Viana do Castelo is a charmful city located between the sea, the river and the mountains.
From surfing to eating fish or hiking, there are lots of activities you can do there. Perfect, right?
So let’s find out how to get there, where to stay, what to visit and other tips so you can make the most of your trip to Viana do Castelo.
Where’s Viana do Castelo?
Viana do Castelo is one of the most fascinating Portuguese cities, in the Northern Region of Portugal. Check out the Portugal map here.
It’s located between the sea, the river and the mountains, on the path of the Camino de Santiago (Catholic pilgrimages network leading to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Spain).
Are you interested in the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage? We’ve written an article about the Portuguese Camino with a day-by-day itinerary.
Visiting Viana do Castelo
Viana do Castelo is considered as a historic city, known from its monuments, but also its beautiful natural scenery, as well as, some wonderful beaches nearby.
Besides that, it’s also an industrial city, a centre of shipbuilding, but with a lot of activities to offer visitors.
What’s the weather like in Viana do Castelo?
The north of Portugal has significantly more rain than the south and that’s why the region is called the green coast (Costa Verde).
The best time to visit Viana do Castelo is from July until September, which are the warmest months with a temperature of around 25°C (77°F).
If you’re planning your visit soon, here is the forecast for the next seven days:
Find out more about the weather in Portugal right here.
How to get from Porto to Viana do Castelo?
There are some alternatives to get to Viana do Castelo.
Porto to Viana do Castelo by train
First, there are eight direct trains from Porto Campanhã to Viana do Castelo.
The journey lasts 1 hour and 30 minutes and costs around €7-8 one-way (depends on the service).
You can check the schedule at the Comboio de Portugal website.
Porto to Viana do Castelo by bus
Alternatively you can by bus.
The journey by bus lasts also 1 hour and 30 minutes and costs €6,80 one-way.
The bus service that I usually take while I’m travelling in Portugal is Rede Expressos. You can book your ticket in their website.
If you’re coming from another part of the country, or you wish to use another transportation method, please see our article about transportation in Portugal.
Viana do Castelo Beaches
In terms of things to do in Viana do Castelo, beaches, it’s definitely one of the best things that the region has to offer.
I’ve chosen the best ones for you.
Praia Norte de Viana do Castelo
Praia Norte is the main beach of Viana do Castelo and is within walking distance of the city. This is a sandy beach with a promenade of cafes, bars and restaurants.
It’s a popular beach since it’s very close to the city centre, but also not very big.
The north beach is located in “Marginal, Viana do Castelo”.
Praia do Cabedelo
Considered as the best beach for kitesurfing, but also for water sports like surfing, water skiing etc.
It’s probably the most popular beach these days, at least amongst fans of water sports.
It’s located in Rua Diogo Cão, 224, in Viana do Castelo. There is some parking in the surroundings but most likely you need to get there by car.
Praia de Afife
Praia de Afife is one of the most northern beaches of Viana do Castelo, great for surfing and with a unique landscape.
It’s not exactly in the located close to the city centre of Viana do Castelo. You can get there in 20 minutes by car, but that might mean that you need to rent a car in Portugal.
The location is of Afife beach is north of Viana do Castelo.
Praia da Arda
Praia da Arda is another great beach for surf lovers located on the north from Viana do Castelo, just 18 minutes away by car.
Reviews on TripAdvisor are very positive, specially coming from those who are sports water fans. In some cases, people had bad experiences with windy and cold days.
Praia da Amorosa
Praia da Amorosa an accessible and incredibly smooth sandy beach, where you can easily see various species of algae, mussels, crabs, starfish and small fish.
Like someone put it on Google reviews:
“Part sandy part rocky this place is a calm and quiet perfect getaway.”
It’s located on the south part from Viana do Castelo and it takes 20 minutes, by car, to get there.
Surfing in Viana do Castelo
Surfing in Portugal is a must. And Viana do Castelo is on that list.
If you never tried it before, it’s an experience you might consider doing. Teachers are usually very professional, but easy-going.
Here you can find information about the best spots for surfing as well as Surf Schools.
The best spots for surfing in Viana do Castelo
- Praia de Cabedelo (the main surf spot)
- Praia de Afife
- Praia da Arda
Would you like to go surfing around Lisbon? We’ve got your beach and surfing guide right here.
List of Surf Schools
If you’re interested in taking a course, here is a list of Surf Schools that I recommend.
Doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced surfer.
Viana Surf School
Viana Surf School was founded in 1989 and is known as the 1st Surf School Portugal on the National scene.
It has come to be distinguished by its important educational role and growing impulse progress of this sport, as well as, organize also major events such as World Championships, European, National and Regional.
Address: Car Surf, Rua Diogo Álvares, 4935-161 Viana do Castelo
ABC-SS (Afife Boardriders Club Surf School
The ABC-SS was founded by surfer and surfing coach Rui Sá, who realized the difficulties which the people face when they want to start surfing.
With his team, he started 2 projects which gave the possibility for young surfers to train all year long and take part in the National Junior Tour.
So as you can see, you can learn from the best ones!
Address: Praia de Afife, 4900-012 Viana do Castelo
Opening time: every day from 9.30 am to 7 pm
Arda Surf School
The Arda surf team is formed with certified, experienced and local surfers who will teach you step-by-step how to progress in your surfing, no matter if you have never surfed before, already tried it a few times or are on an advanced level.
What’s interesting? That it’s not only a surf school but also a surf house.
Check their website for information about the prices of the surf lesson, as well as, a surf house.
Address: Caminho da Arda, 4900-012 Afife
Opening time: every day from 8 am to 9 pm
Acrobatic Wave School
The lessons are leaded by technicians with experience and pedagogical training and know-how to approach teaching in different sea conditions.
They’ve trained students at various levels as well as the competition teams that participated in several Regional, National and World events achieving good results.
The school offer not only surf classes but also therapeutic surf classes, bodyboard classes and bodysurf classes, the prices you can check on their website.
Address: Praia Da Amorosa, Praça Do Sol Lote 170 RC Esq
Opening time: every day from 9 am to 8 pm
In the schools that I mentioned, there is also a possibility to rent equipment.
Check our other article about 20 best places to go surfing in Portugal.
Top Restaurants in Viana do Castelo
Time for the best part for food lovers.
While visiting Viana do Castelo you should try local specialities like bacalhau (a codfish) – popular in whole Portugal, pescada Vianense (local fish) and also Caldo Verde (green soup).
We’ve visited a few restaurants in the past but we decided to resort to TripAdvisor reviews to list the best restaurants
Cerqueira’s Lounge Restaurant
The restaurant offers Portuguese cuisine for everyone, also vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free clients and provide high-quality service that gave them the first place on the list.
You can check their excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.
Address: Praça da Liberdade
Opening time: Wednesday – Sunday for lunch and then for a dinner
Liz Caffe Bar
Good place for a drink, quick snack or dinner with outdoor seatings. Known from its delicious toasts.
Check the reviews on TripAdvisor.
Address: Rua Gago Coutinho 17
Opening time: Wednesday and Thursday from 6 pm till 2 am, Friday and Saturday from 6 pm till 3 am
Tasquinha da Linda
Rated as nº3 in TripAdvisor, this is one of the best restaurants in Viana do Castelo.
They serve local fresh fish and seafood. You can expect to spend around €30 per person, but it’s worth it.
You can check the menu and make a reservation in Tasquinha da Linda website Portuguese and for
Address: Doca das Mares A-10
Opening time: Monday – Saturday for lunch and then for a dinner
Tasquinha da Praca
Family run restaurant, where you can taste Portuguese food like bacalhau or francesinha.
Address: Praça da Liberdade
Opening time: Monday-Thursday for lunch and then for dinner, except Wednesdays when it’s open only for a dinner
By clients called little gem as it provides a nice atmosphere with delicious Portuguese food and good wine. Tapas is recommended here.
Check the excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.
Address: Largo Infante Dom Henriques 42
Opening time: Tuesday – Sunday for lunch and then for a dinner
See also: 20 Portugal travel tips that everyone should know.
Top 5 places to visit in Viana do Castelo
As you can see by now, there are many things to do in Viana do Castelo:
- Going to the beach;
- Enjoy the good food;
- Practice water sports.
It+s time to see some of the things you can visit and see.
Santuário de Santa Luzia (church)
This is most the breathtaking monument in Viana do Castelo and perhaps one of Portugal.
The church, Santuário de Santa Luzia, is located on the mountaintop, where you can get by funicular (elevator), by car or by climbing the steps.
From the top, you can admire the beautiful panoramic view, which has been rated as the third most beautiful in the World by National Geographic Magazine.
Construction of the Sanctuary
Building work started in 1904 and lasted until 1959. The church was inspired by the Sacré-Cœur in Paris.
Architecturally, it is of Romanesque-Byzantine inspiration with the rose windows which are the largest in the Iberian Peninsula and the second largest in Europe.
Address: Estrada de Santa Luzia
Opening time is available on the website (website in Portuguese).
Funicular de Santa Luzia (Elevator de Santa Luzia)
The elevator of Santa Luzia has 650 metres (the longest elevator in the country) and is the most enjoyable way to get to the Sanctuary.
The ticket costs €3 for a round trip and €2 for a trip.
Address: Av. 25 Abril
Check the opening time here as it depends on the season.
O Navio Gil Eannes (Gil Eannes Ship)
Gil Eannes is a former Portuguese hospital ship which was launched in 1955.
Now permanently moored in the Port of Viana do Castelo, serves as a museum ship.
Check the reviews on TripAdvisor to see if it’s worth to visit.
Address: Doca Comercial
Opening time is available at the website, as well as, ticket prices.
Museu do Traje (The Museum of Costume)
Museum was created in 1997 in the former building of the Bank of Portugal and is dedicated to the display and conservation of regional costumes.
If you’re interested in history, more you can read here.
Check also the reviews on TripAdvisor.
Address: Praça da República
Opening time: Tuesday – Friday from 10 am until 6 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am until 1 pm and then from 3 pm until 6 pm, Monday – closed
Igreja Da Misericórdia
The church originally dates from 1589 and was designed by João Lopes.
The whole interior is covered with blue and white tiles (azulejos) and on the ceiling, you can admire the beautiful and spectacular frescos painted in 1721 by Manuel Gomes.
It’s definitely worth to visit, especially when the ticket costs only €1. Check the reviews on TripAdvisor.
Address: Praça da República 62
Hotels in Viana do Castelo?
Paying attention to the budget that you can have, I’ll give you some options with different standard, prices and reviews to see.
Thanks to that you can check what’s the most convenient option for you according to your preferences.
Pousada Viana do Castelo
One of the most expensive offers is Pousada de Viana do Castelo, as it’s located high on the Monte de Santa Luzia.
Rooms have panoramic views over the ocean or lush landscapes. They are furnished with air conditioning, cable TV, and a minibar.
The grounds of the hotel feature an outdoor swimming pool and tennis court.
Check the excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.
Price: €120 for double or twin rooms with Sea view (breakfast included)
Address: Monte de Santa Luzia
Hotel Fábrica de Chocolate
Hotel Fábrica do Chocolate is located a 6-minute walk from the Lima River.
The rooms have free Wi-Fi, a cable TV and air conditioning. Each is designed in modern way chocolate-inspired.
The hotel also provides its guests Chocotherapy available upon previous request and free access to its chocolate museum.
Check the reviews on TripAdvisor.
Price: €77 for an economy double room (breakfast included)
Address: Rua Gontim 70-76
Hotel do Parque
Hotel do Parque is situated 700 m from the city centre and 5-minute drive from Cabedelo Beach, also within the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.
The rooms include a cable TV and air conditioning.
In the hotel, there is a large outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre and reading room.
Check the reviews on TripAdvisor.
Price: €39 for economic room
Address: Praça da Galiza
Is located just 3 minutes drive from the waterfront of the Lima River and 10 minutes drive from the beach.
It features free Wi-Fi throughout and free parking.
The rooms are bright with air-conditioned and include a cable TV, a telephone and a private bathroom.
There is also a bar and a terraced area.
Check the reviews on TripAdvisor.
Price: €35 for an economy double room (breakfast included)
Address: Rua do Poço Pescadouro 32
Pousada de Juventude is located 1.5 km from the city centre.
Guests may book accommodation in private twin rooms and in dormitories.
Some of the twin rooms have their private bathroom, while other twin rooms and dormitories have access to shared bathroom facilities.
As a youth hostel, the service is naturally more simple and the quality of food, ammenities and other aspects of accommodation not as good as a other hotels. But it’s a good option for young adults who don’t wish to spend a lot.
Price: €14 in a bunk bed in a female/male dormitory room (breakfast included)
Address: Rua da Limia
Viana do Castelo Shipyard
The shipyard is one of the most important industrial infrastructures in Portugal.
ENVC is a medium-sized shipyard in business since 1944. Occupying an area of 400,000 square metres. It’s a major Portuguese shipbuilder.
West Sea is a shipyard with a total area of 250,000 square metres created by the Martifer Group in 2013. The company is the current sub-concessionary of the lands and infrastructures of the former ENVC.
How much will I spend in Viana do Castelo?
Well, it all depends on your preferences and if you’ll travel alone or with family.
If you’ll choose the cheapest option of accommodation, not expensive restaurants you can spend around €30-40 per day, or even less if you’ll decide to eat only one meal outside and rest buy in a supermarket.
Then, of course, you have to think about extra activities like entrances to the monuments or surfing lessons etc. It can be around €30. The surf lesson costs €20-25 per hour.
Medium option with a bit more expensive accommodation can be around €40-60 per day (hotel + meal outside).
And the most expensive option will be around €150 per day (hotel + meal outside).
Viana do Castelo Activities
In Viana do Castelo you have plenty of activities to choose from.
Apart from surfing and sightseeing, you can also try:
- karting, for example in Kivi – Indoor Karting Viana (website in Portuguese)
- bowling in Bowling Fun House & Coffee, located at Av. de Cabo Verde 2 (website in Portuguese)
- horseback riding tour, which lasts 3 h. It’s an experience for any technical level. The cost is €60. Check the website for more information.
- bicycle ride in a Bikepark Ponte da Lima (about 30 minutes away from Viana do Castelo by car), you can book tickets online at their website.
- fishing and diving in Costa Norte Fishing & Diving Center (website in Portuguese)
- and more…
Besides Viana do Castelo is involved in the Outdoor Sports Euro’Meet, which will take place from 24 to 26 of September 2019.
Outdoor Sport Euro’Meet is a great conference for those, who are in charge of outdoor and general sports development in Europe and also for those who are looking for innovative ways to get people and communities more active especially through being outdoors.
More information you can find on the website.
Cities and places nearby Viana do Castelo
If you’ll decide to visit Viana do Castelo you should also discover some cities and places around.
If you’re in Portugal for only a few days or travelling in the northern region, visiting Porto might be an option.
On the other hand, you might be flying directly to Porto.
If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to stay there for a couple of days and enjoy what the city has to offer, and see the beautiful monuments located in Porto.
It’s the third largest city in Portugal, located an hour away from Viana do Castelo by car.
Nestled among the hills between the fantastic Peneda-Gerês National Park and the coast. Definitely worth to visit.
See here when is the best time to visit Braga, things to do, food and much more.
Is a birthplace of Portugal thanks to Dom Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal.
You can visit it in one day to admire a beautiful historic centre.
For more information check our article about Guimarães.
Ponte de Lima
Ponte de Lima is a small town (30 minutes away from Viana do Castelo), one of the oldest in Portugal, that will amaze you with its medieval charm.
Half a day is enough to visit the town, but you can always spend a nice day in a calm place or try Bikepark that I mentioned above.
Is Viana do Castelo worth a visit?
Do you still have any doubts about visiting Viana do Castelo? You shouldn’t as it’s worth to visit.
Doesn’t matter if you’re going alone, with friends or family, everyone can find something for yourself.
From sightseeing, lying on the beach to sports activities, more or less extreme.
Have you ever been in Viana do Castelo? Share with us your experience in the comments below.
We leave you with this final footage taken from a drone of Viana do Castelo.