advertisement

71km (44 miles) N of Porto; 388km (241 miles) N of Lisbon; 25km (16 miles) N of Esposende

Viana do Castelo, between an estuary of the Lima River and a base of rolling hills, is one of the most folksy cities in northern Portugal. Though Viana is today a major center of deep-sea fishing and the site of such industries as pyrotechnics, wood manufacturing, ceramics, and boat building (after years of decline), it still exudes a traditional vibe. Its narrow streets are lined with Manueline manors and occasionally, you'll spot an ox cart with wooden wheels clacking along the stone streets.

The town is known for its pottery and regional handicrafts but it's even better known for its regional festivals, the most famous of which is the annual Festa de Nossa Senhora de Agonia (Festival of Our Lady of Agony), which takes place in late August. This festival gives women a chance to wear regional garb, such as strident orange, scarlet, and Prussian blue, and layers of golden necklaces with heart- and cross-shape pendants.