GUARDA, 70km east of Viseu, is Portugal’s highest city, at an altitude of over 1000m. With a somewhat dour old town made of solid granite, its name is apt, as the original fortifications helped to guard the residents – and the mountain hinterland – from Spanish invaders. There’s not much left of the fortifications, but the historical core retains an air of dignified grandeur, especially in the streets around the cathedral. Locals will tell you their city is forte, farta, fiel e formosa (strong, wealthy, loyal and beautiful), though come on an overcast winter’s day and you may prefer to use fria e feia (cold and ugly). Either way, it makes a laidback base from which to explore the surrounding area.

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