Located on the Western coast of Northern Portugal, the magnificent Viana do Castelo is one of Portugal’s main hidden gems. It is renowned for its scenic downtown, 19th-century boulevards, narrow lanes lined with splendid Manueline houses, and its nonpareil hill-perched gargantuan basilica, Santuário de Santa Luzia. Head here not only to uncover its architectural grandeur but also to profit from its briny seaside charm and its paradisiac beaches.
What to do in Viana do Castelo
Pay a visit to Santuario de Santa Luzia
Go to the revivalist Santuario de Santa Luzia, one of Europe’s most grand cathedrals. The 1909 house of worship features the Iberian Peninsula’s largest rose windows (Europe’s second-largest), a humongous dome, and a spacious altar with a beautiful sanctuary.
Go to the Monta de Santa Luzia, where the basilica is located, by car or funicular; or climb the steps to get there. Here you can delight in a gob-smacking view over Viana do Castelo, rated the world’s third most beautiful panorama by National Geographic Magazine.
Make a trip to Viana do Castelo’s Old Town
Head to the town’s scenic old town with its quiescent narrow pedestrian lanes, spacious plazas, and many beautiful churches. Here you can not only gaze at its architectural grandeur and take in the peaceful charm of an old seaside town, but also plonk down at a bakery or a cafe to eat the famous Portuguese desserts over a cup of coffee or eat a slap-up dinner at a restaurant’s veranda.
Go kitesurfing at Viana do Castelo’s marvelous beaches
One of the best things to do in Viana do Castelo is to go kite-surfing on its Cabedelo Beach, one of Europe’s top emerging kite-sports spots. Here you will not only find wind and waves perfect for a zippy kite-surfing ride but also can bask in the tender Portuguese sunshine and take pleasure in its warm sand, if traveling in summer. Keep in mind that there is a great wooden walkway to promenade nonchalantly along the beautiful stretch of sand.
Walk to St Mary the Great’s Cathedral of Viana do Castelo
Known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Great, the place of worship is one of Vina do Castelo’s main landmarks. Built in the 15th century, it is one of the prime examples of Portuguese Romanesque architecture and features a magnificent altar and a nave and a truly exquisite rose window. Head to this fortress and church, oozing the medieval charm and pointing to the centuries-old history of Viana do Castelo.
Best Tours & Experiences in Viana do Castelo
What makes Viana do Castelo special
Viana do Castelo not only abounds in architectural marvels but is also a great beach destination. It is one of Europe’s emerging kitesurfing Meccas thanks to its propitious winds and great surf. The sand stretches for miles and offers splendid views over the Atlantic.
To see the Viana do Castelo coastline from above, head to Monta de Santa Luzia, where is perched one of Europe’s most striking places of worship, Santuário de Santa Luzia.
What to eat in Viana do Castelo
Viana do Castelo offers plenty of local Portuguese fare such as one-of-its-kind seafood. A maritime region Viana do Castelo is known for its sea delicacies like oysters, cod, and sardines. Head to its Peixaria Costa Norte, a seafood market for the freshest sea catch. Also, don’t forget to visit its great Mercado Municipal.
When to visit Viana do Castelo
Travel to Viana do Castelo in April-September for you to profit from kite-surfing or sun-bathing on its long sandy stretches. Also, keep in mind that the twentieth of August is the day of Our Lady of Sorrow, celebrated since 1744, when fishermen started praying to Saint Mary to call upon her to make sure that the sea won’t be rough. Note that since April-September is a high season the price for accommodation can be slightly higher.
Traveling to Viana do Castelo is a great way to combine the scenic medieval charm of its downtown and bask in the sun on its great beaches. Don’t miss out on the medieval architecture in its old town such as Saint Mary the Great Church, or the revivalist Santuário de Santa Luzia. Travel here to make your Portugal holiday truly unforgettable and sun-lit.
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