In part 1 of this Spain to Portugal road trip stopover guide, I mentioned some of the places I enjoyed visiting whilst driving from Caceres in Spain to Porto in Portugal. In this part I wanted to show you some of the best places to visit while you are in this northern Portuguese region.
I only found out about this market when my parents (who lived in this region for a few years) got lost one morning when searching out a particular coffee shop they had been recommended to try. This getting lost led them to drive around the small town of Villa Praia de Ancora just a few minutes drive from the larger Viana do Castelo. There are few things I like more than a good craft and food market, and this one is entirely local, so you truly get a sense that this market has been set up to provide for the people who live here, instead of the visitors who occasionally find their way there. The market is packed with clothes, food and every other random item you would expect from a large market. Plenty of fake clothes brands to enjoy, as well as a fantastic energy and a lively vibe.
Not every single experience during a road trip needs to be completely natural and low cost. There is definitely space for some gentle relaxation, and that's exactly what the main shopping centre in Viana do Castelo provides. There are great shops and a huge food court, as well as lots of cinema screens (with original languages, so UK and USA movies will be in English with Portuguese subtitles). Road trips can sometimes be a bit stressful especially if you are camping every night. The home comforts can start to feel very far away, and so an afternoon in a shopping centre, and catching a movie, can really help to maintain a good sense of comfort on a long trip.
Although there are plenty of amazing beaches north of Porto, I wanted to highlight two of my favourites that are on the way towards the northern area from Porto. I ended up driving on the coastal road (mainly for the scenery and lack of traffic) from Porto, and about 60 km north of Porto is Belinho Beach and right next to it Sao Bartolomeu Beach. It's entirely possible that the inclusion of these two beaches is not really necessary, as the beaches further north are just as good. However these beaches are a lot less visited and really easy to find space and peace during busier days. These beaches are hugely long, and also have a stony upper part with a sandy area where the sea meets the stones. Practically deserted during off-season, and barely busy during Summer, these are fantastic beaches to visit on the way to Afife and Viana do Castelo.
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