Situated at the mouth of the river Lima, Viana do Castelo was founded in the thirteenth century by D. Afonso III, king of Portugal, who, in an attempt to gain popular support, decided that this place should be destined exclusively for the use of the common people and declared that the nobility could not settle there. This fertile valley had already been much appreciated by the Romans, who reached here quite easily but then drew back, as, on encountering the River Lima, they thought that they had discovered the mythological River Lethe, known as the river of Oblivion, since anyone who crossed it would inevitably lose their memory.
Viana do Castelo gained in importance during the period of the great Maritime Discoveries (in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries) primarily as a shipyard and seaport, but also as a source of the crews that manned the ships setting sail to discover unknown lands.
Today it enjoys a rich architectural heritage and its many monuments are best admired as a whole from the top of Monte de Santa Luzia, which provides a spectacular view over the mouth of the River Lima and the Atlantic Ocean.
Amongst the particular highlights of this region are its folklore, its brightly-coloured, typical costumes and the extremely popular religious festivals and other festivities, particularly those that are held in August in honour of Nossa Senhora da Agonia and are considered to be the most spectacular in the whole of Portugal.
Viana do Castelo also has a rich and varied local handicraft industry, with its ceramics (everyday pottery articles), embroidery and goldsmith's work being particularly sought after.
Cabedelo is the closest and better known Viana do Castelo beach, on the other side of the river Lima. Surrounded by a pine wood, you will find there everything you need, from restaurants, disco, bars and shopping to camping sites and apartments for rent. There is a ferryboat to cross the river to town and back, also bus.
Carreço is one of the most beautiful beaches of Viana do Castelo. Dominated by the lighthouse of Montedor, Carreço is a blessing of nature, with its rocks over the sea, pinewoods, fields and village, all together. If you like nature, this is the beach to look for.