Most people do not know the wonderful adventure travel destinations that Portugal has to offer. This is because the country is mostly renowned for its olive groves, windswept beaches, lively cities and cork trees.
All of these are wonderful reasons to visit but if you want adventure, you want to look at the Northern part of Portugal. You do not need to travel far. Only 100 kilometers away from Porto and you can experience something totally different, an area with some unique traditions, landscapes, climates and history.
Northern Portugal’s real beauty can be seen in the outdoors and its wilderness. If you are an adventure lover, numerous options can be considered. The following can make your trip something truly memorable.
Hiking In Northern Portugal
If in the area, you absolutely need to visit the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Geres, which is right close to the Spanish border. This is the only national park in Portugal. The area is protected by mountains and features granite outcrops, verdant hillsides and much more.
There are countless communities in the area that live off the land. Traditions are customary and the experience is totally different than what you see in Porto and Braga.
The National Park covers around 700 square kilometers and is named after the two highest mountain peaks in the area, Serra do Geres and Serra da Peneda.
If you want to make the most out of the wilderness, you want to travel by foot. Waymarked routes for literally all difficulty levels exist. As a hiker, you can see numerous animals, like wild horses, wolves, the incredible brown bear and boars.
The Longest Zip Line In Europe
Are you brave enough to fly between 2 hillsides and experience the longest zip line in the continent? This is possible at Pena Aventura, which is located at 110 kilometers away from Porto.
Zip lining has been possible there since 2007 and the park also features outdoor playground areas for literally all ages. The actual zip line is known as “Fantasticable”. It will definitely be a star attraction of any trip in Northern Portugal.
If you are brave enough to try Fantasticable, you end up flying for 1.5 kilometers at a height of 150 meters from the ground.
The Hillside Assault Course
If you are heading to the northeast of Porto, be sure to stop by Diver Lanhoso. This is an adrenaline-filled outdoor jungle gym. It was built to offer adventure options for literally all ages and was placed in a beautiful area.
In the park you can experience a long, 350 meters zip slide, canyoning, rock climbing and more.
If you want more adrenaline, you can go on “Pontes Suspensas”. This is a series that features 38 suspended bridges. Tackle them to test your resolve and balance. As opposed to similar courses that put you high in treetops, here you navigate wooden slats and steel cables. You will crawl through beautiful tunnels and experience stunning valley views.
Experience Alvarinho Wines
All the adventuring in Northern Portugal will surely make you thirsty. Thankfully, the region is known for the crisp Alvarinho wine. It is a green wine that is best experienced chilled. The wine is usually light and can easily make your day better.
If you want to experience quality Alvarinho viticulture, the best place to visit is Moncao, a town located right on the border with Spain. When in the area, visit Museu Alvarinho and if doing so during the summer, try to time your visit with the Feria do Alvarinho, which is a 3-day festival where you can drink wine and taste local cuisine.
Experience The Unique “Friday The 13TH” Festival
In Montalegre, when it is Friday the thirteenth, it is not unlucky. This actually signals the start of a weird and wonderful weekend filled with fun thanks to the Sexta 13 festival. The celebration here is all about embracing witchcraft and the occult.
When you visit during the festival, you can experience numerous performances with costumed actors, fireworks and even model dragons. Whenever the date is Friday and it is the thirteenth of the month, which is 1 to 3 times every year, the festival happens. This is when Montalegre fills up with up to 60,000 people.
Stay With Locals
The last adventure activity you absolutely need to experience if in Northern Portugal is staying with the locals. By simply exploring this region you can stay in some of the numerous family-run, small accommodation options.
A great thing to do is to look for those properties that have an allegiance with Hoteis Rurais de Portugal. This is an association that promotes independent countryside residences.
Stay with locals to find out about the numerous local experiences that are possible. People are warm and more than happy to help you out if you have some time to enjoy extra adventures.
Adventure is something many people want when they travel to any part of the world. This includes Portugal. The Northern part of the country is often overlooked but this is definitely a shame. Give it a try and you are going to love the experience.