Discover the Medieval atmosphere of Miranda do Douro, a fortified city full of history and culture, situated on a cliff above the Douro river.
It is not a typical destination for those who are traveling to the north of Portugal, but if you want to visit a place full of the countries traditions, then you should definitely pay a visit to this little city.
Where is Miranda do Douro?
Miranda do Douro is located within the extreme northeastern part of Portugal. It sits near the Spanish border, at a distance of 260 km away from Porto. This is roughly around a 2 hour and 45-minute car ride if you’re interested to make your way to Porto after exploring Miranda do Douro.
Check out our Extensive Guide on the Best Places to see in Porto.
What makes Miranda do Douro so interesting and worth a visit?
For a very long time, Miranda do Douro was the stronghold of the wild East of Portugal. The ancient town filled with history features a medieval atmosphere with its decaying castle, which has attracted plenty of Spanish tourists. But that’s not all! There are several things that you could do and see in the city. Here are some of them:
1. Learn the language
Miranda do Douro has two official languages. Besides speaking Portuguese, the locals also speak Mirandês; a language spoken by only 10,000 people in three different locations such as Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro, and Vimioso.
Some of the locals there also speak Spanish and Galician (Latin-based language). And once you are in Miranda do Douro, you will find street signs that are written in Mirandés. Interesting right? Even though they share the same origin, it is like entering a totally different country within a country.
2. View the Sé cathedral of Miranda do Douro from a distance
As mentioned, Miranda do Douro is a small town. It is not known for having amazing monuments like other cities of Portugal. However, you can see the Sé Cathedral from the distance. You could even see it from Spain, proudly on top of the fortress. But it is not a cathedral anymore. Since the flee of the Bishop 200 years ago, Sé Cathedral has been sharing the “cathedral” title with the one located in Bragança.
If you are interested in visiting the cathedral during your stay, it is located in the historical center and it is still the place of worship of the town. And despite the flee of the Bishop, there is still something to see inside, such as the unique elements behind the altar and the tombstone.
For more information about the town of Bragança, feel free to check out Our Guide On The History, Cuisine, and Nature in Bragança.
3. Gaze at the castle of Miranda do Douro
Miranda do Douro Castle was built in the second phase of the Tras Os Montes settlement. It was enhanced by the first Portuguese Kings, yet, several battles that were fought destroyed much of the monument.
During the reign of King D. Dinis, the castle was rebuilt around the year 1280. The Portuguese Independence Restoration War was quite harsh to the castle and, in 1644, King D. João IV ordered the reconstruction of the defensive walls to adapt them to the artillery. However, these walls were not strong enough during the Spanish attacks.
During the Seven-Year War in 1762, the castle was under the Spanish siege, which disfigured key parts of the gothic work, destroying the castle. After the Peace Treaty was signed in 1763, the castle was rebuilt again, and later (around 1800), it was destroyed again by the miseries of war during the French invasions.
To this day, what remains is classified as a public interest building with part of the 17th-century walls (these are still visible), enclosing the town’s ancient ruins, the tower, the cathedral and also the Episcopal palace.
4. And don’t forget about the fortress that surrounds the castle that remains
The town was an important location during the Middle Ages. The fortified village had a castle, which was the home of the Bishop (who is now in Bragança). This played an important defensive spot over the Spanish border.
Due to the incidents that occurred, the fortress experimented several changes from the second half of the XVI century, which aimed to convert it into a modern square that adapted to war artillery.
Nowadays, the village keeps the medieval feeling of small houses and cobbled stones. If you go up the hill to the fortress and cross the walls’ door through Costanielha or Postigo streets, it will lead you towards the Sé cathedral and the ruins of the Bishops’ Palace.
You can also join the shopaholics through Mouzinho de Albuquerque, by the ruins of the old tower and the Town Hall.
5. Admire the picturesque Paço Episcopal ruins
Located at the rear end of the cathedral you will find the ruins of the Episcopal Palace which was the Bishop’s Palace. It was built in 1616, and during the construction, the priests lodged in the castle.
What is so fantastic about this is the fact that only the ruins remain as well as the arches of the cloister that are supported by the foot. These were the only parts that resisted to a fire incident that occurred in the 18th century. You can also admire the monolithic columns within your reach.
6. Stroll through the Terra Fria trails route
Discover the region of Trás os Montes and embark on a long and wild journey through the counties of Miranda do Douro, Bragança, Mogadouro, Vimioso, and Vinhais. You will find that the route holds some hidden secrets that are ready to be observed by you.
These counties make up the Terra Fria Route and the time you spend on the journey is totally up to you. It is a long journey but it can be done at your own pace and you can start wherever you want.
7. Take a photo of the Vilarinho aqueduct
The Vilarinho aqueduct was an important support for the city of Miranda do Douro. At the time, it was quite vital as it was used for the city’s water supply during the 16th, 18th and 19th centuries.
To supply water, this form of bridge is a complex system of abstraction, adduction, and distribution of water.
8. Immerse yourself into the town’s traditions at museum Terras De Miranda
There is a small pedestrian square up in the fortress at Largo de Dom Joao III, which is very close to the cathedral. It is so easy to pass by without noticing the beautiful buildings. But you will know that you’re in the right place when you see the statue of a couple, dressed in the traditional costumes of Miranda do Douro.
Enter Terras de Miranda, a museum that shows the traditions of Miranda do Douro’s region. From agricultural traditions to fashion, carnival festivities and dances; this is one of the few places where you can see it all.
9. Look down to the river and spot the number 2
From the walls by the cathedral, you can take a look down to the river. Although you will not see it from down there, there is an International Biologic Station; a departure point of the river cruises that navigate through the canyon. Here, the river is created in between Spain and Portugal.
Across, you will spot the Spanish rock walls, which have some yellow stains. A legend here says that this was not painted by men, but by nature. Amongst those stains, search for the number 2. The myth behind this is that if you do not see the number and you are already married, you should find somebody else. If you can spot the number, you are with the right one. Or if you’re not married, you will find a partner.
10. Go for a river cruise by the river Douro
There are two routes by Douro International Nature Park that depart from Miranda do Douro. You have the choice of taking a short or a longer one. The short cruise is perfect if you don’t have enough time and want to see as much as you can during your stay in Miranda do Douro. But if you have the time, I recommend taking the longer cruise, as this will take you further away from villages and deeper into the park.
With that being said, the landscape is spectacular and from a river level point of view; the rock walls of the canyons are more than impressive. You will be amazed by the walls that are over 400 meters high, with small eagles and vultures flying around. Together with a tour guide, you will have an amazing river cruise experience.
Interested In Doing A Boat Trip?
If you are looking into doing a boat cruise through the Douro river. You can explore the natural frontier between Portugal and Spain.
On this fantastic cruise, you will have the opportunity to observe the Douro wild fauna and flora, a beautiful region where you can take in the beautiful landscape of the cliffs and spot some rare bird species. This is a tour that we highly recommend.
Book your Douro cruise tour right here, right now!
11. Enjoy the best views in Miranda do Douro
There is a reason why this place is one of the world heritage sites in Portugal. It is also why we have to add two of the Douro Valley tours to the list of top things to do in Miranda do Douro.
The other tour that we are talking about is enjoying what is known as the Grand Canyon of Europe. There are many viewpoints where you can admire some of the best views of the Douro Valley. The most impressive of them all is with no doubt the São Joao das Arribas. This makes a perfect place to relax and enjoy nature or go for a nice hike. If you only have a couple of hours, we advise you to come here first.
However, other viewpoints include the following:
- Senhora da Luz: View from the Chapel of Our Lady of Light;
- Fraga Amarela: A bedrock that falls over the river Douro;
- Freixiosa: A space that offers privileged views over the Douro river and the mountains that are around.
12. Try some of the traditional Portuguese foods in Miranda do Douro
Portugal and Spain are known to be two countries competing to make the best food. In that regard, Miranda do Douro has a great advantage of being located between the two countries. This makes the town just as good, but with a great variety of food to choose from.
With that being said, one of the most famous dishes is the Iberico Ham. You must also try the “chorizo”, the “lomo” and the “salchichón”, which are commonly used in Portuguese cuisine. Despite Portugal’s reputation of pork, this is not the main meal of the Mirandeses. In fact, the city is very famous for its meat, namely the Vitela à Mirandesa (calf meat), local lamb, and Bacalhau (codfish) which is served in most of Miranda do Douro’s restaurants. So don’t forget to try these!
Check out our top 5 restaurants in Miranda do Douro
1. Restaurante O Mirandés
According to TripAdvisor, this 4-star restaurant offers European and Traditional Portuguese style cuisine with great service and atmosphere.
Address: Largo da Moagem, Miranda do Douro 5210-183
Phone: 273 431 418
2. Restaurante São Pedro
Another 4-star restaurant, offering Mediterranean, European and Portuguese style cuisine with excellent service. Read a review here.
Address: Rua Mouzinho de Albuquerque 20, Miranda do Douro 5210-225
Phone: 273 431 321
3. Pizzaria Gorgonzola
A 4.5-star restaurant that offers great service and great value for money, with Italian cuisines, pizza, and vegetarian dishes. Read a review right here.
Address: Lote 4 Rua do Mercado, Miranda do Douro 5210-210
Phone: 938 376 919
4. Pizzaria O Moinho
A 4-star rating restaurant that also offers Italian cuisine and pizza, as well as European and Portuguese style dishes. Special diets also include gluten-free meals, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. According to TripAdvisor, this restaurant is worth the visit.
Address: Rua do Mercado 47C, 5210-210, Miranda do Douro
Phone: 273 431 116
5. Capa d’Honras
According to TripAdvisor, this 3.5-star restaurant offers tasty Mediterranean, European and Portuguese style cuisine. Perfect for a lunch or dinner out during your stay in Miranda do Douro.
Address: Travessa do Castelo 1, Miranda do Douro 5210-234
Phone: 273 432 699
What are the best places to stay in Miranda do Douro?
Miranda do Douro may be a small city, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find a place to stay.
In fact, there are plenty of options that you can choose from, such as Airbnb, hostels or even renting an apartment for a few days. The options are unlimited and it all depends on what you are looking for and what you are comfortable with.
Anyways, if you are looking for hotels in Miranda do Douro, there are more than 70 hotels to choose from. These are our top 5 recommendations:
1. Casas Campo Cimo da Quinta
This hotel is perfect if you are looking for a place where you can be more relaxed and also have a taste of the rural atmosphere. It is located just 6 km away from Miranda do Douro and offers typical food from the delicious area, as well as a pool which is perfect for the summertime.
Address: Chafariz Pena Branca, 5210-172 Miranda do Douro
Phone: 937 766 774
Book your stay here.
2. Hotel Turismo Miranda
The Hotel Turismo Miranda is completely different, it is a smaller hotel but it is just 100 meters away from the old town. Perfect if your idea of the trip is to enjoy the small town of Portugal and use the hotel to sleep and rest. The rooms are comfortable enough to get a good night rest with free WIFI available at the hotel.
Address: Rua 1º de Maio 5, 5210-191 Miranda do Douro
Phone: 273 438 030
Book your stay here.
3. Hotel Cabeço do Forte
The Cabeço do Forte is located at the highest point of Mirando do Douro and offers spectacular views over the historical city center. The unit is just a 5-minute drive from the border into neighboring Spain. This makes an unforgettable stay with a welcoming community, great services, and clean comfortable rooms. Superb!
Address: Rua Cabeço do Forte, 5210-185 Mirando do Douro
Phone: 273 431 423
Book your stay here.
4. Hotel Mirafresno
Another outstanding hotel that is located in Miranda do Douro, and features scenic views over the Fresno River and the castle. What is also great is the fact that it offers an in-house restaurant and a snack bar.
Address: Rua 1º de Maio 2, 5210-191, Miranda do Douro
Phone: 273 430 030
Book your stay here.
5. Hotel O Mirandes
The Hotel O Mirandes is only a 10-minute walk from the Miranda do Douro historic city center. It offers beautiful elegant rooms and features a restaurant on-site with panoramic views of the city, great service, and friendly staff.
Address: Urbanização do Juncal, Miranda do Douro
Phone: 273 432 150
Book your stay here.
What is the weather like in Miranda do Douro?
If you are wondering when’s the best time to visit Miranda do Douro, we have some tips for you.
If you are not a big fan of the rain, try to avoid going during the months from October to February. During these months, it rains a lot. February being the worst. In comparison to that, you have July and August, which are considered to be the hottest months.
What I would recommend is to go within May, June or September, as the weather is not too hot and you can enjoy the summer vibes without getting sunburned or feeling a bit chilly.
Don’t forget to add this amazing little city to your list
We hope you enjoyed reading our guide about Miranda do Douro! It’s a spectacular place to visit and it is definitely a city you will have to see to know. If you want to know more about this amazing little medieval city, don’t forget to click on the links provided.
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I am a freelance designer, singer-songwriter, born and raised in Australia. I love to venture out and experience different cultures. One day I came Lisbon, fell in love with this beautiful city and haven't left since. I have a passion for music and design; and I enjoy writing during my spare time.