If Lisbon requires no longer an introduction, the same cannot be said about the north of Portugal, with charms still to be explored. It surely will not remain like that for much longer…
Lisbon’s fame has already gone around the globe. The city is presently one of the most popular European destinations, thanks to the renowned sympathy of its people, the many sunny days that cherish its skies, the security it grants, the colored facades of its buildings, its immense and well kept patrimony. However, it’s far from being the only place in the country that is worth visiting. Lisbon is just the tip of an iceberg that is mostly still submerged. In fact, the things that the visitors to the capital enjoy the most – from the food to the authenticity, as well as the low prices – they will find in double portions throughout the rest of the country. Let’s waste no time and head northwards, with so much to discover. The north of Portugal was the birthplace of the country and still keeps an unspoiled appeal, revealed in the welcoming nature of its people, in the satisfying culinary customs, in the perfect fusion of secular traditions with a touch of the modern tendencies. An immense area, it deserves our attentive look, with special consideration for….
The city of Porto
By excellence a town of contrasts, the baroque, medieval, eighteen century Porto coexists beautifully with the modern and cosmopolitan city. One of the city’s headliners is its riverside zone, along the Douro, part of the historical center and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Going up the Douro
Discover this UNESCO World Heritage region, either by boat, on a traditional ‘rabelo’ styled sail boat, or on a more modern cruise vessel, travelling between shores of stepped terraces and vineyards, and going through water dams with amazing sluice gates that control locks with drops up to 35 meters high.
In the more than 170 thousand acres of the Peneda-Gerês National Park it is still possible to find centennial hamlets, such as Soajo or Peneda, nested in the middle of the green flora, where flocks peacefully graze. Nevertheless, radical sports and activities for all tastes abound.
Get to know Guimarães, the birth city
The magnificent historical city center is a World Heritage Site. One finds here the castle where it is said the first king of Portugal was born, old streets such as Rua de Santa Maria, and an intense social and cultural life.
To feel Braga’s pulse
Its Cathedral is the heart of what is known as the Bishops’ Town, presently a vibrant town, rejuvenated by the academic population.
The Atlantic coast
The northern beaches attract those passionate for long, extensive sandy shores and not afraid of facing cold waters. Moledo, Afife, Cabedelo, Leça da Palmeira, Apúlia, Ofir and Madalena are essential stops when hoping along the Atlantic coast.
Following Paiva’s Walkways
Classified for the third consecutive year as the Best European Touristic Development Project, awarded by the World Travel Awards, the Walkways run for eight kilometers along the left bank of the River Paiva, and are the perfect challenge for those enjoying spectacular walking trails in the middle of Nature.
Grow younger in Vidago
It was the favorite medicinal water spa for the Portuguese royalty during the nineteen century and it still is nowadays a real paradise, with thick woods and crystalline water sources.
To sleep well
Inns, monasteries, farm houses, historical mansions, modern buildings designed by famous architects, surrounded by vegetation or looking like they are balancing on the Douro’s terraces, these are the domains of the manor house landlords in the North, people that truly know how to host. Casa do Conto, Hotel da Música, Freixo’s Palace in Porto; The Yeatman, at Vila Nova de Gaia; Vintage House Hotel or the Six Senses Douro Valley, at Douro; Amares Pousada and Monastery or Pedras Salgadas Spa & Nature Park are assured to always be memorable options. But there is a lot more.
To eat better
A region of good pastures, north Portugal provides good meat and excellent smoked meat products. Add to that a delicious selection of orchard products and superior wines and you get a healthy and generous cuisine. It is generally served at traditional home-styled restaurants – Portucale, Pedra Furada, Adega Faustino – or Michelin-star rated establishments – The Yeatman, Casa de Chá at Boa Nova, Largo do Paço, Pedro Lemos – where satisfaction is guaranteed. Find out where.
Article produced in partnership with BestGuide Portugal