The Beaches in Porto

It still happens that people on a citytrip to Porto don’t realize the proximity of the ocean. It’s REALLY nearby. Like, twenty minutes by bike.

You’ll find yourself in a different world from the crowded city in no time. It would be a waste not to visit this breezy area.

We can recommend different beaches depending on the vibe you’re looking for. But whatever your focus may be, hopefully ‘hungry’ will be part of it. Prepare yourself for the best seafood and freshly grilled fish around town.

Lazy: Foz is an old neighboorhood of Porto, and it’s where the rich people built their houses. The spacious promenade invites for long walks along the coastline. You’ll encounter tan people running, cycling or rollerskating or just having coffee in one of the café’s facing the sea.

The small beaches, hidden from each other through massive granite rocks, proudly display the blue flag label for high quality unpolluted seawater. There are some great bars here, where you can lay back in a comfy chair and sip on something to remember. Far away in the horizon you’ll see the ships passing by, headed to the port of Porto (and realize why the city is called that way).

If you walk into the old neigbourhood, away from the ocean, you’ll suddenly find yourself lost in the old village of Foz. Here the houses are colourful and the allies are steep. If you want to visit a modern oasis, go visit the gardens of Serralves. And on a rainy day you can admire the sharks and turtles in Sea Life Porto, the biggest aquarium in northern Portugal.

In Leça, a little further down the road, there is also a beautiful pool that seems to settle in the water of the ocean. This lightblue interpretation of modern luxury was designed in the sixties by Portuguese architect Siza Viera. Right now it is under construction, but it will probably be reopend after the summer of 2020.

Amped: Wanna go surfing? If you are in Porto then you can find some uncrowded spots nearby. Matosinhos is the nearest one. Because in summer the waves aren’t really high, it’s great for beginners and intermediates. There are several surfing schools around, and also surfshops and other hangouts for you to join the international surf community that’s based here. After a good session in the water you’ll meet likeminded people in the surfbars around town.

If you want to grab a meal (fresh fish!) go to Rua Heróis de França, which is overflowing with family-run restaurants.

Last advice: intermediate surfers can go to the other side of the large breakwater. Leça has an extremely consistent wave. Espinho is another cool spot to go to. For more information check Oporto Surf Guide. There is lots of information about the best spots on their website.

Romantic: From the citycenter of Porto it’s a 14 km bikeride to Capela do Senhor da Pedra, a beautiful 17th century chapel built on a rock in the everchanging tide.

The bikeride to Capela do Senhor da Pedra is a joy by itself. You can cross the river to Villa Nova de Gaia on the iron Luis I Bridge, or you can take the 30-minute ferry more downstream. Then just follow the bikelane right next to the beach. You’ll pass oceanviews, dunes and restaurants.

Finish at the chapel. Imagine the waves splashing against it’s walls. Or maybe it’s low tide and the water recedes back into the pink coloured horizon. The sandy beach is emptier than you would expect for such a place, and there are lanes for exploring the dunes and cafés where you can enjoy a lovely dinner including fresh fish for 7 euros.

In winter the ocean is wild around here. Chances are you’ll have the beach to yourself, except for some skilled surfers. Whatever the season (or weather, or tide) this might be the best place around Porto to watch the sun go down.

Nostalgic: Go straight to Afurada, a lively fishermens village on the Gaia side of the Douro river. In traditional Afurada the dailyfresh fish is grilled outside on charcoal grills. Just like we used to do everywhere in the city of Porto thirty years ago.

Meanwhile the fishermens wives do their laundry in the lavadeiras near the port. They also gossip about a lot, so if you can understand Portuguese, prepare for an interesting afternoon… Sometimes they sing old songs about men who never came back from the sea.

Unfortunately, this is a dying tradition. Young women simply don’t have the time anymore to do their laundry by hand and they probably also do not have the patience to sing songs about people they maybe never knew.

Wandrous: The lane from Gaia to Espinho (almost)