The Region of Northern Portugal is characterized by the combination of its green, undulating scenery and characteristic old villages, rivers, and the odd crooked lane. The scenery becomes more rugged and wild towards the northeast.
On the Costa Verde, the green coast of Northern Portugal, you will find the second most important city of Portugal, the harbour city of Porto, built on the river banks of the river Douro. Porto is great for city walks. It has beautiful walks along the Douro and in the old city sections of Barredo and Ribiera. Take a stroll through the city along shops and many historic buildings. Or, take a relaxing break in one of the so-called ?tascas?, small eating houses where you can sample the true Portuguese cuisine.
The city is also an old trading and maritime city ? its lively trading in the Middle Ages included trading with Great Britain. Porto traded honey, salt and wine for textiles and furs. The frequent trading also led to the settlement of an English community in Porto at that time. Porto?s rich trading history is still illustrated today by the historic buildings. The city of Porto has recently been designated a UNESCO World Heritage City.
Nowadays you will also find modern architecture and various art galleries here. There are many bridges, as the city is located on both banks of the river Douro. The best-known bridge is Ponte Maria Pia, a two-tier bridge designed by the engineer Gustav Eiffel. But this city is also known for its world famous wine, the Port.
The Douro valley is well worth a visit! This wine region, where the famous Port comes from, offers you a beautiful scenery of vineyards, almond, cherry, and olive trees, and steep hills. Some 30,000 farmers live and work here and you are always welcome to have a look around the so-called ?Quintas? ? typical wine companies making the world famous port. The scenery of the Alto Douro wine region and its vine terraces is so extraordinary that it is now a listed UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape. Here, you will also find the Cõa valley home to the world?s largest prehistoric rock paintings. And then there is Arribes del Duero, a natural park with fascinating wildlife, including birds of prey.
The west coast, Costa Verde, has fabulous beaches, dunes, and river valleys to offer. Explore the charming villages of Caminha and Vila Nova de Cerveira. Here, you will also find the national park of Peneda-Gerês and the impressive mountains of Trás-os-Montes, home to rivers, waterfalls, vineyards, and wild horses. In other words, this area lends itself very well to walking and mountain biking.
Most culture can be seen in the East. More inland, you will come across many mediaeval castles, monasteries, and small Romanesque churches.