Discover Porto and the Green Coast
This stunning 100km of coastline runs north from the Douro river at Porto, up to the Minho river that boarders with Spain. Whilst the area is cooler and wetter than other locations inland and to the south, it still has a lot to offer.
With its pleasant beaches and historic towns, it is home to two cities that have been bestowed the honour of European City of Culture, Porto and Guimarães.
As one of the oldest cities in Europe, Porto sits on the Douro river and its core has been proclaimed a world heritage site by UNESCO. Offering a laidback charm, it is picturesque with its higgledy-piggledy roof tops, tiled restaurants and pastel painted buildings. Home to the famous Port wine for which it lent its name, Porto´s proximity to Spain gives it a pan-iberian atmosphere that compliments its artistic and historic charm.
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As a fortified border town, Caminha is located on the banks of the river Minho. A historical place where several battles have been fought between the Portuguese and Spanish over the years. However, today there is much more friendliness between the neighbours, with a little ferry boat that links the two banks of the river. It is a picturesque spot surrounded by beautiful countryside that offers a highly popular music festival every August.
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Viana do Castelo
One of the best beach resorts in Northern Portugal, Viana do Castelo is located off the Lima estuary and has a long history in sea-faring. Being a coastal location meant that many an explorer set off on new adventures to discover South America, Africa and Newfoundland. With its elegant Praça da República at its heart, surrounded by its renaissance buildings, strolling the streets is a pleasure as it is considered a “Mecca” for architecture. It has many connections with the past and present, with cycle paths that will lead you along the coastline or river to get to hiking trails to explore. It is easily reached either from Porto or from Valença near Spain.
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Located closer to Braga, Esponsende is a small town that sits alongside the sea and river with a a history dating back to the bronze age. It has little international publicity making it an ideal place to escape tourism. It is a pleasant location with some beautiful squares and a wide palm lined promenade that runs along the river's edge. This leads to Esponsende's excellent beach that offers quality surf and backed by low dunes.
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Póvoa do Varzim
Connected to Porto by the metro system, Póvoa do Varzim is around an hour outside of the city and is a thriving resort town. It is in fact the third largest town in Northern Portugal with around 100,000 residents. With a history in fishing and ship building, the town today offers great beaches, good hotels and a casino.
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A major port and fishing town, Matonsinhos is famed for its fish restaurants and sandy beaches. Drawing a crowd from Porto in the summer months as their holiday destination, the Leixões port dominates the coastline and whilst not the most pleasant to look at from the beach, it is the heart and soul of the town. It is from this habour that the fresh fish is sold daily in its bustling morning market and where the smell of grilled fish fills the air. Whilst it may not be the most scenic town, it is a most authentic Portuguese town and an enjoyable place to experience.
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Vila do Conde
Situated just south of Póvoa do Varzim and close to Porto, Vila do Conde is now a popular resort town that has a rich and protected history at its centre. It offers a contrast of character between a modern beach town and quiet, old town located on the river banks. Ship-building and lace-making are the two traditional industries here, with lots to explore in the various museums. It offers attractive squares, cobbled streets, beautiful gardens and cafes.
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This beautiful Portuguese town is located on the banks of the river Tâmega, and is steeped in history, nature and gastronomy. Officially classified as a city in 1985, its urban areas offer beautiful scenery and historical buildings and churches. It offers a labyrinth of cobbled streets and quiet cafes ideal for a leisurely stroll.
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Standing on the border with Spain, Valença’s history is that of a fortified town to defend Portugal’s independence from Spain. Still surrounded by walls, it displays all the characteristics from the 17th century with a touch of French military style about it. It is positioned overlooking the river Minho and today has a flourishing trade in sought after items crafted by local tradesmen.
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One of the oldest cities in Portugal, Braga is a lively place. Teeming with students attending university, it has a blend of young and old to its vibe. As a Roman stronghold and located on one of the main Roman roads through Europe, it has a history worth exploring taking in not only the Roman Empire, but the middle ages and the very foundation of Portugal. It is home to several famed codfish dishes that will make your mouth water. With its nightlife and contemporary architecture, it has been revived from an ancient city to a throughly modern place to be.
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Barcelos is an emblematic city, with ancient archaeological remains dating back to prehistoric times. With a rich history of development and dynamic growth, it offers a pleasant mediaeval atmosphere. Boasting a great selection of arts and crafts, the brightly-coloured cockerel that has become recognisable across Portugal is from Barcelos.
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Considered the birthplace of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, who later went on to become the first King of Portugal, was born here. It has a historical centre with a walled city that has been classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The city has a harmonious and well preserved heritage. Although it has a medieval feel to it, it also embraces the mordern life with its many restaurants and terraces in which to enjoy a slower pace.
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Ponte de Lima
Billed as the oldest village in Portugal, it dates back to 1125. It is a medieval village that has built and preserved its history well over time. With a number of protected landscapes surrounding it, it is the home to the famous green wine and the only white laurel wines in the world making it an excellent location for wine tourism.
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