Located just 15 miles from Oporto in Northern Portugal, Povoa de Varzim is a major seaside resort on the Costa Verde (Green Coast). Originally a major fishing town in the area, the resort has become a delightful cosmopolitan summer retreat but still with reminders of the towns origins. The town boasts historic churches, museums and a beautiful harbor which is protected by an 18th century fort and is where the local fishing boats land their catch of sardines, hake, sea bread and seaweed which is discharged and then sold as fertilizer. Povoa de Varzim is an attractive, sophisticated town with traditional black and white mosaic pavements, beautiful gardens and a town hall where a monument to the town's most famous resident, the 19th century novelist Eca de Queiros, stands.
About 20 miles inland you will find the intriguing town of Braga (the Portuguese Rome) which is famous for its superb Italianate churches, 18th century homes and wonderfully landscaped gardens. The town also holds spectacular torchlight processes during Easter Holy Week which are not to be missed if you are lucky enough to take one of the travel deals available at this time of the year.
Not to be missed is a visit to Oporto, home to the famous port wine, Romanesque cathedral and the Ribeira. Explore the heart of the city which is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Wander along the narrow cobbled lanes lined with traditional houses, restaurants and bars. There is a choice of ways to explore the town, on foot, by boat on the River Douro or by the tram (electrico) which runs along the coast. Take a leisurely stroll across the Dom Luis Bridge and view the Ribeira on one bank and the Vila Nova de Gaia where the many port cellars are located on the other bank.
Explore the Douro Valley which is another UNESCO Heritage Site. With an absolutely stunning backdrop of old terraced vineyards and towns, the valley can be explored by boat from the River Douro, by steam train, road or by hiking along 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, water slides and tennis courts. The resorts' busy harbor stands at the south end of the beach. Outside the town there are two excellent surfing beaches, Salgueira and Agucadoura. The quieter Rio Alto Beach is where naturists go to laze in the sun between the sand dunes.
A visit to the neighbouring fishing port of Vila do Conde is a must on your direct holidays to Povoa de Varzim. The town is famous for its beautiful lacework and scrumptious pastries, including its sweet cakes, pasteis de Santa Clara. This quiet town also has a lace-making school and museum which are well worth a visit. Nearby Guimaraes was Portugal's first capital and is a World Heritage Site. Here you will find a well preserved medieval quarter with some amazing Gothic, Baroque and Romanesque architecture. In the town of Rates there is the interesting 12th century church of Sao Pedro.
The resort has a vibrant nightlife with lively clubs and discos along the beachfront. Evenings in Povoa de Varzim can be spent dancing the night away in the clubs, having a flutter at the popular casino which is the largest in Northern Portugal or just relaxing over a meal at one of the resorts restaurants. Delicious locally cuisines fish and seafood dishes are served at the towns restaurants, do not forget to sample the tasty traditional fish stew, Caldeirada a Povoa.