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25 Cool Things To Do in Northern Portugal

Guide to the best places to visit and things to do in Northern Portugal including the best hidden gems in Northern Portugal

Portugal has become one of the hottest travel destinations on this planet!

Although it’s now very known for its golden, sandy beaches in the Algarve and delicate tiles in Lisbon, Portugal has so much more to offer – especially the green northern part.

There are many amazing things to do in Northern Portugal, and the region is an absolute surprise for most travelers.

Indeed the area of Porto, Douro Valley, and its quaint picturesque villages hold such variate gems as breathtaking landscapes, delicious food, and warm-hearted people.

Cool Things To Do in Northern Portugal, view looking up at colorful buildings with awnings on a bright sunny day
Colorful Northern Portugal

If you’re wondering what to see in Northern Portugal, this guide is about the best places to see in Northern Portugal.

It includes some of the best beaches in Northern Portugal.

In some areas, especially in the mountains of Tras-Os-Montes and Viseu, it seems like time’s standing still.

A trip to Northern Portugal is a trip to re-connect with yourself. It’s about indulging yourself and finding inner peace in front of breathtaking landscapes.

Discover a vibrant culture, absolute silence in the Douro valley, and enjoy the most delicious food and world-class wines.

On top, nowadays Portugal is one of the best value destinations in Western Europe.

As deciding what are the Top Things To Do in Northern Portugal might be quite an overwhelming task, I compiled a variety of travel bloggers’ favorite things to do in the North of gorgeous Portugal.

You’ll find a map with all the mentioned highlights at the end of this post.

If you want see the best of Porto, enjoy massive discounts, and free access to museums, then getting a Porto Card with an add-on transport benefit is a great idea. – Get tickets here.

Have you been lucky enough to visit Northern Portugal? What was your absolute highlight? I can’t wait to read about it in the comment form below!

Thanks to affiliate links, I pay my bills. If you make a purchase through them, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. All opinions are always mine. Merci!

Useful Travel Information About Portugal

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$ Withdraw money without hidden fees and avoid exchange rates with Wise (you’ll get a free card on top!)

⚘ Get a travel guide in order to prepare your trip. I recommend the Lonely Planet Portugal

Amazing Things To Do in Northern Portugal

1. Porto: Barrio Ribeira

fun things to do in north portugal, waterfront or Barrio Ribeira, Porto, with boats and rock wall with terracotta rooftop buildings leading up hill with large white box building at the peak
Barrio Ribeira in Porto

By StingyNomads

Porto is one of our favorite European cities and is full of some of the top things to do in North Portugal.

Colorful barrios (neighborhoods), cobblestone streets with old trams running up and downhill, and friendly locals sitting with a cup of coffee in one of the small cafes all are attributes of old Porto neighborhoods.

Ribeira is one of them, the oldest neighborhood in Porto and one of the most visited and photographed by tourists.

Located on the left side of Douro river bank it looks amazing from the opposite side of the river or from the Dom Luis I bridge.

A visit to this unique barrio is easily one of best things to do in Northern Portugal on your next visit.

Though the area is quite touristy if you wander around its narrow streets you can find some hidden from bustling crowds.

The highlights of Ribeira; Elevador da Ribeira – offers great views over the city, Ribeira Square, Stock Exchange Palace, St.Francis church.

Ribeira is the perfect area to dine out in one of the restaurants along the river delicious food, great wine, and stunning views are guaranteed. 

When in Porto, you cannot miss taking a tour with the Yello Bus in Porto. have a look here at the best places to stay in Porto.

The town can also be easily reached as there are plenty of connections from Lisbon to Porto.

Favourite Place to StayEurostars Porto Douro ****

Top Activity To Do: Porto Delicious Food Walk Tour

2. Porto: Wine Tasting at Grahams Lodge

what to do in northern portugal, back of a person standing with their arms outstretched surrounded by wine barrels
Wine Tasting at Grahams Lodge

By TravelTomTom

When in Porto, tasting port is a must-do!

A great way to spend your day in the city is to head to the Graham’s Port Estate about 20 minutes walk from the famous bridge in the city center.

Here you can join one of the many daily port tours through the estate where you learn about the production and the history of port.

You will get to see the production process, the wine cellar and of course, the best part of this tour is waiting for you at the end when you are able to taste a couple of different ports.

It is best to go here late in the afternoon and afterward indulge yourself with some ports on the terrace outside with great views over the city.

Also, consider booking a table for dinner in the style onsite restaurant where they serve delicious food.

Best Place to Stay: Hotel Cristal Porto ****

Top Activity To Do: Fado in Porto: Calem Wine Porto Cellars Visit

3. Porto: Dom Luís I. Bridge

best places to visit in northern portugal, large rounded metal bridge going across river to waterfront city with terracotte rooftop buildings on a sunny day
Dom Luís I. Bridge in Porto, Portugal

By Travellers Archive

A must-see on any trip to the north of Portugal is Porto and its most famous landmark: the Dom Luís I bridge.

Located in the heart of Porto, it spans over one of the city’s six bridges and connects the bustling Ribeira district with the township of Vila Nova de Gaia.

Vila Nova de Gaia is best known for its many port wine distilleries.

From the bridge, one has a breath-taking view over Porto, the Douro River with its colorful boats, the multi-story plains of the old town, and Porto’s traditional port warehouse.

The bridge is 385 meters long and weighs over 3,000 tons. At the time of its construction, it was the largest wrought-iron arch bridge in the world.

Today, it no longer holds this title, but captivates with its central location and as an architectural masterpiece.

The best time to visit is at sunset hour when the city and the river appear in the most beautiful colors.

If you want to visit one of Portugal’s most historic monuments, then a guided tour of the Palacio da Bolsa is perfect for you. – Get tickets here.

Best Place to Stay: Vincci Porto ****

Top Activity To Do: Secret Sites of Porto 3-Hour Walking Tour

4. Douro Valley

best places to visit in douro valley, crow field next to road with telephone poles overhead and mountains in the distance on a sunny day with clouds
Driving through Douro Valley

By Stefan Alexander

Northern Portugal is full of hidden gems and plenty of interesting places to visit.

Many people typically head straight to Porto but there is actually a lot more to see in the region that you don’t want to miss!

One of my favorite places in Northern Portugal, and even in all of Europe, is the spectacular Douro Valley.

This is a picturesque and incredibly scenic area full of all of the natural beauty that you could ever want, and there are a lot of amazing things to do in Douro Valley.

Driving through the area you won’t be able to help but pull over to take photos and admire the terraced vineyards as they climb up the mountains surrounding you.

Cutting through the heart of the valley is the magical Douro River and it’s the same river that helps to keep everything such vibrant shades of green all year round.

During the warmer summer months you can hop into the river for a quick dip to cool off.

For the rest of the year, you’ll want to stop at one of the many cafes or wine bars that you come across.

This is going to give you an opportunity to try some world-class local wines and relax with an amazing view of the valley surrounding you.

If you’re looking to escape from busy city life and you want to explore somewhere that many tourists don’t get a chance to see then you’re definitely going to want to head to the Douro Valley.

It’s one of the best places to explore and one of the total hidden gems in Northern Portugal! 

Best Place to Stay: Six Senses Douro Valley *****

Top Activity To Do: From Porto: Douro Valley by 4×4, Wine Tasting & Picnic

5. Wine Tasting in Douro Valley

things to do in douro valley portugal, person holding up wine glass with red wine overlooking a large body of water on clear a sunny day with mountains in the distance
What a view!

By Taylor’s Tracks

A trip to Portugal isn’t complete for any wine lover without a trip to Douro Valley, a region in northern Portugal known for its stunning views and for the country’s famous port wine.

It’s a UNESCO World Heritage where wine has been growing for the last 2000 years and is the only region in the world where port wine can be grown.

So, naturally, a wine tasting is one of the top things to do in Northern Portugal.

But if you’re not a fan of the sweet port there are plenty of table wines made here too, as well as honey and olive oil.

Douro Valley is a day trip from Porto where you can bask in the sun as you cruise along the river that runs through the valley.

Enjoy your cruise as you taste test honey-dipped on fresh bread, and enjoy a glass of port with views of rolling hills covered in vines.

Best Place to Stay Near the Sight: The Vintage House – Douro *****

Top Activity To Do: Douro Valley Full-Day Wine Tour with Lunch and Tastings

6. Pinhao

where to go in northern portugal, aerial view of green hilly valley with a river running through it
Exploring beautiful Pinhao

By Brogan Abroad

The village of Pinhao is approximately a couple of hours along the river from Porto, and one of the best places to visit in Douro Valley.

No matter which way you get there, whether by train, car, or by cruise boat, the journey takes you through breathtaking landscapes. 

The Douro Valley is one of the oldest demarcated wine-growing regions in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The hills on both sides of the valley offer a majestic setting, with the hillsides carved into terraced vineyards where the port grapes are grown.

And yes, Pinhao is all about the cultivation of vines, so make sure you pay the railway station a visit to admire its ancient tiles dedicated to the art of wine growing.

But the best thing to do here is to get to the top of the hill to the Double Viewpoint De Loivos and get taken aback by one of the best views you will see in your life.

Best Place to StayQuinta Nova Winery House – Relais & Châteaux *****

Top Activity To Do: Pinhão and Douro Valley Day Cruise from Porto

7. Peso da Regua

best places in northern portugal, large hill with with seemingly layered texture from crops looking golden in the sun with a river at the base
Spend the day in gorgeous Peso da Regua

By Paulina on the Road

The town of Peso da Régua is the largest one of the Douro Valley which grew into a major port-wine entrepôt in the 18th century.

Thanks to its highways, it quickly became the neuralgic center of Porto’s backcountry.

Most visitors stop by to get information on the best wineries and things to do in the Douro Valley.

Due to its strategic position, it’s a convenient base to explore the best wineries in the area.

Situated along the riverside, Regua played a major role in the production and sale of Port wine.

It’s from here that the barrels were transported in the peculiar boats known as barcos rabelos to Porto, where the wine was transported to the wine lodges in order to age.

As most towns in the Douro Valley, Regua has some viewpoints which will enchant you with the best views on the valley.

São Leonardo at Galafura and Santo António do Loureiro are probably the most known ones.

Regua is one of the highlights of any trip to the Douro River, and one of the best things to do in Northern Portugal.

Favourite Place to StayCasa de Sao Domingos

Top Activity To Do: Régua & Douro Valley Scenic Rail and Sail from Porto

8. Lamego

what to see in northern portugal, ornate tiered stone steps surrounded by trees leading up to ornate stone building
Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios in Lamego

By Paulina on the Road

Not far away from the Douro river, you’ll find the charming town of Lamego.

Surrounded by a breathtaking mountainous landscape, this quaint, baroque-infused town is mostly famous for its important Sanctuary.

Atop one of its two hills stands the castle from the 13th century, which is definitely one of the most unique things to see in Northern Portugal.

The Porta dos Figos gateway arch leads into the narrow streets of the inner town.

The 18th-century Episcopal palace now houses the town’s museum, containing works from Vasco Fernandes (Grão Vasco).

The principal church, the Sé, was built in the 12th century by the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques.

Did you know that it was in Lamego that his ascension to the throne was announced and where he assembled the original courts of the newly independent Portuguese nation?

Although little of the original Sé is left, the intricate stonework of the exterior and the cloister make it worthy of a visit.

However, the most striking sight of Lamego is the sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Remedies which thrones above the town.

Hundreds of zigzagging stairs, decorated with tiled friezes and surrounded by lush gardens with a large variety of trees, will bring you up to the sanctuary.

It’s very similar to the Bom Jesus church in Braga.

Don’t be afraid to climb up all these stairs, you’ll have a view of a lifetime!

Best Place to Stay Near the Sight: Hotel Rural Casa dos Viscondes da Varzea ****

Top Activity To DoDouro WineTasting

9. Castelo Rodrigo

things to see in northern portugal, walled stone city with crumbling ruins and terracotta rooftop buildings
Castelo Rodrigo in Douro Valley

By Amateur Traveler

I loved the old walled town of Castilo Rodrigo in northern Portugal which I visited on a shore excursion from a river cruise on the nearby Douro River.

This small town dates back at least to the 1100s and has been part of Portugal since 1297.

Like all of Portugal, it was annexed into Habsburg Spain in the 1600s.

When locals learned that Portugal had regained its independence in 1640 they set fire to a large palace of Philip II of Spain in the town.

These ruins can still be seen next to the castle in the town, and are one of the most interesting things to do in Northern Portugal.

This is a quiet site, meant to be lingered and explored at your own pace.

It is not so much that the village has one must-see landmark but that the village, as one of the best-preserved villages in the area, is a great peek into the history of the region.

This is a spot for photographers like me who love to take pictures of old buildings, centuries past their prime, ruins and vistas.

The village has great views of this northeast corner of Portugal into Spain.

Best Place to Stay: Falcao de Mendonca

Top Activity To Do: Douro Valley Wine Tour

10. Montanhas Magicas

places to visit in north portugal, person setting up a tripod on a mountaintop overlooking over mountains at sunset
Getting amazing photographs on Montanhas Magicas

By A World To Travel

I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that it took us so long to uncover Montanhas Magicas (Magic Mountains) after dozens of Portuguese adventures and trips to our neighbor country.

However, I am really happy to share with you today the gorgeousness of these mountain ranges in the North and Porto region of the country.

They are comprised of valleys, mountains, villages, and rivers that will delight every outdoors fan out there. 

I know we fell for them as well as for their gastronomy and locally sourced products, warm locals and traditions.

And a bunch of other things I will leave you to discover on your own!

Just do yourself a favor and make sure you put the Magic Mountains of Portugal on your travel list now!

It is without a doubt one of the top things to do in Northern Portugal.

Best Place Place to Stay: Douro Palace Hotel Resort & SPA ****

Top Activity To Do: From Faro: Douro Valley Full-Day Wine Tour with Lunch and Tastings

11. Cinfaes & Bustelo da Lage

By Paulina on the Road 

Cinfaes and Bustelo da Lage are located amidst the Montanhas Magicas and some of the prettiest villages in the area.

Both localities are situated on eighth highest elevation of Portugal: Mount Montemouro.

The landscape is shaped by Bestança river which created a rich natural habitat and biodiversity which is unique in its kind. It’s a paradise for hikers and outdoor lovers.

Cinfães is full of high historical and cultural values. Pre-Celtic megalithic vestiges as a church in the Middle Ages and Romanesque temples can be found in the town.

Cinfaes is the perfect base to explore the natural gem of Montanhas Magicas and is famous all over the region for its gastronomy and handicrafts.

Bustelo da Lage is located on the slope of the Montemuro Mountain.

The village is famous for its singular threshing-floor formed by a large single slab of granite.

Bustelo maintained rural and community traditions such as community use of Eira da Laje, where the inhabitants share agricultural tasks such as maize harvest and grain drying.

The village has many hiking paths and is the perfect place to immerse in Northern Portuguese culture and its warm-hearted people.

Best Place to Stay: Quinta Nova Winery House – Relais & Châteaux *****

Top Activity To Do: Hiking in Montanhas Magicas

12. Braga

Amazing places to visit in northern portugal, two curved steps surrounding a garden leading up to a large stone building on a sunny day
Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, Portugal

By Delightful Travellers

Not far from Porto, you’ll find the beautiful city of Braga. Braga is relatively small, easily walkable, and full of lovely squares and gorgeous churches.

You likely only need a couple of days here to get a good feel for the city.

Spend those days exploring its colorful streets, in high season the main promenades and squares will be full of people, but once you get off the main pathways you’ll have the streets mainly to yourself.

Just outside the city, you’ll find Bom Jesus Do Monte (Good Jesus of the Mountain), a sanctuary and pilgrimage site.

We didn’t have a rental car, so we took a taxi to the site. We were dropped off below the church, and we’d highly recommend doing the same.

You’ll then have to walk up the incredible staircase, but if your mobility allows it, it’s absolutely worth it.

Once at the top, you’ll have the most gorgeous views of the entire city, and it’s one of the most amazing things to do in Northern Portugal.

To get back down you can either have a taxi pick you up at the top, or have the funicular take you back down.

Best Place to StayHotel do Parque ****

Top Activity To Do: From Porto: Braga and Guimarães Full-Day Tour

13. Batalha

best hidden gems north portugal, large stone monastery building with ornate carvings on a sunny day
Batalha Monastery

By Diana Miaus

There are three must-see monasteries that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the north of Lisbon:

  1. Convent of Christ in Tomar
  2. Alcobaça Monastery
  3. Batalha Monastery

It’s possible to visit them all on a road trip, but if you don’t have time enough and if you’re a photography geek I would suggest you stop at Batalha Monastery: there’s so much to visit in only one place.

Batalha Monastery offers many different spaces to discover!

First, is the church, which is colorfully illuminated thanks to its stained glass windows.

Next to the church, you’ll find the founders’ chapel, which is home to the tombs of the Portuguese royal family, surrounded by arches, sculptures, and more stained glass windows adding some beautiful colors and lights.

The Cloister, which is huge, is located next to the chapter house, where the tomb of an unknown soldier is guarded all the time to honor the memory of the soldiers who died in the World War.

My favorite place in Batalha Monastery are the unfinished chapels (also known as Capelas Imperfeitas) and as you can imagine by now, the monastery was not finished!

The unfinished chapels are beautiful and also home to the royal pantheon.

Besides, they have the highest ceiling in the world!

To sum up, head to Batalha if you enjoy architecture, history and photography: this place is amazing!

The town itself is really small but his place really makes the visit worth it!

Best Place to Stay: Casa do Outeiro – Arts & Crafts Boutique Hotel

Top Activity To Do: Fatima, Batalha, Alcobaça, Nazare and Obidos: The Blue West

14. Peneda-Gerês National Park

the best of northern portugal, person standing near a hiking trail overlooking mountains and green valleys on a sunny day
Hiking in Peneda-Gerês National Park

By Veggie Vagabonds

Dense oak forests, open water swimming, an abundance of wildlife, and copious amounts of hiking trails; Peneda-Gerês National Park is the perfect place to wander and explore Northern Portugal.

It’s the perfect place for walking holidays in Portugal!

As Portugal’s only national park, this beautiful landscape is spread over 700-sq-km all the way to the mountainous northern border with Spain.

Dotted with tiny villages as well as countless hiking trails through valleys and up peaks it’s the perfect place to explore on foot.

Whether you want a short wander in the woods or an off-road multi-day adventure you’ll find it here.

The park is easy to reach by either bus or train, from Braga or Porto, and there are numerous guesthouses and campsites to recuperate in after a day of adventuring.

Attracting more Portuguese tourists than international travelers Peneda-Gerês National Park is the perfect place to experience local culture and be immersed in nature.

Best Place to Stay: Pousada Mosteiro de Amares *****

Top Activity To Do: Gerês: Waterfalls & Hiking Tour

15. Costa Nova

best places to visit in north portugal, small red, white and navy striped house with awnings
Charming home in Costa Nova

By The Lazy Trotter

Take the cheerful atmosphere of a traditional Portuguese fishing town, merge it with the charm of a series of small, colorful houses painted in vertical stripes of yellow, red, green, and blue and you voila!

This is what you will find yourself strolling around the streets of Costa Nova. 

Located not too far from lovely Aveiro, Costa Nova is the perfect destination for those who are traveling around Northern Portugal and want to have some fun on the beach.

 And while there, make sure to spend some time at one of the several traditional restaurants serving local delicacies.

Costa Nova became a very popular local summer destination during the 19th century.

Its typical structures were originally used by fishermen for storage purposes; later on, they started painting their facades with glittering colors in order to give a better appeal to the structures.

Since then, these houses became the symbol of Costa Nova, attracting visitors, travelers, and Instagrammers from all over the world.

Do not miss a visit to the local market and take a look at the pottery shops, which are one of the main attractions of Costa Nova. 

Best Place to Stay: Costa Nova Hotel ***

Top Activity To Do: Aveiro: Half-Day Tour from Porto or Gaia with Cruise

16. Apulia Beach

best hidden gems in portugal, scattered people with umbrellas on a sandy beach
Relaxing on Apulia Beach

By Wonderful Wanderings

We hadn’t planned to go to the beach that day, but there was a heat wave in Portugal.

So after climbing the steps of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, we were craving a sea breeze and some cooling down.

We hadn’t heard of Apulia before and honestly, could have well ended up in another beach town, because all we did was take the map and draw a straight line from Braga to the coast.

Apulia was the spot on the map our finger ended up on.

And what a pleasant surprise it was!

There was almost nobody at the beach and the other people present were clearly locals.

We popped into the small beach bar for a drink and an ice cream before taking a walk along the dunes.

We didn’t keep that up for long, though, as the beach was calling to us and so we laid down our towels and our overheated bodies.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the occasional breeze.

Of course, we also plunged into the sea. Well, I dipped my toes in and my boyfriend went for a proper full-body splash!

If you’d like to visit Apulia too: there’s public parking right by the beach.

You do need coins to pay at the meter. It is considered one of the best beaches in Northern Portugal.

Best Place to Stay: Hotel Suave Mar ***

Top Activity To Do: Barcelos and Ponte de Lima Day Tour from Porto

17. Fatima

why you should visit north portugal, people walking through large courtyard in front of large stone building
Exploring Fatima

By Paulina on the Road

Fatima is a town and Parish located 142 km North of Lisbon and is one of the most important Catholic Virgin Mary shrines in the world.

Each year, Fatima’s Sanctuary welcomes millions of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world.

The story behind it is known by every Portuguese citizen: Our Lady of the Rosary appeared to 3 shepherd children – Lucia and her two younger cousins, Francisco and Jacinta.

Between May and October of 1917, the 3 children witnessed several apparitions.

The last one was confirmed by a miracle witnessed by 60,000 people known in the catholic world as “the day the sun danced”…

Although Fatima’s Sanctuary is a must-see, there are many amazing things to do in Fatima, Portugal to make your visit unforgettable.

Best Place to Stay: Hotel Santa Maria ****

Top Activity To Do: Fátima: The Ultimate Experience

18. Coimbra

what to do when you visit northern portugal, waterfront town on a hill at dawn

By Paulina on the Road

Coimbra boasts one of the world’s oldest universities but the city is no historic relic, it is an affluent city that is both liberal and forward-thinking, in part due to the large student population.

Coimbra will enchant you with many surprising sights.

It’s packed with fascinating historical monuments but equally has a lively, young atmosphere and a vibrant nightlife.

Although Coimbra is often overlooked by foreign visitors, it will reveal itself as a truly enthralling town for those who defy convention.

Best Place to Stay: Sapientia Boutique Hotel ****

Top Activity To Do: Fátima and Coimbra Full-Day Tour from Porto

19. Guimaraes

best places to visit in northern portugal, ornate three tiered fountain in open square surrounded by three-storey buildings with balconies and a large stone bell tower with four clocks under an azure blue sky
Toural Square, Guimaraes

By Paulina on the Road

One of the best places to visit in Northern Portugal for history buffs is the city of Guimaraes.

This charming city is known for its incredibly well-preserved medieval buildings, in particular the 10th-century Guimarães Castle.

Built to defend against Moors and Norsemen, it has indeed stood the test of time and today it has by far the best views of the city.

There are many other fascinating historical sites to visit.

Directly within Guimarães, you’ll also find Palace Duques de Bragança, the Sanctuary of Penha, or the Museu Alberto Sampaio.

You can also take a day trip to the nearby ancient hill settlement of Citânia de Briteiros.

This unique archaeological site is a must if you visit North Portugal and one of the top things to do in Guimarães.

It not only gives you a glimpse into the past but offers stunning views over the surrounding area.

Best Place to Stay: Hotel da Oliveira ****

Top Activity To Do: From Porto: Braga and Guimarães Full-Day Tour

20. Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa

Things to do in north Portugal, minimalist framing of a beige stone wall with single small green shrub and single thin shuttered window
Côa Valley Museum

By Paulina on the Road

If you’re looking for what to do in North Portugal that’s a little off the beaten path, Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa should definitely be on your itinerary.

Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa is a large complex divided up into both an enclosed indoor museum and an open-air archaeological site.

The site’s main draw is that it is home to many prehistoric rock-art murals that visitors can come and marvel at.

These include both paintings and engravings, although surprisingly there is no cave art in the area.

In the museum, visitors can – and should – learn more about the art and the site’s general history.

This is one of the most unique things to see in Northern Portugal, so it’s no wonder that people come from all over the world just to visit.

Best Place to Stay: Casa do Rio Wine Hotel – Vallado

Top Activity To Do: Pinhão and Douro Valley Day Cruise from Porto

21. Old Viana do Castelo

What to see in northern Portugal, view overlooking the terracotta rooftops of many old buildings laid out in irregular patterns with streets winding in-between with blue sea in background and green trees in foreground
Old Viana do Castelo

By Paulina on the Road

Located along the Portuguese Way (the Camino equivalent trails located within Portugal), the city of Viana do Castelo is a beautiful city.

Despite this prime location and its proximity to Porto, Viana do Castelo is often considered one of the best hidden gems North Portugal has to offer.

It’s easy to get enchanted by this beautiful coastal city as you wander through medieval streets and visit the distinct blue-tiled churches of the Old Town.

There are also two fantastic museums worth visiting to learn more about the city’s history and local traditions.

Museu de Artes Decorativas (decorative arts)

Museo del Traje de Viana do Castelo (costumes)

My favorite is the costume museum where you get to see the decorative and colorful dresses and jewelry. 

The city is also one of the best places to visit in North Portugal if you love the sea.

To learn more about the city’s fascinating maritime history visit the Gil Eannes, a former ship now converted into a museum.

Best Place to Stay: Flag Design Hotel ****

Top Activity To Do: Ponte de Lima & Viana do Castelo: All-Inclusive Private Tour

22. Fortaleza Valença

What to do in north Portugal, moss-covered stone walls with grass areas and green trees with river running alongside and forested village with mountain in the distance under a cloudy sky
Valenca Fortress

By Paulina on the Road

Another one of the hidden gems in Portugal is the Fortaleza Valença (Valenca Fortress).

Situated along the Minho River, Fortaleza Valença is an interesting medieval structure that dates back to the 12th century.

Despite the name, it is actually two fortresses side by side in the municipality of Valença.

Within the fortress walls is a “walled city” full of shops, restaurants, and historical sites that will delight visitors.

Spend the day exploring and have lunch at the Restaurante Fortaleza de Valença for the best views.

This is one of the best places in Northern Portugal if you want to get off the beaten path.

Best Place to Stay: Quinta do Caminho, AL

Top Activity To Do: Santiago de Compostela Full-Day Tour From Porto

23. Espigueiros de Soajo

Places to visit in northern Portugal, stone single-storey buildings on stone stilts sat atop grassy area in front of old fortification ruins under a blue sky with wispy white clouds
Espigueiros de Soajo

By Paulina on the Road

If you are looking for unique places to visit in North Portugal you can’t go wrong with the Espigueiros de Soajo (also called Granaries of Soajo).

This historical site is known for all the granaries built on stone platforms that keep them elevated.

Fittingly, Espigueiros means “spike” in Portuguese, and the structures look like they are being held up by a series of spikes.

These unique buildings date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and are one of the best hidden gems in Portugal.

Although this can easily be done as a day trip from Porto, you should stay at least two days so that you can also visit the beautiful Peneda-Gerês National Park.

Best Place to Stay: Casa da Gandarela

Top Activity To Do: Portugal: Peneda Gerês National Park by Electric Bike

24. Chaves Roman Bridge

Hidden gems in Portugal, stone bridge with archways and pillars stretching across calm river towards white buildings with terracotta rooftops and green trees under a blue sky with clouds in the distance
Roman Bridge in Chaves, Portugal

By Paulina on the Road

Wondering where to go in Northern Portugal to explore Roman history, then Chaves should be top of your list.

The city is popular for its incredibly intact Roman bridge which lies across the Tâmega River and has 12 arches.

Built in 100 AD, this is one of the finest examples of Roman architecture in Portugal.

When it comes to scenic sunset cityscapes, it’s also one of the best of Northern Portugal.

Since the bridge is so old, it has witnessed much of Portugal’s history, so be sure to visit and take a walk across so that you can become a part of that history.

Best Place to Stay: Forte de São Francisco Hotel Chaves ****

Top Activity To Do: From Porto: Douro Valley by 4×4, Wine Tasting & Picnic

25. Castelo de Bragança

Best places to visit in north Portugal, old stone castle with white bell tower surrounded by green trees and with many white buildings with brown roof tiles in the foreground
View of Castelo de Bragança

By Paulina on the Road

If you visit northern Portugal, you must make time to see the Castelo de Bragança.

This well-preserved medieval castle sits atop a 680-meter-high hill and has a commanding view of Bragança City and the surrounding area.

It’s one of the best places in north Portugal for history and architecture lovers, with 900 years of history to be seen, perhaps even more based on the estimates of historians and archaeologists.

There is also a military museum at Castelo de Bragança, complete with mannequins posed in action positions depicting scenes from Portuguese war history.

Anyone with a camera wondering what to do in northern Portugal should visit this picturesque castle complex.

Best Place to Stay: Pousada de Bragança – Sao Bartolomeu

Top Activity To Do: From Porto: Douro Valley by 4×4, Wine Tasting & Picnic


Map of Northern Portugal


Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip 


Short FAQ About the Best Things to do in Northern Portugal

What is Northern Portugal known for?

The area is known for its unique medieval cities and castles, Ice Age-era sand dunes and wine!

What should I not miss in Northern Portugal?

While there are a lot of amazing places to visit in North Portugal, the absolute MUST-DO places are the city of Porto, Douro Valley (especially a wine tour), and Montanhas Magicas.



Fun Activities in Northern Portugal

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