6 Places You Must Visit In North Portugal
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Do you want to discover North Portugal but don’t know what places to visit? Portugal has enticed more and more travelers in recent years, and no wonder -it’s affordable, it’s adventurous, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. There are some places that cannot be missed. In the words of many visitors, this city has something mystical that is difficult to describe and which varies according to the place, time of day and light. In this article, you’ll find some of the must-visit places in North Portugal. So want to immerse yourself in nature? Hike through the mountains of the Peneda-Geres National Park to enjoy the scenic beauty of the greenest region in Portugal.
Here are the 6 Places You Must Visit In North Portugal.
Porto is a coastal city in northwest Portugal known for its stately bridges and port wine production. It is also a fascinating and vibrant city that is rapidly becoming one of Western Europe’s most respected tourist destinations which boasts an extensive history, interesting tourist attractions, and a buzzing nightlife, and outstanding tourist facilities. So don’t miss to explore Porto as it gives you as much cobbled-street charm and dazzling ancient architecture as you’ll get anywhere else in Europe, and it’s nestled in one of the world’s leading wine regions that are yet affordable and uncrowded.
2. Vila Nova de Gaia
Known for sandy beaches like Praia da Madalena, and the scenic riverside road Cais de Gaia, with its cafe terraces and expansive views across the Douro and also a hub of the port wine industry, Vila Nova de Gaia is peppered with cellars offering tours and tastings. Its small restaurants serve grilled fish and seafood in the old fishing village of Afurada, where picturesque tiled houses line narrow streets. It has a pretty promenade along the waterfront and is a great place to go for a walk and enjoy the remarkable views of the Dom Luis I Bridge and the picturesque neighborhood of Ribeira in Porto. There is a world to discover on the other side of the river – the views, the wine cellars, the food and much more just by crossing the D. Luiz I Bridge.
3. Peneda-Geres National Park
Peneda-Geres National Park is in northern Portugal, near the Spanish border whose rugged hills are home to deer, wolves, and golden eagles. This national park extends from the plateau of Castro Laboreiro to the plateau of Mourela, covering the mountain ranges of Peneda, Soajo, Amarela, and Geres where you can discover the vast amphitheater sculptured by geological formations, winds, and water. The exuberant vegetation covering the mountains exhibit every shade of green include a holly bush wood – unique at a national level – and endemic species such as the Geres lily whose blue-violet colors grace the fields. So take a hike on the mountain and see the effects of the last glaciation, meet the locals in the traditional village and indulge in the local cuisine.
4. Ponte de Lima
Ponte de Lima is the oldest villa in Portugal which is part of the district of Viana do Castelo and is one of the most characterful and charming towns of northern Portugal, if not the whole of the country that sits on the southern banks of the slow-flowing Lima River, and this location has been the main river crossing since the Romans constructed a bridge in 1AD. Ponte de Lima traces the beauty and character of the Minho region: meadows and wetlands sprinkled with villages and manor houses, concentrating the largest number of guest houses of rural tourism whose history is reflected in the delightful assortment of ancient houses, pretty plazas, and grand religious buildings, found throughout the town. Adding to this captivating mix of historical sights, are a series of pretty flower gardens, interesting museums and stunning natural scenery that all together creates a wonderful tourist destination.
Valenca is a fortified village which is set in an idyllic location, surrounded by craggy mountains and wide rivers, and the Rio Minho forms the natural border with Spain. Valenca was historically the focal point for the defence of northern Portugal from its larger neighbour, and along the banks of the slow flowing river, a massive fortification was constructed to deter invasion. But today the Spanish invasion is of a different form, as hordes of bargain hunting Spanish flock to the city to purchase cheap linear and cloth items. The Valenca Fortaleza is one of the most impressive fortifications in northern Portugal, and the multilayers of battlements and bastions encompass the entire historic centre. For visitors, Valenca offers an extensive fort complex to explore, a delightful historic centre and the chance to stroll across the river into Spain.
Located in the heart of the Peneda-Geres National Park, Montalegre offers visitors a wide range of stunning views, in an area where nature has been allowed to preserve all of its many charms which is dominated by its castle, built in the thirteenth century on the remains of a much older fortification which demonstrates the importance that this site has always had as a strategic point of defence for the whole of the region. In the surrounding area, close to the typical communal village of Pitoes das Junias is the small and curious monastery of Santa Maria das Junias which today is in ruins but once belonged to the Cistercian Order. Montalegre is also famous for its sausages and smoked ham, and the Feira do Fumeiro so don’t miss to explore while you’re in Portugal.