Tours Travel

Póvoa De Varzim on Portugal’s Costa Verde

Located just 15 miles from Porto in northern Portugal, Póvoa de Varzim is a major seaside resort on the Costa Verde (Green Coast). Originally a major fishing village in the area, the resort has become a charming cosmopolitan summer retreat, yet still retains memories of the villages origins. The city has historic churches, museums and a beautiful harbor that is protected by an 18th-century fort and is where local fishing boats land their catch of sardines, hake, sea bream and seaweed that are dried and then sold as fertilizer. Povoa de Varzim is an attractive and sophisticated city with traditional black and white mosaic pavements, beautiful gardens, and a town hall that houses a monument to the city’s most famous resident, the 19th-century novelist Eca de Queiros.

About 20 miles inland, you’ll find the intriguing city of Braga (the Portuguese Rome), famous for its magnificent Italianate churches, 18th-century houses and wonderful gardens. The city also holds spectacular torchlight processions during Holy Week, not to be missed if you are lucky enough to take advantage of one of the travel deals available at this time of year.

A visit to Porto, home of the famous Port wine, the Romanesque cathedral and the Ribeira, should not be missed. Explore the heart of the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll through the narrow cobbled streets lined with traditional houses, restaurants and bars. There are a variety of ways to explore the city, on foot, by boat on the Douro River, or on the (electric) tram that runs along the coast. Take a leisurely stroll across the Dom Luis bridge and see the Ribeira on one shore and Vila Nova de Gaia, home to the port’s famous wineries, on the other shore.

Explore the Douro Valley, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Set against an absolutely stunning backdrop of ancient vineyards and terraced villages, the valley can be explored by boat from the River Douro, by steam train, by road, or by walking the many trails.

Povoa de Varzim has over a mile and a half of beautiful sandy beach where visitors can relax in the sun, take a dip in the crystal clear waters and even try their hand at surfing. At the northern end of the beach there are hotels, restaurants, bars, beach bars, a casino, water sports facilities, slides and tennis courts. The resorts busy harbor is at the southern end of the beach. Outside of town there are two excellent surfing beaches, Salgueira and Agucadoura. The quietest beach in Rio Alto is where naturists go to laze in the sun among the sand dunes.

A visit to the neighboring fishing port of Vila do Conde is a must on your direct vacation to Póvoa de Varzim. The city is famous for its beautiful lace and delicious pastries, including its sweet pastries, pasteis de Santa Clara. This sleepy town also has a lacemaking school and a museum that are well worth a visit. Nearby Guimaraes was the first capital of Portugal and is a World Heritage Site. Here you will find a well-preserved medieval quarter with striking Gothic, Baroque and Romanesque architecture. In the town of Rates is the interesting church of San Pedro from the 12th century.

The complex has a vibrant nightlife with lively clubs and discos along the beach. Evenings in Póvoa de Varzim can be spent dancing the night away in the clubs, gambling in the popular casino, which is the largest in northern Portugal, or simply relaxing with a meal in one of the resort’s restaurants. Delicious fish and seafood dishes from the area are served in the town’s restaurants, don’t forget to try the tasty traditional fish stew, Caldeirada a Povoa.

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