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Top 10 Places to Visit in North Portugal

Portugal is a beautiful and diverse country and a lot of times the north of the country gets overlooked. But Northern Portugal made me fall in love with the country in the first place, and only afterward I explored the Southern and central parts of the country.

So in this post, I wanted to share with you my top 10 places to visit in North Portugal. These are the places that I think should be on anyone’s bucket list when visiting this incredible region.

In this list, I’ll cover both popular tourist attractions and hidden gems because Northern Portugal has an amazing mix of both, ensuring every type of traveler finds something.

Best Cities to in Northern Portugal

1. Porto

View of the old town of Porto and a steel bridge spanning a river, the best view of any 3 day Porto itinerary
View of Ribeira and the Dom Luís I Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The city of Porto is one of the most iconic cities in Portugal, known for its beautiful riverfront, colorful buildings, and delicious food. It’s also the birthplace of the famous port wine, the second-largest city in Portugal, and the capital of the Portuguese North Region.

Make sure to take a stroll through the charming streets of Ribeira, visit the São Bento train station with its stunning tiled walls, cross the Dom Luís I Bridge, and take a river cruise in Porto for panoramic views of the city.

Even though you can see the main attractions of Porto in one day, I recommend spending three days in Porto to get a better feeling for the city.

You can visit most of the other places on a day trip from Porto as the second largest city in Portugal is well connected by public transport. Or you can embark on a Northern Portugal road trip from Porto to see the rest of this beautiful region.

🤩 This epic boat tour on the River Douro gives you beautiful views of Porto!

2. Vila Nova de Gaia

sunset over a river and a city
Sunset view from Jardim do Morro in Vila Nova de Gaia

Located just across the river from Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia is known for its port wine cellars and stunning views of Porto’s skyline.

I loved watching the sunset at Jardim do Morro, from there you have the best view of the picturesque Douro River and the Porto waterfront.

You can also take a tour of one of the many port wine cellars and learn about the history and production of this unique Portuguese fortified wine.

3. Guimarães

Castle of Guimaraes behind some bushes
The first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, was born in Guimaraes

Known as the birthplace of Portugal, Guimarães is a charming city with a rich history and beautiful architecture. I absolutely loved my day trip from Porto to Guimarães, it was one of my favorite ones. It’s such a charming little town with loads of attractions.

You can visit the medieval castle of Guimarães, explore the narrow streets of its historic center, and have a drink at the lively square, Largo da Oliveira.

The best city views can be enjoyed from Penha Hill, accessible by cable car or a short hike.

🤩 Combine your trip to Guimarães with a trip to Braga!

4. Braga

stairs leading up to a church
Bom Jesus de Monte in Braga

Braga is considered to be the religious center of Portugal, with its stunning churches and monasteries. One of the highlights is the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary, a baroque-style church known for its grand staircase with 600 steps.

But Braga is not just about religion, it also has a lively student population, making it a fun and vibrant city to explore.

Don’t miss the beautiful Santa Barbara Garden on your day trip to Braga, a lovely flower garden in front of old palace walls. It’s the perfect place to have a rest on one of the garden benches or a nearby café.

🤩 See Guimarães and Braga both on a day trip from Porto!

5. Viana do Castelo

The ornate Viana do Castelo Sanctuary, one of the top architectural sights in North Portugal, under a cloudy blue sky, representing a must-visit cultural landmark.
Saint Lucia Basilica (Temple of the Holy Heart of Jesus) on St Lucia Mountain

Viana do Castelo is a charming coastal town with beautiful beaches, historic buildings, and colorful streets. It’s also home to the iconic hilltop Santa Luzia Basilica, offering stunning views of the beautiful city and the Atlantic Ocean.

Take a stroll along Praça da República, known as one of the most beautiful squares in Portugal, or visit the nearby Cabedelo Beach for some surfing or sunbathing.

Overall, Viana do Castelo is one of the best places to visit North of Porto which is located right at the Atlantic coast.

6. Lamego

Reflective view of the intricate Lamego Cathedral façade, with its twin bell towers and blue azulejos, a prominent destination among the Top 10 places in North Portugal.
Tourists and pilgrims visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies

Located in the Douro Valley, Lamego is a picturesque town known for its beautiful landscapes and delicious food. The highlight of this charming town is the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, a stunning baroque church with 686 steps leading up to it.

I’ll be completely honest though, in some ways, the famous Sanctuary of Lamego reminded me of the Sancturay in Braga.

Best Nature Places to Visit in North Portugal

7. Douro Valley

Two wine glasses on a small wall in front of a vineyard
The Douro wine region is one of the best European destinations for wine lovers

Known for its stunning landscapes and world-renowned wines, the Douro Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.

The valley is perfect for nature lovers, with its rolling hills covered in vineyards and charming riverside towns. Take a boat trip on the Douro River or explore the quaint villages of Pinhão, Peso da Régua, and Lamego.

Don’t forget to taste some of the delicious wines while enjoying the breathtaking views of the Douro River, when you’re over the drinking age in Portugal.

The best way to visit the Douro Valley is by car or on a Douro Valley wine-tasting tour from Porto.

🤩 I love this Douro Valley tour as it includes two wine tastings and a river cruise!

8. Peneda-Gerês National Park

Breathtaking aerial view of Peneda-Gerês National Park, showcasing lush greenery and the serpentine Caniçada Reservoir, a natural treasure in the Top 10 visits in North Portugal.
The Cavado river in the Peneda-Gerês National Park

Portugal has many natural parks and reserves, but only one of them is classified as a national park, the Peneda-Gerês National Park which is sometimes just called the Gerês National Park. It offers some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the country.

With mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and lakes, this park is the perfect destination for camping and hiking in Northern Portugal. You can also do water activities such as kayaking and canyoning. But make sure to stick to the dedicated walking trails and camping spots.

9. Paiva Walkways

Paiva Walkways ascending a rugged hillside, a popular outdoor adventure spot among the Top 10 must-see places in North Portugal, inviting exploration and adventure.
One of the most adventurous North Portugal holiday destinations

The Paiva Walkways is a stunning 8-kilometer-long wooden walkway that follows the Paiva River. It’s located in the Aveiro District, so technically it’s not in Northern Portugal, but it’s only a bit over an hour’s drive from Porto, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you have the time.

The walkway offers breathtaking views of the river and its surroundings, including waterfalls and canyons. It’s an easy hike suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Just make sure to bring sturdy shoes.

Don’t forget to buy your entrance ticket online beforehand, as the allowed visitors per day are limited for safety reasons.

10. Capela do Senhor da Pedra

A little chapel on a beach near Porto
Capela do Senhor da Pedra

This last must-see spot might be a bit surprising as many people skip it, but I had to include one of the best beaches in Northern Portugal. And what better than a beautiful sandy beach with a unique little chapel?

Located in Miramar, a small town near Porto, Capela do Senhor da Pedra is an iconic chapel situated on top of a rocky outcrop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It’s one of the most beautiful and unique places to visit in North Portugal.

Take a look at the little chapel and then take some time to relax on the beach or go for a walk on the wooden beach walkway. It’s the perfect spot to end your Northern Portugal itinerary.

How to Get Around North Portugal

If you’re planning to visit the best cities in Northern Portugal, you can easily do this by train. The region’s train network is budget-friendly and reliable, perfect for city-hopping. I took all my day trips from Porto by train without any issues.

Now, if your heart is set on exploring the natural beauty this area offers, renting a car is the best option. Especially the Peneda-Gerês National Park and the Paiva Walkways are almost impossible to reach by public transport.

However, the Douro Valley and the serene beaches of Miramar can be reached by public transport from Porto. Plus, numerous day tours are departing from Porto to the Douro Valley, offering a hassle-free way to explore the region.

Douro River at sunset with houses on the shoreline; view of one of the boat tours in Porto
Get ready to visit Porto and North Portugal

Final Thoughts: Top 10 Places to Visit in North Portugal

North Portugal offers a perfect blend of culture, history, and nature. Whether you’re exploring charming cities like Porto and Guimarães or taking in the breathtaking landscapes of the Douro Valley and Peneda-Gerês National Park, there’s something for every type of traveler.

After you’ve explored the north of the country, consider coming back to discover different regions of Portugal like the vibrant capital city of Lisbon or the stunning Algarve region in the south.

You can also get the best of the whole country in one ultimate 10-day Portugal itinerary.

Read more on what to do in the North of Portugal:

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Collage highlighting the Top 10 Best Places to visit in North Portugal, featuring vibrant architecture in Porto, the iconic Clérigos Tower, a scenic vineyard with lush grapes and wine glasses, and the baroque stairway of Bom Jesus do Monte
Best Places to Visit in Northern Portugal

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