Destination Inspiration: Viseu, Portugal

Destination Inspiration: Viseu, Portugal

Done Lisbon? Ventured to Porto? Put this lesser-known city in Portugal’s Centro region on your radar for a cultured city break with nature on its doorstep. Viseu’s azulejo-dotted streets are a must-visit for renaissance art, impressive cathedrals and tavernas pouring robust Dão wine – plus, there’s plenty of green space for a breath of countryside air.


Viseu, Portugal

Why now?

Set on a steep hill, this provincial city has postcard-worthy
vistas across terracotta-tiled roofs to the surrounding Centro
region, where vineyards, pine forests and mountains form a pastoral
patchwork. It’s small wonder Viseu is ranked among Portugal’s best cities in which to live.

Encircled by 15th-century ramparts, Viseu’s hilltop historic
quarter is best explored by foot – free roam between plazas and
alleyways, stopping at Rua Escura, Rua Direita and Rua Augusto
Hilário for photo ops before dipping into gourmet shops and
tavernas peddling local produce. Earthy red plonk from Dão (one of
Portugal’s oldest wine regions) is popular here, as well as quality
cheese and sausage. Keep your eyes peeled for samples.

Crowning the city is the 12th-century Sé Catedral de Viseu, the
oldest building here. Take a tour to discover its mishmash of
roman, gothic and baroque styles. Art lovers should make a beeline
for the Grão Vasco Museum to ogle pieces by local
renaissance artist Vasco Fernandes, as well as other Portuguese
paintings, sculpture and tapestries dating from the 1200s to the
20th century.

Culture-fix satiated, walk in the dappled light that dances
between the oak and chestnut trees of Parque do Fontelo, the city’s
largest green space. Alternatively, fill your lungs with fresh
mountain air on a more rigorous hike on the Serra do Caramulo
before dipping into the therapeutic São Pedro do Sul baths.

Don’t miss

… the city’s best tiles. Head to the Rossio area, where the
handsome Praça da República is bordered by artist Joaquim Lopes’
blue-and-white Painel de Azulejos, depicting pastoral scenes of

Where to stay?

Stay at Quinta do Medronheiro, a converted farmhouse
that provides the perfect fusion of modern and traditional style.
Set among charming vineyards and watermills, this hotel surpasses
any offerings in the city centre – be sure to explore its
surrounding hiking trails.

Where to go for dinner…

Book a table at O
. Just a short walk from the cathedral, this family-run
restaurant offers a menu packed with steaks, sausages and stews. If
a mighty meaty dish doesn’t quite cut it for you, there are a few
fish options too, though you’ll probably have to ask for veggie

And for a drink…

You’ll want to head to Lounge, partly for its mouth-watering
cocktails, but largely for its industrial-chic decor. This bar is
wrapped with wooden panels and warm pendant lights, both making for
a very cushty set-up.

Who to take with you

If you’re a couple looking for an under-radar first-holiday
destination, Viseu is your spot. You can thank us when you’re
planning a return for your 20th wedding anniversary.

When to go

Early August to mid-September is the ideal time to visit; sun-worshippers
will be guaranteed some serious rays. During this period, the city
hosts a range of events and festivals. We recommend a ramble around
the famous São
Mateus Fair
, which has drawn locals with folk music,
handicrafts and food stalls for more than 600 years.

Essentials to pack

A pair of trainers in which you can stomp around the trails.
This pair of Kim Jones Chuck 70 Converse sneakers should be
the perfect fit.

How to get there

Fly to Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, from where it’s a
90-minute drive to Viseu.

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