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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 10 attractions in Northern Portugal

#1
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
#2
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
#3
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
#4
Dom Luis Bridge (Ponte de Dom Luis I)

Dom Luis Bridge (Ponte de Dom Luis I)

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The imperious, double-decker metal spans of Dom Luis Bridge (Ponte de Dom Luís I) stretch across the Douro River from Porto to Villa Nova de Gaia, and were designed by Téophile Seyrig, the student of Gustave Eiffel who also drew up the plans for the nearby Donna Maria Pia Bridge. WhenDom Luis Bridge (Ponte de Dom Luís I) was finished in 1886, it was the longest single-span bridge in the world at 564 feet, and it supported 3,045 tons of steel in weight.The bridge marked a significant step forward in Porto’s economic growth, as before it existed, the only passages across the river were boats lashed together. Today the lower deck of the bridge carries cars while the upper level is utilized by metro Line D and has a pedestrian walkway offering views across the river. Since the late 19th century, four other bridges have joined the bridge of Dom Luís I and Donna Maria Pia in reaching across the Douro; they are all best seen by river cruise in a traditional wooden rabelo.More
#5
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
#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
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
#8
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
#9
Palace of the Stock Exchange (Palácio da Bolsa)

Palace of the Stock Exchange (Palácio da Bolsa)

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Porto’s former stock exchange building, the Palace of the Stock Exchange (Palácio da Bolsa), is a magnificent 19th-century mansion at the heart of the city’s UNESCO-listed historic center. A marvel of neoclassical architecture and steeped in history, its grand ballrooms have played host to royals like Queen Elizabeth II over the years.Today, the Palacio da Bolsa is open to the public by guided tour only and visitors can explore a number of its opulent rooms. Highlights include the Nations’ Room, with its collection of international flags; the exquisite parquet floors and the monumental grand staircase with its glittering bronze chandeliers. The undisputed star attraction is the dazzling Arabian Room, where the arabesque décor and gilded pillars are inspired by the famous Alhambra Palace in Granada, and music concerts are held throughout the year.More
#10
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

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

Oporto Six Bridges Cruise

Oporto Six Bridges Cruise

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189
From
US$18,10
Private Food/Wine Tour Porto

Private Food/Wine Tour Porto

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From
US$132,70

Recent reviews from experiences in Northern Portugal

star-5
AMAZING
MandyStrating, Sep 2020
Douro Valley Tour with Visit to two Vineyards, River Cruise and Lunch at Winery
We had a wonderfull tourguide, his knowlegde and English was more than great!
star-5
Great Douro Valley Tour!
Justin_S, Jul 2020
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, River Cruise and Lunch From Porto with Pickup
It was great to see a few of the wineries in the Douro Valley and get a taste of history.
star-5
A Must-do Tour
Kitaya_T, Mar 2020
Premium Service-Douro Valley with Lunch,Boat and Tastings
It was a whole day trip but all activities were very enjoyable.
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Best part of Porto visit
maghentrinker, Jan 2020
Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, and Optional Lunch and Cruise
We normally do not want to join guided tours but to see the Douro Valley and visit the vineyards this was by far the best option.
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Probably one of our favorite days in our trip!
391martha, Sep 2019
Premium Service-Douro Valley with Lunch,Boat and Tastings
His English was excellent and he was very knowledgable regarding Douro Valley.
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Most beautiful views
taboo1914, Aug 2019
Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, and Optional Lunch and Cruise
I love love this tour if you have time to visit the Douro Valley please do so it is absolutely beautiful great and delicious lunch and ofcourse our tour guy was amazing I will go back if a have the opportunity to do it again
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Awesome Day at Douro Wine Tour!
Flyer776958, Jun 2019
Porto: Douro Valley Wine Tour Including Lunch
This was our 1st time in Portugal and we had to visit the wine sector Douro Valley.
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Best if you aren't a big drinker
lppachat, May 2019
Douro Valley Historical Tour with Lunch, Winery Visit with Tastings and Panoramic Cruise
We saw a lot and it was great if like me, you want to see Douro without drinking.
star-5
Introduction to northern Portugal
lizbrett6, Oct 2018
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, Lunch & River Cruise
We decided on this trip as we've always wanted to see the douro area.
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Highly recommended
camelia_d, Aug 2018
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, Lunch & River Cruise
Our guide Tiago was knowledgeable and easy to talk to, and spoke very good English.
star-5
We had an amazing day in the Douro...
Josh Hornthal, Mar 2018
Porto: Douro Valley Wine Tour Including Lunch
He spoke perfect English, was extremely informative, and always did whatever he could to make sure our whole group was having a great time.
star-5
Very good arrangement to see...
TzuWen H, Oct 2017
Douro Valley Historical Tour with Lunch, Winery Visit with Tastings and Panoramic Cruise
Very good arrangement to see beautiful landscape of Douro valley and to learn the story of Port wine and how it made.
star-4
Great way to see the lower Douro in...
Anthony M, May 2017
Day Trip from Porto to Régua by Bus and Return by Boat
Great way to see the lower Douro in one day.
star-5
Great tour
Mike_TMR, Aug 2019
Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, and Optional Lunch and Cruise
You should include the boat tour in your valley trip to see the beauty of the winnery.
star-4
The sights along the Douro River are...
scottsdalegma, Jun 2016
Day Cruise from Porto to Pinhão with Breakfast and Lunch
We did wonder, however, why we were seated with German people that did not speak English in spite of the fact that there were MANY English speaking people onboard, The afternoon was VERY hot and the train ride back was late and LONG!
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We really liked the small group and...
Michael W, Sep 2015
Douro Valley Wine Tour: Visit to Three Vineyards with Wine Tastings and Lunch
This is a very good way to see the Douro Valley without renting a car and has the benefit of knowledgeable guides.
star-5
Although we ended up in the wrong...
silvija p, Apr 2016
Douro Valley Premium Tour from Porto with lunch, wine tasting & river cruise
If you are in the north you have to visit Douro valley.
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Excellent tour, our tour guide...
Jeffrey N, Aug 2015
Porto: Day Trip to Douro
Great way to see the Douro valley.
star-5
Very nice tour of Douro. The guide...
Laura, Sep 2017
Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, Lunch & River Cruise
The tour guide spoke very good English so that was a plus.
star-5
Day was wonderful, guide (Paula...
Barbara O, Sep 2013
Porto: Guimarães and Braga Day Trip
Day was wonderful, guide (Paula) superb and we are so glad we took the time out to see a little more of Northern Portugal

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