Hot Land / Cold Land (or both) The choice is yours!

Tras os Montes
Sofia's pick
About my choice

Both my parents are from the most beautiful region of Portugal in terms of natural landscape. At least to my eye. There lie the memories of freedom of my childhood, the smell of the countryside in the summer, the small trekking in the autumn and the regional music all year long. As I never go there by myself, I thought it would be safer to ask my father to do this route for you. I would love to have your feedback on this tourist-free hidden Perl of Portugal.

“it is at the top of Portugal, as the nests are at the top of the trees so that the distance makes them more impossible and desirable”. (Miguel Torga)

“The Northeast of Portugal is my homeland and the place where most of my dreams live. It is a sub-region of Trás-os-Montes which, in turn, is subdivided into two more which, having a lot in common, also have a lot to differentiate them, starting with the name: Terra Quente (hot land), to the south, with Mediterranean cultures (where pontificates the superb Vale da Vilariça and the equally fertile Vale de Mirandela) composed of the municipalities of Torre de Moncorvo, Vila Flor, Carrazeda de Ansiães, Alfândega da Fé, Mirandela, Macedo de Cavaleiros and Freixo de Espada à Cinta; and Terra Fria (cold land), the more mountainous north, populated by oaks and chestnut trees, (protected forest in the Montesinho Natural Park and with a large part of the Douro Internacional Natural Park) more suited to pastoralism and smoking, organized by the municipalities of Mogadouro, Bragança, Mirandado Douro, Vinhais and Vimioso.”

Jose Mario Leite, father of Sofia B. Leite

Torre de Moncorvo, Freixo de Espada a Cinta, Mogadouro, Vimioso & Miranda do Douro

You arrive at (Torre de) Moncorvo from the south, from Guarda or from Viseu, crossing the Douro at the Pocinho Dam where, fleetingly and with any luck, you can see yourself passing through the lock, one of the cruises that regularly go up the river. The arrival is made in parallel with the most powerful international rivers that, surrounding the mythical Vale Meão excellent producer of Port Wine the birthplace of the most famous Douro table wines such as Barca Velha and Quinta do Vale Meão and the place where D. Antónia, the famous Ferreirinha, started fighting phylloxera (phylloxera is an almost invisible insect that sucks the sap from the vines drying them - the wilting disease that ruined several French winegrowers and attacked in force in the Douro, at the end of the 19th century). When the Douro reverses its course, after making a pronounced and reverent bow to the very fertile Vale da Vilariça, there is an intersection that, leaving the IP2 road, allows access to the Medieval village of D. Mendo Corvo. If you have the time, you should take the opportunity to visit, next to Bico da Ribeira, where Sabor surrenders to Douro, the last fishing village in the Portuguese countryside. In due time, (spring and summer) it is inexcusable not to eat fried or roasted river fish (barbos and bogas) accompanied by migas.

In Moncorvo, a visit to the largest and most imposing religious temple in Trás-os-Montes, the Mother Church dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption and to which the people linked a legend and a prophecy, is a must. The gargoyles in the temple represent rascals with their hands around their faces, with the popular tradition saying that the builders' self-representation was appalled by having been ruined by the construction that lasted for nearly a century. On the front wall there is, next to the steeple, a fig tree that, when it dries up, will herald the end of the world. If there is still time left in the middle of the day, you should visit, next to Praça Francisco Meireles, the ruins of the Castle.

For lunch, or dinner, a difficult dilemma will have to be resolved about which restaurant to choose: Taberna do Carró or Restaurante Lagar.

Right in front of the Church, in Largo General Claudino, the Taberna do Carró where you can taste the best in regional cuisine, with a varied meal, composed of various delicacies that arrive at the table, directly from the brazier or oven, a tasting menu including various types of sausages (sausages, sausages and sausages), cured homemade ham, and vegetables harvested directly from the gardens of Vale da Vilariça. In their time, the beef heart tomatoes, with virgin olive oil and coarse salt, are irresistible. Next to the typical restaurant (recovery of an old traditional tavern) there is a shop where you can buy several delicious regional products with special emphasis on the traditional and unique covered almond from Moncorvo, the one that sings!

A few meters below, in the restaurant O Lagar with a fine and well-served cuisine with starters to eat and cry for more and where you can taste the best tomato migas in memory.

Moncorvo can also be reached, coming from Porto, entering the northeast through Mirandela or Carrazeda, in what could be an alternative arrival or a sub-itinerary of what follows. When in Vila Flor you are already in the middle of the beautiful Vale da Vilariça. Following the IP2 (or in continuation), you pass by Quinta da Terrincha (producer of high quality wines) which has a very appreciated rural accommodation and next to the walls of the mythical Quinta da Silveira. Just ahead, before heading to the county seat, it is highly recommended to go up the slope on the right bank towards Adeganha. On the way up (or down) the viewpoint of S. Gregório offers a unique and fabulous view over the Valley. Diverted a few meters there is the Castro do Baldoeiro where there is a unique and curious sanctuary of snake worship with the imposing Fraga do Cobrão. If there is time, it pays to go to the Romanesque Church of Adeganha and, on the return, visit Senhora do Castelo and enjoy the panorama provided there, next to the Chapel of S. João.

Before leaving Moncorvo, take the Açoreira road to visit the Sanctuary of Senhora da Teixeira. If the road to Mogadouro happens at dinner time, take advantage and taste the famous Posta Mirandêsa (very tender calf steak) at the Restaurant Artur, in Carviçais.

On the way to Mogadouro it is good to find time to visit Penedo Durão (Freixo de Espada à Cinta), leaving from Estrada Nacional 220 to Estrada Nacional 221. You can see all the splendor of the Douro cliffs better than in any other place. In addition to the overwhelming feeling of the grandeur of the horizon, with any luck you will be able to observe the gliding, immense, almost static flight of several birds of prey and scavengers (eagles and vultures)

In Mogadouro, the gastronomic visit will necessarily pass by the restaurant A Lareira, on the avenue of Senhora do Caminho and you cannot leave without visiting the Castle of Penas Roías and the Monópetero.

Moncorvo Mother Church, view from one of the typical streets (Foto by IG © minesleit)

Before entering Miranda, a visit to the Algoso castle, in Vimioso, largely compensates for the detour. The fort's keep was erected on a cliff top, absolutely inaccessible, over the Maçãs River.

Going from Mogadouro to Miranda, passes through Sendim, where the memorable restaurant A Gabriela is located, where she became famous, and later copied throughout the northeast and other regions of the country, Posta à Mirandesa. Between Sendim and Picote the Hermitage Os Santos deserves a visit.

In Miranda (do Douro), next to the Douro river and looking at the lands of Spain, the Museum of the Terras de Miranda is worth a visit.

Before entering Miranda, a visit to the Algoso castle, in Vimioso, largely compensates for the detour. The fort's keep was erected on a cliff top, absolutely inaccessible, over the Maçãs River.

Going from Mogadouro to Miranda, passes through Sendim, where the memorable restaurant A Gabriela is located, where she became famous, and later copied throughout the northeast and other regions of the country, Posta à Mirandesa. Between Sendim and Picote the Hermitage Os Santos deserves a visit.

In Miranda, next to the Douro river and looking at the lands of Spain, the Museum of the Terras de Miranda is worth a visit.

Miranda is a city of great cultural richness starting with the language, the only one spoken in Portugal besides Portuguese. You should stroll through its streets and drink some of these traditions. One of these traditions is the typical Mirandese cloak, cloak that separates the body from the cold, made in burel and embellished by typical Mirandese embroidery, nowadays used for other garments and tapestry.

Next to Miranda cathedral there is a viewpoint from which you can see “lands of Spain” starting with the Douro cliffs that take on a very curious aspect: the rocks that make up the facade resemble the spines of gigantic books arranged side by side on a shelf natural so the natives call it "libraria" and where it is visible, streaked on the rock, a strange and intriguing number "2".

Inside the church, the Menino Jesus da Cartolinha deserves a special mention, which is a religious image that the Mirandese insist on wearing in various traditional costumes, in miniature.

If you are an animal lover, why not visit the typical Mirandese donkey raised in its proper sanctuary or even take a walk with them. Have you ever seen such a docile animal?

In Miranda, together with Portuguese, we speak Mirandese, which since 1999 has been the second language officially recognized by the Portuguese State and which has origins in Asturian and Leonese.

Celebration of Caretos de Podence ©

Bragança, Vinhais, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Mirandela, Alfândega, Vila Flor e Carrazeda


Entering Portugal, from the north, unless you are in Rio de Onor, which deserves a visit of at least an hour, nothing else deserves to be highlighted and it is best to go straight to the city of Bragança. A must visit is its castle, with its heart-shaped walls, the only Domus Municipalis, the Princess Tower and the Military Museum in the Keep. Still within the medieval fence there is and is recommended, the Museum of the Iberian Mask. From the castle one comes to the city itself, through narrow and sloping streets with stairs. Walking along Rua Abílio Beça, we recommend an entrance to the Traditional Museum of Abade de Baçal and, before arriving at Praça da Sé, a visit to the Modern Museum Graça Morais.

At Praça da Sé, if it is not time for lunch, spend as much time as necessary until that time arrives because a meal at Solar Bragançano is a unique and incomparable experience. A very familiar place (in the true sense) for Sofia and me ;) In addition to the “naco” (a personalized version of Posta à Mirandês), game dishes are famous, recommending the unforgettable hare rice or the pheasant to Monsenhor. It is difficult to choose one from among the various options for dessert although I personally have an unmistakable preference for the superb “cherry soup”.

You cannot leave the municipality without going to Castro de Avelãs, visiting the famous Monastery with reminiscences and Armenian influences.

Before heading to Macedo de Cavaleiros it is important to visit the Montesinho Park and the various villages, whether in the municipality of Bragança, or already in Vinhais. In this paradisiacal park there are several rural accommodations, but of great comfort, Casas do Parque enjoying an intense and deep contact with nature, hiking, bike trails and other mountain sports.

In Macedo de Cavaleiros, near the Azibo reservoir there is the village of Podence, origin and headquarters of Caretos, intangible heritage of humanity. The reels are masked boys who go out into the street, in colorful costumes, doing trampolines and showing great joy and virility. They are dressed with belts full of rattles that make a steady noise and that are rubbed against single girls (the rattle). These ancient rituals of Celtic origin take place more frequently on the occasion of the winter solstice (especially in the municipalities of Bragança and Vinhais where they take the name of the Festa dos Rapazes or Festa de Santo Estêvão) or for the Carnival, as in Podence (Festa do Entrudo Rattle).

The Vale da Vilariça, the rest of a prehistoric lake, the most beautiful and fertile in the whole of the northeast, has several privileged points of observation, two of them in Moncorvo, as mentioned but the most complete and surprising is in the Serra de Bornes in Estalagem da Senhora das Neves, on the border between Macedo de Cavaleiros and Alfândega da Fé. From there, it is recommended to take the road from Vila Flor to climb to Cabeço da Senhora da Assunção, where, on August 15, the biggest festival in Trás-os-Montes takes place.

The return to Porto can be done by Carrazeda de Ansiães which we recommend to be able to visit the ruins of its Medieval Castle. If time has not yet run out, despite the steep and very bumpy road, the trip to Foz do Tua to eat fried eels or their stew, is well worth the sacrifice. A unique image of the wine-growing terraces of the Douro is received as a prize, which, like visible geodesic lines, mark and underline the slopes of both banks of the river.

You can also return by Mirandela where you can visit the Parque da Maravilha where campers or lovers of this sport can stay overnight. In August it is not even necessary to have a place to sleep to spend the “longest night of the year”, the Night of the Bombs, on the occasion of the feasts of Nossa Senhora do Amparo.

In Mirandela it is a must to visit Jerusalem of Romeu, an improved village, with a typical restaurant with a very high quality menu, stroll through the village enjoying the countryside and taking the opportunity to visit the Museum of Curiosities. Regional products (mainly wine and olive oil) can be purchased at Casa Menéres.

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View and dishes from Solar Brangaçano restaurante © Solar Bragançano
Where to eat
  • The top one that cannot be missed is Solar Bragançano, in Bragança
  • Moncorvo – A Taberna do Carró; O Lagar; O Artur (in Carviçais).
  • Mirandela – Flor de Sal; Maria Rita (in Jerusalém do Romeu)
  • Mogadouro – O Lareira
  • Miranda do Douro – A Gabriela (in Sendim)
  • Macedo – O Saldanha (in Peredo)
Where to sleep
  • Moncorvo – Quinta da Terrincha, Casa D. Luisa or Casa da avó
  • Bragança – Pousada de Bragança; Casas do Parque, (in the Montesinho’s Natural Park)
  • Mirandela – Hotel D. Dinis; Camping - Parque de Campismo da Maravilha
  • Vila Flor – Quinta da Veiguinha
  • Alfândega – Estalagem da Senhora das Neves (Serra de Bornes, Sambade, Alfândega da Fé)
  • Miranda do Douro – Pousada de Santa Catarina
Bucket List
Eat fried fix in the summer, at the river Sabor’s mouth
Moncorvo Almonds
Tipical smoked meat (Fumeiro transmontano)
Posta mirandesa
Visit o Penedo do Durão
Cherrys from Alfandega
River Beach at Azibo
Dam in Miranda
Enguias fritas na foz do tua