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Northern Portugal

Between Galicia and the Douro

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After the Lisbon Area,  the Norte region is Portugal's most popular tourist destination, particularly with the Portuguese themselves and for visitors from Spain: on the other hand, it receives less visitors from other parts of Europe, which is surprising since it is a region that has a lot to offer.

    In particular, the Norte region is famed for its capital city Porto (also called Oporto),  for its emblematic product, Port and forits coastline.

A UNESCO world heritage site, the old port city of Porto is a must-see for anyone visiting Portugal for any reason other than to lie on a beach. The highest point in the old town is the Torre dos Clérigos offering great views in all directions. Among the city's best attractions are boat trips on the river, Port wine tasting, the old town with it colourful facades, the medieval gothic cathedral and (surprisingly) the São Bento train station, with its remarkable interior, decorated in blue and white tiles  telling the history of Portugal and scenes from Portuguese life. Just south of Porto, though in the Centro region, hikers will enjoy the walkways of  Passadiços do Paiva - Paiva walkways - and in particular the 516 Arouca bridge, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world, which is located in the Aveiro district,

    The Douro valley, between Porto and the Spanish border, is one of the world's great wine producing areas. Best known for its historic fortified wine known as Port, the Douro valley area has more recently developed into the production of high quality normal (unfortified) wines, and a trip up or down the Douro valley by road, by rail or on a Douro river cruise takes in a lot of magnificent vineyard scenery. Cruise boats operate all the way up and down the valley, between Porto and Vega Terron on the Spanish border, with shorter day or half-day cruises available at significant points along the river such as Pinhão or Regua.  The Douro valley railway line is one of Europe's great scenic railway routes, and runs from Porto to Pocinho, a distance of 175 km. . The train journey starts in Porto's São Bento station, in the UNESCO  listed heritage area of the city; the railway line often hugs the water's edge, and in other parts runs through the vineyards with spectacular views down to the river below.

    The Costa Verde, or green coast, runs 100 km from the mouth of the Douro to the Spanish border in the north. Naturally, being close to the Porto urban area, the Costa Verde has several large resorts with popular beaches, such as at Póvoa de Varzim, 50 km north of Porto.  The coastal plain north of  Povoa is home to some fairly intensive agricultural activity, with acres of plastic greenhouses; yet the long sandy beaches and the sand dunes behind them are relatively deserted. North of the river Cavado and the town of Esposende, the coastline alternates between beaches, dunes and holiday home developments, with plenty of space for everyone.

Beyond the coast and the Douro Valley, Northern Portugal is an area of hills and mountains, with a rich historic heritage .

Northern Portugal accommodation

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Photo top of page. The old city of Porto
.Alentejo coast
Remarkablee blue-tiled wall decoration in the foyer of the Sao Bento train station - start of many local rail trips.


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Photo top of page by MontseSB
Sao Bento station photo by Jaime Silva
Licence Creative Commons 2

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