The North of Portugal hides away a lot of natural wonders and peculiar attractions. We take you to visit 5 villages that must be in your top places to visit when touring the northern side of our country.
Even to most Portuguese, this village is not particularly well known.
Way back, Apúlia was renowned for its windmills and schist sheds, which outline the town’s coastline with the sea. In ancient times, the Roman people used the beach of Apúlia, both the windmills and sheds, as a commercial loading point to store goods.
The extensive shore is full of windmills, built of granite and schist, circular in plan and conical in shape. They were built that way in order to make the best use of the available wind. With time, they become unnecessary, so they cease to be functional.
Nowadays, the village has taken advantage of the beach and the history behind the mills, as tourist attractions, adapting the mills as vacation villas.
A village that is located within 2 big routes, partially in Peneda-Gerês Natural Park and in Vale do Lima Giant’s Route.
The natural park is worldwide known for its typical mountain villages and wild nature preservation. The Giant’s route is an homage to 4 great Portuguese historical figures that took Portugal to the four corners of the world. The route goes through each of these figures’ hometowns as a way to tell their story to the world.
In a nutshell, Arcos de Valdevez is a village rich in green landscapes, rich architectural heritage and picturesque community costumes.
From the 19th century bridge that connects the two riverbanks to Arcos de Valdevez and replaces the original medieval bridge. To Paço de Giela, the iconic tower house has been classified as a national monument since 1910. Why? Due to its remarkable architectural Romanesque and Gothic elements, and to the ornate Manueline windows.
On a pleasurable note, you also have Ecovia do Vez, which consists of 32km along the Lima and Vez rivers, starting in Arcos de Valdevez and ending in the village of Sistelo.
Home to Portugal’s Olympic canoeing medalist Fernando Pimenta, Ponte de Lima is a picturesque village, actually considered to be the oldest village in our country.
A centennial historical city and the millennial landscapes surrounding it, it’s a village that will keep you busy. Being a village full of heritage, it’s known for having 50 classified monuments ( 3 national monuments, 4 monuments of public interest, 38 buildings of public interest and 5 of municipal interest) due to their archaeological, architectural and historical importance.
One of the most well known monuments is Castro de São Estevão, which dates back to the Iron Age. It has most of its infrastructure and is well preserved due to its classification as archaeological heritage. One other place to take advantage of should be Miradouro do Penedo Branco, simply because it provides a wide view over the Lima river.
The village doesn’t just rely on history, by always hosting a diversity of events, such as the Garden Festival. The festival invites people of all ages to create magnificent gardens through their own creativity, available for the general public to visit.
As a border village with Spain and with closeness to the sea, the village welcomes hoards of people from all over the world. Known as the village of the arts, it has hosted since 1978 the prestigious Plastic Arts Biennial, which brings several national and international artists to the village.
Furthermore, among several monuments of interest, the village is also home to the Aqua Museum. This is considered the most visited museum in the northern region of Minho, with tremendous relevance given that it shows the history and art of fishing, one of the main activities in the area.
One of the greatest attractions of Vila Nova de Cerveira is the CerLove mountain swing. CerLove represents “Love Cerveira” and it’s located in Miradouro do Cervo, where you can have panoramic views over Minho river, the sea, the city and Spain.
This giant swing, as it’s known, is yet another iconic wooden swing that delights tourists and Portuguese. Between the amazing views and the swing itself, which is 7,60m in height and 1,10m in width, there are often rows of traffic just to use and take a photo on the swing.
A beautiful, cozy and calm village where you can own the house of your dreams, away from the buzz of big cities, yet close to anything you need. A worthy investment for sure.
A small village in Vila Real district, Vidago is mostly the most renowned for its famous hotel, Vidago Palace.
In ancient times, this small village became well known for its thermal water springs. With time, it captivated the attention of the richest nobles in the kingdom, thus changing from a small village to a hot springs empire.
With the inflow of people spending seasons there, came Vidago Palace Hotel, located in the century old Vidago natural park. Peace and gorgeous landscapes describe the Vidago Palace ambience, which inherited 100 hectares of park with pavilions of mineral water from the old therms.
To the 20th century architectural traits present in the park’s design, there’s the addition of the architecture dream of the hotel building itself. The large iron gates that allow entrance to the property, to the reddish ochre facade of the hotel, to the charming and romantic Belle Époque style.
Designed by a king, this centennial hotel is the perfect mixture of natural beauty and luxury.
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