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Things to do in Northern Portugal

Things to do in  Northern Portugal

Welcome to Northern Portugal

Venture north from Lisbon and you’ll find a wealth of cultural and culinary delights in Northern Portugal, famed for its crepuscular wine cellars, revered pilgrimage sites, and picturesque valleys. In Porto, buildings smothered in azulejos (hand-painted tiles) tumble toward the Douro River (Rio Douro) and a haphazard historic center confirms its UNESCO World Heritage status at every turn. Combine tasting port, Porto’s world-renowned fortified wine, with a sightseeing tour and river cruise for an authentic glimpse into the capital of Northern Portugal. In contrast to Oporto’s densely packed architecture are the sweeping valleys and bounteous vineyards of the Douro Valley, where wineries and miradouros (lookout points) revealing stunning natural landscapes blend harmoniously. Use Porto as a base for day trips to Guimarães, undoubtedly the best preserved of Portugal’s medieval enclaves; historic Braga; and Santiago de Compostela, a holy and autonomous region located across the Spanish border in Galicia. Northern Portugal also offers easy access by train and plane to other Portuguese treasures, including the capital city, Lisbon, and the gorgeous beaches of the Algarve. If you’re planning to combine your Portugal trip with visits to other European cities but don’t have enough time to make it to Venice, don’t worry—Aveiro, known affectionately as the Venice of Portugal, boasts canal networks lined with moliceiros (colorful boats) with a traditional fish market and an impressive art museum.

Top 15 attractions in Northern Portugal

#1
Clérigos Church and Tower (Torre & Igreja dos Clérigos)

Clérigos Church and Tower (Torre & Igreja dos Clérigos)

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Standing atop a hill overlooking Porto, Portugal, are the Igreja dos Clérigos, an 18th-century church and one of the city’s architectural symbols, and the Toree dos Clérigos, its bell tower. Intricately carved baroque shells and garlands on the church reflect Porto’s seaside location, and the bell tower offers panoramic views of the city.More
#2
Dom Luis Bridge (Ponte de Dom Luis I)

Dom Luis Bridge (Ponte de Dom Luis I)

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Designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel—the architect responsible for the Eiffel Tower—Ponte de Dom Luis I marked a significant step forward in Porto’s economic growth at the time of its construction; before it existed, the only passages across the river were boats lashed together. Today, visitors can admire the Douro River and the Ribeira District from the pedestrian walkway of Porto’s most symbolic sight.More
#3
Porto Cathedral (Sé Catedral do Porto)

Porto Cathedral (Sé Catedral do Porto)

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Watching over the city from its hilltop spot, the imposing fort-like Porto Cathedral (Sé Catedral do Porto)is a reminder of Porto’s diverse history. Featuring Romanesque, Gothic, and baroque architecture, this is Porto’s oldest and largest church, a must-visit for architecture and history aficionados.More
#4
Liberdade Square (Praça da Liberdade)

Liberdade Square (Praça da Liberdade)

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Lying at the southern end of Porto’s majestic Avenida dos Aliados is Liberdade Square (Praça da Liberdade), which started its life in the late 18th century when the city began to expand beyond its medieval walls. If you stand in the centre of the square, you’ll get spectacular views of some of Porto’s architectural symbols, which include the Baroque City Hall (Câmara Municipal).More
#5
Palace of the Stock Exchange (Palácio da Bolsa)

Palace of the Stock Exchange (Palácio da Bolsa)

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Forming an integral part of Porto’s historic center, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Palace of the Stock Exchange (Palácio da Bolsa is a marvel of neoclassical architecture. The 19th-century palace has played host to royals such as Her Majesty the Queen, and today can be explored only as part of a guided tour.More
#6
Casa da Música

Casa da Música

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Casa da Música is one of the top attractions in Porto for music and architecture fans alike. Modern and eye-catching from the outside, inside it houses a vast 1,300-seat concert hall used by the Porto National Orchestra. The rooftop restaurant offers drinks and dinner options that are as delightful as the views.More
#7
Ribeira

Ribeira

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Set on the banks of the River Douro, Ribeira is Porto’s oldest quarter. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the district’s maze of alleyways and pastel-colored houses rises up on a hill above the bay. The Ribeira’s modern waterfront—lined with restaurants, bars, and cafés—is a popular leisure hub and nightlife destination.More
#8
Church of São Francisco (Igreja de São Francisco)

Church of São Francisco (Igreja de São Francisco)

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Behind its comparatively stark Gothic facade, the Church of São Francisco(Igreja de São Francisco) harbors a trove of baroque finery: The interior has marble columns, intricate wooden carvings, and gold-covered walls. Highlights include the magnificent Tree of Jesse altarpiece, a 13th-century statue of Saint Francis, and eerily beautiful catacombs.More
#9
Porto Calem Wine Cellars

Porto Calem Wine Cellars

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Founded in 1859 by António Alves Cálem, Porto CalemWine Cellars are one of the most celebrated wineries in the Porto region. Located at the heart of the Douro Valley, the family-run winery produces some of Portugal’s finest port wines, using centuries-old production methods and offering a completely unique tasting experience for wine lovers.More
#10
Braga Cathedral (Sé de Braga)

Braga Cathedral (Sé de Braga)

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Located in city of Braga in northern Portugal, the Braga Cathedral (Sé de Braga) is the oldest surviving church in Portugal and one of the most important monuments in the country. Built in a Burgundian Romanesque style between the 11th and 13th centuries, the cathedral provided architectural inspiration for many other churches and monasteries built in Portugal around the same time. Due to numerous modifications over the centuries, the cathedral today features a mix of styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline and Baroque.The cathedral consists of several chapels built at different times. The parents of the first Portuguese were buried in the Chapel of the Kings in 1374 and the Chapel of the Glory was built in the mid-14th century as the final resting place of Archbishop Goncalo Pereira. Looks for the tomb guarded by siz life size stone lions and the painted Moorish geometrical designs. Also of note for visitors is the choir with sculptured gilt wood stalls built in the late 1730s and two gilt wood organs carved around the same time.Don’t miss the Cathedral Museum, which includes elaborately carved 18th century choir stalls, the 10th century chalice of Saint Gerald, a 14th century statue of the Virgin Mary and an 11th century Arab ivory box.More
#11
Rua Santa Catarina

Rua Santa Catarina

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Stretching from Praça do Marquês de Pombal in the north to Praça da Batalha in the south, Rua Santa Catarina is Porto’s principal shopping street and social hub. The 1-mile (1.5-kilometer thoroughfare is lined with Art Nouveau buildings and serves as a perfect place to start your Porto sightseeing.More
#12
Serralves Museum (Fundação de Serralves)

Serralves Museum (Fundação de Serralves)

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Situated in a magnificent garden just west of downtown Porto, the Serralves Museum(Fundação de Serralves) has become a top city highlight and one of the most influential modern art museums in Portugal. Its permanent collection spans from the 1960s to the present day, with large sculptural pieces scattered throughout the grounds.More
#13
Porto Bridge Climb

Porto Bridge Climb

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Spanning the Douro River, Porto’s Arrábida Bridge was the largest concrete-arch bridge in the world when it was completed in 1963. Today, pedestrians can walk up the span’s archway with Porto Bridge Climb, the only bridge-climb experience in Europe. It’s a rare opportunity to enjoy a unique perspective on the city and river below.More
#14
Matosinhos Beach

Matosinhos Beach

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On Portugal’s Atlantic coast, Matosinhos Beach (Praia de Matosinhos) is the city of Porto’s closest strand. With broad sands and a scenic promenade lined with fish restaurants, it’s a lively destination and a favorite among local families, as well as a notable surf spot.More
#15
SEA LIFE® Porto

SEA LIFE® Porto

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One of Porto’s top attractions for families of all ages, the SEA LIFE® Porto aquarium is home to dazzling displays of marine life. Visitors can enjoy up-close encounters with some of the sea’s most colorful inhabitants, including octopus, rays, sea turtles, and sharks.More

Trip ideas

Fado Shows in Porto

Fado Shows in Porto

How to Spend 1 Day in Porto

How to Spend 1 Day in Porto

How to Spend 2 Days in Porto

How to Spend 2 Days in Porto

Top activities in Northern Portugal

Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, Lunch and Optional Cruise.
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Complete Douro Valley Wine Tour with Lunch, Wine Tastings and River Cruise
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Douro Valley - Expert wine guide all day, Boat, Lunch and Tastings.All included
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Best of Braga and Guimaraes Day Trip from Porto
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Authentic Douro Wine Tour Including Lunch and River Cruise
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Oporto Six Bridges Cruise

Oporto Six Bridges Cruise

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Douro Valley Private Tour (All Inclusive)
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Porto: 3-Hour Food and Wine Tasting Tour - Guided Experience
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4x4 to waterfalls, lagoons & old village in Gerês Park with Lunch Included
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3-Hour of Porto Highlights on a Electric Bike - Guided Tour
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Private tour in the Douro (1 to 4 people) in a boat just for you
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Recent reviews from experiences in Northern Portugal

star-4
Great value!
Wam_K, Apr 2022
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, River Cruise and Lunch From Porto
The hosts were very accommodating and spoke excellent English.
star-5
Full day of Fun
GeraldM_L, Apr 2022
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, Lunch & River Cruise
This was a full day of different types of activities.
star-5
Douro Valley tour
Catherine_D, Apr 2022
Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, Lunch and Optional Cruise.
Excellent English and very knowledgeable about Port and the Douro Valley
star-5
Loved it!
Lindsey_H, Apr 2022
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, River Cruise and Lunch From Porto
This tour was the perfect way to see the Douro Valley in one day.
star-5
A must-do experience when in Porto.
Sydney_L, Apr 2022
Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, Lunch and Optional Cruise.
It was interesting to see a bit about how hands-on the process still is in smaller wineries.
star-5
Great value
Deana_W, Apr 2022
Douro Valley Historical Tour with Lunch, Winery Visit with Tastings and Panoramic Cruise
We got to see so much of the Douro valley in an short and easy time.
star-5
Douro Valley Tour
Inkyung_Y, Mar 2022
Authentic Douro Wine Tour Including Lunch and River Cruise
It was a great way to see the Douro Valley and inside of winery.
star-5
Buena organización y ruta
Guillermo_L, Dec 2021
Oporto Six Bridges Cruise
It is a great way to see the shoreline of river Douro, although it could be more interesting if more historic details where added
star-5
Highlight of my Portugal trip
Christine_N, May 2022
Douro Valley - Expert wine guide all day, Boat, Lunch and Tastings.All included
His English is fluid and fun, way better than most of the tour guides in Portugal.
star-5
Fantastic tour - highly recommend
Catherine_R, May 2022
Douro Valley 3 Wine Experiences with Fabulous Lunch and Optional Boat Cruise
This was a fantastic tour and would highly recommend to anyone going to Porto who wants to see the Douro valley, and also wants to get a lot done in 1 day.
star-5
Wonderful Value for high quality tour
Marissa_S, May 2022
Douro Valley Tour with Visit to two Vineyards, River Cruise and Lunch at Winery
We had a group of English speakers and Spanish speakers and she was able to flawlessly switch back and forth to talk about the Douro region and the wine.
star-5
Antonio provided a great...
Brian_D, Apr 2022
Private tasting in the Douro (1 to 6 people) on a Yacht just for you
The boat is very nice, clean, and spacious and made for a wonderful evening cruising down the Douro to see the city from a different vantage point.
star-4
Good day out at the Douro Valley from Porto.
Luciano_P, Apr 2022
Douro Valley Tour with Visit to two Vineyards, River Cruise and Lunch at Winery
It was a 9 hour day pack with very turisty activities including the 90min drive each way.
star-5
Awesome experience!
Sasha_H, Apr 2022
Douro Valley Historical Tour with Lunch, Winery Visit with Tastings and Panoramic Cruise
Joana effortlessly conducted the tour in both English and Spanish, as we enjoyed a comfortable ride to each stop, with a delicious lunch along the way.
star-5
Excellent, informative...
Peter_Z, Apr 2022
Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, Lunch and Optional Cruise.
Good mix of activities over the day and done at a good pace...
star-5
A very enjoyable day
Victoria_W, Apr 2022
Authentic Douro Wine Tour Including Lunch and River Cruise
He was able to entertain the group that was with him in both English and French.
star-5
A Great Memorable Tour.
simplyksean, Apr 2022
Complete Douro Valley Wine Tour with Lunch, Wine Tastings and River Cruise
Antonio is pleasant, very knowledgeable about the city, areas, attractions, and history facts.
star-5
Do it now before the tourists floods in again!!!
Juhee_W, Apr 2022
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, Lunch & River Cruise
For less than US $150, I wouldn’t be able to find anything even remotely close to this much fun, value-packed activities that take a whole day, especially chauffeured by a guide, along with marvelous lunch, Port, red/white wines.
star-5
A wonderful day with an excellent guide
Danielle_W, Jan 2022
Douro Valley - Expert wine guide all day, Boat, Lunch and Tastings.All included
The Douro Valley itself was incredible to see and experience.
star-5
Relaxed enjoyment
Arthur_N, Sep 2021
Oporto Six Bridges Cruise
This was a smooth, relaxing experience, and an ideal way to see sights on both banks of the Douro River.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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What are the top things to do in Northern Portugal?
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