10 things to do in Viana do Castelo Portugal

With its mix of unique and historic architecture, Viana do Castelo has a lot to offer. In this article I have selected 10 things to do in Viana do Castelo.

First, you can check Viana do Castelo location on Google Maps. On the Atlantic coast, this port city is just 30 minutes from the border with Spain, and less than an hour’s drive from two of the most important and beautiful cities in northern Portugal, Porto, and Braga. It is also an obligatory crossing point for all pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela along the Camino da Costa.

The richness and diversity of its culture, with many amazing highlights,  gastronomy, and monuments are an open invitation for a visit. Viana has an intimate relationship with the Atlantic Ocean, the Lima River, and the mountains and in communion with these three forces of Nature, it built itself and built its history.

10 things to do in Viana do Castelo Portugal
Credits: Pedro on Flickr

Museums and archaeological museum centers prove its occupation since the Iron Age when the titania was founded on Monte de Santa Luzia. Add to them concerts, festivals, the pilgrimage of Nossa Senhora da Agonia, and cultural and recreational activities that throughout the year bring a lot of excitement to the city and have more than reasons to visit. Below you will find the list of top things to do in Viana do Castelo Portugal.


1. Santa Luzia of Viana do Castelo

10 things to do in Viana do Castelo Portugal
Credits: Alessandro Grussu on Flickr

Santa Luzia gives its name to the hill, to the sanctuary that welcomes thousands of pilgrims every year and to the only Portuguese funicular that prides itself on providing the longest funicular journey – 650 meters in seven minutes.

Monte de Santa Luzia , graceful and towering, dominates the backdrop of Viana do Castelo. And, if possible, beautify the city even more. It has one of the most breathtaking views in Portugal, over the mountain, the city, the Lima river, the Atlantic Ocean and the iconic Sanctuary of Santa Luzia.


2. Sanctuary of Santa Luzia

Sanctuary of Santa Luzia
Photo by vianasecreta, by Instagram

In the revivalist style, the famous architect Miguel Ventura Terra designed the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus . The magnificent temple is set on the hillside framing the landscape and filling the view. The most emblematic monument in Viana do Castelo attracts thousands of visitors and pilgrims who pray for the protection of Santa Luzia, the saint who protects the eyes.


3. Viana do Castelo Republic Square

Viana do Castelo Republic Square
Credits: Pedro on Flickr

The heart of the city still beats at Praça da República, its socio-cultural and political center for over five hundred years. More than a mere square, it is a source of monumentality. Three buildings of enormous architectural and historical value rise to the east of the square.

In the Historic Center of Viana do Castelo are located the Misericórdia Building and its Church that tell history from the 16th century, when in 1526 the architectural complex began its construction by the Misericórdia de Viana confraternity.


4. Church of Santo Domingo

Church of Santo Domingo
Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Built in the second half of the 16th century, the Igreja do Convento de São Domingos has been classified as a national monument since 1910 and is one of the religious buildings that you cannot miss on your visit to Viana do Castelo. The first highlight of this church is the magnificent façade , unique in the city and similar to the one you can admire in the Igreja do Convento de São Gonçalo, in Amarante.


5. Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Agonia

Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Agonia
Source: Instagram

The Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Agonia was built in the mid-18th century and is today another beautiful example of religious architecture present in Viana do Castelo. You will see some influences from the Luso-Brazilian Baroque architectural style, such as the altarpieces, including the cenotaph of the Passion of Christ, created by André Soares.

The tower, which dates from 1868, was built away from the body of the chapel, something not very common in Portuguese churches and chapels. This is mentioned in our list of top things to do in Viana do Castelo Portugal.


6. Gil Eannes Hospital Ship

10 things to do in Viana do Castelo Portugal
Source: commons.wikimedia.org

The Gil Eannes hospital ship, built in 1955, supported the Portuguese cod fishing fleet that operated on the shores of Newfoundland and Greenland for decades. The conversion project turned it into a museum, offering visitors an unforgettable experience. Currently, it is assumed as a pole of tourist attraction in Viana do Castelo, having received, since opening to the public in 1998, about 400 000 visitors.


7. Costume Museum

Costume Museum
Source: Instagram

Located in the historic center of the city, the old Banco de Portugal building has housed, since 2004, the Costume Museum, which reveals the richness of Viana’s traditional costumes through numerous exhibitions on the subject of Viana clothing and ethnography. It is one of the most important places to visit in Viana do Castelo.


8. Palacio dos Tavoras

10 things to do in Viana do Castelo Portugal
Source: Instagram

Located on Passeio das Mordomas da Pilgrimage, this palace, dating from the 16th century, is one of the most fascinating buildings in the city and was built by Fernando Brandão with the purpose of being the residence of Abreu Távora.

Years later, the palace was renovated by the architect Manuel Pinto Villalobos, more precisely in the 18th century, and in the second half of the 19th century the building was acquired by the City Council in order to operate its services there.


9. Viana do Castelo Cargo

Viana do Castelo Cargo
Source: Instagram

Built during the 19th century, the Moinhos de Montedor are windmills made with trapezoidal wooden sails, a common type on the north coast. There, you will have access to information about the mills and the region and about the environmental and heritage routes that run through the most important natural spaces in the parish.


10. Cathedral of Santa Maria Maior

Cathedral of Santa Maria Maior
Credits: Harm Luiting on Flickr

The Romanesque-style façade, flanked by two towers topped with battlements, confirms the purpose of fortification. On the archivolts of the beautiful Gothic portal, scenes of the Passion of Christ and the apostles are carved. For more travel articles about Portugal check this category and for all articles about Europe check this list.


10 things to do in Viana do Castelo Portugal

  • Santa Luzia
  • Sanctuary of Santa Luzia
  • Republic Square
  • Church of Santo Domingo
  • Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Agonia
  • Gil Eannes Hospital Ship
  • Costume Museum
  • Palácio dos Távoras
  • Cargo
  • Cathedral of Santa Maria Maior