| This region of Portugal
incorporates the historic city of Porto (Oporto),
famous for Port wine, the remarkably lush coast,
the valleys of the Douro and the Minho
and part of Portugal’s highest mountain range, the Serra
The second-largest city in Portugal was nominated European
City of Culture for 2001 and the historical centre is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded by the Romans
at the mouth of the River Douro, modern Porto (Oporto)
is an industrial city with a wonderful atmosphere and plenty to
The sights of the old town include the Cathedral (Sé),
dating from the 12th to the 18th centuries, the Church of
São Francisco, famous for its rococo interior, a
splendid example of Portuguese gilt-work (talha dourada), the 19th
century Stock Exchange and the Torre Dos
Clérigos, which offers wonderful views. The old
waterfront, known as the Cais da Ribeira (a World
Heritage Site), caters for tourists with cafes, restaurants and
an open-air market. Across the river, the 18th century Port wine
lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia are open to the public
for tours and tastings.
The Cathedral of the ancient Roman town of Braga
is an important centre of the Roman Catholic church. The best time
to visit is during Holy Week when the traditional
street processions are impressive.
a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Portugal’s
medieval capital, boasts a fine castle, the former palace of the
Dukes of Bragança, as well as some attractive squares and
churches. Póvoa de Varzim retains a small
but attractive harbour, a reminder of its days as a fishing port.
In recent years, fishing has taken a back seat to tourism, the 8km
(5 mile) long beach being the main attraction. Rates
and Rio Mau have splendid Romanesque churches.
At Monte São Félix, the windmills
have been converted into houses and there are panoramic views of
the coast towards Póvoa de Varzim.
Vila do Conde is a traditional fishing port
and burgeoning resort, famous for its crafts such as ‘bone
lace’ and chocolate-making. Ofir presents
a vast expanse of sandy beach fringed by pinewoods. Barcelos
is famous for its handicrafts, particularly ceramics which are on
show at the Thursday market. The busy resort of Viana do
Castelo is noted for its Renaissance and Manueline architecture
as well as local products. There is a first-class beach across the
river at Praia do Cabedelo.
is a 13th-century border town with a flourishing market and ancient
fortifications. Monção, an attractive
old town, is the home of the wine Alvarinho Vinho Verde.
The Peneda-Gerês National Park comprises
170,000 acres (68,798 hectares) of mountainous countryside near
the Spanish border and it is popular with hikers, climbers and naturalists.
There are spas at Caldas de Vizela, Gerez,
Monção and Pedras Salgadas.