With its otherworldly landscapes—from volcanic islands and forested beaches to steep mountain ranges lined with UNESCO-protected vineyards—Portugal is a treasure trove of natural splendor. As with most booming tourist destinations, however, certain highlights tend to lure visitors in more powerfully than others: Lisbon’s ornate architecture or the Douro’s serpentine river, for example. For those keen to explore the country deeper and differently, Vinho Verde awaits.
Often confused as a style of wine and not a physical location, Vinho Verde consists of nine subregions in the northwest corner of the country, stretching all the way up to the Spanish border. The landscape is one of undulating, verdant hillsides with two rivers flowing throughout (the Minho and the Lima) and diverse microclimates that allow for unique, varied wines—not all of which are the fizzy style you might expect.
There are plenty of outdoor activities to break up tastings, too. For adventurous types, there’s river rafting on the Tâmega river or canyoning in Gerês National Park. Alternatively, you can head to one of several charming villages in the region like Amarante and Braga, where historic landmarks and culinary traditions hit their stride and afternoons can be whiled away strolling along ancient cobblestone streets. The region’s history dates back thousands of years, and yet it’s still somehow under the radar—making it a sweet spot for those on the hunt for destinations away from Portugal’s well-trodden tourist trail.
Below, a primer on Vinho Verde, Portugal’s burgeoning wine tourism region.
Where to Stay
Vinho Verde’s buzzier neighbors have the lion’s share of luxury accommodations: The Yeatman in Porto and Six Senses in the Douro Valley, to name a few. Admittedly, design-forward properties are somewhat few and far between within the region—for now, anyway. “Over the last few years, the offer of wine tourism with accommodation has grown exponentially in Vinho Verde,” Monverde CEO and Managing Partner Óscar Meireles says. Despite this growth, he notes that the majority of producers are still focusing on exporting their wine rather than investing in wine tourism, often due to a lack of human resources. “Everybody knows that [growing hospitality offerings] is a great boost for brands, even to increase the value of Vinho Verde,” he adds. Meireles estimates there are around 10 superior quality properties at the moment, with “many others in the project phase or with openings planned for this year.”