For a first taste of the Minho coast, the historic maritime town of VIANA DO CASTELO is the principal port of call. Sited at the mouth of the Rio Lima, it has a landscaped waterfront, an appealing old town centre overlooked by the heights of Monte de Santa Luzia, and a great beach that lies just across the river. To call Viana a resort is probably a step too far – people certainly do come here in summer to laze on the sands, but the feel in the town at least is of a well-to-do place built on shipbuilding and trade, with elaborate period mansions and good-looking streets and squares to match. Tradition, too, still weighs strongly here, from the age-old Friday market held outside the former bastion walls to the annual romaria that ranks as one of the country’s most impressive festivals.

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