Day 8. Exploring Espinho, Portugal

Our original plan had been to set a day aside to visit the Douro valley but as organised trips were not operating, this proved problematic.  It’s possible to take a train from Porto to Pinhāo from where one can connect to boat trips up the Douro valley.  However, with a journey of more than two hours in each direction and erratic departure times, there would have been very little time there.

Sao Bento Station platform Porto
Awaiting our train at Sao Bento station

Deciding to postpone our visit to the Douro valley until a future time we opted for a day at the seaside in nearby Espinho.  Trains depart from the beautiful Saö Bento station taking only 25 minutes (€1.80 return).  Espinho is on the same line as Aveiro so we had actually passed through the station earlier in the holiday.

Numbered roads in Espinho Portugal
Numbered roads throughout the town

Unlike many places we’d visited, Espinho has a modern station located in the town centre and is just a short walk from the beach.  The town has an unusual claim to fame as it is one of the very few places in Europe to have its streets numbered instead of named.  Espinho was built in the late 19th century to a grid pattern with streets running north to south having even numbers and those running east to west with odd ones.

Promenade, Espinho Portugal
The Espinho promenade

It was just a short walk from the station to the seafront from where we started the day with a bracing walk along the promenade.  As it was a Saturday morning there seemed to be quite a number of local people about enjoying the sunshine.

A lone surfer at Espinho Portugal
A lone surfer along the beach

There was quite a breeze and we watched the pounding Atlantic Ocean waves and frothy surf breaking against the shore.  The town is a popular surfing centre with several surf schools and shops dotted along the seafront.  There was little evidence of surfing during our visit as we only spotted one person braving the autumn chill heading out to sea armed with his surf board.

Colourful fishing boat at Espinho Portugal
Colourful fishing boats on the Espinho beach

Espinho started life as a small fishing village before becoming a holiday resort and a small fleet of fishing boats still operate from the shore.  Early each morning a popular open-air fish market takes place just across the road, selling the catch of the day.

Repairing fishing nets in Espinho, Portugal
Repairing the fishing nets

Several fishing boats were hauled up onto the beach and I liked their brightly painted appearance.  Two fishermen were painstakingly repairing their nets as we passed by making them ready to be used again.

Espinho Municipal Museum
Espinho Municipal Museum

A large chimney took our attention so we crossed the road to investigate and discovered that it’s now the Municipal Museum.  Formerly a canning factory, it has  been converted into the town’s art and cultural centre.  The museum presents the story of the old cannery and gives visitors a flavour of how Espinho used to be before tourism.

Espinho church along the seafront
Espinho church sits along the seafront next to the Municipal Museum

There didn’t seem to be much happening ahead so we did an about turn and retraced our steps back along the seafront continuing further in that direction.  The sun had deserted us and the strength of the wind increased with rain clouds threatening.

Espinho Casino
Espinho Casino

The largest building along the seafront is without doubt the Espinho Casino.  The town is a legalised gaming zone and home to a huge casino.  As casino’s aren’t our thing we didn’t venture inside but it is said to contain numerous bars and restaurants alongside the gaming tables and slot machines.

Piscina Solário Atlântico, Espinho
Piscina Solário Atlântico, Espinho

The town is also noted for its art-deco open-air swimming pool which lies just beyond the casino.  The Piscina Solário Atlântico was built in 1942 and has two pools fed with sea water and a diving platform, offering a warmer alternative to bathers than the chilly Atlantic Ocean.

Espinho's art-deco swimming pool
Espinho’s art-deco swimming pool

It was actually closed, not because of the virus but for major renovation works.  We did manage to peer through its glass panelled walls but it didn’t quite look the same without any water.

Beach cafe, Espinho
The deserted beach cafe

Rain was starting to fall and although we had taken umbrellas it was too windy to use them so it was a good excuse to pop into one of the beach bars for a welcome drink.  Everyone else seemed to have the same idea as there were few vacant tables when we arrived.  However, we must have stayed quite awhile as when I took the photo on leaving, everyone else had vanished.

The start of the Espinho boardwalk
The starting point of the boardwalk

It had then been our plan to take a walk along part of the Espinho boardwalk which stretches for 14 miles (23 km) all the way to Vila de Gaia along the coast.  There was no way we were going to attempt even a short section of this without coats in the driving rain but we did venture onto the start of it to view the sand dunes.

The Espinho boardwalk trail
The start of the boardwalk across the sand dunes

Our planned walk would have taken us three miles along to Granja from where we could have easily taken the train back to Porto.  The boardwalk ‘Passadico’ was constructed to prevent walkers eroding the sand dunes and damaging the vegetation and as it hugs the coast would be a lovely easy stroll on a fine day.

Sao Bento Station, Porto at night
Sao Bento Station, Porto at night

By the time we had returned to the station we were in a bedraggled state but soon dried out on once we boarded the train.  After cutting our stay short in Espinho we spent some time back in the aparthotel and later had an evening stroll through the centre of Porto enjoying exploring this beautiful city for one last time.

Porto and the Douro river by night
The Douro riverside at night

The centre looked just as beautiful as during the day, illuminated with its twinkling lights.  We took one last stroll past the Sāo Bento station and then continued down the steep cobbled street to the riverside which was equally lovely with its illuminated bridge.

Cafes and bars along Porto's waterfront
Bars and restaurants along Porto’s riverside

The sounds of Fado music gently filled the air as we passed the many restaurants and bars that line the waterfront.  Sadly for a Saturday evening they were very quiet but let’s hope this won’t be for much longer and that tourists start returning to Porto in the coming months.

Porto airport terminal building
The deserted terminal building

Back at the aparthotel we gathered our belongings together and after enjoying a lovely breakfast in the hotel’s cafe the next morning we returned to the airport for our return flight to Manchester.

View of Porto from plane window
Last views of sunny Porto

The airport was eerily quiet with few flights due to depart.  Our Ryanair flight departed on time and I would estimate that 80% of the seats were occupied.  Our nine night stay in Porto had been a delight and we had enjoyed every minute of our visit to northern Portugal.  With safety measures in place everywhere, it felt just as safe as staying at home and I’m so pleased we decided to travel there.

This brings an end to my series of posts on Porto. If you have enjoyed reading these you may also like:

A weekend in Lisbon

A day in Faro, The Algarve

 

41 thoughts on “Day 8. Exploring Espinho, Portugal

  1. ThingsHelenLoves

    The picture of the surfer compared to the fishermen mending nets made me smile, the men are wrapped up but the surfers half naked and off for a dip in that rugged looking sea. I guess the call of the waves is strong to him!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m late replying to this, Marion and everything has changed since yesterday. We are the only part of Surrey that is in Tier 2 but my eldest son is in Tier 4 so he won’t be coming over but we’re fortunate to have our youngest with us. What about you?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reena Deshmukh

    I have read all your Porto posts. They were so beautiful and lively. So I guess this was your last day visit and your pictures defined, how sad you were feeling, while leaving the place. Amazing, though.
    I loved your ‘to the point descriptions’ so that I may know, where do I have to head to, if visiting Porto. Great

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your posts on Portugal. A shame that I missed Espinho, although I did go to Aveiro, as you’d mentioned! It really is the smaller, seaside towns of Portugal which capture the essence of Portuguese culture, of being near the sea and enjoying the slow, laidback atmosphere of it all. Greatly appreciate the adventure, and I look forward to whatever travel stories you have next!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We stayed 2 nights in Espinho last year on our Camino walk from Lisbon to Porto. The walk from Espinho to Porto along the ocean was fabulous in late October. The seafood restaurants near the museum (off the main drag) are fabulous with fresh delicious affordable meals. On weekends they are packed with locals. It’s definitely a big hit for us as we got to see the fishermen bring in their sardines on Saturday morning, totally relaxed by the beach. https://hakkahiker.wordpress.com/2019/10/27/espinho-the-quiet-side/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Espinho looks very different from some of the other towns, quieter and less touristy. Shame about the beach walk but no point if it was chucking it down. Next time maybe? Really enjoyed all the posts on your Porto trip.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.