Archaeology in the north of Portugal

Go on a weekend to discover the archaeological sites in the north of Portugal and let yourself be guided by the monumental landscape that characterizes this region.  

Foz Côa Museum CC BY-NC-ND

Foz Côa Museum CC BY-NC-ND

Foz Côa Museum CC BY-NC-ND

Foz Côa Museum CC BY-NC-ND


Begin your journey in the city of Guimarães. Near the birthplace of the Portuguese nation, at the top of the hill of S. Romão, is Citânia de Briteiros, a Celtic hill fort from the Iron Age with over 2000 years and one of the best preserved forts in the territory.

Why go

  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Landscape
  • Gastronomy and wines

Citânia de Briteiros surprises for its scenic beauty – enjoy the impressive view over the valley of the River Ave – and the remnants left by our ancestors.

In the rough design of the Celtic hill fort you will find the embryo of a city, on the roads protected by a set of walls and in the circular plant housing displayed in small “blocks”, which included dens for the cattle.

Citânia de Briteiros is one of the most interesting examples of the hill fort culture developed in the 2nd century B.C. in the Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula.

The “hill forts”, as these villages were called and which originated many of the current Portuguese cities, were situated on elevated locations so that the populations could control all movement strange to the life of the community. Don’t leave Guimarães without visiting the Museu Sociedade Martins Sarmento, which holds an exhibition of objects collected in Citânia.

You will like

  • The impressive view over the valley of the River Ave from Citânia de Briteiros
  • The Douro region, classified by UNESCO as World Heritage
  • The amazing landscape of the valley of the Côa, which inspired generations of artists over thousands of years

Heading towards the Douro

Head towards the Douro, through Amarante, where you can and must enjoy the old bridge crossing the river Tâmega and taste a few regional pastries.

Have a seat on the esplanade of one of the cafés in the historical centre of Amarante and taste the Papos de Anjo, the Brisas do Tâmega and the cakes of São Gonçalo.

In Vila Real, visit Fraga de Panóias, a national monument and a jewel of archaeology in Portugal. In the Estação Arqueológica e Centro de Interpretação de Fragas de Panóias you can learn more about this 3rd century pagan sanctuary dedicated to Serapis.

If you get the chance, take a break and taste the gastronomy from Vila Real, vitela maronesa, cabrito assado, tripas aos molhos, covilhetes, joelho da porca, bolas de carne, enchidos and the traditional pastries “cristas de galo” and “pitos de Santa Luzia”.

In the Douro valley, where the famous Port wine is produced, spend the night at the CS Vintage House Hotel, in the district of Alijó. Be surprised as you wake up to a breathtaking landscape over the river.

This hotel unit, born of the conversion of an old cellar, touches the river Douro, in a calm and enchanting landscape, still dominated by the old farms and great vineyards on slopes.

What you need to know

  • Citânia de Briteiros is one of the most interesting examples of the hill fort culture developed in the 2nd century B.C. in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula.
  • The Parque Arqueológico organizes tailor-made excursions where, besides visiting the engravings, you will have the opportunity of getting to know the region, its customs and excellent wines

Near the border, visit the Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa. It is the largest open-air complex of rock art from the Palaeolithic in the world and, just as the Douro region, it is World Heritage. On the banks of the river Côa, 25,000 years of Pre-Historic art await you.

The rocky shores are an art gallery decorated with paintings and engravings like you’ve never seen. Get to know the mysteries of Palaeolithic art in an open-air walk along 17 Km and know what our ancestors have seen in ancient times.

Enjoy the creative genius of our ancestors, from the Superior Palaeolithic to the Iron Age and to Modern Era. With the help of a specialized guide, discover the wild goats, horses, wild bulls, deer and warriors with long legs holding spears.

Take some time to enjoy the amazing landscape that inspired generations of artists over thousands of years.

What to do

  • In Guimarães, at Museu Sociedade Martins Sarmento, visit the exhibition of objects collected in Citânia de Briteiros
  • Visit the Museu de Arte e Arqueologia do Vale do Côa, inaugurated in 2010

How to get there

There are flights to Porto, low cost , for example, London (Stansted and Gatwick), Paris (Beauvais, Orly and Charles de Gaulle Vatry), Marseille, Lille, Tours, St. Etienne, Bologna, Bordeaux, Lyon, Toulouse, Madrid, Barcelona El Prat , Tenerife, Valencia, Venice and Palma de Mallorca.

In the summer there are low cost companies flying from Liverpool, Las Palmas, Carcassonne, Rodez and Nantes.

With normal fares from London - Gatwick, Madrid, Barcelona and Paris - Orly.

The best way to reach the center of Porto from the International Airport Francisco Sá Carneiro is by metro. The trip takes about 30 minutes.

From Porto to Guimarães, you can reach in  about 30 minutes by motorway A7 and A3.

To Douro and to the Coa Valley, follow the national road 108 to Entre-os-Rios and continue along the river Douro to Régua - alternatively, you can go by IP4, which connects the districts of Porto, Vila Real and Bragança, and then continue by national and municipal roads. 

Be inspired

Choose your journey, find new places, have some fun and create memories for a lifetime.

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