Five Best Towns to Visit in Northern Portugal in 2024

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If you’re packing your travel bags, headed for Portugal, we’ve got to say: great idea! Chances are you’ve consulted with your travel agent on the specific area you’d like to visit in the country, especially on the mainland.

Northern Portugal offers such a vantage point for the getaway of your dreams. We’ve got five of the best Northern Portugal cities you’d want to try.

Braga

Tourists and travelers can probably mention a few Portugal cities off the top of their heads, but you’d be forgiven if you missed the northern city of Braga. It sits pretty in the northwest of Portugal, with a beautiful mix of ancient churches, artifacts, and imposing modern structures that dominate the skyline. 

This city pulls so many international visitors with its beauty and serenity that it got voted the Best European Destination to Visit in 2021. It’s no surprise when you consider that Braga is super accessible – it’s just one hour’s train ride from Porto.

Perhaps the best part about visiting Braga is the locals’ willingness to show you around. You get to see scenic locations like the Bom Jesus sanctuary, Sameiro, and other places general itineraries tend to miss. If you’ve got the time, you can stop by the river Cavado or Campo das Carvalheiras – which Jenna Ortega absolutely loves, by the way.

Chaves

If we could describe Chaves with two sets of words, it’s “thermal waters” and “picturesque landscapes”. From the moment you set foot in the city, you’ll realize the place is steeped in history around the Tamega River. Its well-preserved  Ponte de Trajano Roman bridge over the river clearly calls to the city’s ancient past. Given the city’s strategic location near the border with Spain, this bridge must have been an important defensive stronghold throughout the centuries.

Where can you start sightseeing in the city? We recommend Jardim do Castelo, a medieval castle that sets you in a historical mood. Then, you can stop by the city’s center at Praca de Camoes. Be sure to take pictures of the Santa Maria church and Town Hall. At the end of the trip, stroll by the Tamega River and get some of that lovely Alameda de Trajano breeze on your skin. 

Guimaraes

Picture this: Cobblestone streets, lined with picturesque houses adorned with colourful facades. Sounds peaceful, right? That’s what the northern city of Guimaraes feels like.  It’s got charming squares, such as Largo da Oliveira and Praça de Santiago. You’re going to love this place if you’re keen on leisurely strolls and people-watching. 

For solo travelers, it’s common to want to pair a visit to Guimaraes and Braga in one day. However, it’s best to take a more laid-back approach and explore Guimaraes on its day. The locals are an older demographic, and won’t bother you as you look around the city.

Ponte De Lima

Further up north from Guimaraes, you’d find Ponte de Lima. There’s a 42-minute drive between both towns – or about 2 hours if you can catch the next train. 

Ponte de Lima is the oldest town in northern Portugal. A small, truly picturesque town that only takes about 2 hours of sightseeing. In that time, you get to see the Ponte Medieval, which was built in 1AD! If you could speak with a local, maybe they can tell you the lore around the Lima River. 

Amarante

Amarante is another charming town located in the northern region of Portugal, nestled along the banks of the Tâmega River. If you’re packing your bags and headed to the town, your first port of call has to be the Church of São Gonçalo. You’d love the lavish and exquisite Portuguese artwork in the altar’s construction.

For a lesser-known historical town in Portugal, it’s nice to see that Amarante sits pretty on the “must-visit” list. Folks will be eager to tell you how calm and peaceful Amarante really is. 

Northern Portugal is one of five main regions in mainland Portugal, sitting between Spain’s Galicia and the Central Portugal cities of Coimbra, Aveiro, or Guarda. It mostly consists of small historical towns, with a few major cities like Porto and Braga.

The region offers truly beautiful spots to visit, and we’ve highlighted five that top our list. Your Portugal travel itinerary will be so much more fulfilling when you include these towns.

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