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
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.
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
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
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
Step inside to take a look at the incredibly ornate interior and the peaceful cloister.
Inside Igreja de São Gonçalo
The organ in Igreja de São Gonçalo
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
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
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 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
The view across Lamego
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
If you are familiar with the label on the wine, then you’ll recognise Casa de Mateus.
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
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
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
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
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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