Now that we've seen Porto, what's next? If this is the case for you, there are plenty of options and places to visit in northern Portugal. Once you've seen all the important sites in Porto, such as the wine cellars, the Clérigos Tower and the Sao Bento train station, it's time to plan where to go from Porto in a day and back.
Trip to Guimarães
This is undoubtedly one of the best options. Guimarães was the first capital of Portugal, and its old town is perfectly restored and delights all who walk around its cobblestone streets. It is a great choice as it is about 40 minutes away by car.
Its most famous landmark is the 11th-century Guimarães Castle, which you can visit inside, where part of its history has been recreated. You can also climb the walls and towers of the castle, which is often great fun for children and an interesting option for photography enthusiasts. Another must-see is the Guimarães Palace, which is also open to the public and has an interesting museum inside. No reservations are needed, just approach the ticket office at the entrance, but both attractions are closed on Mondays. A combined ticket costs 12 euros and the facilities are open until 18:00.
Trip to Braga
Braga is the third-largest city in Portugal in terms of population and importance. Braga's main attraction is the cathedral, one of the jewels of Baroque architecture in the Iberian Peninsula. The city really has it all: historical heritage, impressive gardens, palaces, churches, squares.... and even Roman ruins. Anything else? Finally, don't miss the Bom Jesus sanctuary, recently listed by Unesco and a place of pilgrimage for many believers. At the end of the tour, you can try Roman bolos or frigideiras, which are a great addition to the gastronomic offer.
Trip to Aveiro
This is a seaside town located about an hour from Porto.
It is famous, because of the canal that cuts through the village and the colourful houses that decorate the nearby village: Costa Nova. In fact, it is the location of colourful houses can be confusing. The distance between these two attractions is a 10-minute drive, so if you go to Aveiro, you can also visit Costa Nova.
Aveiro is worth a visit, especially if you are passing through here on your way to Lisbon or if you are going from there to Porto, but by comparison Braga or Guimaraes have much more to see and do.
More trips to the north
Besides these three options, the most classic and recommended for a first or second time in Porto or northern Portugal, there are other places that are less crowded but equally worth visiting.
Viana do Castelo
This coastal town, located right at the mouth of a large river, has enviable natural scenery and a vibrant historic centre. As its name suggests, it is home to a castle that once protected the Portuguese coast from possible enemies.
Ponte de Lima
The oldest village in Portugal. It is a small village whose stone bridge stands out from the rest. A good place to visit and recharge your batteries.
Valença do Minho
Just across the border from Galicia, on the other side of the historic town of Tui. An hour and a half drive away is the famous fortress of Valença. The walled area, known among Galicians for its markets of cotton products such as the stereotypical towels, is worth a visit.
Vilanova da Cerveira
Very close to Valença and very similar to it, although without such an impressive fortress. Its cobbled streets with tiny colourful houses look like elements from a fantasy book.
This is one of the current trends when visiting Portugal, especially popular when touring from Porto, which has a wider choice of accommodations. After eating cod and Franceshina and tasting Porto wine in the cellars, focus on nature and movement. Here are some ideas.
Peneda-Gerês Natural Park
An impressive place with valleys, mountains and rivers that form spectacular waterfalls. A trip to this park is one of the most popular trips for the more adventurous, as it is home to the famous zip line that starts in one country and ends in another. Want to go to Spain while hanging on the zip line? There's no need to wait!
Footbridges in Paiva
A geopark perfect for a short trip and the best recommendation for an interesting attraction for children. The park is perfectly set up for walking, requiring no equipment other than a hat and comfortable shoes. And on its territory there are parking lots, cafés and restaurants. The natural park is crossed by a river that flows peacefully between valleys and steep rocks. The landscapes are incredible, and the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge, the Arouca 516 Bridge, opened here in 2021.
Perhaps the most peaceful, but by no means boring, nature plan. Along the Douro River or its tributary Tamega, there are many villages to visit. Each of the villages has a vineyard and winery where you can go for a walk, a tasting or a ferry ride on the river. Some of these towns include Peso de Regua, Pinhao, Vila Real and Amarante.
These are not the only options that Portugal offers, but these are certainly the most interesting. Of course, you can't forget to visit Porto. If you want to make the most of your time and start with tours, the best option would be to take a Free Walking Tour of Porto and then explore its surroundings.