The Casa de Mateus, a baroque palace in the north of Portugal, reflected in the pond in front of it.

Beyond the Douro Valley, Portugal

In En-Route, Europe, Our Journeys, Portugal, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

A few places to add to your northern Portuguese road trip...

Amarante, Lamego, Casa Mateus & Vila Real

Why would you want to leave the rolling terraces of the Douro Valley?  With row after row of vineyards and olive trees.

Reflections in front of Casa de Mateus, Portugal

Reflections in front of Casa de Mateus

Well, there are so many more places to visit around this region you are spoilt for choice.

We were based in the UNESCO town of Guimarães for a couple of nights, and I can’t recommend this little city highly enough, but that’s another story.

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However, beyond the Douro Valley are some fabulous places to explore - so explore we did.  We hope there's something here to inspire you.

A reference guide

Our recent new found love is Portugal, it is such a beautiful country. While planning our trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Portuguese road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.


We visited Amarante, nestled along the Tâmega River, in the Minho region.  Amarante was a really pleasant surprise. Like a lot of Portuguese towns and villages, it was like stepping back in time, in a very warming kind of way. Little independent shops selling a mixture of items that you can’t quite decide whether they would be useful to you or not.

Amarante shop front, Amarante, Portugal

Amarante shop front

The little streets wind their way up through the town, passing tiny chapels, courtyards and locals chatting on street corners. Amarante felt so relaxed and unrushed, from high above the rooftops you get a picturesque view of the valley below.

Looking over the rooftops, Amarante, Portugal

Looking over the rooftops

One of the main focal points of the town is the beautiful Igreja de São Gonçalo overlooking the arched stone bridge of the same name. 

Igreja de São Gonçalo, Amarante, Portugal

Igreja de São Gonçalo

Step inside to take a look at the incredibly ornate interior and the peaceful cloister.

Inside Igreja de São Gonçalo, Amarante, Portugal

Inside Igreja de São Gonçalo

The organ in  Igreja de São Gonçalo, Amarante, Portugal

The organ in  Igreja de São Gonçalo

Did you know?

That the Alto Douro Wine Region is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001.


Heading around 35 miles (55km) south-east of Amarante passing through some very traditional wine-making villages, you arrive in the ancient city of Lamgeo.

The view across Salzedas, Portugal

The view across Salzedas

Lamego has an attractive historical city centre; however, it’s the incredible sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies that your eyes are drawn to. Gracefully overlooking Lamego, you just can’t stop yourself from continually looking up.

The view of  Our Lady of Remedies from Lamego, Portugal

The view of  Our Lady of Remedies from Lamego

The incredible Baroque staircase has 686 steps and gradually takes you up through the decorative terraces. All the while giving you far reaching views of the landscape beyond.  

Looking up to Our Lady of Remedies, Lamego, Portugal

Looking up to Our Lady of Remedies from the terrace

Built on top of Monte de Santo Estêvão, the construction of the present-day sanctuary was started in 1750, however, was not completed until 1905.

Getting closer to Our Lady of Remedies, Lamego, Portugal

Getting closer to Our Lady of Remedies

The view across Lamego, Portugal

The view across Lamego

Tempted to?

Discover more of Portugal and tour its incredible Douro Valley, you can then head onto the Minho Region in the north-east and have a taster of Vinho Verde. You can do it all on a road trip, Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

Casa de Mateus

Mmmm, now the name Mateus maybe familiar to a particular age group amongst us? Yes, this region is home of Mateus Rose. I remember sampling this wine in the late ‘80s, and the memories of the flask-shaped bottle have stuck with me ever since.

Casa de Mateus, Portugal

Casa de Mateus

If you are familiar with the label on the wine, then you’ll recognise Casa de Mateus.

In front of Casa de Mateus, Portugal

In front of Casa de Mateus

The ornate Baroque palace was built during the first half of the 18th – century by António José Botelho Mourão. The intricate architecture is incredible.

Beautiful detail in Casa de Mateus, Portugal

Beautiful detail in Casa de Mateus

The palace is set within beautifully kept gardens, you can stroll amongst camellias, palm trees, cedars and highly manicured hedges, all for €7.

The gardens of Casa de Mateus, Portugal

The gardens of Casa de Mateus

Have You?

Visited Portugal and toured the Douro Valley we’d love to hear about your experiences and any towns or villages you visited?

Vila Real

The next place we based ourselves in northern Portugal was at Vila Real. This city was a little more rustic that Guimarães but was full of character and lovely architecture, it was also the birthplace of Diogo Cão, one of Portugal’s Age of Discovery explorers and navigators.

The town hall of Vila Real, Portugal

The town hall of Vila Real

Vila Real had some wonderful historic buildings within the heart of the old town. Strolling amongst the pedestrian lanes, you must keep looking up at the old street signs and wrought iron balconies teeter above you, with flower pots, and the daily washing.

Capela Nova in Vila Real, Portugal

Capela Nova in Vila Real

Sandwich bar in Vila Real, Portugal

Sandwich bar in Vila Real

You feel like you are experiencing the real Portugal with all it's warm, hospitality and relaxed outlook.

Inspired to visit the Douro Valley region?

Vila Real or Guimarães are ideal locations to base yourself while you tour around.

You can also make a visit to Casa Mateus.

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Beyond the Douro Valley, Portugal

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  1. Wow I loved this post. It has really given me a second look at Portugal which really wasn’t one my radar at all. I love these peaceful grandeur xx Maria

    1. Thanks very much, Portugal still seems to be a country slightly undiscovered. We did a road trip last year touring all around and we found some wonderful places. Guimaraes in the north was really lovely, and Evora which is more central in the country, was delightful too. There were many more.

  2. You uncovered so many wonderful places on your trip to Portugal. This really looks special. Yet another reason to visit Portugal again sooner rather than later. Thanks for inspiring me on #FarawayFiles

  3. Such gorgeous architecture – I’d definitely like to explore this region… #FarawayFiles

    1. There are some beautiful towns in northern Portugal, I love all the blue and white tiling and the lovely little squares.

  4. What incredible places to visit! Taking a road trip is very appealing as a way to see more in Northern Portugal. I was especially inspired by the beautiful architecture and by Gary’s wonderful photos. #farawayfiles

    1. Yes taking a road trip gives you great flexibility, we actually caught a ferry from Portsmouth down to Bilbao. Then headed in to Portugal and drove down to the south and back again. It was fantastic.The architecture is wonderful throughout the country, it’s quite rustic in places which gives it charm.

  5. Another blogger friend wrote about exactly the same locations and I fell in love with this area! This will definitely be on my must-visit on our first trip to Portugal one day! That staircase is definitely a must! It’s so beautiful! #FarawayFiles

    1. It is a lovely region of the country and parts of Portugal are still so rural.There’s another Baroque staircase and church in the north of Portugal, it named ‘Bom Jesus do Monte’ near Braga. Also worth visiting. Enjoy it when you do get the chance to visit.

  6. Such stunning architecture! Portugal is a beautiful country – I was so upset to have to cancel our trip there this past August but hoping to get there very soon! Wonderful photos! #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks for the comments.Ahh, that was such a shame you had to cancel your trip, hope you get to go there soon. There are some incredibly historic buildings all around the country.

  7. These are some real beauty shots, even knowing already what a beautiful place Portugal is I’m blown away by how beautiful this area is. I MUST get north next time! #farawayfiles

    1. Yes, it really is beautiful. So often people head south, but there is so much to see throughout the whole country, particularly in the north.

  8. Wow, the Lamego sanctuary looks absolutely incredible! I visited Portugal for the first time last year and absolutely loved it. We didn’t make it to this area, though, and I’m definitely bookmarking this for our (fingers crossed) next trip! #farawayfiles

    1. Portugal is becoming one of our favourite destinations, I can’t believe we left it so long to visit & now we can’t wait to return.If you do head to the north of Portugal, the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, near Braga is also incredible. There are so many wonderful places in this region.Enjoy your next visit.

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