Foz do Douro, Porto
A fine half-day trip is to make your way to Foz do Douro, the posh section of town adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean. In this area, there are beaches, as well as walkways and piers that get you right up to the water. Make your way out to the edge of a pier (being careful not to trip over the fishermen's lines) and ponder the ocean view and maybe even a lighthouse. Back by the road, there are a number of beachside booths and concessions, but we decided to skip these and wander back to the center of town.
Porto is extremely jealous of Lisbon and doesn't accept loosing in any circumstance. Lisbon has its coast of Estoril, and Porto has... the Foz.
However, here, the big city must accept the defeat. The walk along the river is beautiful, lively, but the sea doesn't help, and beach is something to forget.
Defeat? I'm I crazy? Lisbon have no "francesinhas"...
First stop on my second day was a trip down to the old fishing village of Foz do Douro (Douro's End). I went to catch a fresh sea breeze and stare out into the Atlantic, across the vast nothingness to the Americas. The water stank - it was full of bottles, plastic bags and god knows what else. Some crazy people were swimming in it, even though they must have known what was in it from the broken bottles they had to wade through on the beach to get to the water's edge.
The waves were impressive, though. Great Atlantic breakers smashing into the shore after travelling unmolested for thousands of miles. The pier I walked down warned of something in Portuguese, and from the way the waves crashed into the pier and the silhouette images of people drowning in great splashes of water, I guessed that at some time during the day the pier was not a place to be unless you wanted to be dragged out into the ocean by a wave of filth.
We visited Foz for the afternoon, arriving by tram. (Tram # 1E and #18 from Porto centre)
Buses #1 (from Praca Almeida Garrett) or #24 (from the Cordoaria) or a long steady walk are other options.
After walking through a park, stopping off for a drink and snack (please see my Restaurant tips), strolling past the Castle, we arrived at the beach.
This was early March, back home in England it was snowing! Here in Foz, the sun was shining and it was quite hot ;-)
The Atlantic Ocean was quite rough, with waves crashing against the rocks, but sat outside a beach side restaurant, it was pleasant and warm!
It was too cold to swim, and apparently its not advised here, or even further up the coast, as the water is quite polluted with waste from the refinery and Port of Matosinhos.
Foz do Douro, is situated at 'the end of the Douro' , where the river and sea join, and was originally the fishermans quarter. You'll still see small fishing boats, nets and pots along the roadside shingle beaches , as well as lines of men fishing by rod and line.
Foz has an atmosphere that is different to Porto, with its esplanades and Boulevards, lined with ice cream coloured houses and hotels. As it was March, a lot of the cafes etc were not yet opened, but we saw a few trucks laden with cafe tables and chairs, and there was a slight whiff of paint mingling with the sea air!
Apparently, In the summer Foz is buzzing all day and into the early hours, along its ocean front esplanade with bars, restaurants and clubs attracting locals and visitors.
Also, JK Rowling wrote some of the first Harry Potter books at the cafes of Foz, when she was living in Porto!
If you want to see the Atlantic Ocean, take tram 1 (very typical) or bus 500 from Rua Nova de Alfândega/Rua Infante D. henrique (before Igreja/Church de S. Francisco). They both go along the Douro River to Foz de Douro.
Once there, you will see the beaches, Forte de São Baptista (Castelo da Foz de Douro), Jardim (Garden) do Passeio Alegre and some beautiful streets.
After it, take bus 500 to... (visit the next Things to Do Tip).
... to Praça de Gonçalves Zarco. Once there, you will see, in the middle, the statue of D. João I, and on your left, Forte de São Francisco Xavier (Castelo de Queijo).
After it, take bus 502 to the city centre.
This area, located West of the city next to the mouth of Duoro river, appears to be going through a rapid gentrification, with yuppie brand new townhouses sharing space with small traditional cottages. The waterfront is very pleasant to walk along.
Foz is a pleasant long pedestrian's walk by the river/sea. Foz means river mouth, and along the walk you can find green spaces and belvederes. The view is very beautiful, and while talking a stroll here you can also enjoy locals' life, since this is one of the places where most of them come for a walk on weekends. On the end of the road you will find a nice garden. My photo was taken in Foz in a very foggy day and sea is not visible; even though, i posted it because it's one of my favourites.
Walk around the Foz. It means where the river (the Douro) meats the Ocean, and it's actually how the area it's called.
Just by the nice garden - Passeio Alegre - you have Forte de São João Baptista, a fortress built during XVI e XVII.