Matosinhos, a city located by a few kms north of Porto, is becoming increasingly popular among locals and tourists alike.
No wonder: located by the Atlantic ocean, it is the perfect combination of a city life and the coastal atmosphere we so very much like during the warm, summer days. Moreover, it is a city with great gastronomy, and fantastic places to enjoy the outdoors. This is my list of the best things to do in Matosinhos – I hope you enjoy it! 🙂
The best things to do in Matosinhos are:
Walk by the beach
Naturally, one of the best things to do in Matosinhos, being an Atlantic city, it is walking along the sea.
Most people go walking by the beach of Matosinhos itself, that is, between the roundabout where the sculpture She Changes, by Janet Echelman, is located, and the Leixões Cruise Terminal.
If you don’t have a car, this is the best solution, because you have the metro nearby – just get off at Matosinhos Sul station and you’re a 5-minute walk from the beach.
However, I personally like walking on the wooden walkways that start near the Leça da Palmeira Lighthouse, heading north. There are much less people and much more beautiful landscapes. The only drawback is that you need a car to get there (or a lot of patience for the scarce public transport in this area).
If you’re traveling to Porto with kids / teenagers or if you’re the sporty type, then one of the best things to do in Matosinhos is definitely to go surfing 🙂
If you’re a professional surfer I am sure you’ll find your way around, but otherwise I recommend you to book a surf lesson in Matosinhos with one of these schools:
- Fish surf school: this is the most popular and affordable option to go surfing in Matosinhos. It is a group class that lasts for around 1h30. All the materials (including the wetsuit, of course!) is provided by the instructor who, at the end, will be happy to provide you with plenty of tips to enjoy the rest of your trip in Porto. Most people go for the group experience (25€ / pax), but you can also book a private surfing class for 50€ / pax. As this is the most popular choice, I recommend you to book your ticket to your surf class in advance.
- Pura Vida surfing school: this is also a very popular choice, particularly among those of you who don’t want to take care of anything, as they provide transportation from the city centre. Another thing I like about this option is that, as they are picking you up from Porto, they have the flexibility to then take you to the best surfing spot in the area depending on the weather forecast. The price of Pura Vida surfing class is 45€ / person.
Visit Leixões cruise terminal
One of the most astonishing building of contemporary architecture in the region is located in Matosinhos, so you definitely should save some time in your agenda because it is simply stunning. I am talking about the iconic Leixões cruise terminal, that was considered the “Building of the Year 2017” by ArchDaily.
Fortunately for us, common mortals, the port of leixões terminal is available for visits on Sunday mornings (during winter, between October and June) and on Sundays all day during summer, between July and September.
In summer, the times available for visiting are 10:15 am, 11:15 am, 12:15 pm, 3:15 pm, 4:15 pm and 5:15 pm.
Price: 5€ / person. Seniors pay 3,50€ and children up to 12 years old don’t pay the ticket.
How to book your experience: send an email to email@example.com
How to get there: the subway station Matosinhos Sul is a 2 minutes walking distance.
I don’t know about you but I LOVE karts, so for me one of the best things to do in Matosinhos is to go karting (even though I always come back with a bruised ego because, despite being an excellent road driver, I am a terrible kart driver :P). Moving on!
You have two options to go karting in Matosinhos:
- Kartódromo do Cabo do Mundo: it is an outdoor track, right in front of the beach. Prices vary according to the vehicle used and the time of use, but never less than 15€ / 10 minutes.
- Kart Center de Matosinhos: this is a covered track, with similar prices to the previous option.
For both places you need to go by car (you can also try a combination of 2 / 3 public transport, but it sucks!).
Visit a traditional fish market
One of the best things to do in Matosinhos is to visit one of its famous fish markets.
If you’re a tourist just looking to check a market and take some photos, I recommend you to visit Mercado de Matosinhos.
On the lower floor you will find all the fresh fish vendors. On the top floor, you will find fruit and vegetable vendors, aromatic herbs and even live animals for slaughter.
In Mercado de Matosinhos you will also find some restaurants (namely Mafalda’s), so it’s a good place to have lunch after wandering around the vendors.
To go to Mercado de Matosinhos, take the subway and get out at the station Mercado.
However, if you live here and REALLY want to buy fish, then you have to go to Mercado de Angeiras! It’s a very small market, nothing fancy, where you can find the best fish in the whole region. However, Mercado de Angeiras is further away from Porto and there is no good public transport there.
Learn how to make canned sardines!
One of the best activities to do in Matosinhos is definitely, definitely to do a factory tour of Pinhais, one of the most iconic canned fish brands in Portugal (and one of the most delicious ones too!).
During this tour, you will visit the factory and meet the workers who do the canned fish – and for me, the most special thing about the tour is witnessing how incredibly proud they are of their work. Afterwards, you will have the chance to sit down with them and pack your own cans (it’s really fun!) and then you’ll sit down to sample some of their delicious products.
I have already taken a school of kids from NYC to do this activity during one of our private tours, and it was by far their favourite activity 🙂
Price: 15€ / person. Seniors pay 12€, children from 5 to 12 pay 9€. Free up to 4 years old.
How to get there: the subway station Câmara de Matosinhos is a 10 minutes walking distance.
Especially for families with kids: Visit the Sea Life Porto
A friend of mine finally took my advice and took her child to SEA Life Porto and then she called me saying “if I had known that it was that good, I would have taken my kid there – I think I’ll go alone too!”.
SEA Life Porto, besides being a great destination for families with kids, also has a large outdoor area with benches for people to sit by the “lake” where the penguins are fed, much to the delight of everyone around.
I’ve even had people tell me that they preferred SEA Life Porto to the Lisbon Oceanarium, specifically because of the large outdoor area.
So, if you’re looking for the best things to do in Matosinhos, I whole heartily recommend SEA Life Porto.
If the weather is nice, go to SEA Life Porto and then take a stroll around Parque da Cidade (there is an entrance nearby) or go to Matosinhos beach just the other side of the road.
Price: 15,50€ / adult and 10,50€ / kid.
How to get there: there are many, many buses that stop at the roundabout of Castelo do Queijo or at the end of Avenida da Boavista (namely: the 200, 203, 205, 500 and 502).
Have a Michelin star meal by the Atlantic ocean
There is food and then there is food, and the food at Casa de Chá da Boa Nova, a Michelin star restaurant by the famous chef Rui Paula, is outstanding. But honestly, even if you are not suuuuuper fond of fine dining it is still worth it because the building itself was designed by Siza Vieira, one of the greatest Portuguese architects of all time.
For me what makes eating at Casa de Chá da Boa Nova such an interesting experience is that the entire meal consists of fish and seafood and it also incorporates different types of seaweed, as Rui Paula, like myself, is passionate about this exquisite ingredient.
As the place is quite beautiful, I recommend you to go there during lunch time and then walk by the beach.
Price: fixed menus between 150€ and 250€ + wines.
How to book your experience: send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
How to get there: public transports to this area take forever, so I suggest you to call an Uber / taxi.
Visit the House of Architecture
The Portuguese architecture center is located in Matosinhos, in an industrial building from the beginning of the 20th century. It is an important building and had everything to become a great cultural center in the north, but I personally have a somewhat conflicting view of this museum.
This is because I’ve seen excellent exhibitions there (I remember one, absolutely fascinating, on the history of Brazilian architecture) but I’ve also seen terrible exhibitions there.
The museum’s website is a huge mess where you can’t even figure out how to book a guided tour and what the price is.
So my advice is: if you’re an architecture geek short on ideas of the best things to do in Matosinhos then visit the House of Architecture, but keep an open mind regarding the quality of its exhibitions because it’s a gamble.
Prices: 8€ Main Exhibition + 4€ Gallery of Casa da Arquitetura. 50% discount for students and over 65s. Free up to 12 years.
Local tip: unless they changed it, Casa da Arquitetura is free of charge on Sunday mornings.
How to get there: the subway station Matosinhos Sul is a 2 minutes walking distance.
Walk in the largest city park in Portugal
Most people don’t notice that the famous Parque da Cidade, the largest city park in Portugal, is shared between Porto and Matosinhos. Therefore, one of the best things to do in Matosinhos is definitely to walk in the city park!
The city park has several entrances. Usually I park the car at a car park called “Estacionamento Parque da Cidade Boavista” and then go walking in the direction of the Atlantic Ocean, which is where the park ends. It’s a beautiful, leisurely path that you can do by foot or by bike.
Price: free of charge.
How to get there: take the bus 502 and get out at the stop “Parque da Cidade”.
Taste the best seafood in the world
Only tourist eat fish or seafood in downtown Porto because the rest of us know that the real deal is outside the city, in former fishermen villages. Therefore, if you’re a serious foodie, one of the best things to do in Matosinhos is to have a meal at one of their best fish and seafood at one of these restaurants.
Don’t forget to call to make a reservation, as Matosinhos’ restaurants are EXTREMELY popular, particularly when the weather is nice.
Try one of the best ice creams ever 😛
Before I discovered that I am lactose intolerant I used to LOVE eating ice creams and I became quite the expert in spotting great ice creams around town. So I was quite surprised to discover that Modi, a REAL Italian ice cream shop, opened a shop in Matosinhos, near the beach! 🙂
Modi has a good selection of both classic flavors like Dark Chocolate (fortunately, lactose free) and funky flavors like lemon with avocado, banana with açaí and chocolate yogurt. The flavors, much to my enthusiasm, keep changing according to the seasons of the year. So going there, on a warm day, is definitely one of the best things to do in Matosinhos 🙂
Good news for vegans and lactose intolerant people: all cones and fruit ice creams are dairy-free. Modi also has several gluten-free flavors.
How to get there: the subway station Matosinhos Sul is a 10 minutes walking distance.