On a plateau between the coast and the mountains, VISEU is one of Portugal’s best-kept secrets. It was named “Viso” by the Romans because of its great views, and it was from an embankment just outside town that Viriatus, the head of a local independence movement, waged war against its Roman occupiers. According to most polls, modern Viseu has the best quality of city life in Portugal, and it doesn’t take long to find out why. Its old town, clustered round a sturdy cathedral, is wonderfully unspoilt, while a burgeoning modern town is made up of wide avenues, leafy parks, a university and diverse array of shops, including the eye-popping Palácio do Gelo shopping centre.
Home to one of the region’s most appealing museums, the Museu de Grão Vasco, Viseu is also close to some of Portugal’s best vineyards: fruity local Dão wines can be found in all of the restaurants. The main annual event is the agricultural fair-cum-festival of the Feira de São Mateus which runs from mid-August until its climax on September 21 (Dia do São Mateus).