Breathing in the sea air at Foz do Douro

To the north-east of the city of Porto is the Costa Verde, with its beach bars and restaurants, and a little further south is the Foz do Douro district, which in Portuguese means "the mouth of the Douro", popular with surfers thanks to its rough waters. Aside from the seaside activities, there are a number of sights to see from the Fort of São João Baptista to the Avenida da Liberdade.Take in the Fort São Francisco Xavier, the Parc da Cidade, the House of Architecture, the Serralves Foundation, which includes a museum, beautiful gardens and a mansion, the Church of Senhor de Matosinhos, the Matosinhos market, the Port of Leixões and the Museum da Quinta de Santiago... With family or friends, Foz do Douro and the surrounding area is a great place to spend half a day or more, depending on the season. The atmosphere is very different from that of Porto city centre, where you can breathe in the sea air and relax.

Chemin côtier avec Pergola à Foz do Douro, Porto, Portugal

- © Henner Damke / Shutterstock

How do I get to Foz do Douro?

Although a little out of the way, this district is well worth a visit and can be reached by any means of transport. On foot, it's a 1 hour 10 minute walk, which should be avoided with children. By tram for the picturesque side, take line 1 (Historic Centre/Foz Do Douro). By bus with the number 500, which you can take from Ribeira to Matosinhos. By bike with a simple hire or accompanied by a guide for a tour of around 3 hours. A taxi can also take you there for a few euros.

What can you visit in and around Foz do Douro?

Jardim do Passeio Alegre

Facing the Atlantic Ocean, the Jardim do Passeio Alegre invites you to take a stroll. Created in the 19th century, it features sculptures, fountains, palm trees and shady paths. In summer, small concerts are given in the bandstand. You can get to the Garden by tram. The terminus is just outside.

Jardim do Passeio Alegre

- © vidalgo / Shutterstock

Farol de Felgueiras

For a walk, to admire the view of the ocean and watch the waves hit the pier. This really is one of Porto's best photo spots. You can spend long minutes trying to capture the best shot. It's just beyond the Jardim do Passeio Alegre.

Felgueiras Lighthouse

- © Curioso.Photography / Shutterstock

Carneiro, dos Ingleses, Gondarém and Molhe beaches

You can take advantage of the pedestrian promenade, which is lined with a green path for bikes and rollerblades, to stroll along and watch the ocean and the waves crash more or less hard against the rocks. There are plenty of café terraces and restaurants where you can stop for lunch or a drink at any time of day.

Castelo do Queijo

Also known as the Fort of São Francisco Xavier, this ancient 15th-century fortification was built to defend the Portuguese against the Spanish during the War of Restoration. Castelo do Queijo means cheese castle in Portuguese, and the fort takes its name from the resemblance between this food and the rock on which it stands. Inside you'll find a museum that isn't overly interesting, but does provide access to a very pretty viewpoint. The entrance fee is a modest 0.50cts, so it would be a shame to miss out.

Cheese Castle

- © islavicek / Shutterstock

Parque da Cidade

Created by landscape architect Sidónio Pardal in 1991, this park is one of Portugal's largest urban parks, stretching right down to the ocean. Its unique feature is that visitors can breathe in the sea air and smell the iodine of the ocean while strolling through green spaces made up of eucalyptus woods. Opening times: April to September, daily from 7am to midnight, and October to March, daily from 7am to 10pm.

Matosinhos beach

This beach can be reached via the Parque da Cidade and stretches as far as the port of Leixões. This is the beach for surfers and kite surfers, but you can also hire sun loungers, play volleyball and enjoy a whole host of other activities. It's one of the only sandy beaches without rocks, so it's perfect for swimming, but you'll need to be brave because even in summer the sea is cold. You can also admire a beautiful sculpture made from red fishing nets to pay homage to the fishermen of Matosinhos, the Anémona. It is 50 metres high and was created by Janet Echelman. It was named the Anemone because its shape changes with the wind, just as an anemone moves with the currents.

Matosinhos Beach

- © katatonia82 / Shutterstock

Mercado de Matosinhos

Matosinhos is famous for its fresh fish, which you can buy at the market. You'll need to get up early, as the market opens at 6.30am, to get the best choice at this market housed in a concrete half-cylinder built in 1946. Popular with the locals, there are also a number of cafés and restaurants where you can sample the specialities. You can even buy your own fish and ask a restaurant to cook it for you.

Serralves Foundation

Just 5 minutes by bus from Foz do Douro, the Serralves Foundation is well worth a visit. It houses the Museum of Contemporary Art, an 18-hectare park, the Manoel de Oliveira Film House and the Serralves Art Deco Villa. In summer, concerts are held in the gardens.

Fondation de Serralves

- © Carlos Neto / Shutterstock

⭐ Where to stay in Foz do Douro?

by Faustine PEREZ
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