Hire your campervan in Porto
Porto is only the beginning; here's all you need to know about the city and its surroundings
Northern Portugal’s Costa Verde stretches from the Spanish border to Porto. The coast is a lush green and lined with endless white beaches, fishing villages, and rocky cliffs. The Costa Verde has been popular among Portuguese holidaymakers and surfers in the know for ages, but since most other tourists head straight over to the Algarve, this gorgeous coast remains yours to explore.
Much of this coastline is constantly sieged by bouldering Atlantic waves, but luckily for you, some beaches remain spared. For unspoilt beach time, many of the beaches near Ancora offer calm waters and sandy dunes for leisurely walks. The 16km-stretch of white sand and rolling dunes of Esposende are a great option, too -- especially because the iodine-rich waters are supposedly beneficial to your health.
With hotspots like Estoril, Ericeira, and Peniche, Portugal is a surfer’s paradise. it’s peculiar that the Costa Verde isn’t known amongst the international surf community, because the north is a real wave magnet. Maybe the coast’s waves remain hidden to the public because, here, the coast is rougher, the water is colder -- and the waves break harder. Costa Verde is for real chargers only.
Mindelo is great wave for aerial surfers. It’s a fairly consistent exposed reef break, that on a WNW barrels perfectly and has great aerial sections. Espinho is another barrel machine when given a SW-NW, breaking off the pier and building up a fast barrel that closes out over sharp rocks -- edgy! A little further down from Espinho lies Praia do Furadouro. It has a powerful, barreling right breaking on exposed reef. Closer to Porto, the long urban beach between Porto and Matosinhos offers a year-round beach/reef break that picks up seemingly every swell and profits from local windswells too.
Kitesurfers and windsurfers can go all out at Cabedelo, near Viana do Castelo, where a consistent (onshore) wind blows year-round. It has both a clean freeride spot at the harbor entrance, and a a big beach where waves roll in. In wintertime, a southern wind prevails and big swell hits the coastline -- it’s when rookie season is over and only the experienced windsurfers venture out.
Porto is at once pretty and raw, picturesque and industrial. The city might not have all the architecture of Lisbon -- but it’s every bit as good. Some even argue that Porto infinitely more fun; it’s a vibrant city, full of young urbanites and artists adding their own colours to the cityscape. For instance, many of Porto’s walls and buildings are decorated with street art!
Life in Porto is best enjoyed drinking a good port or vinho verde along the Douro river; by enjoying the fabulous northern cuisine along a hillslope; or while browsing the eccentric little shops in the old city centre; and definitely by hitting the urban beach that stretches all the way to Matosinhos. Porto is enjoying the finer things Portugal has to offer, and adding a little bit of oddity to the mix!