With the sunny Algarve in the south of Portugal, you could forget about the beautiful north of the country. Nevertheless, there are many reasons to include Northern Portugal in your itinerary!
We present you the Minho region, in the northwest. Minho has many curiosities and with its versatility, it can satisfy any tourist’s needs. You can visit the medieval Guimarães, the holy city Braga or the impressing National Park Peneda-Gerês. In Minho, there is really something for everyone!
Viana do Castelo
Viana do Castelo is a historic maritime town located at the mouth of the Lima river. It is also the gateway to the Costa Verde or the ‘green coast’. Visiting Viana do Castelo means visiting a beautiful, lively town with a lot of churches, monastery’s, water fountains… A cultural heritage that’s definitely worth the visit!
The mountain Monte Santa Luzia overlooks the small village and therefore a climb is definitely worth the effort. Once you’re up you have the most amazing views over the city and the mouth of the Lima river.
In August, there is the celebration in honour of Senhora d’Agonia. She was invoked by the fishermen to make the sea more favourable to them. It’s one of the most beautiful processions in the country. So, if you’re there in August, don’t miss the opportunity to join this exuberant and cheerful festivity!
National park Peneda-Gerês
Peneda-Gerês is situated between Alto Minho and Tras-os-Montes and is the only protected area that is recognized as a National Park in Portugal. With its wild nature, lush woods, steep ravines and rough mountain ridges it’s a fantastic place for hikers and nature lovers. Although, this nature alternates with traditional villages, small agriculture and green hills.
There are many things to do once you are in the park like horse-riding, canoe and of course… hiking! You can walk an old Roman pad - the Via Geira - that has been constructed around 2000 years ago. It’s very well preserved and you can still see Romans columns and milestones.
Also the fauna and flora have an amazing beauty. If you pay attention it could happen that you see a deer or an Iberian wolf! Worth a visit are the towns Pitões das Júnias and Tourém, where you can still experience age-old values and traditions.
When you want to enrich history knowledge you should definitely visit Braga. With more than 30 churches, the episcopal palace and many religious festivities this is the holy city of Portugal. The city is full of traditions and places to visit.
For example, there is the unique pilgrimage place, Bom Jesus do Monte. You can reach the church by a gigantic zigzag stairs with 686 steps, decorated with sculptures, chapels and fountains. If you’re not that active you can also take the cable railway up.
There is also the impressive cathedral Sé, which is the oldest in the country. The cathedral was built by order of the parents of the first king in the 12th century. Sé has several styles, from Roman to Baroque.
Guimarães, the birth place of Portugal
If you want to learn more about the origin and identity of Portugal, you should definitely visit Guimarães, the first capital of the country. It was here that the first king Afonso Henriques was born. Strolling through the small streets, you can still feel the medieval atmosphere! The centre is listed as UNESCO world heritage.
There are several curiosities you should put on your to do list such as the historic square Largo da Oliveira, the big castle Castelo de São Miguel and the gothic palace Paco dos Duques de Braganca. This last castle was constructed in 1422 for the first dukes of Braganca. Today, the palace is a national monument and also public museum.
Rota dos Vinhos Verdes ("Green Wine Route")
Vinho Verde is a unique young, light sparkling wine who finds her origin in the North of Portugal. The ‘green’ wine owns its name because of the overpowering green colour of the region. This wine is very good during lunch with fresh fish or seafood on a hot summer day!
In Minho, you can follow the touristic road ‘Rota dos Vinhos Verdes’. Following this road you will get to know more about this special Portuguese wine and the region. The road is signposted and takes you along green landscapes and small vineyards. And once you’re there you should really attend a wine tasting and visit one of the quintas.
But Minho is also a lot more than this... There are spas and thermals for people who love to relax in a breath-taking environment, golf courts, water sport activities… Come and discover it yourself!
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