Some 7km southeast up a twisting, cobbled road – or a short ride on an ageing cable car – is the wooded summit of Penha (617m) overlooking Guimarães, the highest point for kilometres. Its cool woods make it a wonderful escape from the city and summer heat. Kids love losing themselves amid the massive boulders, many cut with steps, crowned with flowers and crosses, or hiding in secret grottoes.

On the lower slopes of the hill lies the Mosteiro de Santa Marinha da Costa, 1.5km east of Penha’s centre. It dates from 1154, when Dona Mafalda, wife of Afonso Henriques, commissioned it to honour a vow she made to the patron saint of pregnant women. Rebuilt in the 18th century, it’s now a flagship Pousada de Portugal.

The easiest and finest route to the top of Penha is aboard the Teleférico de Penha, which starts from Parque das Hortas, 600m east of Guimarães’ old centre. You can also get there by taxi for about €10.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Guimarães attractions

1. Igreja de São Gualter

1.34 MILES

This slender 18th-century construction, with its 19th-century twin spires and blooming run-up from central Guimarães, has the most striking appeal of all…

2. Igreja de São Francisco

1.45 MILES

This 13th-century church has a brilliantly gilded and ornamented baroque interior, along with a lovely Renaissance cloister and 18th-century azulejos …

3. Museu Alberto Sampaio

1.54 MILES

Built around the serene Romanesque cloister of Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, this museum has an excellent collection of ecclesiastical art and…

4. Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira

1.55 MILES

Founded by Countess Mumadona in the 12th century and rebuilt four centuries later, the beautiful Largo da Oliveira is dominated by this convent church.

5. Antigos Paços do Concelho

1.57 MILES

Guimarães’ 14th-century former town hall sits above an arcaded portico providing a most graceful communication between cosy Largo da Oliveira and the more…

6. Paço dos Duques de Bragança

1.65 MILES

Looming over the medieval city on Guimarães’ hilltop, with its crenellated towers and cylindrical brick chimneys, Paço dos Duques was first built in 1401…

7. Castelo

1.69 MILES

Built in the 11th century and still in fine form, the seven-towered castle is thought to be the birthplace of the great man himself, Afonso Henriques…

8. Museu Arqueológico Martins Sarmento

1.71 MILES

This fantastic collection of mostly Celtiberian artefacts is housed in a former convent and named after the archaeologist who excavated Citânia de…