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Costa Verde


Situation

situation

Situated on the Atlantic coast, the Costa Verde reaches the Spanish frontier in the north, Espinho in the south and as far as the Serra do Marao in the east.

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Access

access

By Air The Francisco Sa Carneiro International Airport, in Oporto, and an aerodrome in Braga.
By Rail Portuguese Railways run daily services between Lisbon and Oporto. The excellent ALFA service provides bar and restaurant facilities on board.
By Road Oporto is connected to the north and the extreme south of the country by the IP1. The A1 motorway runs between Oporto and Lisbon, and the A3 serves Braga. From Oporto, the IP4 runs to the east and the IP9 serves Ponte de Lima and Viana do Castelo.

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Average temperatures

temperatures

The average temperatures in the Costa Verde are 1 7C/63F in summer and 12C/52F in winter.

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Tourist offer

tourist

The Costa Verde has a wonderful natural tranquility of green, open spaces and an age-old cultural heritage. The Peneda-Geres National Park, a natural reserve and sanctuary for flora and fauna, is well worth a tour.
Numerous lagoons in deep valleys are part of a landscape of unbelievable beauty. The river Douro, which runs through the heart of the region, is navigable from the mouth right through to the frontier with Spain. It is very pleasant to take a boat trip on the river, stopping off at old country estates where you can lunch and learn the methods of producing the famous port wine.
Many different races came to this region in ancient times and they all left well-preserved traces of their origins, such as in the settlements of Briteiros and Sanfins. Many places here still have Roman bridges, which have to be crossed in order to enter the towns. It was an area that was extremely important in the period prior to the foundation of Portugal as nation. You can still see the seats of authority in the many churches spread throughout the region, many integrated in beautiful landscapes. It was here that Portugal was born in 1143, when D. Afonso Henriques became the first King of Portugal in Guimaraes.
Braga, the centre of Baroque art in the north of Portugal, is rich in monuments from this period.
There are four golf courses in the Costa Verde, among which is the Oporto Golf Club, one of the oldest in Europe. Several dams and an extensive coastline provide excellent conditions for practising water sports, fishing and canoeing.
There are four zones for tourists to hunt and shoot in the Costa Verde.There are many music, theatre and photographic festivals for entertainment throughout the year, as well as the famous Vinho do Porto Rally, always well attended.
The "caldo verde" (a kale and potato soup) and several dishes made of "bacalhau" (dried cod fish) are specialities of the Costa Verde gastronomy, as well as the famous fresh water fish, such as trout, salmon and lamprey. To complete a typical Portuguese meal, try the egg sweets from Amarante with a glass of port. In the port wine cellars of Oporto, banquets and receptions are organised in a most original atmosphere.
Famous in this region are the "vinhos verdes" (light, acidulous wines) produced in certain areas with a special microclimate.
Every Thursday, the Barcelos Fair takes place, and a visit to this fair is an excellent way of getting to know the handicraft of the region, rich in filigree, gold work, lace and colourful pottery. Also at this fair you will find the pretty china from Viana do Castelo.

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Suggested trips

trips

1. Porto

This city has a very special atmosphere, and in its busy streets traditional shops trade side by side in harmony with modern ones. Some of the cafes in the Art nouveau decorative style show life as it was at the beginning of the century.
The landmark of the city is the tower of the Baroque Clerigos Church from the 18th century. Oporto is an ancient city punctuated by many monuments in different styles, some of which date back as far as the Romanesque period of the 12th century. This is the case of the Cathedral, situated high up and overlooking the Douro river, and the small Romanesque Church of Cedofeita. From another period, this time Gothic, is the Church of Sao Francisco, famous for its interior of gilded wood engravings and because of that known as the "Golden Church".
The 18th and 19th centuries have left interesting examples in the churches of Sao Bento and Carmo, the Stock Exchange Palace (Palacio da Bolsa), noted for its beautiful interior, Sao Bento Station, with its vestibule lined with glazed tiles, and the D. Luis Bridge, built in the Eiffel style.
To complete your visit to Oporto, you may go to the Scares dos Reis National Museum, with notable collections of painting and sculpture from the 13th-20th centuries, and the Casa de Serralves, set in magnificent gardens and a showplace for modern art.

2. Coastal route

Leaving Oporto and travelling north, there are several options open to you. Vila do Conde and Povoa de Varzim are two of the most popular beaches in the north of Portugal, as well as Esposende.
During the time of the Discoveries, Viana do Castelo was one of the commercial maritime centres, evidence of which is borne out by the exquisite architectonic features of the Praca da Republica, of the churches of Sao Domingos and Nossa Senhora da Caridade, and in the manor houses with their medieval atmosphere. To appreciate the beauty of the mouth of the river Lima, you should climb to the top of the Santa Luzia hill, with its ruins of an ancient settlement and a basilica. Santa Luzia is the centre of a popular and religious festivity, when local girls wear regional embroidered dresses adorned with gold filigree jewellery. Continuing north, cast your eyes along the golden sands stretching as far as Vila Praia de Ancora, Moledo and on to Caminha, Vila Nova de Cerveira and Valenca. From the pousada in Valenca, there is a beautiful panoramic view.

3. Amarante/ Guimaraes/ Braga/ Parque Nacional da Peneda-Geres

Amarante is a lovely town, reflected in the waters of the Tamega river. At the riverside, bordered with willow trees, hospitable restaurants open their doors, while on the other bank stand the Church and Convent of Sao Goncalo, imposing buildings from the 16th-1 7th centuries and where there is also a museum.
Guimaraes is linked historically to the birth of the Portuguese nation, and the Church of Sao Miguel do Castelo and the strong walls of the castle bear this out. There is magnificent architecture in the city and of special note is the Paco (Palace) dos Duques de Braganca, which has interior walls lined with ancient tapestry. All around the Palace there are small, medieval streets where you can discover old monuments, such as the church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, dating back to the Middle Ages and today transformed into a pousada. Also worth visiting are the important Alberto Sampaio Museum and the Gothic, 14th century arcades of the Pacos do Concelho (Town Hall). Just outside Guimaraes, in Santa Marinha da Costa, there is another luxurious pousada, housed in an ancient convent and from where there is a magnificent view over the city.
Braga can trace its past back to Roman times, when it was known as Bracara Augusta and was capital of a Swabian kingdom. Its cathedral, the oldest in Portugal, reflects the history of the city. Braga is also known as a religious centre which can be seen in the profusion of Baroque churches throughout the city. The Sanctuary of Born Jesus do Monte has the most magnificent steps leading up to it. Also worthy of note are the church of Sao Frutuoso de Montelios, of Visigothic origin (7th-8th centuries), and the Tibaes Monastery. These three monuments are located in the outskirts Braga, where you may find another testimony to the Suebic period - the Briteiros settlement.
The National Park of Peneda-Geres is a natural reserve, an ecological sanctuary of over 70,000 hectares containing a vast variety of flora, dams, waterfalls and rocky peaks. When visiting the Pousada da Canicada, do not miss the spectacle of the sunset over the park and the dam.
While in the region, take advantage of the accommodation offered by the large number of manor houses. From here you can then take the opportunity to visit places such as Barcelos, Ponte de Lima and Arcos de Valdevez, all rich in architecture and set in landscapes of unforgettable beauty.

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Accommodation

accommodation

There is plenty of manor house tourism (casas de Turismo de Habitacao) in the Costa Verde - some sixty-eight family palaces and old houses, dotted about the region. There are also seven 5-star hotels, fifteen 4-star hotels, six pousadas, one of which is housed in a national monument, four in historic places and another next to the National Park. There are several buildings noted for their historic and cultural heritage, where banquets and meetings are held. Among others, are the Palacio da Bolsa, the Casa de Serralves and the Santa Marinha da Costa Monastery.

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