While Portugal's coastal resorts tend to be either souped-up fishing villages or long-tatty Victorian numbers, Viana do Castelo's charms seem downright sophisticated, from its flowery, 19th-century thoroughfares to its narrow lanes crowded with Manueline manors and rococo palaces. It's also the place where conservative Minho comes to let its hair down, with raucous traditional festivals complemented by a few slick nightclubs. And set by the Rio Lima estuary, it's a short hop from some excellent beaches, and also makes a handy base for exploring the lower Lima valley.
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