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 especially for families. But that’s not all Espinho also hosts the largest farmer’s market in the north of Portugal.
We’ve spent many family holidays in Espinho and we love it there especially when travelling with the kids. Espinho has it all; beach, swimming pools, playground for the kids, a cinema for the older ones ( most films are in English and subtitled). 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.
We have created a 2 day Lisbon Itinerary filled with suggestions for fun things to do, places to stay and eat with the kids.
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.
There is also a great variety of shops, cafés and restaurants on the main shopping street which is pedestrianised. Don’t forget to visit Aipal 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 throughout the town. The soup of the day is very popular with the locals. There is also a very good vegetarian restaurant, Restaurante NutriVerde on Rua 21, the number on the door is 219.
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 popular among locals and tourists alike. Anyone over 18 can try their luck at the slot machines.
With three public swimming pools in Espinho, you’ll be spoilt for choice. 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 Monday, 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 it all.
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.
Don’t forget to visit the gypsy market where you’ll find the best bargins. Most of sellers are gypsies who come faithfully, dressed in clothes that seem unusual to most. The women in their long black skirts and large hoop earrings.
Just a stone’s throw away from Baia beach in Espinho, Hotel Apartment Solverde is conveniently located near shops, restaurants, and cafés. You can sunbathe or watch the world go by from your private balcony. All have kitchen facilities which is very handy especially if you are travelling with kids. Should you fancy exploring Porto take the 30 minute train journey from the nearby station.
Are you inspired to visit Espinho with the family ? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you.