15 Best Things to Do in Viana do Castelo (Portugal)

15 Best Things to Do in Viana do Castelo (Portugal)

If you’re planning a trip to Portugal, make sure to put Viana do Castelo on your list of places to visit. This picturesque city is located in the north of Portugal and has a unique charm that will capture your heart. From stunning beaches to historic landmarks, Viana do Castelo has something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or a foodie, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Viana do Castelo.

One of the highlights of Viana do Castelo is the Santa Luzia Sanctuary. This neo-Byzantine church is located on top of a hill and offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding landscape. You can either climb the 650 steps to reach the top or take a funicular. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city, the Lima River, and the Atlantic Ocean.

The historic city center of Viana do Castelo is another must-visit. It’s filled with charming streets, historic buildings, and lovely squares. You can spend hours wandering around, admiring the architecture and soaking up the atmosphere. Some of the highlights of the historic center include the Praça da República, the Municipal Museum, the Misericórdia Church, and the Rua Direita. You can also find plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal.

Interesting facts about Viana do Castelo:

  • The city is famous for its traditional costumes called “trajes à Vianesa,” which are still worn on special occasions and festivals.
  • Viana do Castelo has a rich maritime history, and its fishing port is one of the most important in Portugal.
  • The city is also known for its unique architecture, with many beautiful buildings and landmarks, such as the Santa Luzia Basilica, which offers stunning views over the city and the ocean.
  • Viana do Castelo is home to several beautiful beaches, including Cabedelo Beach, which is popular among surfers, and Afife Beach, which is known for its stunning cliffs and crystal-clear waters.
  • The city is also famous for its annual folklore festival, which takes place in August and attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world.
  • The Gil Eanes, a former hospital ship that served the Portuguese fishing fleet, is now a museum ship located in Viana do Castelo’s port.
  • Viana do Castelo is also home to several delicious local specialties, such as “bacalhau à Vianesa” (a codfish dish) and “bola de Berlim” (a type of doughnut filled with custard).
  • The city is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including the Lima River and the Serra d’Arga mountain range, which offers hiking trails and panoramic views over the region.
  • Viana do Castelo is located in the heart of Portugal’s Vinho Verde wine region, where you can taste some of the country’s best white wines.
  • The city is also a great starting point for exploring the nearby cities of Porto and Braga, both of which are easily accessible by car or public transportation.

In this article, we will cover the 15 best things to do in Viana do Castelo. Let’s get started!

Visit the Santa Luzia Sanctuary

The Santa Luzia Sanctuary is one of the most iconic landmarks in Viana do Castelo. It is a neo-Byzantine church located on top of a hill, and it offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding landscape. You can either climb the 650 steps to reach the top or take a funicular.

Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the city, the Lima River, and the Atlantic Ocean. The interior of the church is equally impressive, with beautiful stained glass windows and intricate tile work. If you are interested in history and architecture, then the Santa Luzia Sanctuary is a must-visit.

Explore the Historic City Center

The historic city center of Viana do Castelo is a must-visit. It is filled with charming streets, historic buildings, and lovely squares. You can spend hours wandering around, admiring the architecture and soaking up the atmosphere.

Some of the highlights of the historic center include the Praça da República, the Municipal Museum, the Misericórdia Church, and the Rua Direita. You can also find plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal. Make sure to take your time and explore all the nooks and crannies of this beautiful area.

Take a Boat Ride on the Lima River

The Lima River is the second-longest river in Portugal, and it flows through Viana do Castelo. Taking a boat ride on the river is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. You can also enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.

There are several boat tours available, ranging from short 30-minute rides to longer 2-hour tours. During the tour, you will pass by historic buildings, bridges, and the Santa Luzia Sanctuary. You will also have the opportunity to see the traditional fishing boats that are still in use in the region. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as there will be plenty of photo opportunities.

Visit the Gil Eannes Museum Ship

The Gil Eannes is a former hospital ship that has been converted into a museum. It is a fascinating place to visit, as you can learn about the history of the ship and the important role it played in the region.

The museum features interactive exhibits, audiovisual presentations, and displays of medical equipment and instruments. You can explore the ship from bow to stern, and see the crew quarters, the operating room, and the engine room. The highlight of the museum is the helicopter on the deck, which was used for rescue missions.

Go to the Beach

Viana do Castelo has some beautiful beaches that are perfect for a day of relaxation. Praia do Cabedelo is the most popular one, but there are plenty of other options as well.

The beaches are known for their golden sand and crystal-clear waters. You can swim, sunbathe, or take a walk along the shoreline. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can try your hand at windsurfing or kitesurfing. There are also plenty of beach bars and restaurants where you can grab a drink or a snack.

Visit the Costume Museum

The Costume Museum is a unique museum that showcases the traditional costumes of the Viana do Castelo region. It is a great place to learn about the local culture and traditions.

The museum features a collection of costumes, jewelry, and accessories that were worn by locals in the past. You can see the intricate embroidery, lacework, and weaving techniques that were used to create these beautiful garments. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and cultural events throughout the year.

Walk along the Cabedelo Boardwalk

The Cabedelo Boardwalk is a beautiful walkway that stretches along the beach. It is a great place to take a stroll, enjoy the fresh sea breeze, and admire the views.

The boardwalk is lined with palm trees and benches where you can sit and relax. You can also find some interesting sculptures and artworks along the way. If you are visiting in the evening, you can enjoy the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

Explore the Santa Casa da Misericórdia Museum

The Santa Casa da Misericórdia Museum is located in a historic building and showcases the history of the city and the region. It is a great place to learn about the local culture and traditions.

The museum features a collection of paintings, sculptures, and artifacts that date back to the 16th century. You can see the religious art that was created by local artists, as well as the everyday objects that were used by the people of Viana do Castelo. The museum also has a library and an archive that contains valuable historical documents.

Attend the Festas de Nossa Senhora d’Agonia

The Festas de Nossa Senhora d’Agonia is a traditional festival that takes place in August. It is a lively and colorful celebration that includes parades, music, dancing, and fireworks.

The festival is dedicated to the patron saint of Viana do Castelo, and it attracts thousands of visitors from all over Portugal and beyond. The highlight of the festival is the procession of the “Mordomos,” who wear traditional costumes and carry offerings to the church. There are also concerts, street performances, and food stalls where you can try the local cuisine.

Visit the Praça da República

The Praça da República is the main square in the city center of Viana do Castelo. It is a beautiful square surrounded by historic buildings and filled with cafes and restaurants. It is a great place to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

The square is also home to the City Hall and the Municipal Library. There are several statues and fountains that add to the charm of the square. You can also find some interesting shops and boutiques where you can buy souvenirs.

Try the Local Cuisine

Portuguese cuisine is delicious, and Viana do Castelo has some unique dishes that you must try. One of the most famous dishes is “Arroz de Sarrabulho,” which is a rice dish made with pig’s blood and various meats. Other dishes to try include “Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá,” a salt cod dish, and “Caldo Verde,” a traditional soup made with kale.

There are plenty of restaurants in Viana do Castelo where you can try these dishes and other Portuguese specialties. Make sure to pair your meal with a glass of local wine or port. Some of the best restaurants in Viana do Castelo include Taberna do Valentim, Bodegão, and Restaurante O Chafariz.

Visit the Castelo de Santiago da Barra

The Castelo de Santiago da Barra is a historic castle located on the waterfront. It was built in the 16th century to protect the city from pirate attacks. Today, it is open to visitors and offers stunning views of the sea and the city.

The castle features a museum that showcases the history of the city and the castle. You can see the cannons and other military equipment that were used to defend the city. There is also a chapel inside the castle that is worth visiting.

Attend the Viana World Cup of Sailing

If you are a sailing enthusiast, then you must attend the Viana World Cup of Sailing. It is an international sailing competition that takes place every year in June. It is a great opportunity to see some of the world’s best sailors in action.

The competition takes place in the Atlantic Ocean, and you can watch the races from the beach or from a boat. There are also plenty of other activities and events that take place during the competition, such as live music, food stalls, and exhibitions.

Visit the Monte de Santa Luzia

The Monte de Santa Luzia is a hill located on the outskirts of Viana do Castelo. It is a great place to go for a hike and enjoy the views. At the top of the hill, there is a beautiful basilica and a garden.

You can either hike to the top of the hill or take a funicular. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the city, the Lima River, and the Atlantic Ocean. The basilica is a beautiful example of neo-Byzantine architecture, and it contains several impressive statues and paintings.

Take a Day Trip to Porto

Porto is a beautiful city located about an hour and a half drive from Viana do Castelo. It is famous for its historic center, Port wine, and stunning architecture. It is a great place to spend a day exploring.

Some of the highlights of Porto include the Ribeira neighborhood, the Dom Luís I Bridge, and the São Bento Train Station. You can also visit the Port wine cellars and try some of the local wines. Make sure to try the traditional dish of Porto, “Francesinha,” which is a sandwich filled with meat and covered in cheese and gravy.

Conclusion

Viana do Castelo is a hidden gem in Portugal. It offers a unique blend of history, culture, and nature. Whether you are traveling solo, with friends, or with family, you will find plenty of things to do in Viana do Castelo. So, pack your bags, book your tickets, and get ready to explore this beautiful city.

FAQs

What is Viana do Castelo famous for?

Viana do Castelo is famous for its historic center, beaches, and the Santa Luzia Sanctuary.

What is the best time to visit Viana do Castelo?

The best time to visit Viana do Castelo is from May to September when the weather is warm and sunny.

How can I get to Viana do Castelo?

You can get to Viana do Castelo by plane, train, or bus. The nearest airport is Porto, and from there, you can take a train or a bus to Viana do Castelo

What are some of the best restaurants in Viana do Castelo?

Some of the best restaurants in Viana do Castelo include Taberna do Valentim, Bodegão, and Restaurante O Chafariz.

What is the Festas de Nossa Senhora d’Agonia?

The Festas de Nossa Senhora d’Agonia is a traditional festival that takes place in August. It is a lively and colorful celebration that includes parades, music, dancing, and fireworks.

Can I take a boat ride on the Lima River?

Yes, there are several boat tours available, ranging from short 30-minute rides to longer 2-hour tours.

What is the Castelo de Santiago da Barra?

The Castelo de Santiago da Barra is a historic castle located on the waterfront. It was built in the 16th century to protect the city from pirate attacks. Today, it is open to visitors and offers stunning views of the sea and the city.

Is Porto worth visiting as a day trip from Viana do Castelo?

Yes, Porto is a beautiful city located about an hour and a half drive from Viana do Castelo. It is famous for its historic center, Port wine, and stunning architecture. It is a great place to spend a day exploring.

Author

  • Annie Attwood

    Meet Annie Attwood, a travel enthusiast with a knack for capturing the essence of every place she visits. Annie is a nomad at heart, always on the lookout for new adventures and experiences to add to her travel journal. Whether she's exploring the winding streets of Paris or lounging on a secluded beach in Bali, Annie's passion for travel shines through in every moment. With her trusty camera in hand and a thirst for knowledge, she immerses herself in the culture, history, and natural beauty of each destination.

2 thoughts on “15 Best Things to Do in Viana do Castelo (Portugal)”

  1. Hey Annie,

    Do you have any recommendation on how to get from the center of Viana do Castelo to Praia do Cabedelo?

    1. Hi Sandra, it depends on what you prefer, but Praia do Cabedelo is reachable by car, by foot or by bike. I would take a nice one hour walk to it and this will allow you to walk the Ponte Eiffel bridge. If you are not a fan of walking you can go by bike. You will love it.

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