5 Places to visit less than 1h away from Porto!

View over a part of the Douro Valley

Visit Douro Valley

The river Douro, that passes through Porto, has been used for centuries in the past to transport kegs filled with wine that was grown in the valley east of Porto. This wine region, also called “Alto Douro”, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site: and its easy to see why. The deep valley is surrounded by wine grapes, growing on the steep slopes snaking its way from the mountains to the coast. The view is so mesmerizing that there are boat tours that can take you through the beautiful scenery. I highly recommend visiting this part of Portugal as it is a historically rich area with a strong cultural identity. The best way to discover this region is by car and doing wine tasting!

Boat from which you can enjoy the Douro valley

Enjoy Matosinhos

Just 8km away from the center of Porto is a municipality called Matosinhos. This town is similar to what Cascais is to Lisbon. Many people prefer the calmness of Matosinhos to the busy city. It has a great beach, perfect both for surfing and sunbathing. It has natural pools built in rock, which allows you to swim without having to worry about the waves. Matosinhos is also a great way to spend an evening and have dinner to the sunset before heading back to Porto for the night.

Driving in Peneda-Gerês national park. Image by O. Nogueira under CC-BY SA2.0

Explore Peneda-Gêres National Park

If you are instead of following the river Douro and go north from Porto, you will end-up in the national park of Peneda-Gerês. This is the only national park of Portugal and gets its name from the two massive granite mountains that are found there. The park is great to explore by driving in between villages, spending the night in inns or even bike. Many trails can be taken to explore the wilderness of the park. Keep in mind that camping in the wild is not allowed, only in designated places in Portugal!

Roman bridge called Ponte da Cava da Velha found in Gerês
View over Viana do Castelo from the Santa Luzia sanctuary

Discover Viana do Castelo

If you follow the coast from Porto, you will find yourself in Viana do Castelo. This small town is a quiet, quaint place on the sea. One thing that strikes you when first arriving is the huge mountain that towers over it, and even more remarkable is the church built on its top. The town has a rich history, which is intertwined with that of the Discovery Age. Apart from strolling in the historical streets of Viana do Castelo, you can also visit the beaches of Amorosa in the south or Canto Marinho in the north

Beach of Praia Amaroso just south of Viana do Castelo
Center of Guimarães still has buildings that bears the characteristics of a Medieval town

Go to Guimarães

You might have wondered where did Portugal originate from? Some would guess Lisbon, however many Portuguese regard Guimarães as one of the birthplaces of Portugal as a nation. As you might imagine there is an incredible amount of history in the streets of Guimarães not mentioning the churches and the museums. Its historic town center has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, in recognition for being an exceptionally well-preserved and authentic example of the evolution of a medieval settlement into a modern town

Church of Nossa Senhora da Consolação e dos Santos Passos in Guimarães

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