Exploring the Hidden Gems of Northern Portugal: A Family Road Trip Adventure

Miradouro Do Ujo!

As we start to open up the county again here in Portugal, we here at the Getaway van want to show you what a family trip in the North of Portugal can look like in just 1 afternoon. 

Travelling with young children on long road trips can be difficult for some. This is due to having a small space to sit in, not enough space for luggage, buggy’s kids toys, beach bags, beach balls, snacks etc etc. The list goes on and on when you are a parent. 

So I am here to tell you about our magnificent weekend, exploring some of the most beautiful sights in the North of Portugal, with glorious sunshine, but not too hot, just right weather, (a bit like goldilocks) road trip with our family, with no stress, plenty of room with a bunch of smiles, fun and jaw-dropping views. 


Where is it?

If your base or your arrival is in Porto, like the Getaway Van is, then this amazing viewpoint is easily accessed by the Getaway Van. We know on a family road trip in Portugal and the North that kids need regular stops and on the motorways there are plenty of Service Stations or if you are using national roads, plenty of places to pull over if needed. We took the A4 west from Porto pretty much directly with a pit stop for more food on route and apparently an extra clean was needed as well as a crazy run around the van to burn off the excess energy. 

The viewpoint is in a town called São Mamede de Ribatua and you pass Vila Real on the A4 and keep going and turn onto the N212.

Going up, up, up.

As you drive towards the viewpoint take in your surroundings. They are amazing. As someone who comes from one of the flattest areas in the UK I am often in awe at the sheer beauty of the vineyards on the mountainsides and the backdrop of mountain behind mountain as far as the eye can see. As you drive (the passengers can take the photos) just have a good look around at it all. 

The view-point - Miradouro Do Ujo

You would be surprised that many Portuguese people who have lived in the North of Portugal are unfamiliar with this particular viewpoint. After seeing some of these images they asked me where is this place? Not too far at all. All of whom have made a promise to see with their own eyes. Especially after I tell them just how stunning it was.

The best way I can describe it is when I opened the door of the Getaway Van I actually gasped. Not metaphorically – literally – I was blown away. I turned to Paulo and said, it doesn’t look real, it looks like it is a picture, a photoshopped picture to make it look even better than it is. 

But I promise you dear reader these images are #nofilter just using our phones and kids on a literal Portugal family road trip in the North. 

Take a break - Anywhere you want to

There are a few areas you can pull over onto with some areas set up for picnics like we found, but be aware that it is a mountain road, so take care and go slowly for your and others on the road, you won’t regret it. 

Worry not if you don’t have a table there, as you can always hire table and chairs from the Getaway Van so you can have an impromptu picnic anywhere you can imagine. 

My kids immediately asked for snacks, and on a warm day like today having the mini fridge in the Getaway Van to keep yogurts cool and sandwiches fresh.

If your kids are anything like my kids, you know that they just cannot be quiet for very long. Here I was just minding my own business reading the latest ‘Evasoes’ magazine in a stunning location and well kids will be kids… 🙂

Breathing fresh air - time to explore down, down, down

After finishing up the snack and taking in the gorgeous views of the viewpoint, we decided that we wanted to go down to the water, and see what else we could find with the Getaway Van. One of the cool things about having a Sat Nav and easily driven Van is that winding turns are easily managed and you don’t get lost (unless you want to that is :)) 

We were looking for the dam initially but on route found this gorgeous reservoir ‘Cais do tua’ in Sao Mamede de Ribatua. It has a little pier you can walk onto and sit and gaze at the water and watch the reflections of the mountains dance off of it. 

There were a number of couples at times who were having a romantic break in nature from the mundane life of staying at home for a long time.  

The Rio Tua Dam and hidden gems

So back in the van, back to the winding road alongside the river. As we drove and snapped the camera, the sun was starting to lower. We spotted a train (cue the kids shouting ‘TRAIN!’. We saw it disappear into a mountain. No, surely not into the mountain?

We soon came across a bridge, made in 1940 and our eyes actually were drawn to a rainbow made on the wall. We then drove over the bridge and saw the magnificent dam. Well we had to pull over to investigate.

The roar of the water coming through the dam was intense and beautiful at the same time. We then spotted there was a hole next to it.. and lo and behold it was tunnel for the train! 

Looking back to where we had come from we saw a large white funnel. It is part of the water hydraulic system from the dam and looks very pretty set in the mountain green.

Then it was time to head off, as the sun was lowering.


Sunsets on a glorious Northern day

We then headed back as the sun began to set behind the mountains.

As we left the area we saw remnants of time gone by, with the blue sky as a back-drop it was a very pretty ruin of a windmill.  of We made a pit-stop to refresh ourselves as we had had too much fun and needed more rest to get over the rest we had just had. Until next time.

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