Trás os Montes means 'Beyond the Mountains'. This area is remote and feels somewhat like the land time forgot. Certainly, in years past, this region has been disconnected from the outside world and the control from Lisbon. It's been a place of refuge for pagan traditions, a place to go unnoticed by the Inquisition, where local dialects live on, and prehistoric monuments lay unspoiled. Outside the main towns, rural life remains tough, yet new investment has found its way here. The lure of its beautiful countryside and traditions have started to bring a steady stream of visitors who like those who came before they seek to escape from modernity.
Trás os Montes Map - ©Delahay&Co
Leave the city bustle behind and enter into 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.
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 than 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 make 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 regions rich cultural heritage incorporates influences from pre-roman times onwards. In Miranda do Douro they keep alive a dance that has 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 a renown for their healing qualities.
Traditional wool carnival costumes and masks
This small yet dramatic protected area was established in 1983 and is situated North West of Vila Real. This mountainous region covers 72,000 hectares of rugged yet beautiful terrain. It forms part of the Marão mountain range and the boundary between the Minho and Trás-os-Montes regions.
Its diverse habitat is home to several rare species of fauna, flora and wild animals. Take one of the walking trails suggested by park officials and set off to look for wolves, wild cats and small mammals. Up in the skies, you can see Peregrine Falcons and, if you are lucky, you will also catch a glimpse of Golden Eagles. You will also find trout, Iberian nase and the ray-finned barbell in the rivers.
The landscape is divided by two geological formations, the higher zones up to 1000m high consists of granite, rocky outcrops, hardy shrubs and grasslands. At lower altitudes, the terrain is composed of schist bedrock, forested areas and altogether more greener. The impressive Fisgas de Ermelo cascades down 450m from one landscape to the other. From different viewpoints, it's possible to view these falls from the top and from below.
The villages in the park, such as Ermelo, Fervença and Lamas de Olo, contain thatched stone buildings that seem stuck in time. The roads narrow to the width of a horse cart, easily blocked by horned cattle (Maronês), medieval stone bridges traverse mountain streams, and century-old Espigueiros are still used to hold corn. Life in the park is preserved in time.
The range of wines from the Trás os Montes is as diverse as the landscapes. The region produces a whole 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 [ ► ]
Enjoy a tour around the Douro region with informative visits to boutique wineries. Lunch and wine tastings included.
The Parque Natural do Douro Internacional covers a long strip of land that follows the western bank of the river Douro that forms the border between Spain and Portugal. The area has a Mediterranean microclimate with warmer winters than other areas in the Trás os Montes region. This in combination with the sparse human population of the area, enables the survival of several animal and plant species extinct in other regions of Portugal.More About ►
The Trás-os-Montes region has a very rich gastronomic tradition and a true reflection of the areas 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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Regular trains to Peso da Régua from Porto São Bento, use the Regional train service (comboios regionais) Linha do Douro: Train Timetable | Comboios de Portugal Website
• Rede Expressos run nationwide coach services within Portugal.