Historical charms of the Minho guided tour of northern Portugal

Portugal’s Minho region is bursting with history and culture with evidence of Celtic, Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, Rennaisance and Baroque periods and award-winning contemporary architecture.

Absorb the sights, sounds and flavours from traditional restaurants and outdoor cafés in medieval squares; take in the views from hilltop sanctuaries and castles and discover the stories and traditions that make this region so special.

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Suggested 3-day itinerary

Day 1 – Ponte de Lima and Viana do Castelo

Morning – Ponte de Lima and winery

Admire the beautiful Minho countryside as your guide drives you from Porto to Ponte de Lima, one of the prettiest towns in the Minho, in a comfortable private car.

Walk across the medieval bridge that was once part of the Roman road between Braga and Asturia in Spain. Sit in a café in Largo de Camões in view of the ornate 16th century fountain and visit the 14th century tower of the old jail house (Torre da Cadeia Velha) and the magnificent Gothic parish church. Stroll along the river bank between centuries-old sycamore trees before leaving this charming town.

Round off the morning with a visit to Quinta do Ameal, a vinho verde winery founded in 1710, to take a tour of the vineyards and learn about their special grape varieties before sampling some excellent wines.

Afternoon – Viana do Castelo

Head west to the attractive coastal city of Viana do Castelo where you can tuck into a fresh grilled fish at O Pescador, a simple but excellent restaurant serving traditional Minho dishes.

The hilltop basilica at Santa Luzia, inspired by the Sacré Coeur cathedral in Paris, offers magnificent views of land, river and sea. Behind this modern temple lies the remains of a Celtic settlement, a collection of circular dwellings and walls dating back almost 2,000 years.

After viewing Viana do Castelo from above, head downhill to explore its ancient streets. The medieval ‘tryptich’ in Praça da República, is composed of the granite Renaissance fountain, the former City Hall building and the Misericórdia building.

Counter the historical architecture with a stroll along the riverside promenade to see buildings designed by renowned Portuguese architect and Pritzker prize winner Álvaro Siza Vieira.

Spend the night in a beautifully restored traditional house in the historical centre.

Day 2 -Braga and Guimarães

Morning – Braga

Again, begin your appreciation of the city of Braga and the surrounding Minho landscape from above at the hilltop Bom Jesus Sanctuary with its monumental staircase.

Your tour of the city itself begins at the 12th century cathedral, with subsequent additions that stand as testimony to different architectural trends and significant periods of history.

Braga’s historical centre is packed with fine examples of religious architecture such as the Episcopal Palace and the Archbishops’ Palace.

Get a glimpse of how the 18th century Portuguese aristocracy lived by visiting Biscainhos Palace. This stately home, decorated mostly in Baroque style, is now a museum with period furniture, an interesting kitchen and delightful landscaped gardens.

The D. Diogo de Sousa Museum of Archaeology reveals Braga’s significant role as the administrative centre of the Roman Empire in Iberia.

As for lunch, your guide will help you find the most suitable option depending on your preferences, be that a tasty, home cooked lunch at a typical Minho tasca or more refined yet traditional cuisine at O Arcoense.

Afternoon – Guimarães

After lunch, your guide will take you to Guimarães, known as ‘the birthplace of Portugal’.

Meet Portugal’s first king, King Afonso Henriques, when you visit the 10th century castle. The nearby Dukes of Bragança Palace with its extraordinary chimneys is filled with tapestries, furniture, pottery and other fine objects and hosts art exhibitions.

Explore the narrow streets and lively medieval squares of Guimarães’ World Heritage historic centre including Largo da Oliveira and Praça de São Tiago. The heart of the city is Largo do Toural, originally a livestock market outside the city walls.

Your driver will take you up the hill to the moss-covered boulders of mystical Penha Park where you’ll find your accommodation for the night. Pousada de Guimarães was once a 12th century monastery and your room will be in the former cloisters. Relax and enjoy fine cuisine and wines in the onsite restaurant or let us know if you’d prefer to dine elsewhere.

Day 3 – Porto

Depending on your onward plans and preferences, you could spend the morning at leisure in Guimarães, perhaps visiting some of the places you saw briefly the day before, such as the Ducal Palace or the Alberto Sampaio Museum.

When you’re ready, your driver will take you back to Porto where you can explore the city on your own if you don’t have to rush away from northern Portugal. If you’d prefer a guided tour of Porto, just let us know.

Price: From €589 based on 2 people sharing a double room

What’s included

  • 2 nights’ handpicked luxury bed and breakfast accommodation as described above.
  • Private English-speaking driver/guide
  • Transport to and from Porto in a comfortable, luxurious vehicle
  • Tour and wine tastings at Quinta do Ameal

What’s not included

  • Entrance fees to attractions and monuments unless specified
  • Meals, other than breakfasts
  • Drinks, snacks, and other personal expenses
  • Personal travel insurance

If the suggested 3-day itinerary isn’t a perfect match, let me know what you want so we can tailor the tour to suit you.

Once I know what you’re looking for, I’ll connect you with the local tour operator to take care of the bookings and everything else for you.

I may receive a small commission for this referral but it won’t affect the price you pay.