One of Portugal's most noble cities, the 'City of the Count' developed as a resting point on the Portuguese Way long-distance pilgrimage trail that ends in Santiago de Compostela in neighbouring Spain.
The earliest documentation to mention Vila do Conde dates to 953 AD, although prehistoric finds are not hard to come by either. Many of the city's historic structures date from the 'age of discovery', when mariners set sail for sub-Saharan Africa and India for the first time. These include, ironically, the Praça Nova or New Square. Now Praça Vasco da Gama, it was laid out in 1538.
Approximately 25 kilometres from Porto in northern Portugal, and connected to its metro system, Vila do Conde also has more than its fair share of excellent beaches. Largely lacking the crowds of elsewhere on the coast, it's therefore very easy to combine rest and relaxation time on the sands with exploration of the city's historic heart.