Best Cities to Visit in Portugal’s Norte Region
Below is our map of select cities to visit in the north of Portugal. The Norte region is Portugal’s most populous and has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The region is divided into 8 sub-regions.
There are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the Norte region: the Alto Douro Wine Region, the Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley, the Porto historical Center and the Guimarães historical Center.
Norte Region Cities Map
Norte’s Top Tourist Cities
The city that anchors the Norte region is Porto. Know for its fortified wines, Portugal’s second city was named Europe’s best destination in 2017.
In Porto the tourist will see an array of architectural gems from Roman, Gothic, Baroque, Neoclassic and Renaissance eras in this scenic city built into the granite cliffs at the mouth of the river Douro. There are some good examples of Portuguese Art Deco as well.
And you can always slip across the river to see the historic Port lodges.
North of Porto is the Minho, a cluster of very interesting cities to visit, from Portugal’s first capital Guimarães to Braga and Portugal’s most photographed church at the Bom Jesus Sanctuary. Viana do Castelo is a “living museum” on the northwest coast of Portugal at the mouth of the Lima river and considered one of Portugal’s most beautiful towns.
Guimarães was settled in the 9th century and became Portugal’s first capital city. The city center is a World Heritage site based on its role in the establishment of Portuguese national identity and language in the 12th century. 500 feet away from Guimarães Castle is the Hotel da Oliveira, a highly rated choice with secured parking. The city’s Pousada,
In the north center of the region are a couple of interesting destinations that can be seen together, Chaves, a guardian of the frontier with Spain and spa town with castle ruins and Boticas, where you can find one of Portugal’s most interesting wines, Vinho dos Mortos: Wine of the Dead.
Braganca is another border city that still has its castle, towers, and town walls from the 12th century intact. There is a lot to see inside those medieval walls:
In its gardens, a stone boar is said to date from the Iron Age, whereas the pillory which rises from its back probably dates from the 1500s, and in the keep, the Museu Militar displays a motley collection of bellic artefacts, from medieval armour, to 20th century guns and even art collected by Portuguese soldiers whilst serving in the then colonies. The town is also home to Portugal’s last remaining example of Romanesque civic architecture, the pentagonal Domus Municipalis, with many small arches on each of its sides, crowns the citadel. The local museum takes its name from a famous son of Bragança, a scholar and historian by the name of Abade de Baçal, whose vast knowledge of his region and its past was published and greatly revered. The museum displays, amongst many other curios, art dating from the 1500s, age-old gravestones and instruments of torture. The interior of the church of Santa Maria is also worth a visit with a strikingly vivid depiction of the Assumption on its barrel-shaped ceiling. — Braganca – Portugal holiday guide
Pousada de Bragança offers panoramic views of the city and Bragança Castle.
Miranda do Douro guards the eastern border with Spain. The city’s museums preserve the older customs of the people of the region. The Pauliteiro Stick Dancers celebrate the ancient traditions of the Douro valley, including the Celtic Iron Age past. Miranda’s highest rated hotel in town is Hotel Cabeço do Forte
On the south side of the map you’ll find an extraordinary archaeological site at Foz Coa. the valley around the river Côa was destined to be a reservoir when word got out about its concentration of rock carvings from the Upper Upper Palaeolithic (22,000-10,000 B.C.) Now it’s a park where you can see these ancient carvings.
More From the Norte Region
Here’s a list of user-rated places to stay in the Norte region of Portugal.