VILA DO CONDE, 27km north of Porto, has become quite a significant resort over recent years, but despite the increase in visitors still retains much of its charm. In part, it’s because the villas and apartments overlooking the beach are set away from the rest of town; the medieval centre, 1km inland on the north bank of the Rio Ave, still has its traditional fishing port and quiet, traffic-free streets, while the modern town is a handsome place of boulevards, gardens and cafés. Anchoring the old town’s cobbled alleys is the beautiful Manueline Igreja Matriz, while nearby the Friday market takes place, where you’ll find everything from farm produce to traditional children’s toys. Vila do Conde has a fair reputation for festivals too, from food and drink to film, and if you want more than just a beach then it’s the best day out from Porto, especially as you can zip there quickly on the metro. The more developed sands of Póvoa de Varzim are just a few minutes beyond, at the end of the line.

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