After having enjoyed two amazing days in the beautiful Montesinho Natural Park, we drove south to visit Douro International Natural Park, in the border between Portugal and Spain.
I didn’t plan to visit this part of Northern Portugal, but my cousin had already visited it years ago and wanted to show us all the natural wonders of Douro International Natural Park.
2 days in Douro International Natural Park
Day 1: Miranda do Douro
After a 1h30 drive, we arrived at 10:00 to Miranda do Douro, a city where people speak the Mirandese language, an official Portuguese language. This language is spoken by 15 000 people of three municipalities: Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro and Vimioso.
When we first saw the names of the streets, we immediately realized that they weren’t written in Portuguese but in Mirandese. To be honest, for a moment we thought we had crossed the border to Spain but, after some minutes, we remembered a news piece we saw on Mirandese language.
After we visited the town, we headed northeast to the Luso-Spanish Environmental Centre (Centro Ambiental Luso-Espanhol) where we enjoyed the natural beauty of the place and took the opportunity to have a picnic. After lunch, we went on an one-hour cruise in Douro International.
During the cruise, we could admire the amazing Douro river, its 200-metre cliffs and flora and fauna – we saw the beautiful golden eagle, the Egyptian vulture and the griffon vulture.
At the end of the cruise, I was a little disappointed because I was expecting to see some of the birds I’ve mentioned above, but according to some people there, it was normal for them not showing up. That’s why we had a special treat – a show with some of the birds that live in this part of Douro.
For the first time during my trip to Northern Portugal, I didn’t book a place to spend the night. After some Internet browsing (thanks to the town’s free Wi-Fi) we’ve chosen Casa das Arribas (affiliate link), an old school converted into two apartments.
Day 2: Bemposta, Vila Nova de Foz Côa and São João da Pesqueira
Our day began with a wonderful breakfast in the porch, with a breathtaking view over Douro river. Of all the breakfasts we had during our visit to Northern Portugal, this was the one that we enjoyed the most. We loved it so much that we remained there for over an hour admiring the views.
Next, we headed to Vila Nova de Foz Côa, more specifically to Capela de São Gabriel viewpoint. Of all the viewpoints in Northern Portugal, this is my favourite. I’ve never saw a place like this one before, a place where I felt like a bird flying in its natural habitat. My recommendation to all nature lovers is that you visit this place – you won’t regret it!
With a long road ahead before arriving to Braga, we still had time to visit São João da Pesqueira and admire the Port wine vineyards. In the São Salvador do Monte viewpoint, where you can witness to the pilgrimage of the Corpus Christi day, we took the opportunity to take some photos of the vineyards and Douro river.
Around 21:00 we headed to Braga, where we arrived at 23:00. There, we started looking for some place to eat, but it was late and because of that we didn’t find an open restaurant. Our last option was going to McDonald’s, how delightful…
The worst thing is that we became the “tourist attraction” of McDonald’s: we were expecting 30 º temperatures but, at 23:00 in Braga, it was 12 º and because of that everyone was looking at us and our outfit (shorts and t-shirts).
When you visit this country, make a detour in Northern Portugal and visit Douro International Natural Park – it’ll be worth your while! Visiting Portugal is not only going to Porto, Lisbon and Algarve.
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