Sprawling around the Lima River, Viana do Castelo District lies in the far north-west of Portugal along the country’s border with Spain. It is traversed by the Portuguese Way, which connects Porto to Santiago de Compostela and offers an alternative route to the Way of St. James.
Things to do in Viana do Castelo
In the heart of Viana do Castelo is the Praça da Republica, a pedestrianised square lined with beautiful examples of 16th-century Manueline and Renaissance architecture. You can step aboard the former hospital ship of the “Gil Eannes” before riding Portugal’s longest funicular to the Santuario de Santa Luzia. This Eclecticist-style masterpiece offers sweeping views across Viana do Castelo’s hilly surroundings.
In the summer months, a ferry travels across the mouth of the Lima River to Praia do Cabedelo, a long stretch of golden sand where you can swim and sunbathe. If you head north from Viana do Castelo, you’ll arrive at Praia de Afife, a wide beach with surf breaks, as well as the wild Praia da Duna do Caldeirão.
In the far east of Viana do Castelo District is Peneda-Gerês National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that provides a habitat for European otters, roe deer and golden eagles. In addition to hiking along its Roman-built road, you can tour the 17th-century stone granaries and medieval castle of Lindoso. In the village of Peneda, you’ll find the magnificent Santuario da Nossa Senhora with its 300-metre-long stairway.
Getting around Viana do Castelo
Viana do Castelo District is around 45 minutes’ drive from Braga and one hour from Porto. Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport is 45 minutes away and has flights to destinations across the globe. Trains connect major towns throughout the district while buses serve smaller destinations. Renting a car is the most convenient way of getting around.