Section 17 - Porto and the North

Porto Gaia / Esposende

Oporto, Portugal’s second largest city is classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. A charming town situated on the slopes of the Douro River with a combined heritage with ancient churches and monuments such as the Sé Cathedral, the Torre dos Clérigos or the São Francisco Church, and the modern buildings, such as Casa da Música or the Serralves Museum.

Do not leave the city without strolling through the City Park, with seafront, or without enjoying the good beaches and outdoor cafes near the mouth, and taste a “Francesinha”, gastronomic specialty of Porto.

Following trip, even before you get to Vila do Conde, is the Regional Protected Landscape of Vila do Conde Coast and Mindelo Ornithological Reserve. This city has a great view over the Ave River, which here flows. The São João Fort, the “Nau Quinhentista” (sixteenth-century caravel), the Vila do Conde Matriz Church and the aqueduct are part of the heritage to discover. Outdoors, you can still go to the beach or stroll through the many parks and gardens.

The “Rendas de Bilros” and “Lãs de Pescador” are very important crafts in this city.

The next town you will find is Povoa de Varzim. A flat and atlantic city also benefits from its location in the large coastal plain, which extends to the north and south with the view only confronted by the barrier formed by Rates Mountains.

Here you can visit the fishing port, the Marina, the Nossa Senhora da Conceição Fortress, the aqueduct or the “Monte de S. Félix”, the highest point of the Rates Mountains, a privileged panoramic point where you can take a overlook of the entire region.

Protected Landscape Area, the coastal strip stretching from Ofir and Fão to Esposende, is considered to be one of the most beautiful stretches of Portugal’s northern coastline.

Besides fishing, a characteristic activity in the Apulia village is the gathering of seaweed at low tide.

A county that combines all aspects of nature, with long sandy beaches and dunes, pine forests and woodlands, hills and fossil cliffs, rivers and sea, all framed in a dynamic equilibrium. The marsh and the estuary of Cávado River that go with, it is presented as a strategic place for the migratory birds. Green Ofir pine forest and the stunning views that offer different viewpoints about Esposende, are just some of the interesting features of the county in which reveals the richness of the natural landscape.

The heritage built by human hand, as the case of windmills, fields in trough, the forts and mills, are combined in a unique harmony, forming landscapes of high scenic and environmental value.

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Points of Interest

Heritage: 43
  • It was in this house belonging to the Portuguese crown since the 14th century that Prince Henry the Navigator was born.

    The building originates from the 14th century when the king Dom Afonso IV decided to erect the Customs House in Porto’s...

  • Built in the 18th century, the Padrão do Bom Jesus (the Bom Jesus Marker Stone), also known as the Statue to the Lord of the Sand or Our Lord of Padrão, is the physical manifestation of a local belief.

    It is told that the Lord of...

  • The Porto Atlântico Marina, situated at Leça da Palmeira in the borough of Matosinhos, serves Portugal's second largest city, Porto, which is a pleasant 10-kilometre tram ride away along the seafront and river bank.
    It has 240 berths for yachts...

  • The Leça da Palmeira Fortress, also known as the Matosinhos Castle or the Fortress of Nossa Senhora das Neves (Our Lady of Purity), was built after Portugal regained independence in 1640. It belonged to a chain of coastal fortresses making up a line...

  • The Sanctuary of Senhor Bom Jesus or the Senhor de (Lord of) Matosinhos is both the city's most outstanding monument and its parish church. The church houses the statue of Bom Jesus transferred here in the 16th century from the now disappeared...

  • The former Quinta de Santiago estate was built in 1896 as the summer residence of the Santiago de Carvalho e Sousa family. It is an interesting building with revivalist elements, designed by the Italian Nicola Bigaglia, that provides an excellent...

  • Housed in a building designed by the architect José Carlos Loureiro, this museum has a collection of naturalist paintings from the late 19th/early 20th century, by artists such as Aurélia de Sousa, Sofia de Sousa, Marques de Oliveira, Silva Porto,...

  • This museum is housed in a beautiful 18th century building, next to Porto cathedral, and displays the private collection of the Portuguese writer Guerra Junqueiro (1850-1923).

    It contains largely Portuguese furniture, the highlight of which...

  • In 1596, a Benedictine monastery was founded in Porto, of which the Igreja de São Bento da Vitória formed part, although the church was rebuilt at the end of the 17th century and only solemnly inaugurated in 1707.

    It is a large and...

  • This church belonged to the Collegiate Church of São Martinho de Cedofeita, which is known to have existed at least since the first quarter of the 13th century.

    Romanesque in style, it was built on the site of another church, founded in the...

  • The Church of São Francisco was built in the 14th century, during the reign of King D. Fernando, on the site of a modest church pertaining to the order of Franciscan Friars who had established a presence in the city of Oporto in 1223.


  • The Igreja de Santa Clara in Porto dates from the 18th century and is a fine example of the typical baroque style of northern Portugal, being particularly notable for the carved and gilded woodwork of Miguel Francisco da Silva.

    It belonged...

  • Church from the 16th / 17th c. in mannerist style.

  • The Igreja da Trindade was built in the 19th century and is one of the most imposing churches in the city of Porto. It forms part of the complex of buildings that make up the hospital of the Third Order of the Holy Trinity, created in 1755 after the...

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  • Traditional lacework is an important part of the historical heritage of Vila do Conde. The museum contains some extremely beautiful examples of it, some from the School of Lacemaking and competitions, among other initiatives. It also has an...

  • The sixteenth century Portuguese ship (Nau Quinhentista)  was a round vessel and high board. In order to show the complexity of organizing the trips, the Nau Quinhentista presents the rooms of some of the crew, as well as their own crew members...

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  • Church from the 15th / 16th c. in manueline style.

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  • Church from the 14th c. in gothic style.

  • The Igreja de São Pedro de Rates was built in the 12th and 13th centuries and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Portugal.

    As far as is known, Pedro de Rates was one of the first people to be...

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  • The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange) is one of the most important historic monuments in Porto and one of the sights that must definitely be on the list of all visitors to the city.

    It was built in the second half of the 19th century in...

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  • Genuine baroque work by Nicolau Nasoni, an ex-libris monument of the city of Porto.

    The Church of Clérigos (Ecclesiastics) is a genuine baroque masterpiece dating from the mid-18th century. It was designed by Nicolau Nasoni, an architect...

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  • The Leça da Palmeira beach has one of the largest stretches of sand to be found in the North of Portugal. It has been a popular destination since the very beginning of the 20th century when the English community living in Oporto adopted it as their...

  • Gaia Pier is nowadays transformed in a pleasant Tourist area, endowed with wonderful esplanades, restaurants and bars, with a great view over the Porto’s historic centre. This is one of the historic places of Gaia, a town that has developed due...

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Nature: 2 Beach: 62 Information: 10 Bike Shops: 16 Safe Bike Parking: 1 Accommodation - Campsite: 5 Accommodation - Youth Hostels: 2 Transport - Train: 1

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Section 17

Porto Gaia / Esposende: 64

  • Elevation
  • Heritage
  • Nature
  • Beach
  • Information
  • Bike Shops
  • Safe Bike Parking
  • Accommodation - Campsite
  • Accommodation - Youth Hostels
  • Transport - Train