Viana do Castelo
History and modernity mingle harmoniously in Viana do Castelo, a quieter riverside alternative to Guimarães or Braga. Highlights of this seafood-rich city just outside Porto include the neo-Byzantine Santuário de Santa Luzia, a contemporary marina, a medieval downtown, and proximity to some of the region’s best beaches.
After admiring sweeping panoramic views from the Santuário de Santa Luzia and wandering the historic downtown, take to the water on a stand-up paddleboard, surfboard, or wakeboard—or cover some ground on a biking or horseback riding tour. Alternatively, stop in Viana do Castelo on a full-day excursion to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Things to know before you go
- Save your strength and ride the funicular up to the free-to-enter Santuário de Santa Luzia—they typically depart every 15 minutes.
- Due to hilly streets, Viana do Castelo may not be fully accessible to wheelchairs or strollers.
How to get there
Viana do Castelo is situated about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Porto. Follow the IC1 highway, or catch a train bound for Viana do Castelo from Porto’s Campanhã station—the journey takes around 1.5 hours. Alternatively, skip the hassle of making your own way there, and opt for a Viana do Castelo tour that includes round-trip transport.
When to get there
For the warmest weather, visit Viana do Castelo between June and September. To beat the crowds, get to town early in the day, or go midweek. If you’re there in August, check out the annual Our Lady of Sorrow celebrations or Neopop electronic music festival.
Day Trips from Porto
Culture, history, and proximity to both mountains and beaches make Viana do Castelo an ideal Porto day trip, but there are plenty of other options for travelers in Northern Portugal. Discover the country’s port wine in the Douro Valley or Amarante; get a nature fix in Peneda-Gerês National Park; or travel back in time to Guimarães and Braga.
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