The major attractions of the area where the Portuguese nation was founded in the 12th century and of the two-day tour we suggest include religious heritage, architecture, natural parks, hospitality and gastronomy.
Peneda-Gerês is the only national park in Portugal and is one of the greatest natural attractions of the country, due to its scenic beauty, ecological and ethnographical value, and variety of fauna and flora.
What to do
- Walk along sections of the Roman road linking Braga and Astorga, known as Geira
- In Gerês, buy embroideries, linen and woollen items, baskets, toys and wooden clogs, therapeutic teas, honey, jams and sweets
On the mountain
Enter the park at its northern end, in Lamas de Mouro, in the council of Melgaço, but before you venture into this vast green area ask for detailed information and suggestions for additional visits at the local interpretive centre. Along the trails, pay attention to the garranos, the wild horses of Gerês. Young children will love them. They will also be captivated by the famous Castro Laboreiro sheepdogs.
The village on the Peneda mountain range was occupied during Roman times and still preserves traces of dolmens.
Be sure to visit the Sanctuary of Senhora da Peneda, built in the 19th century on a huge rock the Meadinhas rock overshadowing the site with its 300m steep height. Breathe in the fresh mountain air and the sacred and religious atmosphere radiating in the sanctuary and monumental stairway, boasting 20 small chapels that depict episodes in the life of Christ.
You will like
- Visiting a region filled with community villages and a fantastic natural environment
- Visiting the castles of Castro Laboreiro and Lindoso, megalithic monuments and expressions of Roman occupation
- Watching the happy look on childrens faces when they see the garranos in Gerês, and visiting Citânia de Briteiros
Explore the borderline castle of Lindoso and the old village of Soajo, with its granite houses and granaries, and rural traditions. In Vilarinho das Furnas dam there is another old village now submerged, that resurfaces in years of draught, creating a curious sight.
Food wise, taste the specialties of the region barrosã beef, venison and boar and Alvarinho wine, a typical Vinho Verde from the subregions of Monção and Melgaço.
Sleep overnight in one of the houses in the parks campsite, in a village house or in the wonderful Pousada de Amares.
In the city
Following a good nights sleep in the heart of community villages and fantastic nature, the second day takes you up to the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Braga on a funicular, a remarkable 19th century engineering work, operating a water system to overcome an elevation of 300 meters in 3 minutes. Enjoy the view overlooking the city and visit the temple with its 18th century paintings by Pedro Alexandrino.
What you need to know
- Melgaço is about 150 Km from Porto;
- The park has two important pilgrimage centres, the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Peneda, a replica of Bom Jesus de Braga, and the Sanctuary of São Bento da Porta Aberta, a place of great popular devotion;
- The historical centre of Guimarães has many restaurants where you can dine.
Walk down the grand stairway formed by 17 terraces decorated with symbolic fountains, allegoric statues and other Baroque decorations dedicated to various themes, providing a unique perspective when viewed from below.
Have lunch in the historical centre of Braga, famous for its numerous codfish recipes, visit the Cathedral, the oldest in the country, and the original municipal football stadium designed by architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, built for the Euro 2004 and known as A Pedreira.
End your day in Guimarães, the birthplace of Portugal and a world heritage site. Explore the castle and the historical centre. If you have time, take the cable car up to Monte da Penha for an overview of the city and the park.
In the outskirts of the city, you should also visit Citânia de Briteiros, an Iron Age settlement set at the top of São Romão hill, in the parish of Salvador de Briteiros.
How to get there
There are flights from Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Munich, Dortmund, Zurich, Liverpool, London, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Dole, La Rochelle, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Paris, Rodez, St. Etienne Toulouse, Tours, Barcelona, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Bologna, Milan, Pisa, Rome, Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and New York.
The best way to go from the International Airport Francisco Sá Carneiro to the city centre is to take the underground. The trip takes about 30 minutes.
After landing at the International Airport Francisco Sá Carneiro, take the A3 to Valença do Minho and then follow the national road to Melgaço.