Portugal // The Minho //

Along the Rio Minho

At Caminha, 25km north of Viana do Castelo, road and rail turn decisively northeast and inland to run along the south bank of the Rio Minho. With Spain ever-present – just across the wide river – and crossings easily made, it’s a fairly well-trodden tourist route, and the succession of historic frontier towns are used to Spanish day-trippers and visiting foreigners. You could just about see the lot in a day – from pretty Caminha to the country’s northernmost town, Melgaço, 70km further east – but that would be to rush a region that’s more suited to leisurely strolls, old-town rambles and summer afternoons spent at the nearest praia fluvial (river beach). With a night to spare, a stay in the fortress pousada of Valença do Minho is perhaps the best option, though admittedly this is the most touristy of the Minho towns. The Linha do Minho train line from Porto, via Viana do Castelo, runs to Caminha and Valença but no further, though there are plenty of local buses onwards to the old spa town of Monção and to Melgaço.