Valença is a colonial fishing town on the banks of the Rio Una, historically the site of Portuguese struggles with both indigenous tribes and the Dutch. For most it is simply the gateway to Morro de São Paulo, but locals know it as a center of shipbuilding: 15th-century techniques have been so well maintained that the town was chosen to produce a replica of the Spanish galleon La Niña for the American epic film 1492 (1992) about Christopher Columbus’ journey.

To see the building of traditional fishing boats in action, wander to the far end of the port, where the smell of sap and sawdust, old fish and sea salt mingles with the wonderful odor of nutmeg drying in the sun. For a good walk and a beautiful view, follow the river’s left bank upstream toward the Igreja NS de Amparo (1757) on the hill.

From the port, walk straight uphill to reach the pedestrian center of town. Keep going straight up along this main street, Rua Governador Gonçalves, to reach the bus station, about 1km from the port. There are several banks and internet cafés around town.