Like in the old days (Portugal's north)

(3798 – 4362 km)

The clock is set back an hour and not only beaches are waiting for me. A national park with its mountains puts my campervan to the test.

I stop at the first surf spot after the border and spend the morning and afternoon surfing.  The sun is shining and I enjoy a coffee and the legendary Portuguese pastel de nata at the beach café. Unfortunately, the forecast does not predict any waves for the rest of the week. I head east, inland. My destination is the Peneda-Geres National Park. It is located in the mountains on the border with Spain. On the way I make a short stop in Ponte de Lima. A nice little town on the Lima River with an old Roman bridge over the river as its main attraction.

Ponte de Lima

I arrive in the northern part of the park in the evening and set up camp at the Lima Escape campsite. Perfect, a very good restaurant takes care of the food and you can reach all the main sights of this part of the park from here. I torture my car up the steep and narrow serpentines and first visit Lindoso, a former border post to Spain. As well as the old fort, there is a large collection of typical granaries, the espigueiros. The granaries, which resemble raised tombs, are arranged around the communal threshing floor.

Espigueiros de Lindoso

I take the serpentine road back down into the valley, over the big Alto Lindoso dam. On the other side, I wind my way back up the mountain to Soajo. Another original mountain village, where the second large Espigueiros factory in the region is located.

I stay at the campsite for a few more days before heading to the southern part of the park. It is a lot greener here and there are a few waterfalls in the forests as well. I use the Parque Cerdeira campsite in Campo de Geres as a base for a walk along an old Roman military road. It goes down to the banks of a reservoir and back up and over the mountain to the campsite.

Wandern auf dem Campo de Geres

I drive a little further south and up another adventurous road to Ermida in search of a waterfall. I spend the night at the small campsite and walk through the unspoilt mountain village and adjacent forest to the Cascata da Rajada.

Cascata da Rajada

After a week spent in the mountains, I find myself drawn back to the sea. I pass through Braga and visit the church of Bom Jesus do Monte. The church is accessed via a flight of stairs, each of whose landings is dedicated to the seven senses. On the sides are pavilions with scenes from the life of Jesus, like in a wax museum. It is also possible to simply take the cable car up the mountain and then use the stairs to get back down.

Bom Jesus de Monte

Back at the sea, I land in Vila Cha, north of Porto. From here I take the subway to Porto and visit the city. I stay on the north bank of the Douro River and stroll through the old town, down to the banks of the Douro River, past the Ponte Luis I bridge, up by lift to the Se do Porto Cathedral and back to the Trinidade metro station.


But one day of the hustle and bustle of the city is enough for me and I am drawn further into the centre of Portugal and along the green coast.

Cheers, Thomas