Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto, is known for its diverse natural landscape, in particular close to the river and seafront. If you begin to explore, one can find many picturesque green areas, ranging from woods, meadows and fields, to beautiful gardens with impressive, stately manor houses. Many are protected areas with some belonging to nature reserves.
Vila Nova de Gaia is also known for its extensive coastline, with large sandy beaches, some with famous coastal sand dunes. The beach landscape is particularly unspoiled and boasts 15kms of coastline with the largest number of Blue Flag beaches in Portugal. There has also been considerable investment in creating a wooden walkway that runs the full stretch of Gaia’s coastline, providing a sea view along the entire route.
Madalena, Lavadores, Salgueiros and Miramar are all examples of excellent beaches in Gaia, ideal for providing the family with some stress-free fun.
The beaches often have esplanades and protected green spaces and are the ideal spot for some beach exercise, with a late afternoon run, long walk or bicycle ride.
Gaia has built a new Marina where you will find a variety of luxury boats. The path from the marina to the beaches provides a good walk, passing by the nature reserve of the Douro estuary, a protected area where you can do some bird watching or contemplate the magnificent, natural scenery. Visit the adjacent picturesque fishing village of Afurada with its narrow cross streets and traditional cafés and fish restaurants.
In Vila Nova de Gaia, we recommend the following beaches:
Praia da Luz, Praia do Molhe, and Praia de Gondarém are all examples of beaches in Foz, situated on the Avenida Brasil, on the mouth of the River Douro. These beaches can be considered to be in town, as Foz is a sophisticated part of Porto and a sought after residential area. The beaches are smaller than those in Gaia, however are ideal for enjoying a beautiful sunset, cocktail or ice cream, on one of the many trendy esplanades which characterize this beach area.
In Foz, you will be able to promenade up and down with the locals, or take a bike ride, with the beach and seaside for scenery.
For our younger customers, we recommend a visit to Sea Life, Porto’s oceanarium. With 30 aquariums and more than 5600 marine creatures, the little ones are bound to enjoy the entertainment!
The Foz beaches are lined with attractive and sophisticated shops together with some of the town’s best restaurants and bars, offering delicious fresh fish and other local delights. Foz has an old part and a new part and wherever you go exploring, you are sure to enjoy the different areas and some of the things you see along the way.
In Foz, we recommend the following beach:
Matosinhos beaches are for a younger, sportier crowd, set within the context of a typical fishing area of Porto, but also an upcoming residential area.
The beaches are lined with cafés and sun terraces and you will find several beach sports to hand from volleyball to surfing, not to forget fishing.
There’s also an area with beach huts and it’s common on these beaches to use parasols; in fact, the Matosinhos beaches can get quite busy in the summer. They offer several pastimes such as surf school and bars and cafés. The beaches begin at Edifício Transparente, in front of Parque da Cidade (Porto’s natural and very large city park). Edifício Transparente gets its name from its structure: a large glass building in front of the sea offering a mix of more trendy cafés and restaurants, with some culture and sport. Discover the Matosinhos beaches, explore the area and tie it in with a walk or jog in the park.
In Matosinhos, we recommend the following beaches:
Leça da Palmeira
Leça da Palmeira offers sandy beaches and good infrastructure.
The sea is known to be quite choppy in Leça, although perfect if you wish to try your skills at bodyboard and surfing.
The "piscinas das marés” or "Tidal” swimming pools are another of Leça’s attractions and are right next to the beach promenade. The pools are filled with salt water and were designed by the famous Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira. They fit harmoniously into the surrounding, rocky landscape where you will be mesmerized by the breaking waves.
Leça da Palmeira provides a good stretch of cafés, terraces, esplanades and shops where you can find light meals and drinks during the day; and karaoke and live music at night. Perfect for enjoying a cocktail or having dinner on a warm summer’s night.
In Leça da Palmeira, we recommend using the following beach:
Vila do Conde
Vila do Conde beaches are extremely sought after in the summer with wide stretches of sand and a demarcated fishing area. The beach offers excellent infrastructure and provides long walks along the parallel promenade, either on foot or bicycle. The sand is notoriously grainy and the beaches are attractive and popular.
Vila do Conde, Mindelo and Póvoa de Varzim are all traditional bathing zones and can get quite busy in the summer months. They all have a wide offering of restaurants and cafés with traditional Portuguese cuisine, sandwiches or salads, or fresh fish (often from the local catch since Vila do Conde and Póvoa have long been well known fishing towns in Portugal).
There are well known Handicraft and Gourmet fairs held in Vila do Conde during the summer months, usually in July and August and there’s an excellent camping ground in neighbouring Árvore.