Travelling in the Alto Minho is an unforgettable experience and there is no lack of attributes in this territory of the North of Portugal, such as the authenticity of its people, the rich and well-preserved historical heritage, the environment and nature, and the unique gastronomy. With good roads, and almost always a river marking your journey, it is the perfect scenery for a road trip. By car, you can stop whenever your gaze lingers on a landscape painted in an immense green. Visit the preserved historic areas, the churches and sanctuaries, the beaches, the riverside areas bathed by the rivers Minho and Lima, the castles, and the granaries and even the sea. And do not miss the knowledge (and flavours) and the unique products that this territory offers you. All About Portugal gives you the essential points for your holidays in Alto Minho.
Arcos de Valdevez
It is one of the largest municipalities in Portugal, with a vast territory, and integrates the Peneda-Gerês National Park. After arriving at the village, in Vale do Vez, and exploring the main local points of interest, including the Ponte da Vila, it has many destinations to choose from, and of different categories. We suggest stopping at the Granaries of Soajo, and the Socalcos do Sistelo, which José Saramago described, in “Journey to Portugal” as “the most beautiful landscape that fits the imagination”. Do not miss the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Peneda and the long stairway, integrated in a scenario of great beauty.
Limited to the north by the River Minho, between the Serra d'Arga and the sea, Caminha offers beautiful landscapes and walking possibilities for all tastes. Start in the historic area, where you will find the Clock Tower, a monument inserted in the Fortress of Caminha. Next to the beach at the mouth of the river Minho, walk the paths of the luxuriant Mata Nacional do Camarido towards the beaches and see the imposing Fortress of Ínsua. Then head towards Serra d’Arga, to the Monastery of São João D'Arga and along the way discover the bucolic villages of Arga.
In Valença, the main and unavoidable attraction is Fortaleza, one of the most outstanding military fortifications in Europe. However, unlike many others, its interior is full of life, being much sought-after by the traditional outdoor trade. To find the best viewpoint, we suggest the Baluarte do Socorro, at the north end of the Fortress of Valença, from where you can enjoy the surrounding landscape overlooking the International Bridge over the River Minho, which connects to Tui, in Spain.
Vila Nova de Cerveira
With a dense and well-planned historical area around the Castle, of oval shape, Vila Nova de Cerveira invites you to a stroll. This village harmoniously combines heritage and nature. It is therefore suggested, after going around the Vila Nova de Cerveira Castle, to visit the Castelinho Leisure Park, located on the bank of the River Minho. To end the tour, a visit to the Cervo Viewpoint, located in Alto do Crasto, is a must, with a landscape to lose sight of. Also here is the metallic sculpture of the Cervo (deer), symbol of the municipality, immortalized in this work by the sculptor José Rodrigues.
In Monção you are lucky to be able to visit one of the most beautiful palaces in Portugal: the Brejoeira Palace. Neoclassical in style, with an L-shaped plant and a beautiful garden at the entrance, it preserves all its charm. It has 18 hectares of vineyards where the prestigious Alvarinho wine is produced. A 10-minute drive from the centre of Monção, it is also worth visiting the Torre da Lapela, in Gothic style, overlooking the River Minho. Because traveling in the Alto Minho can also mean relaxing, we suggest a visit to the thermal baths of Monção, which has mineral-medicinal waters.
Melgaço has a dense and inhabited Historic Centre, with narrow streets and stone houses, to walk through. We suggest a visit to the remains of the old Castle of Melgaço, more precisely to the Keep, where the Museum Centre is housed. Precisely on one of the streets adjacent to the entrance to the Castle, film buffs will find the Museum of Cinema, with the estate of Frenchman Jean Loup Passek. Do not leave Melgaço without visiting Solar do Alvarinho, the high point of the Alvarinho Wine Route. Take the opportunity to taste this famous wine and to know and buy other products from the region, such as embroidery, ham, sausages, bread, or honey.
Paredes de Coura
It receives annually, in August, one of the best music festivals in Europe, venerated by nature lovers. The fluvial beach of Taboão, in Rio Coura, is the stage of the festival - where bands like Arcade Fire premiered on national soil in 2005 - and one of the most pleasant places in Paredes de Coura. In a municipality with a landscape marked by agriculture, we recommend stopping at the most beautiful example of this bucolic landscape, the set of granaries in the village of Porreiras. The highest point of Paredes de Coura is located at the Corno do Bico viewpoint, considered a protected landscape.
Ponte da Barca
After visiting the village of Ponte da Barca, crossing the Medieval Bridge, and strolling along the banks of the Lima River, we suggest you set out to discover Lindoso. The roads are good and along the way they present you with the riverside landscape. Almost reaching Lindoso, near the place of Parada, it is worth taking the short pedestrian path from Moinhos de Parada to Poço da Gola. Continuing to Lindoso, visit the Castle and its granary “city”. If you like mountain villages, and if you are in road trip mode, head to Aldeia da Ermida and Germil, in different points of the Serra Amarela.
Ponte de Lima
The town centre of Ponte de Lima is so welcoming that you feel like strolling along the riverside worry-free. Start with a visit to the Main Church, in Gothic style, and cross the Medieval Bridge. Stop for lunch overlooking the river, while enjoying soothing tranquillity in the historic area, close to the Cadeia Velha Tower. You can also visit the Arnado Park, the Terceiros Museum and, if you have time, the Lagoons of Bertiandos.
Viana do Castelo
For the last destination of this itinerary through Alto Minho we give you what is also known as the “Princess of Minho” – and the place that Amália Rodrigues immortalized in the fado “Havemos de ir a Viana” (We will have to go to Viana), by Pedro Homem de Mello. Viana do Castelo is river, sea, and mountain in one city. At the top of the Mount of Santa Luzia, in front of the Basilica, you have the perfect picture of this scenario. In the Historic Centre there is no shortage of points of interest. We suggest starting the route in the City Hall and ending in the riverside area, at the Marina.