Given Viana do Castelo’s strategic and exposed location, the city has a number of fortifications including the Forte/Castelo de Santiago da Barra, Fortim da Areosa and ruins of the fortified settlement Ruínas da cidade velha de Santa Luzia.
On the hill behind the city and near the aforementioned ruins stands the iconic Santuario de Santa Luzia (Sanctuary of Santa Luzia), which provides a panoramic view of the river, valley and ocean below. You can reach this vantage point via funicular or suck it up and take the steps.
Viana do Castelo is also known as a bit of an artsy hub in Portugal for its ceramics, embroidery and jewellery. Although most traditional Portuguese jewellery is made in Gondomar, the most typical Filigree design is the ‘Viana heart’, which takes its name from Viana do Castelo.
There is a bus and train from Porto to Viana do Castelo, so it makes an easy day trip from Porto. If you want to continue your sightseeing tour of the north you can then catch a bus from Viana do Castelo to Ponte de Lima.