Tour the Douro Valley in northern PortugalThe Douro Valley of northern Portugal spreads along the banks of the Rio Douro (River of Gold). This beautiful river flows for 150 miles through five Spanish provinces and onto the Atlantic Ocean coast of Portugal. Originally, the river flowed through rugged and wild countryside, but over the years, its banks were gradually developed. Now, historic towns and quaint villages line its banks, just waiting to be visited, while vineyards hug the hillsides.
Porto on the River DouroOne historic city nestling on the banks of the River Douro is the region’s capital, Porto. This iconic and beautiful city was proclaimed the European City of Culture back in 2001. After receiving the honor, much repair and restoration were carried out throughout Porto. Moreover, this has made it an even more exciting city to explore, with its port-wine houses and baroque buildings. One must-visit is the medieval Ribeira district, with its winding, cobblestoned streets lined with merchant’s houses and cute cafés. Among the buildings nestled here is the São Francisco Church, with its beautiful baroque interior, including gilded carvings. Another is the 19th-century Palácio de Bolsa, which was originally Porto’s stock market. Even the São Bento railway station is a recommended visit, with its traditional, tiled interiors.
Visit Pinhão in the Douro ValleyAnother delightful city to explore in the Douro Valley is Pinhão with its terraced hillside vineyards, known for some of the world’s best port and table wines. Here, visitors can tour the wineries, experience wine tastings and purchase delicious port wine to take home.
Lamego and the Sé CathedralLamego is another must-visit city in the Douro Valley, famous for its magnificent Sé Cathedral. With the original building dating back to 1119, the cathedral is the oldest in Portugal and has been declared a National Monument. Meanwhile, the city’s museum features fine paintings and beautiful Flemish tapestries.
The Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios is another historic and beautiful building to visit. Moreover, the surroundings of the city feature many port wine vineyards to explore.
Visit the Minho in Portugal
Next, we head to the Minho, an area the Portuguese consider their most beautiful region, lesser known as a tourist destination. The region hugs the border with Galicia, Spain, nestling in gorgeous scenery and offers two major cities to explore.
Visit Cultural GuimarãesOne city worth visiting on a cultural tour in the region is Guimarães, which hosts a 10th-century hilltop castle. Meanwhile, the Dukes of Bragança Palace, built in the style of a French chateau, features a museum exhibiting tapestries, historic weapons and furniture.
Visit BragaAnother location to visit is Braga, with its hilltop Bom Jesus do Monte religious complex. For those visitors with stamina, a 17-flight stairway takes them to the top. Meanwhile, Braga Cathedral is more accessible to visit, which boasts the Kings’ Chapel and a museum of sacred art. Also head to the Archbishop’s Palace, which stands overlooking the green and lovely Santa Barbara Garden.
Experience a tour of the Douro Valley and the Minho this year, sampling the best port wines and delicious cuisine in beautiful, green surroundings.