Northern Portugal is a lush and green region filled with breathtaking landscapes, spectacular views, lots of hiking areas, beaches to relax, charming medieval towns, as well as bigger cities with cool and relaxed vibes. It’s also home to Portugal’s only National Park – Peneda-Geres, delicious wines – Vinho Verde and Port, and famous Caldo Verde soup. It’s a truly beautiful region in Portugal, yet undiscovered by many and often overlooked in favor of the Algarve in the south.
So far we’ve spent 6 weeks there and enjoyed almost every second of it. During that time we had an opportunity to visit quite a large part of this beautiful region and today we want to show you our list of the best places to visit in Northern Portugal. Add them to your bucket list – you won’t regret it.
Wondering where is the best place to have a home base? We were living in Ponte da Barca and found it a really great starting point. It’s located just in the middle of every other place mentioned in this post. So our recommendation would be to look around that area.
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15+ Best Places To Visit In Northern Portugal
Guimaraes is a truly remarkable town where Afonso Henrique, the first Portugal king was born. The town is full of history and its medieval streets invite you to take a step back in time, hundreds of years. Believe us, it’s a pure delight to slowly stroll around Guimaraes Old Town! Narrow streets, old stone houses with typical medieval wooden upper parts, vibrant squares, and a well-preserved castle makes an impressive combination. No wonder Guimaraes Old Town has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Braga is one of the oldest cities in Portugal and definitely the most religious one. Thanks to a huge number of churches, as many as 47, the city is often called the Rome of Portugal. So if you are a huge fan of churches you’ll definitely have a blast in Braga. Thankfully the city has more to offer than just dozens of churches and spiritual experiences. In its old town, you’ll find many streets and squares full of historical buildings and landmarks. Just outside the city, you’ll also find magnificent viewpoints over Braga and its surroundings.
Porto is one of the most popular travel destinations in Portugal, visited by thousands of tourists every month. Port wine, wine lodges, lots of churches covered in azulejos, magical bookstore, lively Ribeira District named UNESCO World Heritage Site, an endless number of picturesque winding streets, many spectacular viewpoints, delicious local cuisine, and of course pastels de nata… All of that makes Porto one of the best places to visit in Northern Portugal.
Barcelos is another great place to visit in Northern Portugal. What makes this town unique? That it’s the birthplace of the famous and colorful Rooster of Barcelos, probably the most recognizable and iconic symbol of Portugal. There’s also a pleasant old town that has retained some of its medieval vibes. It’s full of charming and well-kept streets that invite for a lazy stroll while admiring 14th and 15th centuries buildings.
Learn more: City Of Famous Rooster Of Barcelos In Portugal
Viana do Castelo
Viana do Castelo is a very enjoyable and interesting Portuguese coastal city located at the mouth of the Lima River. It can offer you a lovely old town where wandering among the streets is a pure pleasure, lots of historic buildings, an iconic mountaintop church, a very fascinating Gil Eannes Hospital Ship museum, and even beaches where you can relax for a moment. All of this, and more, can be found in Viana do Castelo, one of the best places to visit in Northern Portugal which is ready to win your heart.
Caminha is a small and very pleasant Portuguese town located at the mouth of River Minho, right across Spain. It was founded in the 13th century and for hundreds of years played an important military role in defending Portugal’s northern borders. Caminha is still not a well-known destination but it has its own charm and for sure offers proper northern-Portugal vibes. Apart from the lovely old town full of medieval streets and buildings, you’ll find there stunning landscapes. Without a doubt, Caminha is a must-see place to visit in Northern Portugal.
Vila Nova de Cerveira
Vila Nova de Cerveira, or just Cerveira, is a small town located on the banks of the left banks of River Minho, right across from Spain. Cerveira was named after the deer population that used to inhabit the area (cervos means deer). Stunning viewpoints with magnificent panoramic views over the area, iron deer statue that carefully observes the village from above, huge cerLove swing, small but charming old town perfect for lazy stroll, castle and huge weekly Saturday market – Vila Nova de Cerveira has it all.
Valenca do Minho
Valenca do Minh, is located on the left bank of the River Minho, right across from Spain. This unique Portuguese fortress town’s history goes back up to Roman times. Over the years it played an important military role in defending the Portuguese northern borders. Valenca do Minho Fortress is without a doubt the most recognizable highlight of the town and one of the most popular tourist attractions in North Portugal. Be sure not to miss this unique place in Northern Portugal.
Ponte de Lima
Ponte de Lima is Portugal’s oldest village, founded in 1125 by Teresa de Leão, countess of Portugal and the mother of the first king of Portugal – Afonso I. What is waiting for you in Ponte de Lima? Beautiful Ponte Romana stone bridge behind which lies a fascinating legend, charming well-preserved old town, beautiful views of the surroundings, and fancy gardens displays. Not that big, yet not that small, and absolutely worth the visit!
Ponte da Barca
Ponte da Barca is a small and truly charming Portuguese town that sits on the banks of the Lima River and at the foot of Peneda-Geres National Park. Beautiful landscapes, many green areas near the river, charming old town with iconic stone medieval bridge and lovely streets perfect to get lost in, chilled vibes, tasty food, and Vinho Verde wine… All of this, and more, can be found in Ponte da Barca, one of the best places to visit in Northern Portugal.
Arcos De Valdevez
Arcos de Valdevez is a very quiet and sleepy Portuguese town located on the banks of the Vez River and at the foot of Peneda-Geres National Park. The town was founded in 1515, and despite the passage of time, it has retained lots of its charm and traditional architecture. 19th century four-arches stone bridge, Valdevez Tournament statue depicts two knights on (legless) horses, a small old town full of churches… It might not be the most interesting or charming town in Northern Portugal, but while in the area it’s definitely worth taking a look and wandering around a bit.
Learn more: Best Things To Do In Arcos De Valdevez, Portugal
Lindoso is a small, remote, and slightly-forgotten village located in a very scenic spot in Peneda-Geres National Park, which makes it an amazing place to visit in Northern Portugal. In Lindoso you won’t find many places to see, but those that the village can offer will take you on an amazing journey back in time hundreds of years. The well-preserved 13th-century medieval castle from which great views extend, the picturesque 50 granite granaries that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and the stone old town with the quaint houses are waiting for you to discover.
Soajo is located at the foot of Peneda-Geres National Park at an altitude of 1416m a.s.l. It’s another remote and traditional Portuguese village, where you won’t find many places to see, but the ones you’ll find will probably really impress you and will take you on a trip back in time. 24 picturesque granaries that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, magnificent views of the surroundings, traditional stone old town with quaint houses, winding streets, and an unusual stone pillory with a carved anthropomorphic face… All of that creates a really charming picture which can’t be missed while in Northern Portugal.
Peneda-Geres National Park
Peneda-Geres National Park or just Geres, is the first and only National Park in Portugal. It consists of four mountain ranges: Peneda, Geres, Soajo, and Amarela. Together with Parque Natural Baixa Limia on the Spanish side, they form the UNESCO Geres-Xures Transboundary Biosphere Reserve.
Peneda-Geres is a truly unique and beautiful place on Portugal’s map, filled with breathtaking landscapes and great places to visit that simply cannot be skipped while in the area. So if you want to learn more about it and discover more than just Lindoso and Soajo villages check out our post about one day trip ideas in the park.
15+ Best places to visit in Northern Portugal – Summing up
Northern Portugal is a really beautiful and breathtaking region, isn’t it? We hope that our list of the best places in Northern Portugal will help you decide which places you want to visit. Be sure to share with us which of those places caught your eye, we are curious! By the way, we spent there almost two months there and still feel that we saw only a small part of it, and there is still a lot to discover…
An important tip at the end. Traveling by car, without a doubt, is the best and the fastest way of getting to all mentioned places in Northern Portugal. So if you’re not traveling by car, we recommend you rent one. To some places, you’ll be able to reach by train, and to most of them by bus. Peneda-Geres National Park will be most tricky without a car.
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