The North of Portugal is rich in historical and cultural patrimony. In this region you will find unique places like Roman ruins, medieval castles and even magnificent modern architecture buildings.
The historic center of Porto and of Guimarães and the winery region of Alto Douro and Foz Côa are considered UNESCO World Heritage Sites and will teach you more not only about the history of Portugal, but also about the history of humanity itself. Come and discover the region.
Start in Porto
We begin our journey in the historic center of Porto, classified as a world heritage site. Here, you'll be dazzled by monuments that will surprise you around every corner. In the Ribeira Square, the Dom Luís Bridge will soon draw your attention. Note the slender buildings and the typical granite used in the Ribeira area, and be sure to explore the narrow streets. Continue to walk along the river to the Cube Square. In the fifteenth century, Porto was surrounded by walls, but this was the only part that has survived the passing of time.
The St. Francis of Assisi Church and the Stock Exchange Palace are two of the city's jewels. The church dates back to the thirteenth century, but it has been refurbished several times and now features carved gilded wood and decorative rococo details. It's impossible to remain indifferent to such opulence when you enter this church. The Stock Exchange Palace was built on the ruins of the ancient cloister of the Convent of Saint Francis and deserves a tour, especially for its Arab Hall.
The Cathedral of Porto is at a 10-minute walking distance from the Stock Exchange Palace. On the way, you will discover Porto's history: from the Ferreira Borges Market to the Convent of Saint Domingos, with a passage by the São Bento railway station. In Largo da Sé, take some time to observe the Episcopal Palace, designed by Nicolau Nassoni, who also designed the Tower of Clerics. Climb the stairs up to the tower and enjoy a breathtaking view of the city.
The Soares dos Reis National Museum and the Serralves Foundation are also two mandatory crossing (and stopping) points in Porto. The first is one of the most important museums in the city and the second has, in the House of Serralves, the city's high point of art-deco architecture.
Head to Minho and Trás-os-Montes
The Minho region has a large number of monuments and museums related to religion. Braga is the epitome of this devotion, with some of the most impressive buildings in the country. The Cathedral, the Sacred Art Museum and the Episcopal Palace are also mandatory stops. To escape a little from the city center, go up to the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary, breathe in the fresh air and soak up the mystique of the place, while admiring the view over the city of Braga.
In the Peneda Gerês National Park visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Peneda and the 20 small chapels that portray episodes from the life of Jesus. In the district of Vila Real, and already in Trás-os-Montes, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace is also a mandatory stop.
Most castles in the north of Portugal are found near the border with Spain, since they served to protect the population against the invaders. Bragança, in Trás-os-Montes, has preserved its castle. Going along the border of Trás-os-Montes region, you will find many other castles: in Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro, Freixo de Espada à Cinta
and Numão (in the Archaeological Park of the Côa Valley, where you can also take a guided tour to the rock carvings).
In Minho, many castles were used to defend the Portuguese borders. Visit the castle of Vila Nova de Cerveira, overlooking the Minho river, and head to the Castelinho Leisure Park on the riverbanks to visit the Water Museum and learn more about the local fauna and flora. If you are in town around the time of the modern art exhibition Biennial of Cerveira (held every two years), enjoy the works of contemporary art by national and international artists.
In Guimarães, birthplace of Portugal, you will find the Guimarães Castle, the most famous castle in Portugal. The history of the castle and the country's foundation are intimately linked: the castle was the site of many battles between D. Afonso Henriques (the first king of Portugal) and the troops of Castile. Stroll through the historic city center, considered a World Heritage Site, and also don't miss the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança.
Come discover Porto and the North of Portugal in a journey through history that will surprise you and will introduce you to many places that are UNESCO World Heritage places. Learn about the best places to spend the night during your stay and contact us to help you prepare a visit plan that will help you enjoy the best of the history, wisdom and tastes from the North of Portugal.