to Trás-os-Montes. Its name means ‘beyond the mountains’ thanks to its remote location in the far northeast of Portugal – something which has contributed to its ‘old world’ atmosphere. The main towns include Bragança, Chaves and Vila Real, none of which have a population of more than 50,000 people, while the rest of the region’s inhabitants live in small agricultural towns and villages. The locals have retained their own dialect and specific customs, including folk tales and festivals.
High Life tip: Experience some ancient culture with a visit to the spa in Aquae Flaviae. Chaves was one of the most flourishing Roman cities of the Iberian Peninsula, and its spa was loved by centurions for its medicinal spring waters, surging from the earth at a toasty 73°C.
Start planning you trip to Porto and northern Portugal today. Visit visitportoandnorth.travel for more information