Aside from the wine and the lovely river views, one of the main reasons to come to Porto is the beaches. Technically, the beaches of Porto are not part of Porto, per se. They’re part of small nearby seaside cities that are accessible by the Porto metro and bus system. Here’s all you need to know about how to enjoy the Porto beaches and their surroundings.
Getting to the beaches
There are many buses that have routes to access the Atlantic coast. Bus 500, for example, takes you along the Douro River all the way up the Foz do Douro area, which is known for Praia da Luz and Praia do Homem do Leme. Another easy way to get from Porto center to the largest and most popular beach, Matosinhos Beach, is to take the metro (A line) to the Matosinhos Sul station.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of taking a stuffy crowded train and standing in long lines to buy your metro ticket, you can also Uber or use myTaxi. These fares are about 7-14 euro from Porto center. If you’re traveling with 3-4 people, this may actually be cheaper. Otherwise, public transportation will probably be more cost-effective. Word to the wise, buy your return ticket on your way over there to avoid the congestion at the ticket machines on the way back.
What to expect from the beaches of Porto
Unlike most other beaches in Europe, Porto’s beaches are vast and comfortable with soft pillowy sand that stretches for miles, north and south of the Douro River. Most visitors go to Matosinhos Beach, which is one of the bigges and sandiest. Though it gets busy, especially in the afternoons, it doesn’t feel as crowded as many of the tiny European beaches do. You’ll have plenty of space to sprawl out without being too close to other people, though the amount of sand available to lay on varies depending on the tide.
If you’re not familiar with Atlantic Ocean water on this side of the globe, it’s cold and can be turbulent. This makes it pretty tough to swim in, because it might be too cold even in the height of summer. On the other hand, the gentle to high waves make it a great place to surf or learn to surf. You’ll find many surf companies on the shore that will provide you wetsuits, surfboards and even lessons.
If you prefer to stay on land and relax or kick a soccer ball around, like literally everyone there, there are floaties, umbrellas and other beach essentials for sale at several sands along the water. You can also rent a beach tent to keep yourself out of the harsh sun. On a windy day, the sun might not be so bad though.
Since Matosinhos draws the biggest crowds, you may want to opt for other nearby beaches that will probably be less populated. North of Matosinhos, you’ll find Lexa de Palmeira Beach, which is preferred by locals, or Praia de Lavadores and Praia das Pedras Amarelas (Yellow Stones Beach) south of the Douro, where the coast is rockier and picturesque. Douro Cabedelo Beach is another option that features a curved sandy coastline.
The beaches south of Matosinhos have more pebbly sand, though it’s still dense enough to be comfortable to lay on, though perhaps not as much to walk on. These beaches are divided by rocky shores, but are all easily accessible by a long concrete and wooden boardwalk that takes you through some beachfront restaurants and tiki bars.
Other things to do around the Porto beaches
There are a couple of seaside fortresses and attractions that you can visit on your day at the beach. At the northern opening of the Douro, where you can relax at the Praia dos Ingleses and Praia da Luz, you’ll find the Sao Joao da Foz fortress and the Felgueiras Lighthouse. You can also take a walk on the Pergola of Foz, a decorative walkway lined with columns.
The south end of Matosinhos Beach is separated from the lower beaches by the Cheese Castle (Forte de Sao Francisco Xavier), named as such for the shape of the rock it sits on. The northern end of the beach is marked by the cruise terminal of Port of Leixoes.
There are also plenty of places to eat and drink all over the shore, so you can snack throughout the day without having to leave the beach. At Edificio Transparente in Matosinhos, you’ll find everything from burgers to pasta, and of course plenty of drinks. There’s also bathrooms here, aside from the port-a-potties and other small facilities that are available throughout the beachfront.
If you do venture off the beach, there are plenty of restaurants and snack bars in the main parts of the city where you can get fresh seafood or tapas. With enough breaks for food and drink, you can spend an entire day or two enjoying the Porto beaches and even doing some sightseeing in the area.
Get the GPS-guided version of this and other Porto guides on GPSmyCity here.