Porto has a lot of great restaurants and is a tough place to leave. There is a world of intrigue just outside the city.

There are many attractions waiting for you on a day trip from Porto. Porto is an ideal gateway to the wonders of northern Portugal, whether you are looking for a nature escape with rugged trails and waterfalls or a chance to explore some surprisingly amorous elements of village life in the Minho.

If you want to visit several destinations, you will need a car, but others are easy to get to by bus, train or boat. The top of your itinerary should include these five destinations.

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Drink in the views – and legendary wines – in the Douro Valley

Port wine is exclusive to Portugal in the same way Champagne is exclusive to France. The hub of Portugal's famed port-wine industry is located upriver, with rows of terraced vineyards along both banks of the Douro River.

The scenery of the Douro Valley can be seen on its own, but a vineyard tour adds to the experience and is offered by most wineries or quintas. We recommend a one-hour cruise up the river from Pinho in a yacht or rabelo. You can eat at a spot on the river in Pinho before you head back to Porto.

There are a number of companies that offer tours to the Douro Valley. Quinta das Carvalhas is one of the wineries that can be reached by foot from Pinho. It's a good idea to check the train timetable before you sign up for a tour. Pick a designated driver and hire a car for the day. The views along the N-222 are amazing.

A beautiful stone church, with arched porticoes, a terracotta roof and spire, stands above the pedestrian street; in front of the church, the arched Ponte de São Gonçalo crosses the Tâmega River.
After tasting Amarante's signature sweet, explore the church and monastery of São Gonçalo © venemama / Getty Images

Head to Amarante for historic monuments and giggle-worthy baked goods

One-of-a-kind Amarante has art, architecture and obscene baked goods. The sight of elderly ladies laying out rows of penis-shaped cakes on street-side stalls may come as a shock. As a symbol of fertility, the phallic sweets have become synonymous with the town.

It is said that rubbing the statue above the tomb of So Gonalo will increase your chance of finding love. One of Portugal's finest 20th-century painters, Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, is celebrated in the art museum located at the monastery.

The Tmega River is crossed by the Ponte de So Gonalo. The site of a victory for the Portuguese against the French during the Peninsular War is the arched bridge that leads into town. The Tmega bridge has a walking path below it. Walk across the bridge and you will see a lot of small bars and cafes on either side of the river, and you can try the region's famed smoked meats and vinho verde.

The Rede Expressos buses run from Porto's Campo 24 de Agosto bus station to Amarante in about 50 minutes.

Tourists are approaching stairs with saint's statues leading to the church Bom Jesus do Monte near Braga, Portugal
The 580 steps of the baroque staircase leading to Bom Jesus do Monte church are an attraction in themselves © Cortyn / Shutterstock

See Portugal’s oldest cathedral in Braga

The ancient cityscape of Braga has atmospheric cafes, boutiques, and water features. If you want to see the oldest cathedral in Portugal, take a stroll through the colorful flowers of Jardim de Santa Brbara. Some of the best architecture in the country can be seen in this beauty.

You can take a local bus or taxi to get to the star attraction of Bom Jesus do Monte. The baroque stairway zigzagging up to the church is one of the highlights of the hill. If you want to see the statues and gardens along the way, you can take the funicular to the top. It is possible to stretch your day trip into the evening.

The Linha de Braga train takes just over an hour to travel from Campanh.

Take in the dramatic mountain views amid the vast Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês

Peneda-Gers, Portugal's only national park, has a landscape of granite boulders, dense pine forests, and river views. The park is often referred to as Gers and covers a number of mountain ranges. There are a lot of viewpoints on a map. There are many hiking trails and Roman ruins. Gers can sometimes get a dusting of snow.

There are small villages in the park Lindoso is a 13th-century castle that was involved in Portugal's Restoration War. There are rows of granite buildings elevated to keep water and mice out of the grain supply in Soajo. The mountains are dramatic against them.

Hire a car or take a tour to get to Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gers. It takes about 90 minutes from Porto to Soajo or Lindoso.

An archway view of Guimarães city square, with outdoor restaurants and tourists seen socialising; a large church rises in one corner of the square.
The center of Guimarães is a Unesco World Heritage Site © THEGIFT777 / Getty Images

Visit Portugal’s former capital at Guimarães

The first capital of Portugal was located in Guimares. Afonso Henriques was the first king of Portugal. The city center is home to tidy rows of colorful buildings and narrow lanes leading to cobbled squares and alfresco cafes. The spires of the Nossa Senhora da Consolao and Medieval arches of Padro do Salado add interest to the cityscape.

The Palace of the Dukes of Bragana is close to the ruins of the imposing Castle de Guimares. If you want to reach peak elevation, you can take the cable car up to Penha, which will take you up to 1312 feet above the city. You can take a packed lunch to enjoy at the top or on one of the hiking trails.

The Linha de Guimares train goes from Campanh to Guimares within 15 minutes.

The article was last updated about 7 hours ago.