The grand church of Santuário de Santa Luzia offers some of the best views overlooking the capital city of Viana do Castelo. The vista, however, is only one of the ‘wow’ factors, as when you enter inside, the interior’s a work of art in itself.
I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t enjoy a clean, sandy beach, and this one, Praia do Cabedelo, is also uncrowded.
The gentle to medium-sized waves are perfect for water sports such as windsurfing and surfing, which you can book at the local school, Viana Locals.
In essence, this is one beach where you can truly appreciate its beauty, its remoteness and its tranquility.
One of the best ways of seeing the region is by bicycle along the Ecopista do Rio Minho. There’s plenty of signage directing cyclists and walkers in the right way, but sometimes it’s not altogether clear. That said, pay attention on the path, and ask a local if you get lost.
The Palácio da Brejoeira is home to an impressive vineyard and winery, and is one of the oldest wine producers of the popular Alvarinho grape wine. You’re sure to be impressed as you drive into its well-manicured grounds, given that the palace still has many of its original features. As well as an indoor winter garden, the palace has a library, a waiting room, and curtains over 200 years old. The dining room is famous for another reason: it’s where Spanish Prime Minister General Franco and Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, met on 26 September 1950. The palace’s gardens are equally impressive with a Camellia garden featuring 20 different varieties. The design’s based on a classic English garden, complete with a clandestine lovers’ seat. See if you can spot the artificial heart-shaped island! Small details such as the ‘bark’ branches made from concrete and not real wood, add an extra charming touch.
Probably the most popular attraction in the city of Valença is the impressive Fortaleza de Valença do Minho.
The city’s past has strong links to its medieval fortress that was built in 1200 under the order of the first king of Portugal, Sancho I.
Today, the fort is home to residential houses, shops, cafes and restaurants. Look out for the iconic blue house in the centre, whose tiles used on the exterior of the building are engraved not painted, unlike the neighbouring buildings.
In the Alto Minho is one town that has somewhat of a secret gem. The Igreja de Matriz in the town of Caminha may appear like any typical church from the outside, but once inside, you’ll see a different tale altogether.
The church has a classic mix of Gothic-Renaissance styles, with a distinctive Moorish feel, particularly evident from the ceiling. It’s also possible to see the Gothic influence from the stone gargoyles on the roof.