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The wonders of Minho

Entidade Regional de Turismo do Porto e Norte de Portugal CC BY-NC-ND

Minho, in the north of Portugal, has unique characteristics associated with a natural landscape of great beauty and biodiversity. Marked by the intense green of the fields and vineyards, the beautiful Minho landscape joins the contagious joy of the festivities and the unparalleled hospitality of its people.

Meet churches and monuments of a unique beauty, a rich popular culture, music, folklore, stories and a unique craftsmanship. Meet the Portuguese path to Santiago, the routes traveled by the pilgrims who flock to Santiago de Compostela since the 9th century through Minho.

Get your trip started at Viana do Castelo, a place with many stories to tell. The city of Braga is also a tourist reference point in the region. Guimarães, birthplace of Portugal and European Capital of culture 2012, is also a mandatory stop. Old mansions and hostels, an extremely rich gastronomy, festivities and green wines are some of the attractions that you can enjoy in this special area.

We guarantee that in this region you will discover traditions, knowledge and flavors that you will not forget. Come with us to discover the wonders of Minho.

Religious devotion

The Catholic religion is evident in the historical and architectural heritage of Minho. You can come for a visit all year round. However, there are religious events that enhance this mystique. From the Holy Week of Braga to the Festivities of the Lady of the Agony in Viana do Castelo, through the "Gualterianas" Festivities in Guimarães, animation reasons abound in Minho, where gastronomy and the genuine character of the people do the rest.

Visit Braga in the Easter, go up to "Bom Jesus do Monte", a magnificent place where the works of nature and Man come together, and watch the Holy Week celebrations, which take place in the Portuguese Rome since the days of the Middle Ages. During this festive season, the city transforms itself attracting thousands of visitors. Throughout the whole city, there are decorations with scenes allusive to Easter and the beautiful street altars, decorated with flowers and lights.
In August, the paths of devotion lead to Viana do Castelo and the Pilgrimage of Our Lady of the Agony. The festival takes place on the 20th and on the nearest weekend and dates back to 1772. Since the eighteenth century the fishermen pray to the Virgin to grant them a good sea, but only in 1968 was the first Procession of the Lady of the Agony to the sea held.

On the feast of costume, which began in the Public Garden in 1931, beautiful girls and boys wear the rich and colorful traditional costumes and you can enjoy the most beautiful wedding dress, mordoma and wench, as well as the gorgeous pieces in filigree, known as Viana gold. The Ethnographic Parade, the parade of gigantones and grand firework Serenade complete the program.

However even with great bustle, make time to visit the Sanctuary of Monte de Santa Luzia. Overlooking the city, imposing Basilica of Santa Luzia began construction in 1903 and was completed in 1943. The view is absolutely a must.

In the birthcity of Portugal, Guimarães, on the first Sunday of July, watch the Great Pilgrimage of Saint Torcato. The allegorical processions parading through the streets represent scenes from the saint's life. In this city that was the European Capital of Culture in 2012, the Gualterian Festivals during summer are yet another emphasis of the religious calendar. The procession in honor of Saint Gualter is highlighted.

Visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Penha, which is located at the top of the Sierra de Santa Catarina, to 617 meters. The chapel was built in 1652 and later, in 1727, went on to serve the adjoining Convent of the Immaculate Conception. Devotion to "Our Lady of Penha" takes more than a million people annually to visit the shrine.

Aquatic Adventures

In Viana do Castelo, the Afife parish offers beaches with excellent conditions for surfing and bodyboarding. The best known is the beach of Arda or Mariana, as it is known by locals. Waving a Blue Flag since 1996, this natural beach has hosted several meetings of these sports. In all these beaches, there are schools and companies that rent equipment and advise on safety and places where one can practice each sport.

Alternatively, you can do some canyoning in Serra de Arga, an area that includes the municipalities of Viana do Castelo, Ponte de Lima, Vila Nova de Cerveira and Caminha. With lagoons and uniquely beautiful waterfalls, river Âncora is ideal for newcomers because of its low degree of difficulty. A unique experience, no doubt.

Peneda Gerês National Park

This park is perhaps one of the greatest treasures we can find in Minho.

Between the north top in Lamas de Mouro in Melgaço municipality, and before venturing into this vast green area ask for additional information and tour suggestions in the local interpretation center. Along the way, watch for "garranos", the wild horses of the Gerês. The little ones will love them, and will be enraptured with the famous sheepdogs of Castro Laboreiro.

Also visit the Sanctuary of Senhora da Peneda, raised in the nineteenth century in a huge rock of the Meadinhas cliff and dominating the site with the verticality of its 300 meters of height. Breathe the fresh mountain air and the sacred and religious environment that exists in the sanctuary and the monumental staircase with 20 small chapels that contain episodes of Jesus's life.

Meet the border castle of Lindoso and the old village of Soajo, with its granite houses and granaries and rural traditions. In Vilarinho das Furnas dam there is another ancient village, now submerged, which emerges to the surface in years of drought, offering a curious spectacle.

Taste the cuisine and enjoy nightlife

Whatever the time of year that you go to Minho be sure to try the more traditional dishes of the region.

In Braga, taste, in the city's restaurants, famous "Bacalhau à Braga", roast kid and the "Abade de Priscos" pudding. And don't leave town without taking the famous pans and, in a pastry shop, ask for bread-cake, "fidalguinhos" and "talassas" to take.

The "barefoot cock" rice or "pica no chão", "rojões" Minho style, octopus rice Minho style and cod "Margarida da Praça" style, Gil Eannes style, Zé do Pipo style or Camel style are other specialties that you can't miss. Do not forget the "papas de sarrabulho", the roast chicken, the grilled octopus and the "sonhos" and queijadinhas (typical pastry). To end your days beautifully around the North of Portugal, in the main cities of the Minho region you can also count on nightlife.

In Braga, there is the Velha-a-Branca, a co-operative housed in a building from the eighteenth century, whose mission is to promote the creation and dissemination of culture, where you can participate in gatherings, attend the launch of books or a concert, see exhibitions and of course, have a glass in the support cafeteria. To dance, go to the Sardinha Biba (Square Dr. Candido da Costa Pires), one of the oldest and liveliest houses of Braga nights, usually chosen by the young to end the night.

If you are in Guimarães, enjoy the night in the nice outdoor seats of cafes and bars of the old town to start the night, as in the Oliveira square, the heart of the city and the old Town Hall. Outside the historic center, there are nightclubs where the Guimarães night continues.
Find the best places overnight during your stay at Minho and contact us for a travel plan that will give you the best experiences of this region of Portugal. We are sure you will want to repeat the experience.

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