Head north for holidays in Portugal with a difference.

For your next holidays in Portugal why not get off the beaten track? Head for the north of the country and visit the romantic frontier town of Bragança.

Getting there is not a major problem. Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) offers flights to Porto from Liverpool and London Stansted, while Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) has flights from London Gatwick to Porto.

As with all budget airlines, the earlier you book the cheaper your flight. Even taking into account charges for baggage, check-in and taxes, it is possible to find a return flight between the UK and Portugal for under £100 return.

From Porto you have the choice of hiring a car for the 3 hour drive, or taking the train. The train journey up the Douro river and the subsequent bus journey through the picturesque hills of Northern Portugal is spectacular.

Bragança shares its name with the former royal family of Portugal, and it's an impressively regal town. You can climb up to the  battlements of its substantial castle and look towards snow-capped mountain peaks, or east towards Spain.

Because it's off the main tourist track, you can enjoy the town without having to fight your way through any crowds, and you should be able to find a table at one of the restaurants. Try Restaurante Pocas in the centre of town for simple and hearty northern Portuguese cuisine. Pork and ham, along with speciality bean stews, are popular.

Nearby, explore the mountain scenery at the Parque Natural De Montesinho with forest trails and picnic spots. The more adventurous, who like spectacular vistas on their holidays in Portugal, should head for the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Geres on the Spanish border, with granite peaks around 5000 feet high, and tranquil oak and chestnut forests.


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