At the mouth of the Rio Lima, Viana do Castelo has been a prosperous trading center since it received its town charter in 1258. Many of its finest buildings date to the 16th and 17th centuries, the period of its greatest prosperity. Viana is regarded as the region's folk capital and specializes in producing traditional embroidered costumes. Although these make colorful souvenirs, you'll also find less elaborate crafts, like ceramics, lace, and jewelry. The large Friday market is a good place to shop.
Like many Portuguese towns, it also has its very own sweet, the torta de Viana, a cake roll with a yolk-and-sugar filling—it’s served in local cafés. Before or after strolling through town, don't miss the excellent local beach, Praia do Cabedelo (reached by ferry from the riverside at the end of the main street). The city’s seaside location makes it a popular spot in August for windsurfers as well as families wishing to combine a little culture and history with a beach holiday.