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Exploring Northern Portugal
Exploring Northern Portugal OverviewLeisurely visit to Portugal’s beautiful northern region with time for independent exploration. Two full days in Porto, to include an excursion to the Atlantic coast. Wonderful selection of sacred & secular buildings including Bom Jesus do Monte with its stunning views. We stay in Porto’s city centre, then in historic hotels in Pinhão & Monção.
The Duoro Valley & the Minho: Exploring Northern Portugal
Tour Lecturer; Tom Duncan, Co-Founder of CICERONI Travel
Tour Manager; David Sketchley, Spanish & Portuguese Tour Director
The Douro Valley and the Minho are two of the most scenic and atmospheric regions of Portugal. The Rio Douro, the “River of Gold” stretches some 160 or more miles from the Spanish border to the sea, and originally flowed through wild countryside. The development of port wine lodges in the eighteenth century changed the area and it has lovely countryside, full of pretty villages, historic towns and much else besides. The Minho is less well known, though the Portuguese consider it to be the most beautiful of all and it has two of the country’s most lovely cities, Guimarães and Braga.
Porto is the Douro’s delightful capital and we shall spend three nights there, allowing us time to explore it in detail. The city was European City of Culture in 2001 and this precipitated an extensive programme of repair and restoration, making it a particularly attractive place to visit. One of its highlights is the work of the Italian Nicolau Nasoni, who arrived in Porto in 1725 and designed many important churches and other buildings in the prevailing baroque style, such as the Clérigos Church and Tower. Other places we shall see include what is thought to be the world’s most beautiful railway station, São Bento with its fabulous tiled interiors. Inevitably, we shall take the opportunity to visit one of the city’s famous port-wine houses.
Leaving Porto we travel eastwards along the Douro valley to Pinhão, which will be our base for two nights and it is a delightful spot. Nearby we shall visit Lamego with its lovely cathedral, the Sé, while the town’s museum has fine paintings and wonderful Flemish tapestries. We also take a lovely tourist train through the hills to visit a local monastery and other sites.
Continuing on to the Minho area, we base ourselves at the lovely old spa town of Monção for three nights. From here we visit Guimarães, a UNESCO World Heritage City, and it certainly deserves this accolade. This was Portugal’s original capital and it has many fine buildings in the historic centre – a medieval castle, the palace of the Dukes of Braganza and some lovely churches. Braga is Portugal’s ‘religious capital’ and we shall be selective in the churches we visit, the most extraordinary of which is the Bom Jesus.
The pace throughout this visit will be gentle, with time to relax and explore independently. In Porto we stay for three nights at the 4* Hotel Eurostars das Artes with its mix of pretty historic and modern interiors; it is very close to many of the city’s major sites and museums. In Pinhão we stay for two nights in the 5* Vintage House Hotel, a very comfortable historic wine lodge where all rooms have balconies which overlook the River Douro; in Monção, we stay for three nights in one of the area’s most captivating historic properties, the 4* Hotel Rural Convento dos Capuchos.
Please note, this tour has now departed, we next expect to offer this tour in 2022. For the latest information about our current and future tours please visit www.ciceroni.co.uk or call 01869 811167