The best beaches in Porto (and swimming pools)
Full day Private tour in Porto
Good weather finally arrived and with it came the trips to the best beaches of Porto.
For those who prefer a swim in one of the pools in Porto, at the end of this article, you will find information about 5 swimming pools that are not to be missed.
If you are a beach lover you should check the best beach hotels in Porto, but not before reading our guide to the best neighborhhods to stay in the city.
Important information about the best beaches in Porto:
- The first thing you should know is that the water is COLD. As in I-feel-like-someone-is-breaking-my-bones kind of cold. Portugal has a reputation of being a beach destination because of the beaches in Algarve, which are… 523 km away from Porto! The beaches in Porto are perfect to catch some sun, drink some caipirinhas and do surf. Naturally, if you don’t mind the cold you can definitely try the water!
- The beaches have a bodyguard during the high season – between 15th June and 15th September.
- All the beaches in Porto (the city) are easily accessible by bus or by tram. You can also easily access the International beach in Matosinhos by taking the subway, or simply enjoying the Hop On Hop Off Bus ride. For this reason, I suggest you to get the combo ticket for the Tram + Hop On Hop Off Bus in Porto, valid for 2 days.
- However, the most popular beaches in Porto (district) are the ones located in Gaia and in Leça da Palmeira, which are not easily accessible by public transports. Therefore, you either stick to the beaches in Porto (city), loose 1h or 2h in public transports to get to the ones in the suburbs or simply rent a car and get there in 15/20 minutes.
- The Portuguese word for beach is praia – I decided not to translate the name of the beaches in Porto because it would sound awkward and locals wouldn’t know what you are referring to anyway. Therefore when I write, for instance, Praia do Ourigo, it means something like Ourigo beach. Which sounds totally weird, which is why I am sticking to Portuguese 😀
These are the best beaches in Porto:
Praia do Homem do Leme
The beach of Homem do Leme is not only one of the best beaches in Porto, is probably one of the most famous because of this popular song.
It has good access to the bath area, even for people in a wheelchair, as well as adapted sanitary facilities and an accessible first aid station.
Also, I find this beach very good for families with children in Porto, as it has a small playground in a nearby garden. It is wonderful!
How to get there: take one of these buses 200, 202, 203 and 500 and get out at the stop called Homem do Leme.
Restaurants and bars: this beach has a not so good beach bar called Bar Homem do Leme, but nearby you can also find CaipiCompany, a café famous for its caipirinhas 🙂
5 beaches at Foz neighborhood (Luz, Ingleses, Ourigo, Carneiro and Pastoras)
A lot of people say that the best beaches in Porto are the ones at Foz neighbourhood, not only due to their proximity to the city centre but also because they are easily accessible via the picturesque tram of Porto. Located nearby is a boutique hotel called Hotel Boa Vista.
These beaches are ideal for families with kids in Porto as they are close to a public garden called Passeio Alegre, where you can go for a relaxed walk. At the garden you will find a mini golf, where you can practice your skills with your family.
How to get there: take the tram line 1 and get out at the last stop. Another option is to take one of these buses 1M, 200, 203, 204 and 500 and get out at one of these stops: Praia do Ourigo, Praia dos Ingleses or Praia de Gondarém.
Restaurants & Bars: These beaches are close to several restaurants in Foz. There is the Museu dos Presuntos, (close to Praia do Ourigo and Praia do Carneiro), Varanda do Sol, a fantastic pizzeria near Ourigo Beach and the famous pastry shop Tavi, behind Praia dos Ingleses. In addition to this, in front of Praia dos Ingleses there is my favourite bar: Bonaparte, a traditional Irish pub where I used to get drunk on my early college days 🙂
Praia de Gondarém and Molhe
The most famous photos of Foz are taken precisely between Gondarém beach and Praia do Molhe, precisely because they are the ones near Pérgula da Foz, a romantic structure built in the 30s that is perfect to take photos with your sweetheart. There are weekly craft markets taken place there on Saturdays, where you can find many things to shop! 🙂
These beaches are close to several restaurants and bars, making it some of the best beaches in Porto for those looking to extend an afternoon on the beach into a dinner with friends or family.
How to get there: take the bus 500 and get out at the stop Crasto. You can also take the tram line 1.
Restaurants & Bars: On the backstreets of these two beaches there are several trendy and very expensive restaurants such as Terra, Cafeína and Casa Vasco that are all definitely worth the visit (if you can afford them). For quick and affordable meals, I suggest Creperie La Bombarde (excellent crepes, even though the service is super slow) and the coffee shop The Bird. There is also the pastry shop Doce Mar, for some delicious croissants 🙂
Best beaches in Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia (we simply call it Gaia) is the city located just south of the Douro river. It is famous for the Port wine lodges and for having the best beaches in Porto (district).
Praia do Senhor da Pedra
This beach in Porto was considered one of the best beaches in Europe in 2015, mainly due to the existence of a hexagonal chapel, built directly on the sand. It is quite impressive to photograph it at sunset!
Moreover, at the entrance of Praia do Senhor da Pedra there is a café (where you can have a light meal) and a pleasant playground for the kids.
How to get there: you can take the urban train (direction: Aveiro) and get out at the stop Miramar. Praia do Senhor da Pedra is a 10 minutes walking distance from there. Another option is to rent a car in Porto and simply drive there.
Restaurants & Bars: just across the street there is a restaurant called Sinfonia Amarela that serves good traditional Portuguese food.
Praia da Madalena
Praia da Madalena is one of the most popular beaches in Porto as it is easily accessible by public transport.
It has an extensive sand, crossed by a wooden walkway that connects Praia de Salgueiros to Praia do Senhor da Pedra, in a 6km extension. So if you like to walk you can start at Praia da Senhor da Pedra, stop for a coffee at Praia da Madalena and then continue north.
How to get there: take the bus 906 at São Bento train station or in Trindade (the main subway station in Porto). Get out at the stop Moinho de Vento – Praia da Madalena is literally across the street.
Restaurants & Bars: nearby there is a beach bar called Daikiri where you can drink sangria, beers, daiquiris, gins, margaritas and caipirinhas.
Praia da Aguda
Praia da Aguda is one of the most complete beaches in Porto in terms of infrastructure, with tents for rent, lifeguards, toilets and first aid station.
In addition, it still maintains its picturesque fishing community traditions. It is possible to see fishermen coming back from the ocean, with fresh fish that can be bought at the local market, located on the same beach.
Praia da Aguda also has a very pleasant atmosphere, with lots of quality bars and restaurants nearby.
How to get there: take the urban train (direction: Aveiro) and get out at the stop Aguda. This beach in Porto is a 5 minutes walking distance from the train station.
Restaurants & Bars: there are so many of them to choose from – simply pick one where the fish looks the freshest 😛
Praia de Canide Sul
Vila Nova de Gaia (we simply call it Gaia) is the city just south of Douro river. It is famous for the Port wine lodges and for having the best beaches in the region.
The wonderful beach of Canido Sul is one of the best beaches in Porto because it has a wall that “creates” an area without waves and that cuts the North wind, making it ideal for those who like to spend hours sunbathing.
On the other hand, you’re very close to Principe de Salgueiros, where you can enjoy some croissants coming straight from the oven! 🙂
How to get there: Bus 906. Since last year, the City Hall of Gaia as been providing free transport to its beaches in minivans departing from Cais de Gaia.
Restaurants & Bars: If you have a sweet tooth, check the café Príncipe do Salgueiros.
Best beaches in Matosinhos
Matosinhos is the city just north of Porto. It is famous for its fantastic seafood restaurants 🙂
he International beach is, for many reasons, one of the best beaches in Porto. It has an immense sidewalk perfect to run / ride a bike / walk the dog / go on a date. In addition to this, it has many nice bars that are perfect to chill out after a long day of work (in my case) or discovering Porto (most likely your case :P) .
It is easily accessible by subway, and the journey from Porto takes around 45 minutes (with nothing particularly interesting to see). Another option is to simply take the Hop On Hop Off bus tour from Porto, as it is a pleasant trip by the riverside.
This beach is protected by the walls of the Port of Leixões, so it has smooth waves. Thus, it is ideal for those who are just starting with their surfing classes, as well as for families with kids in Porto.
How to get there: take the subway and get out at the station Matosinhos Sul (blue line). From there, you just need to walk 5 minutes to get to the beach in Matosinhos.
Restaurants & Bars: At this beach, you can find Cremosi, a very popular ice cream shop in Porto, as well as Leitaria da Quinta do Paço, with its tempting éclairs. There are also several restaurants at Edifício Transparente, a giant glass building right next to the sand, where you can have lunch facing the beach. Last but not least, there is a hipster organic café called Chelo Coast House, where you can have a healthy and Instagram-worthy brunch.
Praia de Leça da Palmeira
Leça da Palmeira beach is not only one of the best beaches in Porto, but also that of my childhood 🙂 When I was a little girl, I spent endless afternoons picking up empty shells, and, during Winter, writing on the sand.
In Leça da Palmeira there are two beaches worth mentioning:
- Leça da Palmeira beach (sounds confusing, but it’s its real name!): this beach is very large and can accommodate a crowd on the hottest summer days. It’s the most suitable for families with children, because it has a wall that cuts the waves.
- Meia Laranja: this is a tiny beach, practically a small bay in the shape of a half moon. It is surrounded by rocks, so if you decide to bathe, be very careful with the direction of the currents. Right next to it is the famous Piscina das Marés, which I mention later in the section dedicated to the best swimming pools in Porto. So, if you are not comfortable bathing on the beach, go to the pool, which is also powered by the sea, but where it is totally safe to bathe.
How to get there: take the bus 507 and get out at the stop Piscina das Marés or Praia de Leça.
Restaurants & Bars: there is an excellent sushi restaurant called Sushiaria. It also has the wonderful Esquina do Avesso (perfect for a romantic date), the Mauritânia Grill and the Mamma Bella Pizzeria. There are also lots of beach bars – Fuzelhas Bar, Beijobar, Óscar Bar, all of them with the usual low quality and high prices, as in any other beach bar in the world 😛
Specially for families: A list of swimming pools in Porto!
- Piscina das Marés (Leça da Palmeira) – CLOSED UNTIL JULY 2020: It is a saltwater swimming pool, designed by Siza Vieira, right on the beach of Leça da Palmeira. There is also a kids swimming pool and a small terrace. You can check the price and the schedule here.
- Piscina da Quinta da Conceição (Leça da Palmeira): For me it is one of the best swimming pools in Porto for families with kids because it is located in the middle of a park called Quinta da Conceição. Therefore, I strongly recommend you to take a bath at this pool and then go for a picnic at Quinta da Conceição. You can see the price and the schedules here.
- Piscina da Quinta da Gruta (Maia): this is another great option for families with kids in Porto as it has an adult pool, another for children and even a small “splash” for babies. Very close to the Quinta da Gruta swimming pool there is also a playground 🙂 You can check the price and the schedule here.
- Solário Atlântico (Espinho): Another great option for families with kids in Porto is the saltwater pool of the Solário Atlântico, which also has a swimming pool for the little ones. It has the advantage of having a train station right next to it. You can check the price list here.
- Piscina da Granja (Gaia): Another swimming pool filled with fresh sea water – check here for more informations.