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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
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
#3
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
#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
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
#7
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
#8
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
#9
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
#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
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
#14
Douro River (Rio Douro)

Douro River (Rio Douro)

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A major river on the Iberian Peninsula, the Douro River (Rio Douro) flows from Duruelo de la Sierra in northern Spain all the way to Porto in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. More than just the region’s lifeline, it’s also the centerpiece of the Douro Valley, Portugal’s most famous wine region and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.More
#15
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

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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Authentic Douro Wine Tour Including Lunch and River 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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Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, Lunch & River Cruise
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Douro Valley Historical Tour with Lunch, Winery Visit with Tastings and Panoramic Cruise
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Douro Valley Wine Tour: Visit to Three Vineyards with Wine Tastings and Lunch
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Porto: 3-Hour Food and Wine Tasting Tour - Guided Experience
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Douro Valley Tour with Visit to two Vineyards, River Cruise and Lunch at Winery
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Private tasting in the Douro (1 to 6 people) on a Yacht just for you
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Porto Boat Tour
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Porto Boat Tour

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Douro Valley Private Tour (All Inclusive)
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Douro Valley Tour Including 3 Wineries to Small Groups
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Private tour in the Douro (1 to 4 people) in a boat just for you
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3-Hour of Porto Highlights on a Electric Bike - Guided Tour
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Northern Portugal

star-5
Well worth going
wxpz2sgh5b, Jul. 2022
Authentic Douro Wine Tour Including Lunch and River Cruise
The Douro Valley is beautiful but very hot in summer.
star-5
Worth your while
Beth_G, Jul. 2022
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, River Cruise and Lunch From Porto
Great way to see the Douro Valley of you only have a day.
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Douro River Boat Ride
Brian_G, Jul. 2022
2-hour Rabelo Boat tour in Pinhão
Great opportunity to see the multiple vineyards.
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A must do!
Elizabeth_P, Jul. 2022
Douro Valley - Expert wine guide all day, Boat, Lunch and Tastings.All included
This is a must if you are looking to visit the Douro.
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Porto Sunset!
Jessica_M, Jul. 2022
Porto Boat Tour
Perfect way to see both sides of the river.
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Best way to see the Douro Valley from Porto!
Lisa_S, Jul. 2022
Douro Valley - Expert wine guide all day, Boat, Lunch and Tastings.All included
This was the best way to see the Douro Valley from Porto and included all the highlights.
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Excellent Douro tour
Walter_C, Jun. 2022
Douro Valley Historical Tour with Lunch, Winery Visit with Tastings and Panoramic Cruise
Arabella did the tour in English & French.
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The Delightful Douro Valley!
Patricia_F, Jun. 2022
Authentic Douro Wine Tour Including Lunch and River Cruise
Pedro (Peter), our guide, is a wealth of historical knowledge and his English is excellent!
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.
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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.
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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
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.
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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.
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Unique, well-structured experience
Marianna_K, Aug. 2022
Douro Valley Tour Including 3 Wineries to Small Groups
As the heat can be almost unbearable in the valley during the summer months, we were also very happy that our minivan had well-working air condition.
star-5
Awesome experience!
DalaynaTillman, Jul. 2022
Douro Valley Full-Day Wine Tasting with Lunch Tour from Porto
I will recommend any family and friends that plan to visit Porto to contact him to book tour - a must-do experience with Hugo!
star-5
Great experience on the river Douro.
Maria_B, Jul. 2022
Porto Boat Tour
We've got lucky and got to see wine boats sailing up the river, which we were told by the other crew member happens only twice per year or so.
star-5
Fabulous day trip with expert guide
LINDA_O, Jul. 2022
Douro Valley full-day private tour from Porto
Luís was incredibly flexible in planning our activities on the fly, making great recommendations and keeping us on track.
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Great exploration of Porto and surroundings
Jenny_K, Jul. 2022
Porto multi-day tours: 3 days of tours From Porto
I ended foregoing most of the second day tour and paid for another tour to where I wanted to visit.
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This is THE tour to take for Douro Valley...What an awesome adventure!
Jessica_D, Jul. 2022
Douro Valley Premium Tour from Porto with lunch, wine tasting & river cruise
In fact, I probably will when I come back to Porto this fall!
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Just book it!
Dawn_C, Jul. 2022
City Escape: Douro Valley Private Day Trip
So much to see in one day.
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All about Northern Portugal

Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
WEST (UTC +1)
Country Code
+351
Language(s)
Portuguese
Frequently Asked Questions
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