Vila do Conde is the first town along the coastal route which merits an extended visit. It is a popular destination for the Portuguese, though it is somewhat out-sized by the larger Póvoa de Varzim to the north.
Its Bronze Age discoveries aside, the more contemporary sights to see are the Aqueduct of Santa Clara (17th and 18th century), whose 999 arches carry water some 4km to reach the Convent of Santa Clara (14th century), the Igreja Matriz in the city center, and the Forte de Nossa Senhora da Assunção (a fortress which often goes by Forte de São João Baptista).
The aqueduct and the convent are a right-hand turn after crossing the bridge, the fort is a bit out of the way, but does fall along one of the waterfront alternatives.
The Metro of Porto Line B (Linha da Póvoa) passes through Vila do Conde. To stop here, disembark at the Santa Clara station.
If you are hungry, and have 9 days to spare, the Feira de Gastronomia is held during the 3rd week of August.
A well known crafts fair, the Feira Nacional de Artesanato, is held between the last week of July and runs through the first week of August.
Friday is market day, held next to the church.
Vila do Conde is among the oldest known settlements in Portugal, with discoveries in and near the city which date to more than 100,000 years ago. More recently it was a sea port that played a critical role in Portugal’s 16th century Age of Discovery. King Manuel I passed through on his pilgrimage to Santiago in 1502, a visit which subsequently saw the construction of the Igreja Matriz and several other notable buildings.
From the Igreja Matriz you have two options, the one indicated by the signs takes you through the center of this large town and carries on straight past the church. It is well marked.
The other option is to follow along the Litoral route which is unmarked but easy enough to get to. Opposite the church (on your left as you approach the church) is a small plaza, cross it and follow to the right. Turn left on the second street, the Largo de Doutor Antonío José Almeida. This will take you down to the waterfront, where you turn right and follow the walk all the way to Povoa de Varzim. Just past the harbor the beach-front picks up, and it is here where the main route rejoins.