Matosinhos is a major port and fishing town in the north of Portugal, which is famed for its fish restaurants and glorious sandy beach. This Matosinhos beach is the largest sandy beach close to Porto and is loved by the residents of Porto and Matosinhos, who come here during the summer days.
Dominating the coastline of Matosinhos we find the beach and the Leixões port, and though this last is often an eyesore from the beach, they are both the heart of the town. From this harbour the fresh fish is sold in the morning market, and on the streets, the smell of grilled fish is present along the many seafood restaurants.
1 - The Matosinhos Beach
Matosinhos beach is the largest beach inside the Porto metropolitan area and it turns into a beautiful bay of white sands and clear sea waters. During the summer, the beach becomes a centre of activity, with many beach sports for all ages, often we can see teenagers and families relaxing and doing some activities in their daily rotine. The beach is a great attraction for many people and is loved by all inside the metropolitan area of Porto and Matosinhos. The only downside is that Praia de Matosinhos has in his shadow the container port and fishing harbour, and it does not provide idyllic sightseeing, which certain tourists may wish for.
In the summer, the ocean is supervised by lifeguards and is safe for youngsters to swim. Here we can find as well an assortment of cafes and beach bars. Matosinhos Beach is very busy in the summer season and incredibly crowded at the weekends by residents and local surf schools and other water sports.
2 - “Senhor do Bom Jesus de Matosinhos” Sanctuary
The Sanctuary of Senhor do Bom Jesus de Matosinhos is the city's most outstanding monument and its parish church. The church has the statue of “Bom Jesus”, that was transferred in the 16th century from the “Bouças” Monastery. It was found at a place known as the “Senhor do Padrão do Bom Jesus” (the Bom Jesus Marker Stone), near the beach and has been devoted for many years. We can assist those celebrations during the month of May and June. These religious celebrations are among the most important in Matosinhos and northern Portugal. It was constructed in 1542 and the current Baroque design derives from its 1732 reconstruction and design by architect Nicolau Nasoni, also responsible for “Torre dos Clérigos” in Porto. Inside, there are wonderful examples of gold-leafed carving on the main chapel where the work has been attributed to Oporto sculptor Luis Pereira da Costa.
3 - The “Castelo do Queijo”
The Fort Castelo do Queijo stands in this Matosinhos beach's border, the direct transliteration of the name it’s “The Cheese Castle”. This fort, originally named São Francisco Xavier Fort, had been built to defend Matosinhos out of Spanish invasions during the “Guerra da Restauração”, (in 1640 into 1668) when Portugal was forced to gain independence from Spain.
The bizarre name is related to the stone, where the castle it had been built upon, which supposedly looks like a piece of cheese. In the fort, we have a little museum to visit and some terraces with an incredible view of the shore.
4 - Matosinhos Traditional Market
Matosinhos Market is a place to experience the local culture, a daily market that gives you an idea of the Portuguese lifestyle. Much like other Portuguese markets, this has a morning event until the fish stalls begin to shut, around lunchtime. There is a wide offer in what concerns fruits and vegetables, as well as cafes and restaurants. The current marketplace is placed in a building which is a national monument and dates from the 1950s.
5 - Senhor do Padrão
The "Senhor do Padrão" marks the place where, according to local legend, the statue of “Bom Jesus” washed-up to the shore, on the beginning of May. A place that has certainly been marked since ancient times, however, it was later than 1758 that the current dome was built. Now the monument is placed inside the “Padrão” park, side by side our beautiful Harbour Inn Design Townhouse, for the pleasure of our visitors.
6 - The Leixões Harbour and the Cruise Terminal
The Leixões Harbour is placed on the end of Leça River, creating an estuary. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it was established as Portugal's biggest harbour and freight terminal for Porto city coastline. There has been created a new cruise terminal in 2015 for the biggest cruise lines, unable to dock in the harbour until then. This was a remarkable achievement designed with the future in mind by the architect Luis Pedro Silva.
7 - Sea Life, Creatures for all the Family
Sea Life Porto aquarium is the biggest in northern Portugal. It is a fantastic attraction for kids and families. Which sea monsters do you like most? Beautiful Sharks, colourful Clownfish or Sea Turtles and much more. Are you curious? Can a smart Octopus catch your attention, or do you think rays are more interesting? Perhaps you cannot pick just one of them, Sea Life has more than 3.000 creatures!
In SEA LIFE you can make your mind up and watch them all into the contested and the enigmatic ocean life.
8 - The "Fundação Serralves" and Contemporary Art Museum
Contemporary Artwork is a topic, although it's subjective for one’s inspirational and while for others is absolutely nonsense.
The Serralves Museum tries to bridge this multiple domains, using an outstanding selection of displays, together with the superb “Casa de Serralves”, an art-deco villa. The Fundação Serralves has a tranquillity and serene atmosphere, and it's a recommended place to escape the hecticness of Porto.
9 - Visit Porto and Ribeira District
The Ribeira can be a maze of narrow streets and buildings which line the northern banks of the Douro river, from the other side of the winelodges placed in Gaia. This area of the town includes bars restaurants and numerous stores, all a breath-taking overlook to the Luis I Bridge and the river.
The Ribera has a fantastic setting, on the evenings the roads come into life with an equivalent mixture of Portuguese and international tourists dining or socialising. Which captures the Douro river soul, while researching the Ribeira pleasures.
10 - “Livraria Lello” Bookstore
This is one of the most famous Bookshops in the world is the inspiration for the Hogwarts library at the Harry Potter books and movies. It was a place frequent visited by J.K. Rowling to write some chapters of their first books.
It's easy to understand why this lovely construction made a permanent impression on J.K. Rowling (author of Harry Potter living in Porto throughout the early 1990s), all the bookshop inside is lined with handmade hardwood panels, includes a stained glassed roof a magnetic stairwell connecting both levels.
11 - Porto City Park
Located at the center of the town of Porto, is the biggest park in Portugal, having a place of 83 hectares that extend out as much as the Atlantic Ocean, that will be something of a charm. This park it’s only about 20 min by walk from our “Harbour Inn Design Townhouse”. It had been created by the landscape architect Sidónio Pardal and inaugurated in 1993 (1st stage) and 2002 (2st stage). The park, having some natural rocks on the structure for paving and supporting walls to terrain places, produce a bucolic and rural notion. It’s a natural place for long walks with families and kids or just doing a picnic with you soul mate.
12 – Gaia Port Wine Lodges Tours and Wine Tastings
Porto is famed for Port, a delicious sweet fortified wine, which is aged in vast cellars that line the southern banks of Douro River. To be classified as Port, the grapes must be grown in the Douro valley and then matured in cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia.
The main port producers like, Sandeman, Croft, Calém, Offley, Ferreira and Ramos Pinto, are placed within a relatively compact area. Every Port manufacturer provides tours of the cellars and are blended with a Port tasting session. With more than ten Port cellars to see, you're sure to depart Porto as Port “Connoisseur”.
Matosinhos and Porto are suitable for children and families?
Matosinhos and Porto is a great destination for families seeking a city break within Europe. Porto and Matosinhos are a fantastic destination for families one of the best in Europe. The Portuguese are supportive and extremely friendly for families, kids will be welcomed in restaurants and tourist attractions.
There's a variety of actions that will amuse kids, such as boat rides, tram rides, the cable car and SeaLife aquarium. The main issues for young children are the numerous steep hills to climb, summertime heat and surf school lessons.
"The biggest risk with children, is that they will no longer want to leave anymore to another place."