Back in March 2020 when we arrived in Portugal we kept hearing that the north is not really worth it; that we should rather stick to the Algarve and Alentejo. However, after having travelled the country for four month, I have to say: I love northern Portugal! Maybe even more than the rest! And this is why today I am sharing my personal highlights in northern Portugal!
I have to add though that ALL of Portugal is beautiful and SO worth visiting! I just feel like I have to give the north a little bit of extra attention because it often seems to be left behind.
- The beaches around Esposende
Esposende itself is a small touristy town; it’s nice but nothing special. However, just a few kilometers away from the town center, there are some of our all time favorite beaches!
From Esposende town you can actually walk a beautiful boardwalk alongside the coast; you are able to hop of the boardwalk anyway to enjoy the beach but when you walk it aaaaall the way (around 4 kilometers) you will end up at our favorite spot: a beach with loads and loads of small pools and puddles (during low tide) which are warming up easily and that you can use as bathtubs for yourself or baby pools for the kids. You can also dip into the ocean, of course. The beach with all it’s small bassins is so much fun to explore – alone or with kids!
We had NO idea what Guimaraes is like and if it is worth going there at all; but since we had posted a package to the local post office there, we went to this city. And I am so grateful we did!
Guimaraes has become our favorite city in northern Portugal! The old town is so pretty with all the small squares with fountains and cafés. The best part though is the cable car! Make sure to take the cable car up the hill and enjoy the magical park up there! Walk around between the huge rocks, sit down to enjoy the view, and – if you have kids – play hide and seek : )
- The Douro Valley
I know, this isn’t a secret; the Douro valley is beautiful! If you like to hike, this is your place; if you like to take a boat ride on the river, this is your place; if you like to drive around a beautiful area with your car or motor home, this is your place!
We just drove through the valley with our motor home, stopped here and there to enjoy the view and drove off again. It’s been among the most beautiful drives we had throughout our 12 months on the road!
- Bom Jesus
Bom Jesus is located in Braga and even though Braga itself is – of course – worth a visit, it’s Bom Jesus that you should make sure not to miss! There is so much more to discover in Bom Jesus than just the church on the hill; the magical park behind the church is a must!
If you have kids, make sure to take a row boat on the small lake. Also, taking the train up to Bom Jesus is quite fun to do but make sure to take the stairs down again; the view is just amazing!
- Vila Nova de Cerveira and the area around
Spain and Portugal are divided by a beautiful river in northern Portugal; Vila Nova de Cerveira is one of the towns in which you can cross the border, but the entire area alongside the river is beautiful!
When you go all the way to the coast you can see Spain on the other side – and vice versa when you are in Spain (which is worth a visit as well!).
Other places in central and northern Portugal that I can recommend are:
The beaches around Figueira da Foz and around Marinha Grande.
Tomar – beautiful old town! Make yure to visit the monastry!
Coimbra – hike up the hill and enjoy the view on the city and make sure to visit the market!
Pedrogao Grande; the river and the lake are breathtaking!
And so many others 😀
Have you been travelling Portugal? What are your favorite places? I would love to know so feel free to share here in the comments or on instagram!