On our way home from our trip on the Canal du Midi, we decided to stop for lunch in the charming old city of Viseu, Portugal. We had heard Viseu was a pretty cool place to visit and after driving for a while, it was nice to have a break from the monotony of motorway driving and to stretch our legs.
Where Is Viseu?
The city of Viseu is located in Central Portugal. It’s an attractive hilltop city in the Beira Alta region, situated between the mountain ranges of Serra do Caramulo and Serra da Estrela. Plus, it’s right in the heart of the famous Dao wine valley -bonus!
The Historical Centre
After lunch in a crowded local restaurant, we took a stroll through the historical centre which leads up to the Cathedral Square. It was lovely strolling and losing ourselves in the labyrinth of cobbled stone streets through the 15th-century ramparts. There were some beautiful old buildings, some very ramshackle and many tiny cafes and bars!
Adro Da Se – Cathedral Square
Located at the highest point in the city lies the Adro de Se (Cathedral Square). Here you will find Viseu Cathedral, the Igreja da Misericordia, the longest remaining part of the Old City Wall and the Porta dos Cavaleiros, one of the city’s old gates. It also has excellent views over the surrounding countryside.
The Tourist Information Centre was located just off the square. Very helpful, apparently there are loads of hiking and biking trails and stately homes nearby. It’s even part of the Camino! Oh, and lots of wine and cheese tours on offer too!
- Portugal Day Trip: Batalha Monastery
- How To Use The Lisbon Metro And Other Transportation
- Portugal Day Trip: Berlenga Islands
The 13th-century cathedral dominates the skyline. From the outside, the granite Renaissance church looks rather austere, but go inside, and it’s really rather impressive.
Igreja da Misericordia
Facing Viseu’s Cathedral is the Igreja da Misericordia. This church with its Rococo, Baroque and Neoclassical design could easily be mistaken for a palace if it wasn’t for the cross. In contrast to its exterior, the inside is rather dull.
Igreja Dos Terceiros
By Aquilino Ribeiro Park and the southern end of the Praca da Republica, there’s a staircase that leads to the Baroque style Igreja dos Terceiros. This church was built in the late 18th century. Inside it has some interesting azulejos depicting the life of St Francis.
Parque do Fontelo Viseu
I do like cities that have parks – seems so rare these days! The Parque do Fontelo was once part of a large estate that belonged to the city’s bishops. The former palace of the Bishops is now the part of the Dao Regional Vintners Commission.
Inside the woodland park, you will see the Portal do Fontelo, a stone archway built in 1565 and the ruins of Saint Jeronimo’s chapel.
There are also jogging trails, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a sports stadium, and a skate park.
And Finally …
The Grão Vasco National Museum next to Viseu’s Cathedral is supposed to be worth a visit, but it was time to head home. If you have been to this museum, please let us know in the comments what you think about it.
We will definitely be coming back to Viseu for a longer visit. It would be a great long weekend break. A few hours is not enough!
How To Get To Viseu, Portugal
We visited Viseu, Portugal as part of a road trip. There’s a large free car park near the Cava de Virato where you can take a free elevator to the Cathedral Square. Didn’t know about that until after arriving at the square!
But for those without their own transport, it’s possible to get there by bus.
Rede Expressos has a regular service to Viseu from Lisbon Oriente Bus Station. Journey time takes 3 1/2 hours and costs €19 each way.
From Porto, it’s only 1 3/4 hours and costs €12,50 or from Coimbra, 1 hour 20 minutes and costs €8,90. (Prices correct as at November 2018)
Nearest train stations are Nelas or Mangualde which are roughly half an hour away by taxi.
Apparently, Viseu is the largest city in the Iberian Peninsula without a train station!
Where To Stay In Viseu, Portugal
We didn’t stay overnight this time as we were keen to get home and I was missing our dog. But there is accommodation here to suit all budgets. We may return in the spring for a few nights, and I’ll keep you posted!