Leave the city bustle behind and enter a region of incredible natural beauty, flavours, memories, and traditions. Lose yourself between plateaus and majestic mountains, towns, untouched historical villages and purifying thermal waters. Find yourself amongst the genuine friendliness and hospitality of its people, who take great pride in their customs and heritage.
The South of the region is defined by the fertile red soils and schist strata of the Upper Douro, known by many as the Terra Quente (Hot Land). Here great valley floors have been cut into the unique terraced hills by the Douro River and its tributaries Corgo and Tua. The land here feels Mediterranean in nature. The land is dominated by vineyards, olive groves and orchards of oranges, peaches and almonds.
The North of the region is a different landscape. It is more rugged and wild. It's earned the name Terra Fria (Cold Land) due to its cold winters. Even with businesses investing in the area and a large-scale EU-funded road improvement programme, the population here is still half that in the neighbouring region, The Minho
There are two protected National Parks within the Trás os Montes, the Parque Natural do Alvão and the Parque Natural do Douro Internacional which borders Spain. It's here in the latter you'll find the medieval defensive towns of Mogadouro, Freixo de Espada à Cinta, and Mirando do Douro preserved from development.
One of the major towns in the South is the region is Vila Real makes for a great base for discovering the Trás os Monte with good transport routes via road, bus and train. From here the beautiful towns of Mirandela, Chaves and Bragança are within easy reach.
The region's rich cultural heritage embodies influences from pre-roman times onwards. In Miranda do Douro they keep alive a dance of Celtic origins. It is not too dissimilar to Morris Dancing found in Britain. The dancers are called Pauliteiros, named after the small sticks used in the dance - 'Paulito'. The Romans who settled here valued greatly the Spa waters of the city of Chaves, which they named Aquae Flaviae, and today the waters are renowned for their healing qualities.
The range of wines from the Trás os Montes is as diverse as the landscapes. The region produces a wide range of wines from somewhat stringent and very alcoholic red to light sparkling or semi-sweet floral whites. Trás-os-Montes wine is divided into three sub-regions of variying landscapes and climates: IPR Chaves, IPR Planalto Mirandes, IPR Valpaços and Vinho Regional (VR) Transmontano. More About [ ► ]
The Trás-os-Montes region has a very rich gastronomic tradition and a true reflection of the area's rugged landscapes. It is in the mountains where the ingredients are grown and bred. Mirandela is the origin of the Alheira oak smoked sausage. They're made from various types of meats and can be eaten hot or cold or added to the array of stews the region offers. Other smoked foods make an appearance in the Trás-os-Montes: pork sausage, chorizos, botillo and hams. In Montalegre, several smoked pork meats are used in the cozido à barrosã (boiled food from Barrosã). In Mondim de Basto, it is essential to try the Carne Maronesa and the wet sponge cake, a speciality and symbol of this region. It is made with sugar, wheat flour and homemade eggs. Miranda do Douro is known for the Posta Mirandesa, a veal steak dish.
Also look out for coal grilled veal steak with seasonal vegetables, “feijoada” (bean stew) à la Transmontana, roasted kid à la Transmontano, watercress soup, dried green bean broth, garlic soup, fried river fish, trout with olive oil, roasted codfish with rye bread, “Tordos de Cheiros” (a traditional dish with thrushes), rabbit stew, partridge with cabbage, roasted kid with rice, goat and sheep cheese, olive oil from the Trás-os-Montes region; “Folar de Carne” (typical Easter cake with smoked meat), Easter cakes, “Papos de anjo”, “bolinhos de azeite” and “aletria” (typical sweets of Mirandela); traditional jams, almonds, figs and honey; wines from the Trás-os-Montes region. Olive oil has a designation of origin within the Trás-os-Montes region, and if you want to meet the growers, there’s even an “Olive Route” passing through Mirandela.
After Lisbon airport Porto International is the second busiest airport in Portugal and has knocked Faro into third place. This is a reflection of Porto's rise to prominence both as a centre for commerce and as a tourist destination. Originally constructed in the 1940's the building has recently been modernised and boasts first class ammenities and transport links.
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Since joining the EU Portugal has seen a vast improvement in it's road network with the addition of fine motorway network which speedily take you from the major cities to the area you want to visit. In 2015, the country's road network was named as being the best in Europe and the second best in the world. For the more adventurous drivers there's plenty of more rural windy yet very scenic roads available such as the N222 which runs from Peso de Regua to Pinhao and has been voted as the top drive in the world.
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