The Minho region of northwest Portugal where Vinho Verde is produced, has centuries of history baked into charming market towns like Barcelos where the street-sides of buildings are tiled with trademark Portuguese ceramics. side of buildings are tiled with trademark Portuguese ceramics. Besides serving as home to a market that’s been operating since the 13th century, the town is also home to Portugal’s national symbol, the black rooster. According to legend, a pilgrim on the road to St. Iago da Campostela was convicted by a bishop of stealing silver. The man protested his innocence and declared that the roast bird on the bishop’s table would crow when he was hanged. It did. Legend established.
The Minho offers more contemporary pleasures. I stayed at the stunning Aquafalls Spa Hotel Rural. The restaurant, spa and reception area and the cabin-like suites are set on a hilltop with panoramic views of the Cavado River and the surrounding forested hills. The restau was superb. If you think it sounds a little rich for your blood, keep in mind that all this can be yours for under $200 a night!
Last but not least, there’s Oporto. It’s the largest city in Northern Portugal and the hub of the Port production industry. It boasts a number of excellent restaurants, as well as the shopping and cultural opportunities you’d expect of any large city.