Northern Portugal is a region rich in old traditions and idyllic natural and man-made landscapes. It is full of village charm, historic monuments and centuries-old churches, refreshing green (vinho verde) and fortified port wines, sausages cured with love, and a strong northern identity, unique to Portugal. Immerse yourself in the open-hearted friendliness of this region by discovering the beauty and history of its country roads!
We will visit two urban UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the historic centers of Porto and Guimarães, the first capital of Portugal (1139 AD). Here, cosmopolitan elegance meets the historic mystique of old castles and battlefields, which unfold Portugal’s identity.
We will visit a rural UNESCO-designated area, the Alto Douro Wine Region, the oldest demarcated wine region in the world (1756). There, we will savor its famous Port and sparkling wines. This 2,000 year old wine-making tradition has produced a cultural landscape of outstanding significance, whose importance was recognized in 2001, when UNESCO classified 24,600 hectares of this wine region a World Heritage site.
The fourth UNESCO site we will visit is the Côa Valley at its Rock Art Sites. These sites tell the story of the area’s pre-historic habitation depicted on rock walls with thousands of drawings of animals, humans and abstract figures. The continuous human occupation of the region began at the end of the Paleolithic Age, from 22,000 to 12,000 B.C. and also demonstrates the first presence of an Iberian-Celtic culture in the region.
Centuries ago, the Cistercian monks cultivated the Douro Valley, dedicating themselves to the creation of a Cistercian architecture in the monasteries and churches they built. They decorated their buildings with stunning tiles (azulejos) and around the town of Lamego, we will visit examples of this architecture, Lamego’s Cathedral with Gothic tower and a museum that features a series of 16th century animal-themed altar panels attributed to Portugal’s great artist, Grão Vasco . Our Lady of Remedies Sanctuary (Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, 1761), is also on the itinerary and features a spectacular double stairway entrance to the hilltop chapel, lined with impressive azulejos and urns. At the top, we will enjoy an unparalleled view of the Douro Valley.
Other activities on our tour include country picnic lunches, bread-making, olive oil production, and wine-making demonstrations and an afternoon cruise on the Douro River! Come join us on an exciting learning adventure for a unique look into the past and present of the region that gave birth to Portugal.