Royal Customs House Museum
Vila do Conde has been one of Portugal's foremost ship-building ports since the 1200s, when a powerful navy was arguably even more important than it is today. This heritage eventually led to Portuguese sailors making some of the most important discoveries of the era, marking out routes to Brazil, Africa and India. This intriguing history is told through the three main exhibition spaces within the Museum of Naval Construction, also known as the Alfândega Régia.
Situated on the banks of the River Ave in a former customs house, the museum is a treasure trove of objects that together unravel the importance of sailing the seven seas in years gone by. But not to be missed by wannabe sailors big and small is the full-size replicate sixteenth-century trading vessel known as a nau which is moored opposite the museum and can be explored as part of the wider museum experience.