Destinations / October 11, 2016. By Susan Connolly
There are some great beaches close to Porto. From the mid May to the end of September the weather is suitable to lie on the beach. Espinho is the best beach town south of Porto.
The majority of its visitors come from the interior regions of the north. It is served by the Porto-Aveiro-Coimbra railway. Trains from Porto are regular and inexpensive and depart from São Bento and Campanha train station in the centre of Porto. The journey by train from Porto to Espinho takes about 35 minutes. Espinho is a great place to visit the beach if you have small children and you are not driving it is very easy to get around with a buggy and there is a lovely playground. If you are driving it is almost impossible to find a parking place on Monday because it hosts the largest farmer’s market in the country.
Restaurants and cafés line the long promenade adjacent to the sandy beach where you can enjoy delicious fish or seafood and sit back and admire a view of the atlantic.
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There is a great variety of shops, cafés and restaurants on the main shopping street which is pedestrianised. Aipal is a café and bakery with lovely homemade snacks and cakes. There is one on the main street Rua 19 and a few smaller branches spread thoughout the town. The soup of the day is very popular with the locals. There is also a very good vegetarian restaurant on Rua 21, the number on the door is 219, Restaurante NutriVerde.
Espinho also has the largest casino in northern Portugal which overlooks a long beach where the traditional fishing boats are still pulled up onto the sands. The casino hosts music shows and live concerts that are popluar among locals and tourists alike. Anyone over 18 can try their luck at the slot machines.
There are three public swimming pools in Espinho. The outdoor pool is open during the summer months and there are two indoor pools open all year round, one of which has heated seawater and offers thalassotherapy.
On market day the town is a hive of activity. People come from all over the region to attend the market and it is a great way to get a glimpse of local life. You can find everything here from food to handicraft, clothes and kitchen utensils. It can take up to four hours to see everything.
At the beginning of the market delicious food stalls are tempting with smells of piri piri chicken in the air. There are wonderful varieties of bread, cakes and snacks to delight the taste buds. Baskets overflow with tasty fruit and veg in amazing vibrant colours
Clothes and shoes are just as prevalent as fruit and veg as you make your way down the busy street. Sturdy handmade baskets and hand painted pottery would make an ideal gift.
The best bargains are to be found at the end of the market, known as the gypsy market. These sellers include gypsies who come faithfully, dressed in clothes that seem unusual to most. The women in their long black skirts and large hoop earrings.