Just a short distance away from the old city of Porto, the Foz do Douro district (literally meaning “the mouth of the Douro”) offers a refreshing escape right by the ocean. Follow the guide!
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to know more about the history of Porto? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the city. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
Looking for an hotel in Porto? Be sure to check out the Captain’s article: Where to stay in Porto? Advice & recommendations
Are you planning your stay in Porto? Check out Captain Ulysses’ detailed article on the best things to do in the city: A Guide to Porto
Foz do Douro in a few words
Once a small fishing port, Foz do Douro has become a posh district dotted with opulent villas. But far from being dull and mundane, Foz do Douro is a colorful and lively district, where tourists and visitors alike come and take a breath of fresh air a stone’s throw from the city’s historic center!
In Foz do Douro, you’ll run into fishermen, passing visitors and members of the Portuguese bourgeoisie enjoying a nice stroll on the ocean front.
Captain Ulysses can only recommend venturing into this maritime district to discover another side of Porto.
Visiting Foz do Douro: the best things to do
Walking along the water
charms of Foz do Douro, nothing beats a nice walk along the wooded avenues bordering the mouth of the Douro.
Put away your map (or your GPS!) and take the time to stroll quietly on the Paseio Alegre, the Avenida do Brasil and the Avenida de Montevideu, on the waterfront.
Along the way, be sure to pass by the Jardim do Paseo Alegre and the Pérgola da Foz, built in the 1930s.
The beaches of Porto
Better be warned: the water is cold, and rarely exceeds 18°C / 64°F! As far as he’s concerned, Captain Ulysses rather prefers the warm waters of the Caribbeans, but feel free to go for a swim in the ocean if you’re more courageous than he is. The beaches of Foz de Douro are (from south going north):
- Praia das Pastoras
- Praia do Carneiro
- Praia do Ourigo
- Praia dos Ingleses
- Praia da Luz (the Captain’s favorite 😍)
- Praia de Gondarém
- Praia do Molhe
- Praia do Homem do Leme
- The Praia do Aquario
- Praia do Castelo do Queijo
The Serralves Foundation
Nestled in the neighborhood of Foz do Douro, the Serralves Foundation comprises:
- A museum designed by renowned Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira and offering a look at contemporary art from the 1960s to the present day.
- The Casa de Serralves, an exceptional building to which some of the most emblematic artists of the Art Deco movement collaborated: Siclis, Brandt, Lalique, Perzel and Ruhlmann.
- Vast 18-hectare gardens dotted with sculptures by artists Claes Oldenburg, Dan Graham, Fernanda Gomes, Richard Serra and Veit Stratmann.
The Serralves Foundation Museum is the 2nd most visited museum in Portugal.
👉 To avoid waiting in line, you can book your ticket online: entry ticket to the Serralves Foundation.
The Castelo do Queijo
Located north of the district of Foz do Douro, the Forte de São Francisco do Queijo aka the Castelo do Queijo (the Castle of the Cheese) is an imposing fortress built in the 15th century to protect the city from pirates from North Africa. The fort was completely restored in the 17th century to defend the region from attacks by the Spanish fleet.
Why this peculiar name? Simply because the fort is built on a rounded rock whose shape recalls, it seems, that of a cheese loaf!
Above the entrance to the Castelo do Queijo, be sure to take a look at the coat of arms of Portugal. The interior houses the former governor’s quarters, a small chapel, as well as a small museum. But the highlight of the visit is most definitely the view, which is particularly stunning at sunset.
The Felgueiras Lighthouse
The 17-meter-high Felgueiras Lighthouse ( Farol de Felgueiras in Portuguese) stands at the end of the Felgueiras pier, at the mouth of the Douro.
Built in 1886, the lighthouse stopped operating in 2009, except for its foghorn (which beeps in foggy weather).
The Parque da Cidade
Facing the Atlantic Ocean in the district of Foz do Douro, the Parque da Cidade (City Park) is the largest urban park in Portugal (83 hectares). Inaugurated in 1993, this huge park, designed by the Portuguese architect Sidónio Pardal, was actually completed some ten years later, in 2002.
With its green spaces, its woods, its swans and its ducks, the Parque da Cidade is the perfect bucolic haven of peace, away from the hustle and bustle!
Sea Life Porto
Foz do Douro is home to Sea Life Porto, the city’s famous aquarium. It is home to nearly 5,800 species, including penguins, sharks and rays.
The aquarium is very involved in the conservation of marine life and the preservation of the marine habitat.
👉 To avoid queuing at the entrance to the aquarium, do not hesitate to book your tickets now: ticket for Sea Life Porto
Mercado da Foz
To fully experience the daily life of the inhabitants of Foz do Douro, head for the Mercado da Foz!
Located a few minutes from the seafront, this small covered market counts quite a few flower, fish, fruit and vegetable stalls.
The market is perfect to eat on the go and discover local specialties, such as cheeses from the Trás-os-Montes region or leitão , suckling pig.
The Fort of São João Baptista da Foz
Built in the 16th century on the site of a Benedictine church and monastery, this fortified castle was intended to defend the city from attacks by pirates and enemy fleets.
Temporary exhibitions are regularly held in the fort.
Why not board a boat and set sail for the ocean?
Weather permitting, some boat tours departing from the historic center invite visitors you to venture to the mouth of the river and even further to the Atlantic Ocean.
👉 Guided sailing experience on the Douro
Getting to Foz do Douro
Located a few kilometers west of Porto’s historic center, Foz do Douro is easily accessible:
- On foot (a little over an hour)
- Tram: this is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to a ride on an authentic Portuguese tram. More info here.
- Hop-on hop-off tourist bus tours: more info here.
- Line 500 (for information, access to public transport is included in the Porto Card)
Praia da Luz
To treat yourself to a nice break after exploring the district of Foz do Douro, Captain Ulysses recommends Praia da Luz café-restaurant.
Wile it’s quite expensive, the view is well worth it, especially at sunset.
Accommodations in Foz do Douro
You’d rather avoid the city center’s hustle and bustle? Why not stay in Foz do Douro? You’ll find here a selection of the best hotels in the area.
👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in Porto!
👉 Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all the Captain’s suggestions in Porto!
🛏️ Accommodation: to book your accommodation in Porto, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends Booking.com. From youth hostels to luxury boutique hotels: there’s plenty to choose from. The Captain particularly recommends:
– youth hostels: The Passenger Hostel and Urban Garden Porto Central Hostel
– budget and mid-range hotels: Decanting Porto House and Porto Charming Hotel
– high-end hotels: NH Porto Jardim and The Yeatman.
🎟️ Activities: museums, monuments, guided tours, boat tours, excursions… there’s plenty to do in Porto! To avoid wasting time in endless queues, especially during high season, the Captain strongly recommends that you opt for skip-the-line tickets and book your activities in advance. You can book all your tickets and tourist activities on GetYourGuide and Civitatis.
⛵ Cruises: Porto is undoubtedly synymous with Douro! It’d be a shame to leave the “Capital of the North” without embarking on a Douro river cruise. If you’re only staying in Porto for a long weekend, the Captain recommends the six bridges cruise. If you have more time, then he highly recommends the Douro Valley cruise with wine tasting & lunch.
🎫 Citypass: valid from 1 to 4 days, the Porto Card includes unlimited access to city transport (including to get to/from the airport), free entry to 6 museums and a selection of discounts in museums, attractions, Port wine cellars and shops.
🚐 Transfers: you can take the metro at the airport to get to the city center (1/2 hour). But if you prefer to avoid public transport, you can also book a transfer at very reasonable prices.
🚌 Local transport: you’ll propably quickly tire of Porto’s steeply sloping streets and might be tempted to take local transport instead of walking. The public transport network is convenient and easy to navigate. You can buy your tickets directly at metro stations and bus stops (be careful, you will need to take 1 Andante card per person).
You should also know that access to public transport is included in the Porto Card. Otherwise, the hop-on hop-off bus tours are great options to explore the city. You can also opt for a pass including access to hop-on hop-off buses, the funicular as well as tramways.
Among other means of transport, you can also try the bicycle, the electric bicycle, the segway, the tuk-tuk, the small train …
✈️ Flights: to book your flights to Porto, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends Skyscanner. You’ll be able to compare countless offers to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.
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