27km (17 miles) N of Porto; 341km (211 miles) N of Lisbon; 42km (26 miles) S of Viana do Castelo; 3km (2 miles) S of Póvoa do Varzim
At the mouth of the river Ave, the charming little town of Vila do Conde has been discovered by summer vacationers who seek out its fortress-guarded sandy beaches and rocky reefs. Along the wharves, you might still see piles of rough hand-hewn timbers used in the building of the sardine fleet. Shipbuilding is a traditional industry here, and a few wooden-hulled vessels are still made, some for the local fishing fleet and others for use on the cod banks of Newfoundland.
The women of the town have long engaged in the making of lace using a shuttle, a craft handed down from generation to generation. So revered is this activity that the Feast of St. John, celebrated from June 14 to June 24, features processions by the rendilheiras (lace makers) and the mordomas (women who manage the cottage-industry homes), during which the latter wear magnificent chains and other ornaments of gold. The region's famous hand-knit and hand-embroidered fishers' sweaters are also made here. The making of sweets (there's a famous confectionery that uses convent recipes) is another local occupation.