North coast: water sports, cared for landscape and the flavour of the sea

If Portugal is a small territory which has a wide variety of landscapes, it is not surprising that here there are also several ways to spend the days in the sun. Visiting the northern region? Then enjoy the light of the stars that shine brighter here and the beaches on a relaxing weekend.

Associação de Turismo do Porto CC BY-NC-SA

Associação de Turismo do Porto CC BY-NC-SA


Surrender to nature, to the outdoors and enjoy the mild climate of this country. The coastal area has excellent beaches, such as Moledo and Afife, a gastronomy which is centred on fish dishes, fishing communities of genuine people such as Vila do Conde, markets and fish markets, beach houses and fun summers.

Why go

  • Beaches
  • Nature
  • Food and Wine

Accept this invitation and come and rest with us. There is plenty to do, from taking a simple stroll along the beach to participating in adrenaline producing sports. In northern Portugal, there are beaches for all tastes - well almost all, because the sea water, we must warn you, is colder than that in the rest of the territory - for those who love the waves and for those who like to float gracefully at mercy of the tide. Days at the beach will be a great thing to do as a family.

There are many places where you can practise water sports. Northern Portugal is known for having a rougher sea and deep sea fishing, surfing and bodyboarding are its leading features.

What you need to know

  • On the north coast, there are many places where you can practise water sports
  • On beaches with conditions to practise water sports, there are schools and companies that rent equipment and provide advice on safety and locations where you can practise each sport
  • There are several hotels in the localities on the north coast
  • You can also find good beaches in the Porto Metropolitan Area

In Viana do Castelo, the municipality of Afife has beaches with excellent conditions for surfing and bodyboarding. The most well-known is Arda Beach or Mariana Beach, as it is known among the locals. With the Blue Flag since 1996, this natural beach has already hosted various competitions in these sports.

Kitesurf is also practised on the northern coast. The beaches of Ofir, in Esposende, Cabedelo, in Viana do Castelo, and Moledo, in Caminha, are locations which offer conditions to practise this sport.

On all these beaches there are schools and companies that rent equipment and provide advice on safety and locations where you can practise each sport.

With the sun as the host, another pleasant suggestion is to go for a nice relaxing walk along the beach. Under the reorganization of the shoreline, and taking into account the environmental sensitivity of the area, protection for the dunes was built on the Portuguese coast along with miles of walkways that not only allow you to access the beaches but also let you go for long walks by the sea.

Taste the sea

On the north coast and in the country in general, you will find a cuisine made with the flavours of the sea. Simply taste the quality of the seafood or grilled fish which has just been caught.

You will like

  • The beaches of the north coast and the diversity of the region
  • The cuisine of restaurants and the local taverns in the towns by the sea

And we have wine of exceptional quality to accompany your meal. Try Alvarinho, a wine made from a white variety (grape with the same name) which comes from the sub-region of Monção and Melgaço - which belongs to the Demarcated Region of Vinho Verde - which is characterised by having an intense colour, straw, with citrus reflexes, an intense, distinct, delicate and complex aroma.

It is soft, round and smooth on the taste buds, full bodied and consistent. It is an excellent wine to accompany fish and seafood dishes, but also goes well with salads.

In the summer, it is rare not to find a town on the seafront that has special cultural entertainment and programmes which have their visitors in mind. There are usually concerts and normally these shows are free.

In addition to the so-called summer programme, it is worth checking the calendar for the festivities and pilgrimages that will take place on the days you are travelling.

What to do

  • Watch a procession by the sea and river that the fishermen dedicate to Our Lady of Agonia, in hundreds of small fishing and recreational boats
  • If you are in the Porto Metropolitan Area, visit Sea Life

In August, one of the most famous festivals of the north coast is the festival of Our Lady of Agonia in Viana do Castelo. Fishermen pray to the virgin to give them good sea and the festivities programme includes a costume party, the ethnographic procession, a parade of giants and the grand firework Serenade.

There are various hotels in the localities on the north coast, and for those who love nature and adventure, there are also good camping sites.

Visit the markets and fish markets in the fishing communities of Matosinhos, Póvoa de Varzim, Vila do Conde and Viana do Castelo. If you stay at a tourist apartment with a fully equipped kitchen, buy the fish and cook it yourself.

If you do not want to leave the Porto Metropolitan Area, be aware that you can also find good beaches in the northern capital, especially south of the Douro River. With more than 15 kilometres of clean beaches, the Atlantic coast of Vila Nova de Gaia is an example of successful rehabilitation and one of the most sought after places to go for a dip.

How to get there

For Porto, there are low cost flights, for example, from London (Stansted and Gatwick), Paris (Beauvais, Orly, Vatry and Charles de Gaulle), Marseille, Lille, Tours, St. Etienne, Bologna, Bordeaux, Lyon, Toulouse, Madrid, Barcelona El Prat, Tenerife, Valencia and Palma de Majorca.

Summer only, there are low cost airlines flying from Liverpool, Las Palmas, Carcassonne, Rodez and Nantes.

With regular tariffs, there are flights from London Gatwick, Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Orly.

From The Francisco Sá Carneiro International Airport, the best way to get to the centre of the city of Porto is by Metro. The trip will take approximately 30 minutes.

The A28 connects the Greater Porto area to the localities of the northern coast up to Caminha.

Be inspired

Choose your journey, find new places, have some fun and create memories for a lifetime.

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