The Stunning Viana do Castelo

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The lovely city of Viana do Castelo is blessed with a beautiful setting on the bank of the Lima River, on North Portugal’s scenic coastline. A historic naval seaport, it remains the only surviving shipyard in Portugal. In the past the voyages of discovery which sailed from Viana do Castelo brought prosperity to the city which can now be seen in the opulent mansions of the old town center.

The surrounding area around Viana do Castelo is truly scenic with verdant green mountains contrasting with the golden sands and blue waters of the Atlantic. The Santa Luzia hillside and the unspoilt Lima River make this an area of true natural beauty.

The town is centered on the main Praça da Republica with its gorgeous Renaissance fountain and 16th century Town Hall with three notable Gothic arches. The main parish church is also known as the Sé and has a Gothic doorway decorated with elaborate carved statues of the apostles.

Viana do Castelo proudly retains its cultural heritage in the annual religious festivals it celebrates when traditional regional costumes are worn. Processions, parades, folk dancing, music and fireworks are used to celebrate any occasion with great local fervor. Viana do Castelo is proud of its Minho folklore and has a thriving handicrafts industry.

Things to Do in Viana do Castelo

The mansions along the Rua Candido dos Reis and the Rua de Sao Pedro should be top of the list of things to do in Viana do Castelo. Each one outshines the last in a series of Renaissance and Baroque styles, with no expense spared when they were built.

The Municipal Museum is a close second on the “things to do in Viana do Castelo” list. A fabulous collection of ceramics, furniture and archeological discoveries is well laid out within the 18th century palace building. Visitors may wonder just which European city they are in when they look up the hill to the Santa Luzia Basilica. It is modeled on the Sacre Coeur in Paris and has three rose windows and many beautiful frescoes. The location offers panoramic views of the surrounding area, along with the remains of a Celtic settlement.

Viana do Castelo has a splendid sandy beach for enjoying more leisurely days in the sun. It is easy to reach using the ferry from Avenida dos Combatentes in the town center. More beaches further north are also known for their superb soft golden sands and rolling surf, providing superb surfing and bodyboarding opportunities. The nearby river provides excellent conditions for windsurfing, jetskiing, sailing, rowing, canoeing, fishing or just taking a boat trip around the area.

Exploring the wonderful countryside around Viana do Castelo is easily enjoyed on foot or bicycle. The mountains are a paradise of flora and fauna and visitors are rewarded with glimpses of waterfalls, watermills or simple churches along the way.

Food and Drink

Viana do Castelo has excellent fish and seafood restaurants which prepare local ingredients in traditional Portuguese style, such as paella-style fish and rice dishes. The area produces superb local wines to accompany the hearty stews of meat, fish or vegetables. Sticky pastries and custard flans are typical Portuguese desserts.

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