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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trip ideas

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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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Authentic Douro Wine Tour Including Lunch and River Cruise
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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 - 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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Porto: 3-Hour Food and Wine Tasting Tour - Guided Experience
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Porto: Douro Valley Wine Tour Including Lunch
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Porto Boat Tour

Porto Boat Tour

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Douro Valley Wine Tour: Visit to Three Vineyards with Wine Tastings and Lunch
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3-Hour of Porto Highlights on a Electric Bike - Guided Tour
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Douro Valley Tour Including 3 Wineries to Small Groups
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Northern Portugal

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Perfect boat ride on the Douro
Paul_R, Oct 2022
Private tasting in the Douro (1 to 6 people) on a Yacht just for you
His English was great.
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Most memorable experience of Douro Valley
Raj_D, Sep 2022
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, River Cruise and Lunch From Porto
I highly recommend this tour for anyone wanting to visit Duoro Valley!
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Spectacular Day in the Douro Valley!
Gail_B, Sep 2022
Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, Lunch and Optional Cruise.
Our tour guide Joao was spectacular, he is so knowledgeable about the valley, the history and other delightful things to do when in Porto and surrounding area.
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Enjoyable trip to Douro valley
Barbara_S, Sep 2022
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, River Cruise and Lunch From Porto
The river cruise was especially beautiful, a wonderful way to see the vines
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Great Tour of the Douro Valley!
Lara, Sep 2022
Authentic Douro Wine Tour Including Lunch and River Cruise
I really appreciated how we got to see both the new and old sides of Douro Valley wine making.
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An enjoyable tour
Dowoo_L, Sep 2022
Douro Valley Premium Tour from Porto with lunch, wine tasting & river cruise
A nice way to see the Douro valley for a day trip from Porto.
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Beautiful and fun trip
Marisa_B, Aug 2022
Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, Lunch and Optional Cruise.
The wineries were so cool to see and absolutely breathtaking.
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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.
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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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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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Phenomenal! Must try!
Alyssa_V, Sep 2022
Vintage Tour (city of Porto)
Great way to see the city and appreciate the history!
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Great tour with Rui
Margaret_G, Sep 2022
Private off the beaten Douro Valley Tour
What a great way to see the Douro Valley!
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Amazing cruise with a wonderful sunset
Joyce_S, Sep 2022
Douro Sunset Sailboat Experience in Porto
Miguel speaks english and french and gives us a lot of informations and recommandations (on restaurants and wine) that we followed.
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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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A Must Do
Christina_A, Sep 2022
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, Lunch & River Cruise
One thing to note: My hotel was on the Villa Nova de Gaia side of the bridge and they weren't able to pick me up there but were able to pick me up directly in front of the bridge on the Porto side (on the lower half- so no hiking up a hill first thing in the am lol)- which was only a 15 minute walk but well worth it to see the city start to wake.
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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.
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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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