16 February 2024

Welcome to Northern Portugal, a region that seamlessly blends rich history, cultural charm and striking landscapes. Cities like Braga, with its impressive sanctuaries, and Guimarães, hailed as the "Cradle of Portugal", offer glimpses into the country's past. The Douro Valley invites you to explore terraced vineyards and embark on wine cruises, while towns like Barcelos and Chaves add unique local flair with their folklore, markets and thermal spas.

Join us on a journey through the North of Portugal, where tradition meets modernity in a captivating blend!



Guimarães was considered one of the most important cities in Portuguese history due to its crucial role in forming the Kingdom of Portugal in the 12th century. An inscription on the walls of Guimarães Castle proudly declares "Aqui Nasceu Portugal" - translating to "Here, Portugal was born". From this monument, you have great views of the town's unique scape.

If you are a fan of architecture, the 15th-century Palace of the Dukes of Braganza (Paço dos Duques de Bragança) is an obligatory stop. This former residence of the Dukes of Braganza is a remarkable example of Portuguese Gothic architecture.

A walk through the labyrinthic historic centre is mandatory, dotted with churches, well-preserved medieval buildings and charming squares. The architecture reflects various periods, including Romanesque, Gothic and Manueline styles. This is very visible in the Santa Clara Convent, a beautiful construction built in the 1400s.

Guimarães also features modern architecture epitomized in the Centro Cultural Vila Flor. For a cup of coffee in a lively area, head to Oliveira Square, perfect for strolling!




If you are staying in Guimarães or the Douro region, consider making a detour to Amarante, a peaceful retreat along the banks of the Tâmega River. Its origins date back to Roman times, but it gained prominence during the medieval period, which is reflected in its historical centre, a delightful mix of narrow cobblestone streets, colourful houses and vibrant squares.

The Largo de São Gonçalo may be the locals’ favourite, with several cafes and shops. You cannot leave the centre without trying the regionally famous pastry, the "papos de anjo" (angel's double chin), a sweet egg-based dessert. We promise delightful flavours!

Now you can walk to the iconic São Gonçalo Bridge, from the 18th century, marvel at the stunning views of the Tâmega River and see the town in a new light. Legend has it that couples who walk across the bridge together will have a long and happy marriage.

Last but not least, Amarante is surrounded by beautiful landscapes and the Alvão Natural Park, which offers opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the Tâmega Valley.




Chaves is a popular city near the border with Spain, known for its thermal spas, medieval architecture and cultural heritage. It is a mandatory stop on your way to or back from Spain! Throughout the centuries, Chaves witnessed various cultural influences, including Roman and Moorish. Its Roman Bridge is one of the most well-preserved structures that spans the Tâmega River, connecting the old and new parts of the city.

Dominating the skyline is the 14th-century Chaves Castle, visible from every angle and with spectacular views, located in the pedestrian Camões Square and surrounded by a vigorous ambience. Another striking military fortress is the Fort of São Francisco, built in the 17th century, which has been partially transformed into the Military Museum.

After getting to know every nook and cranny of the city, it is time to enjoy the best Chaves offers - the thermal spas. These hot springs will leave you feeling completely rejuvenated and eager for your next adventure!


Viana do Castelo

Viana do Castelo

Viana do Castelo, located in the Minho region, is a coastal town known for its rich maritime history and an astonishing setting at the confluence of the Lima River and the Atlantic Ocean. During the Age of Discoveries, this city was a significant shipbuilding and maritime trade centre.

Praça da República (Republic Square), the main square, is a good starting point for your explorations, surrounded by colourful buildings, cafes and artisan shops. As you meander through the city, notice all the unique azulejo tiles that adorn the façades of the houses.

Perched on top of Mount Santa Luzia, you will find the Santa Luzia Sanctuary, a neo-Byzantine architectural gem. You can either go up on foot or take advantage of the Monte de Santa Luzia Funicular. Either way, you will be rewarded with jaw-dropping vistas of the Lima River!

If you visit Viana do Castelo on a warm day, crossing the Lima River and exploring Cabedelo Beach is a great option to relax and take a break from history!


Ponte de Lima

Ponte de lima

When you find yourself driving to Spain or Viana do Castelo, which you know all about now, consider taking a break in Ponte de Lima, a hidden gem that is worth being explored. It is situated along the banks of the Lima River and owes its name to the iconic medieval and Roman bridge that spans the river. It gained importance due to its strategic location along the Roman road linking Braga to Santiago de Compostela. Your first stop must then be this iconic site!

Igreja Matriz (Mother Church) is the main church of Ponte de Lima and an important landmark that represents the town’s rich religious history, marked by an impressive façade and intricate altars. Another popular attraction is the Toy Museum, housed in a former medieval tower, which holds a transporting collection of vintage toys.

When you wish to come back to present times, just head to Largo de Camões or Praça da República, the main meeting places to share food and drinks. The bi-weekly market held every other Monday is another great opportunity to experience the local culture!



Referred to as the "Rome of Portugal", Braga is one of the oldest cities in the country and has a rich historical and religious heritage, making it a significant cultural and pilgrimage destination. Braga's origins can be traced back to the Roman times when it was known as Bracara Augusta.

With no surprise, Braga holds a wealth of architectural treasures. The first one on the list is Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary, an iconic pilgrimage site known for its monumental Baroque staircase. The sanctuary itself is perched atop a hill and boasts breathtaking views of the city.

Next on the list comes the Braga Cathedral (Sé de Braga). From the 12th century, it features a mix of architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque elements. Another important pilgrimage site is the Sameiro Sanctuary, dedicated to Our Lady of Sameiro. 

Braga's city centre is a mix of narrow medieval streets, vibrant squares enhanced by numerous shops, cafes and restaurants and the Garden of Santa Barbara, a lush green oasis in the heart of the city.



Barcelos is a quaint town located along the banks of the Cávado River and known for its vibrant history, traditional crafts and colourful folklore. The town played a crucial role in regional trade and commerce during the Middle Ages.

Barcelos is very famous among the Portuguese for its emblematic symbol, the Barcelos Rooster. Legend has it that a pilgrim accused of theft who, facing death, pointed to a roasted rooster, claiming the animal would come to life and prove his innocence. Despite disbelief, the rooster indeed revived, thus becoming a symbol of luck and justice in Barcelos. 

In addition to the magical rooster, Barcelos is sought-after for its large weekly market, one of the most vibrant in the country. Every Thursday, Campo da República pulsates with life as residents and visitors browse through a rich panoply of local agricultural products, artisanal pieces, popular arts and crafts. Your options for an out-of-the-ordinary souvenir are endless!


Have you packed your bags yet?

Overall, Northern Portugal beckons travellers with a unique tapestry of cultural richness, historical treasures and scenic wonders. From the vibrant streets of Braga and the medieval charm of Guimarães to the quaint allure of towns like Barcelos and Chaves, this region captivates with its diverse offerings. The historic significance, warm hospitality and a fusion of traditional and modern experiences make Northern Portugal a must-visit destination. Whether savouring the local delicacies, exploring ancient castles or unwinding in soothing thermal spas, the North presents an authentic and enriching travel experience for those seeking a journey beyond the ordinary.


Topics: portugal, visitportugal, portuguesetravelagency, self-guided, gastronomy, culture, vacations, tourtailors, tourism travel, Douro Valley, Guimarães, Braga, Barcelos

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