Porto Beaches#8 in Best Things To Do in Porto
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Porto's location along Portugal's northwestern coast grants the city access to some prime beachfront. If you find yourself experiencing a sunny day, visiting Portugal's northwest coast is a great way to pass the time. In Foz, located east of the city center along Avenida do Brasil, you'll find a handful of small beaches, like Praia do Molhe and Praia de Gondarém. Though picturesque, the terrain just offshore is a little rocky, so swimming isn't advised. But you can still bring a towel to lie on the sand, soak up the sun and dip your feet in the cool Atlantic for a little refreshment. Speaking of refreshment, this area of Porto is also packed with plenty of beachfront bars, restaurants and cafes — it's quite a popular place to enjoy the outdoors both day and night.
Meanwhile in the town just south of the Porto city center, Vila Nova de Gaia, you'll happen upon beaches with soft white sand and conditions more suitable for swimming. The beaches of Vila Nova de Gaia are known for their impeccable water quality, environmental awareness and safety — awarded and recognized with blue flags — making them some of the most impressive in Portugal. Madalena, Lavadores, Salgueiros and Miramar are some examples of beaches you can travel to from Porto. Both active types and those looking for a little R&R will find a day at one of these beaches enjoyable: The shorelines here feature amenities like volleyball nets, bike paths and shaded cabanas.
The best way to get to the beaches of Foz and Vila Nova de Gaia is by bus or by taxi. To reach Foz, you can pick up the No. 200 bus along Rua do Campo Alegre in central Porto; take it in the direction of Castelo do Queijo and get off at the Igreja Carmelitas stop. You can also pick up the 1M bus on Rua do Campo Alegre toward Matosinhos and get off at the Praia da Luz stop; or get the No. 500 bus along Rua do Ouro toward Matosinhos and get off at Praia da Luz. To reach the Vila Nova de Gaia beaches from central Porto, pick up the 902 bus on Rua do Campo Alegre toward Lavadores and take it to the end of the line, or hop on 906 at the São Bento metro stop in the direction of Madalena and get off at the Cerro stop. If you want to save some money, pack a cooler with a picnic to quell your hunger and thirst while you're at the beach. But if you're looking to explore some of the local eateries, you'll have no problem finding somewhere to dine right off the beach in both Foz and Vila Nova de Gaia.
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#1 Dom Luís I Bridge
This iconic arching iron bridge straddles the Douro River, connecting Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. Though Porto is known for having quite a few bridges, the Dom Luís I Bridge is especially renowned because it was designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel, the mastermind behind the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Plus, at the time of its completion in 1886, this bridge was the longest iron arch in the world. The bridge accommodates cars on its lower level and Porto's metro on its upper level; pedestrians can walk along the bridge on both levels. Stroll along the upper deck of the bridge and you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the edifices built into the hillside cliffs that line the river.
Admiring the bridge's composition and the views it offers is something all visitors to Porto must do, according to recent travelers. "This bridge has got to be one of the most amazing pieces of architecture," swooned one TripAdvisor user. "Be sure to walk both top and bottom levels if you can, views are excellent!" A visit here would pair well with a stop at some of Porto's nearby wineries across the bridge in Vila Nova de Gaia. Another option would be to hop on a Douro River cruise or boat tour, which would allow you to see all six bridges in one go.
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