North of Portugal: unspoilt nature and culture
The North of Portugal, the “Costa Verde” also justly be called as the garden of Portugal. It is a magnificent region, which is green the whole year around and is rich in different varieties of flora and fauna.
In January/February it starts with the yellow of the mimosa, followed by the white and yellow of the broom. As soon as the sun starts to give warmth, there will be an explosion of colours.
The region is well known for its eucalyptus trees with its marvellous smell and of course “the Vinho Verde”, a wine which is produced only in the northern part of Portugal. It is delicious drunk, well chilled, on a warm summer evening. In fact it is a lovely refreshing drink at any time of the year or day. The famous port-wine is from the nearby Douro region, which is within easy reach for a day trip.
If you are fond of swimming and playing in the water, you don’t have to go to the Atlantic Coast (which is only about an hour away, by the way), because many rivers and lakes of this province provide a multitude of little inland beaches, streams and waterfalls. To find a quiet spot to barbeque, to swim and to relax is easy, even in the high season.
Areas of nature
Several magnificent areas of nature
Guimarães is a university city and is considered the birth place of Portugal. The old castle of D.Alfonso Henrique, the palace of the Dukes of Bragança is well worth visiting. Also the picturesque historic centre known as the Largo d´Oliveira with several restaurants and terraces as well as many nice views is also worth wile visiting. For those who are interested in roman culture, you can visit near Guimarães “Citania Briteiros” a restored Roman village. A lot of the finds from the site are on exhibit in the museum of Archaeology’s in Guimarães.
Braga Braga is also a university city and is called “the Rome of Portugal” for the many monasteries, churches and chapels which are to be found there. Besides the idyllic streets, you will find also large squares with cosy terraces, fountains, parks, cinemas and huge shopping-malls. The “Bom Jesus”- not only well known for its famous staircase but also for its funicular railway, built in 1882, which uses waterpower to move the carriages up and down the hillside. It really is a must to visit. This monument is mentioned on the List of World monuments.
Porto Porto is well known for its famous port-wine cellars, but also for the bridge D.Maria II of Gustav Eiffel over the river Douro. At the banks of the river, called ‘the Ribeira”, you can embark for a tour on the river or a bus-tour around the city. Other attractions include the S.Bento station, which contains a tile display which illustrates the story of the production of port-wine, various museums, the covered market “Bolhão” and of course the magnificent stadium of F.C. Porto, the “Dragão”.
In general the temperature is more or less 10 degrees warmer than in the U.K. or Holland.
In winter there is hardly ever any snow in the Minho (below 1000m) and when it does fall it is gone before noon. It can freeze lightly at night but during the day the temperature is between 15 – 20 degrees (between 10.00 A.M. – 16.00 P.M.) so it is ideal for hiking or to do some gardening during these hours.
It can be very dry also. Between 2001-2005 there was hardly any rain to mention, but even so you are able to see the sources, little rivers and waterfalls, which are guaranteed to retain the character of the Minho.
In summer the temperature can reach 35 degrees, but at night becomes a pleasant temperature for sleeping. Naturally it can rain sometimes in the summer, but when it does, the sun soon reappears and the temperature remains agreeably warm.