Portugal is often divided into seven major regions: Northern Portugal, Central Portugal, Lisbon and Tagus Valley, Alentejo, Algarve, Azores Islands, and Madeira Islands. Northern Portugal, or the North Region (Região do Norte in Portuguese), is the country’s most populous region and incorporates notable cities such as Porto, Braga, and Guimarães coastal and mountainous natural landscapes.
Northern Portugal is the oldest part of the Portuguese nation and offers visitors rich diversity in its cultural and historical sites, areas of natural beauty, and culinary traditions. From the dramatic natural scenery of the Peneda-Gerês National Park to the Douro Valley’s fascinating winemaking traditions and Porto’s cultural treasures, the Northern Region has plenty to offer, no matter what kind of traveller you are.
The only difficulty you’ll find when planning a vacation in Northern Portugal is deciding what to include on your itinerary. So, join us at Your Tours Portugal for our destination guide to this great part of Europe. We’ll discuss the area’s climate and food, how much money you’re likely to need and highlight some of our favourite sights and attractions.
When is the Best Time to Visit Northern Portugal?
Temperatures in Northern Portugal are cooler than those in the country’s more southerly regions but still average between 20 and 25°C between June and September. If travelling during peak season, you can expect sunny days of generally dry weather, ideal for exploring cities and heading for walks in the area’s picturesque countryside. The weather in the coastal areas, in particular, is kept fresh by cool breezes from the Atlantic. July is the sunniest month of the year on average.
The weather in Northern Portugal during the winter months is considerably colder during the autumn and winter months than elsewhere. The country’s north is known to be windy and to experience plenty of rainfall during the colder months, so pack a rain jacket! If you’re looking to enjoy a sunny getaway, avoid booking your trip to Northern Portugal between November and March. December is the wettest month, while January is the coldest.
What should you pack for your trip to Northern Portugal?
Let’s run through an ideal packing list for visiting the North of Portugal…
- Sunglasses and a sun hat for the summer months; raincoat and layers of clothing for winter.
- Comfortable shoes: You’ll most likely be doing a lot of walking and exploring, so taking care of your feet is a good idea.
- Sandals: In the warmer months, you’ll want to be able to slip on and off a pair of sandals after you’ve hit the beach or the pool. Conversely, if you’re travelling during the cold and wet months, ensure you’ve got footwear that will keep you dry and cosy!
- Ear Masks and Ear Plugs: If you struggle to sleep in a new place, it’s always a good idea to pack these. You’ll find most of Northern Portugal chilled, but expect more of a buzz in and late-night revelling in Porto.
- Smart clothing: In Porto, the locals dress in a smart-casual style, so perhaps pack a nice summer dress or a smart shirt, trousers and dress shoes.
How to Get Around the Norte Region
Given the beautiful natural landscapes across Northern Portugal, we recommend renting a car if you drive. However, public transport in Portugal is generally excellent, so you won’t struggle to get out and see the sights using trains, trams, and buses.
If you want extra convenience and don’t mind spending the extra money, taxis in Portugal are safe and reliable.
For cross-city transport in Porto, you can use the metro, trams, or buses, so you should run into no difficulties. You may have fewer options in other parts of Northern Portugal, so we recommend planning your routes in advance.
When travelling across the region, the train network connects most major towns and cities.
Is Northern Portugal Expensive?
With Portugal being one of the cheapest countries in Europe for travellers, you will find your money goes a long way in Northern Portugal. Of course, this all depends on your planned holiday type. Portugal offers many luxury experiences for those wanting to splash out, but it can also be wallet-friendly for those on a budget. Average travel costs are between 70 and 120 Euros per person.
Bear in mind that prices will shift significantly depending on the season in which you’re travelling, with the best deals being found during peak season.
Make Sure to See the Sights in Northern Portugal
Here’s a list of some of our highlights for Northern Portugal!
- Porto: Portugal’s second city. Our top picks for what to do in Porto can be found on our dedicated Destination Guide for Porto.
- Braga: This former Roman city is one of Portugal’s most historically rich cities. Visit Braga for its extraordinary architecture and array of cultural sites.
- Guimarães: Known as the birthplace of Portugal, it was here that the nation’s first king was born. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guimarães possesses a beautiful historic centre and fantastic natural surroundings.
- Paiva Walkways (Passadicos do Paiva): Located on the Paiva River, one of the most scenic areas in Portugal, this 8 km stretch of wooden walkways built onto the hillsides is truly unmissable.
- Praia da Costa Nova: Head to this historic fishing village to admire its iconic colourful houses and small-town charms and to eat first-class seafood.
Hit the Douro Valley
With some of the most famous landscapes in all of Portugal, the Douro Valley is a must-visit destination when you are touring through Northern Portugal. Take a boat trip on the placid waters of the Douro river and gaze upon the magical terraced vineyards that ascend the sides of the valley.
Travel to the fabulous Douro town of Lamego to enjoy its Baroque architecture and historical sites, and drink plenty of the wine and port that helped Douro establish its global reputation.
Visit the Peneda-Gerês National Park
Take a trip to the jewel in Northern Portugal’s crown: Peneda-Gerês National Park. Explore its imposing mountain ranges, breathtaking waterfalls and hiking trails.
For the best experience in this beautiful spot, take a look at our Gêres Private Tour, which includes food tasting and a ride in a horsed carriage!
For a truly unique experience tasting experience in Northern Portugal, check out our all-inclusive Porto Private Tour. On this tour, we will try Porto wine in a traditional setting – food, wine, and culture, all while enjoying marvellous views of Porto!
We hope you’ve found this guide helpful for your upcoming trip to Northern Portugal. If you would like to learn more about the tours we offer, take a look at our Custom and Private Tours of Portugal, and if you have any questions, please get in touch.