Best Places to Visit in Northern Portugal
The Peneda-Gerês National Park is one of the best preserved natural parks in Portugal. In Gerês, you have to visit Nossa Senhora da Peneda, the village of Soajo, the Arado Waterfall, the Leonte Waterfall, the waterfalls of Tahiti, Pitões das Júnias, Lindoso, Vilarinho das Furnas, and the Viewpoints of Pedra Bela and Brufe. Typical dishes of the region include Goat Meat, Ham Steaks, Ham, Sausages, Papas de Sarrabulho, Rojões, Portuguese Steak, Caldo Verde, Cabidela rice, Biscuit cake with egg candy and Santa Eufémia pastries.
In the Douro region, you will find some of the most romantic accommodations in the country and with all the necessary amenities. If you are looking for activities to do, you can ride a donkey, visit the various viewpoints of the region, take a cruise or take the train route between Régua and Tua. Don't forget, of course, to enjoy what the region has best - its wine.
Considered the best European destination in 2017, Porto is fashionable and a getaway to the Invicta city is an excellent idea for those who like busy walks. In Porto, you will find a vibrant city.
The main monuments that should be visited are the Clérigos Tower, the Casa da Música, the São Bento train Station, the Bolhão Market, the Lello Bookstore, the Luiz I Bridge, the Serralves Museum and the Port Wine Cellars. Also, take the opportunity to enjoy the famous Six Bridge Cruise. With this trip, you can get your bearings in the city and get to know the place better.
Viana do Castelo
“Whoever likes it comes, whoever loves it stays.” The very slogan of the city tells us that we are facing a very romantic place. If you are thinking of a romantic getaway in the north of Portugal, Viana do Castelo is undoubtedly one of the best options.
If you decide to visit this Minho city, don't miss the view at the top of the Sanctuary of Santa Luzia, the Costume Museum, the Gil Eanes Ship, the Historic Centre and the Cathedral of Viana. Of course, you should also experience romance at the table, trying typical delicacies of the region, such as the Bolas doNatário and the Viana Manjericos.
Ponte de Lima
Within the district of Viana do Castelo, there is another amazing place where you can go on a date — Ponte de Lima. Ponte de Lima is a picturesque village full of traditions. If you want a romantic getaway, visit Ponte de Lima from May to October, as it is at this time that the International Garden Festival takes place.
Then, in June, there is the lively Horse Fair, between May and June, the traditional Vaca das Cordas and, in September, the Feiras Novas. In addition to all these festivities that take place, you can always visit the Portuguese Toy Museum, Largo de Camões and the Museum of Third Parties.
Of course, you cannot miss tasting the ex-libris of the area with your love, which is the Sarrabulho rice, served with pork rojões. The lamprey of the Lima River is also one of the most appreciated dishes.
“Portugal was born here”. You can find this indication in the historic centre of the city of Guimarães, considered a Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO since 2001. This is a city full of history and architectural beauty.
If you decide to spend your weekend getaway here, don't forget to visit Guimarães Castle, Santa Maria street, Oliveira Square and Padrão do Salado, Largo do Toural, Penha Sanctuary, Citânia de Briteiros and Paço dos Duques de Bragança. In this city, you can find excellent restaurants and hotels at a very friendly price.
Would you like to have a nice weekend with your better half? How about a getaway in the city of Braga? In Braga, you will find very beautiful and cosy places.
If you decide to go to this city, make sure you visit Bom Jesus, Sameiro, Santa Bárbara Garden, Ponte Park, Tibães Monastery, Porta Nova Arch and Palácio do Raio. In Braga you will find excellent restaurants at very low prices.
One of the most typical dishes of Braga is Bacalhau à Narcisa, which you can find in various parts of the city. The dessert that you cannot miss here is the Abade de Priscos Pudding.
The beautiful city of Bragança, in the region of Trás-os-Montes, is another amazing city for a romantic getaway. The city reflects the times when it was occupied by Romans, Suevians and Visigoths.
If you decide to spend the weekend in Bragança, you must visit the Castle of Bragança, the Keep Tower, the Sun Gate, the Iberian Museum of Mask and Costume and the Montesinhos Natural Park. The main delicacies of this city are regional sausages, such as alheiras, salpicão and butelo.
Miranda do Douro
Still in Bragança, you can choose to visit the municipality of Miranda do Douro, a very beautiful place with a very characteristic identity, to the point of having its own official language - Mirandese.
In this land, a visit to the historic centre of Miranda do Douro is a must. In addition, you can visit the Museum of the Land of Miranda, where you can learn more about the way of life of people on the Mirandese plateau.
A boat trip in the International Douro Natural Park, the visit to the various viewpoints of the municipality, such as the viewpoint of S. João das Arribas, and the passage through the Centre for the Valorization of the Miranda Donkey, in Atenor, are other activities that should be carried out.
Chaves is a city that combines historical and cultural legacy. Bathed by the Tâmega River, this city features many attractions. The Keep of the Medieval Castle, the forts of São Francisco and São Meutel, the Roman bridge of Trajan, the Mother and Mercy churches and the Roman baths are some examples of attractions. In Chaves, there is also the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chaves, designed by architect Siza Vieira.
Best accommodations in Northern Portugal
Vidago Palace, Chaves
One of the best hotels you can find in the north of the country is Vidago Palace, a hotel surrounded by green parks and with a style that combines Belle Époque with modern luxury. There is an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, a spa and a golf course at this hotel. In the hotel, there are also four restaurants and a wine cellar.
Pousada Mosteiro de Guimarães, Guimarães
In Guimarães, you can opt for Pousada Mosteiro de Guimarães, a hotel built in the 12th century Augustinian Convent. At this accommodation, you can take advantage of modern facilities while coming in touch with the history of the place. The hotel also features an outdoor swimming pool and beautifully landscaped gardens.
Hotel Torre de Gomariz wine & spa, Vila Verde
Hotel Torre de Gomariz wine & spa is located in the parish of Cervães, in Vila Verde, a municipality in the district of Braga, and it is another fantastic place to relax and enjoy a beautiful getaway in nature.
At this hotel you will find free bikes, a garden, a restaurant, a bar, a lounge, indoor pool and outdoor pool. This hotel is only 17 km from Braga and 40 km from Guimarães.
Pedras Salgadas Spa & Nature Park, Vidago, Chaves
In Vidago, there is an accommodation in full communion with nature - Pedras Salgadas Spa & Nature Park. This guest house offers eco-friendly self-catering bungalows with modern décor and a very natural look.
Here, you can enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding nature. The hotel has an à la carte restaurant and meals can be delivered to the bungalows upon request. At Pedras Salgadas's spa, you can enjoy a wide range of treatments and massages, as well as an indoor pool, sauna and steam bath.
Pousada Viana do Castelo
At the top of Monte de Santa Luzia, you will find the Pousada de Viana do Castelo. The rooms have amazing ocean views and are equipped with all the necessary amenities for very relaxing days. Outside there is a swimming pool, a tennis court and several terraces.
Monverde Hotel, Amarante
If it's a relaxing getaway that you're looking for, Monverde Hotel in Amarante is a great choice. At this hotel you can make use of a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, an indoor pool, sauna, Turkish bath, a games room, a golf course, a restaurant and a bar. What stands out most about this accommodation is the spa, with a wide range of treatments and massages.
Torel Avantgarde, Porto
One of the best places you can choose to sleep in Porto is Torel Avantgarde, an award-winning 5-star hotel. At this hotel, just 750 metres from Clérigos Tower, you will find an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a garden. In the hotel's restaurant, you can taste typical dishes of the region.
Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa, Porto
Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa is a minute's walk from Porto's Boavista Avenue. At this spa, you can enjoy a modern spa with eight treatment rooms and an indoor pool. In the hotel restaurant you will find a glass wine cellar. The hotel also has a yoga studio, a relaxation area and a juice bar.
The Yeatman Hotel, Vila Nova de Gaia
Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa at The Yeatman Hotel is a great idea for a more relaxed getaway. At the hotel's spa you can find a large indoor pool and a hot tub with panoramic views of the city of Porto. If you want to rest and stay close to the city centre, The Yeatman is the ideal option for you.
Best Restaurants in Northern Portugal
MUU Steakhouse, Porto
MUU Steakhouse is one of the best restaurants in the North for meat lovers. One of the most popular starters is “Johnny's Scotch”, an egg with meat composition that is accompanied with shallot puree and meat jus. For main dishes the choices in this restaurant fall on the Mendinha Ribs, the Loin, the Matured Void, the RIB EYE premium matured, the Black Angus or the Tomahawk. As side dishes, you can choose the French fries or the rosti, the sprawled or the vegetables in the oven. For desserts you can choose the Chocolate Poker, the Acqua di MUU or the Goulardt's Nest.
Solar Bragançano, Bragança
If it's the typical regional cuisine you're looking for, Solar Bragançano, in Bragança, is an incredible choice. The restaurant is housed in a former 18th-century manor house, offering a warm and romantic atmosphere. The menu of this restaurant favours game dishes, highlighting the stewed wild boar, the Mirandesa veal stew and partridge with grapes and hare rice. Chestnut cake and cherry soup are other delicacies of this house.
O Paparico, Porto
O Paparico, in Porto, is another excellent option. In this restaurant, the décor follows a country style and the dishes served are traditional. Here, you will have at your disposal an excellent wine list. For starters, you can choose between octopus with green sauce, pataniscas or quality smokehouse. Main dishes include coal-roasted cod with punched potatoes, grilled octopus and cod rice, among others.
Taberna Belga, Braga
Considered by many as the best place to eat the typical northern Francesinha delicacy, the Taberna Belga is an excellent option for a getaway in the North of the country. In addition to the francesinha, there is also the famous Prego no Prato, which can be accompanied by a beer from the charter variety of foreign beers from all over the world.
A Cozinha por António Loureiro, Guimarães
A Cozinha by António Loureiro stands out for the quality of meals among other things. In this restaurant there is a great deal of work in progress with the aim of achieving a significant reduction in waste. Here, you can choose the super-entry North Sea, consisting of squid, clam, tobiko, bisque and coriander mousse. For the main course, brill and crayfish is a great option, as well as cod with migas or veal with black garlic. For dessert, the recommendation falls on the Abade de Prisco pudding that is served with lime ice cream, cardamom sponge, orange gel and hazelnut earth.
éLeBê, Póvoa de Varzim
ÉleBê is a Minho inspired restaurant that you can find both in Porto and in Póvoa de Varzim. This is an excellent option for those who want to enjoy a getaway in the North of Portugal and get to know the Minho gastronomy. The project belongs to the chef Pedro Torres and it is installed in the fortress of the city in Póvoa de Varzim offering an incredible view.
Ferrugem Restaurante, Famalicão
The restaurant Ferrugem was born in the 18th century and, nowadays, is one of the best restaurants in Portugal. This elegant restaurant in Vila Nova de Famalicão only works with organic products, preferably from sustainable agriculture.
Restaurant Pena, Amarante
Pena is a restaurant located in Vila Caiz, Amarante, and results from the rehabilitation of a space with history. The gastronomy presented here by chef Carlos Pina is characteristic of the region, but is combined with his great creativity.
O Abocanhado, Terras de Bouro, Braga
O Abocanhado is one of the most popular restaurants in Gerês and is located in the typical village of Brufe, in Terras de Bouro. In this restaurant, located in an idyllic setting, you can try the goat and barrosã veal, which feed freely through the beautiful fields of Brufe.
Restaurante Camelo, Viana do Castelo
The Camelo restaurant in Viana do Castelo is known for its family atmosphere and regional dishes. Among the most popular dishes are the kid, the rooster rice barefoot (cabidela), the farmer's sarrabulho and the lamprey baked in the oven with new potatoes. Here, you can also try one of the most complete wine cellars in the region, with proposals of liqueurs to accompany the desserts.
Top Activities to do in Northern Portugal
If you love adventure and extreme outdoor activities, choose to go canyoning, an activity in which you only have to use the basic skills of walking along a route. Virtually anyone can do this activity and get great satisfaction from it. With this activity, you can challenge your physical limits and get to know the best places in Gerês. There are several companies that you can contact at Gerês to do this activity, such as Latitude41 or GeresMont.
Spend a day in a water park
In the North you can find the following options for a day of fun in the water.
- Fafe, Fafe Water Park
- Amarante, Amarante Water Park
- Vila Real, Naturwaterpark, Douro Amusement Park
- Gerês, Water Park Gerês
- Bragança, Torre de Moncorvo, Aquafixe - Water park
Visit the historic centres
In the North, you can find some of the most beautiful and interesting historical centres in Portugal. If you decide to spend a few days enjoying a getaway in the north of the country, visit the historic centres of Braga, Guimarães, Porto, Bragança or Ponte de Lima.
Experience an Escape Room
In an Escape Room, you are placed inside a room and, through several clues, you have to figure out how to escape it. This type of activity is ideal to be done with a group of friends.
Getting to know the museums
In the north of the country you can find very interesting museums. You can visit the Lamego Museum, with a collection consisting of several elements of the extinct Convent of the Chagas de Lamego, by the archaeological collection of the City Council.
The Viana do Castelo Costume Museum is another museum that you should consider visiting, getting to know more about the way the people of Viana have dressed over time. It is also recommended that you visit the Archaeology Museum D.Diogo de Sousa or the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Serralves Foundation, in Porto.
At the Côa Museum, in Bragança, you can learn more about cave paintings. At the José de Guimarães International Arts Center, you can discover more about contemporary art and the relationships it establishes with arts from other eras.
Climbing on a bridge
Climb a bridge? In Porto, this is possible for anyone without any type of specific physical preparation. If you are thinking about a getaway in the North, a good activity will be climbing the Arrábida Bridge, the only national monument of the twentieth century in Porto and also the only bridge that offers climbing in the North of the country. The experience is promoted by Turismo do Porto and has all the necessary safety equipment.
Visit the main monuments
The Monastery of Tibães in Braga, the Clérigos Tower in Porto, the Roman Bridge of Trajan in Chaves, the Castle of Bragança, the D. Luís, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies in Lamego, Santa Luzia in Viana do Castelo, Bom Jesus in Braga, or the Chapel of Senhor da Pedra in Vila Nova de Gaia, are excellent options.
Slide Super Homem (Superman Slide), Póvoa de Lanhoso
At Póvoa de Lanhoso, in Braga, you can experience an incredible slide, in which you lie in a superman position. The company that offers this and other radical activities is Diverlanhoso and here you can go down the Superman slide.
Trails, ecopaths or walkways
Walking through nature is an increasingly fashionable activity. If you enjoy this type of activity, the North of the country is the ideal place to do so. There are plenty of places where you can take a nice walk and do some exercise.
Some good places where you can walk is the Ecovia do Vez in Arcos de Valdevez, the nature trail between Cávado and the Atlantic in Esposende, the trail with walkways between Porto and Miramar (Gaia), the Ecopista do Tâmega, which connects Amarante to Arco de Baúlhe, the Ecovia Litoral in Viana do Castelo, or the small-route walking route Town of Calcedónia in Terras de Bouro.
Discover the beaches
For those who love the beach, taking advantage of this getaway to get to know the best of the North of Portugal is an excellent idea. Moledo beach in Caminha, Viana do Castelo, is considered by many the best beach in the North of Portugal. In addition to this beach, we highlight Cabedelo beach, also in Viana do Castelo, Apulia and Ofir beach in Esposende, Aguda beach in Gaia, and Redonda Beach in Póvoa de Varzim.