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Things to see around Porto, northern Portugal

While the city of Porto is the jewel in the crown of northern Portugal there are also many other gems both sparkling and unpolished to see in this part of the Iberian peninsular. With the excellent transport via road and rail in the area many are just hours away from Porto and can be visited as day trips or as part of a tour of the region while using Porto as your base.

Guimaraes - Visit this historic town not just for the castle or  museum itself, but for the historic streets and the air of unchanged time which puts it 500 years ago unchanged from the peak of Portuguese power. An alpine feeling comes from its elevation while friendly locals and medieval architecture mean that as you wander the narrow streets there is always something to see, and someone to help when you get lost!  Sit in the Praça da Oliveira  and drink vinho verde, or just laze the day away over a coffee and a pastry!  There are several different routes but taking the A3 and then A7 main roads are by far the best. in less than an hour you can be in the city, and find ample parking next to the castle.  Tolls do apply on these roads.

Parque Nacional da Peneda-Geres - One of the great parks of Europe this natural park is rich with small animals, wild horses and always water. With streams, cascades and waterfalls all around it reflects Portugese attachment to water even here inland. A large artificial lake adds to the many smaller natural waterways giving a chance for locals and visitors alike to try various boating activities.  Drive from Braga to Geres for some wonderful landscapes.  The A3 then N14 take you most of the way on this trip of more than an hour.  To fully enjoy the experience allow up to two hours.  Inside the park the roads are often just dirt tracks so a 4 wheel drive and some experience with off-road driving are recommended to get the best out of your time in the park.

Braga - The city which is one of the oldest Catholic places in the world is famed not just for its Praça da República with it's historic buildings but of course also for the Cathedral, and the famed Garden of Santa Barbara. And just outside the city proper at Tenões the Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary with its grand staircase.  Reach the city along the A3 in less than an  hour.

Viana do Castelo - With its world famed Confraria de Santa Luzia and grand views of the countryside this is a city not to be missed.  Visit the Geraz do Lima carriage museum, the Monument to Caramuru and Paraguaçu designed by Jose Rodrigues at the Republic square, and of course the Sé Cathedral of Viana do Castelo