River Minho: source, tributaries, and everything you don’t know about it

Located in the Iberian Peninsula, its waters end up in Spain and Portugal. It is the River Miño: Would you like to know more about this river? You have an open invitation. Go ahead.

río miño

River Minho

Located in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, the Miño flows entirely through the autonomous community of Galicia. However, when it reaches its final stretch, it becomes the natural border between Spain and Portugal. Until it finally flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

The River Miño is the longest river in Galicia and the most abundant, after the River Sil, which is its main tributary. It is 350 kilometres long and the basin it drains covers 12,846 km2. Another special river in Spain is the Rio Turia.

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The source of the river Miño

The source of the River Miño is located in the Pedregal de Irimia of the Sierra de Meira, at an altitude of 695 metres, in the municipality of Meira, in the northeast of the province of Lugo. The River Miño has several sources, including the Fonmiñá Pastoriza lagoon in the Tierra Llana region. The second longest river in Europe is the Danube.

It is located in the same province, about 600 metres above sea level. It is considered the first important tributary of the River Miño.

río miño

It should be noted that the entire upper course of the Miño River has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The first forty kilometres of the river cross the Lugo Plateau (Tierra Llana or Terra Chá region). This is a peneplain with an altitude of between four hundred and fifty and seven hundred and fifty metres above sea level.

The river Miño has a deep and wide bed, since it is embedded throughout its entire course and has no alluvial valley. The last 76 kilometres become a natural border between Spain and Portugal, until it reaches its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean. There it forms an estuary between La Guardia (Pontevedra) and Caminha. It becomes navigable for the last 33 kilometres to Tuy.

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Tributaries of the Miño

Among the main tributaries of the Miño River we have


  • Sil: It is the one that gives a greater flow to the river Miño, the total length of this river is 225 kilometres, it forms a natural border between provinces of the region of Galicia, in the north of Spain. Its landscape of vineyards and mountains, joins the Miño in this natural border.
  • Neira: This particular tributary is of great ecological and piscicultural wealth. It has its source in the Portelo mountain range and is 56 kilometres long.
  • Avia.
  • Barbantiño: Located in the north-west of the Liberico peninsula, it crosses several provinces of the Autonomous Community of Galicia.
  • Búbal: This is also in the Iberian Peninsula, being born in San Cristobal being the fifth tributary of the Miño. It is a mountain river with a fast and short course in the province of Orense.

The Miño's course and mouth

The first 40 kilometres of the River Miño flow through the Lugo Plateau (A Terra Cha), a peneplain at an altitude of between four hundred and fifty and six hundred and fifty metres above sea level. The basin of the River Miño covers 17,026 km2.

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Puerto muy traquilo de Río Miño

The River Miño has three reservoirs, between Lugo and Ourense: Belesar, Peares and Valle, and two more between Ourense and the Portuguese border: Castelo de Miño and Frieira.

It then becomes the border between Spain and Portugal, which happens in the last 76 kilometres of its course, to finally flow into the Atlantic Ocean, where it forms an estuary.

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Espectacular vista del Río Miño

Along the way it crosses the slopes of several reservoirs, such as Belesar, Peares, Velle, Castrelo de Miño and Frieira. It should be noted that the first two are of exceptional beauty, with spectacular landscapes of incomparable beauty.

River ecosystems

The river contains several types of aquatic ecosystems normally found in the Atlantic bioclimatic region. Its tributaries form a unique wetland ecosystem, which in turn forms a variety of lagoons and floodplains used for agricultural activities.

The aquatic species that we can find along the river are: Anguilla eel, trout, bogue, cyprinids, bermejuela and a strange mammal such as the desman liberico and other more common ones such as the otter, found in the upper part of the river. In the lower part, during the winter, we can find numerous aquatic birds such as the tufted duck, the golden plover and the lapwing, as well as fish such as the salmon, sea lamprey, wolf fish, plaice and saboga.

The vegetation we can find is an alluvial forest of alders (of very small size), ash trees (the same types of trees of the Norwegian mythology, "Yggdrasil"), oaks and argañas (very common in the Iberian Peninsula) in the upper part of the river.

Myths about the river

Legend has it that the river was inhabited by mythological creatures such as xarcos, feiticeiras, who were sorceresses and fish men.

It is said that when sailing on the river, you had to put a stone in your mouth to stop talking and attract the feiticeiras.

Map of the River Minho

In the map below we can see the exact location of the River Minho, both its source and its mouth.

Location of the River Minho

Cities crossed by the Miño River

Among the information about the River Miño, we have the following cities through which the River Miño passes, or through which its waters flow:

  • Orense

The Spanish city and municipality of Orense is the capital of a province called Provincia de Orense (Galicia). It is the third most populous municipality in inland Galicia, after Vigo and La Coruña. It has a population of 105,893 inhabitants, according to INE data for 2016-17.

It is crossed by the river Miño. Orense is located in the southeast of Galicia. Orense’s economy is characterised by a clear predominance of the service sector.


It is a city and municipality in Spain, which in turn is the capital of the municipality and the community and province of the same name. The city is located on a hill, the environment being a region of rounded mountains and not very high in the lands of the upper Miño and surrounded by the Miño River itself.

This municipality is also included in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is the second largest in Galicia, with a population of 98,268 in 2016. The city is considered to be of Roman origin, having been founded in 25 B.C., making it the oldest in Galicia, as is the river Duero.

río miño


The curiosities of the Minho River are many, but one of the most important is that it is said that from the mouth of the Minho River you can see America.

It is always a pleasure to see these beautiful landscapes that Mother Nature gives us. Like the ones in this video. Enjoy it!

Desembocadura de Río Miño

Height and flow of this magnificent river

Throughout its course, the river is so deep and wide that it has no alluvial valley.

The height of the Minho River is about 12,480 km² and its total length is about 315 km.


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