In the city of Esposende, the Natural Park of the North Coast adorns the extensive coastline bathed by the ocean. This enchanted coastline contains beautiful landscapes, adorned with sea, rivers, rocks and forests. Besides being a privilege of Nature, Esposende has a lot to offer, both culturally and leisurely.
Table of Contents
Esposende is a coastal city, in the north of Portugal, belonging to the district of Braga. It is 51,2 Km from the city of Porto and only 44 Km from the international airport Francisco de Sá Carneiro, which is about 20 minutes away. From this airport, the most comfortable way to get to Esposende is by cab or renting a car. You can also take the subway to Póvoa do Varzim and from there take the bus to Esposende. You can also choose one of the several companies that do transfers directly from the airport to Esposende.
WHAT TO VISIT IN ESPOSENDE?
In the lands of ESPOSENDE nothing is lacking: nature, archeology, history and modernity. In this small northern town, there is much to discover and for this reason we decided to divide the attractions into 5 blocks of attractions: 1-MONUMENTS, MUSEUMS AND EQUIPMENT IN ESPOSENDE, 2-MIRADOURS, 3-ACTIVITIES, 4- BEACHES, 5- IMPERDIBLE FREGUESIAS.
MONUMENTS, MUSEUMS AND MUCH MORE IN ESPOSENDE
So that you can more easily organize the sequence of your tours, here is a map of the city’s main monuments, museums and facilities. We hope it will be useful!
ESPOSENDE MAIN CHURCH
The Mother Church of Esposende, dedicated to Santa Maria dos Anjos, is one of the emblematic references of the historic center of the city. It is located in Largo Rodrigues Sampaio, also known as Praça da Igreja Matriz. This monument dates from the 16th century, however, its current layout is due to later restoration works, in the 19th century. The facade shows the influence of the neoclassical style. It is worth visiting the interior of the temple, with five altars in gilded woodcarving, with a beautiful image of the patron saint of St. Mary of the Angels on the main altar. Although the altars are what stand out at first glance, there is also an impressive twenty-seven pipe organ and windows with stained glass of great beauty.
ESPOSENDE MUNICIPAL MUSEUM
It is located in the old building of the old theater club of Esposende. It has been open since 1993 and it is there that we can find information about the history of the county. It is a fundamental tool in maintaining the memory and identity of the local heritage. It has 3 floors. On the first floor we find the Tiles room where the temporary exhibitions are. In the remaining floors we have the opportunity to know the most important heritage of Esposende.
ESPOSENDE MARITIME MUSEUM
The Maritime Museum of Esposende remembers the connection of this land with the sea and the river. The maritime heritage of Esposende is valued and presented in an interesting collection that brings together various elements, from the fifteenth century to the present day. Not only the museum’s collection is captivating, but, from the building’s tower, the panorama is stunning, covering the Cávado river estuary, several beaches, the ocean and the city of Esposende. The museum occupies the old installations of the Esposende Shipwreck Relief Station, by the river, in front of Esposende’s marina. All the involving of the museum is pleasant, and invites to a walk, enjoying the serenity of the waters. If you are with children, enjoy the fantastic playground next to the museum, which reproduces a wooden caravel. Admission to the Esposende Maritime Museum costs 2.50€ for adults and 1.75€ for children between 6 and 12 years old. You can visit from Monday to Friday between 9am and 12:30pm, or from 2pm to 5:30pm. On weekends, the museum is open from 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 6pm.
FOZ DO CÁVADO POOLS
The Foz do Cávado swimming pool complex has excellent facilities that provide a fantastic leisure time. The biggest attraction is undoubtedly the huge indoor pool, with waves. It has 600 m2, it’s open all year round and, for the chilly ones, it’s heated, with an average temperature of 30º. The deepest part of the pool is 1.80 meters. In addition to the wave pool there is a hydromassage area, with even warmer water, at 35º. During the bathing season, you can enjoy the exterior, where there are two saltwater pools, one for adults and another for children.
SÃO LOURENÇO CASTRO
In Esposende, at Monte de S. Lourenço, the Castro is a must-see. This attraction is only 5.3 kilometers from the city center, a distance you can cover by car in 9 minutes. It is an old fortified settlement with a fascinating atmosphere. The small circular stone houses that climb up the hill and the charm of nature take you back to a distant time or to the plots of your imagination. The earliest traces found here date back to the 4th century BC, but it was in the 2nd century BC that houses began to be built. The settlement was eventually abandoned, however, in the 14th century it is occupied again. At this time, a small defensive fortification is built.
When you pass through here, be sure to go to the S. Lourenço viewpoint. From this viewpoint you can see across Esposende reaching the ocean and, on a good day, you can see Sameiro, in Braga. In the sea, you can see the famous “Cavalos de Fão”, mythical rocks beaten by waves, where unsuspecting ships were shipwrecked. Legend has it that an unexpected storm sank the ships with the horses that King Solomon had sent as a gift to Ophir. By magic, the animals were left petrified, transformed into rock in the middle of the sea.
INTERPRETIVE CENTER OF SÃO LOURENÇO
5,3 kilometers are the distance between Esposende and the interpretive center, located in Vila Chã. This center seeks to promote and disseminate the archaeological and geological area of the Castro de S. Lourenço and the surrounding region. The center has a permanent interactive exhibition, which includes a multimedia game and the presentation of a film. In this space, the public is led to discover the changes in the territory, from the Arriba Fossil, to the human presence until the Bronze Age period.
The center also has a space for temporary exhibitions, which aims to enhance archeology and research in the area of S. Lourenço. If you want to explore a little further, you can book a guided tour, which may include a walk through the archaeological area of the S. Lourenço hill. For more information you can use the following contacts: T. (+ 351) 253 960 100 / (+ 351) 253 960 179, email: email@example.com
VIANA DE LIMA MUSEUM HOUSE – MARINHAS HOUSE
From the center of Esposende to the house museum is 4,3 km, a distance that can be covered in 8 minutes by car. Viana de Lima is one of the great names of modern Portuguese architecture of the 20th century. The architect lived in Porto, but Esposende was his birthplace. Here he used to go with his family to spend vacations and weekends, staying in this magnificent residence, designed by him, the Casa das Marinhas, currently the Casa Museu Viana de Lima. The building was built in 1954, starting from an old mill, recreated with the modernist tendencies of the time. The Viana de Lima Museum House represents one of the ex-libris of Portuguese modern architecture and is a Monument of Public Interest. Visits are free of charge and can be scheduled through the following contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org, T. (+351) 253 960 100
ACTIVITIES AT ESPOSENDE
BIRDWATCHING at ESPOSENDE
Esposende is a destination of choice for birdwatching lovers. The entire Parque Natural Litoral Norte is a wild scenery where rivers wander down to the sea, among dunes, woods and fossil cliffs. Here you can observe a diversity of habitats, where fish and birds stand out. Integrated in this Park, the Cávado estuary offers the ideal conditions for birdwatching. The migratory birds come here to shelter and search for food. Immersed in a natural environment of unparalleled beauty, it is possible to observe more than 180 species of birds in the estuary. To make the most of this experience, book a day trip with North Birding Tours through the following contacts: email@example.com, T. (+351) 919 371 402
SURF / BODY BOARD, KITESURF, CANOAGEM/KAYAK AT ESPOSENDE
Due to its geographical position – on one side the Atlantic Ocean and on the other the Cávado and Neiva river estuary – the city of Esposende is a privileged place for water sports. Canoeing is an excellent way to go down the estuary and enjoy the landscape. There are several companies and clubs in the region to help you try this activity. In case you are more into extreme sports, give kitesurfing a try! Esposende is a hotspot of this nautical activity! The waves of the Atlantic Ocean – especially at Ofir, Suave Mar and Apúlia beaches – present magnificent conditions for surf and bodyboard.
DIVING IN ESPOSENDE
Few people know that the city of Esposende also has great conditions for diving. As it is located next to an estuary and also next to the ocean, there we can find an enormous diversity of fish that make the delights of divers (experienced and beginners). The rocky bottoms and the forests of laminaria (algae) are other great attractions for those who practice this sport there.
BOAT AND JET SKI RIDES
Embark on a relaxing trip along the Cávado and Neiva rivers. A great opportunity to enjoy the magnificent landscape and see the local fauna and flora up close. If you prefer something bolder and involving more adrenaline, then take control of a jet ski and tear up the water planes of the Neiva and Cávado rivers.
PEDESTRIAN TRAILS IN ESPOSENDE
The best way to get to know a place is to walk through it. For hiking lovers, Esposende is the perfect place to visit. Here you can find thirteen pedestrian paths, from the coast to the interior of the county with different landscapes for all tastes. The paths go through naturally beautiful and culturally captivating places. The trails are well signposted, making it possible to get around without the need for guides. The trails are accessible to all walkers, with some being easy and others medium level. Seven of these thirteen trails are part of the National Register of Walking Trails.
For those who like the beach, Esposende is an excellent destination. Here you can find a variety of high quality beaches, many of them with Blue Flag and Gold Quality. Here is a map to help you locate the main beaches of Esposende!
This is one of the most famous beaches in Esposende. It has a serene sea, an extensive sandy stretch protected by dunes that slow the wind and is known for being rich in iodine. Its trademark image are the old windmills on the northernmost dune area. Although today the mills are housing houses, they still maintain their rustic and picturesque appearance. Praia da Apúlia Beach has great infrastructures, good accesses and free parking.
Praia de Ofir is also a coveted beach in Esposende. This beach is inserted in the Natural Park of the North Coast, which beautifies the framing of the sand with pine trees and dunes. In the sea, at low tide, you can see the mythical rocks, known as Fão’s horses. The central part of the beach is the best for swimming, but surfers prefer the swell of the south side. In the summer, Ofir is also sought after for the nightlife on the beachfront, with a wide range of bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
Ramalha Beach is located in the Apúlia area. It is another beautiful beach of Esposende, gifted with the beauty of the dune framing and fine sand. For those who appreciate quietness, this beach is a good choice.
At Belinho Beach, north of the Cávado river mouth, instead of fine sand, you can find multicolored pebbles of different shapes. It is a place of particular charm, sought not only for bathing, but also for walks. Often, the rocky bottom forms natural pools that delight children.
Following a wooden walkway, we are guided to the fine white sands and Cepães Beach. It is a beautiful urban beach, conducive to leisure activities. The sea has a strong swell, and requires some attention with the submerged rocks. Here you can rent one of the traditional beach huts, to shelter you from the sun and wind.
SUAVE MAR BEACH
North of the mouth of the Cávado river, stretches the wide sandy beach of Suave Mar. This beach is distinguished by the great beauty of its natural environment with dunes and pine trees. Bathing requires some care, since there are areas with rocks in the sea. In the summer, you can enjoy the ride in a small train that leaves from Esposende and takes you to Suave Mar Beach.
FOZ DO NEIVA BEACH
Also known as Praia do Norte, this is a beach of great beauty. It invites you to go for a walk, either along the wooden walkways or along the seafront. You won’t find any major services or infrastructure here, which makes for a very serene environment.
RIO DE MOINHOS BEACH
This is a beach of wild beauty, without any infrastructure. It is appreciated by surfers and practitioners of other water sports. The dunes are often a favorite spot for nudists. Cars can be parked on a dirt lot near the beach.
SÃO BARTOLOMEU DO MAR BEACH
São Bartolomeu do Mar Beach has little more than 1 km of sand and pebbles polished by the sea. On the 24th of August, S. Bartolomeu’s day, this beach, usually not very frequented, fills up with people. They come to fulfill the tradition and bathe in the sea to ward off their ills.
To help you organize your visits we have prepared a map of the main viewpoints around Esposende. We hope it will be useful!
SÃO LOURENÇO VIEWPOINT
From the top of the São Lourenço viewpoint you can see Esposende and Fão in the distance. Indeed, if the day is clear and your eyesight is sharp, you can even see the famous “horses of Fao”, some rocks that have been buffeted by waves for millennia. Even further away, try to see the “São Felix” windmills. Nearer there is another elevation called “Monte Faro”. One more note for the landscape on the east side, where you can see the contours that go from Minho to Braga. A spectacular view from one of the highest elevations of the cliff!
SENHORA DA GUIA VIEWPOINT (BELINHO)
From the top of this fantastic viewpoint we can see the Atlantic coast from Viana do Castelo to São Bartolomeu do Mar. The viewpoint is on a strip of land between the sea and the cliff. If you look closely on a clear, fog-free day you can see the strip of dunes that acts as a natural protection for the agricultural fields.
MONTE DE FARO VIEWPOINT
On one side the whole coast of the Atlantic Ocean between Esposende and Póvoa do Varzim. In front we can see the old village of Fão, Ofir and Esposende. This place will have been a lookout point for the Cávado river estuary and for the entrance of boats coming from the Atlantic.
NOSSA SENHORA DA PAZ VIEWPOINT (MARINHAS)
It is located on top of a hill with the same name. Access is easy and the viewpoint offers a magnificent view of the coastal area of the city of Esposende. You can get there by car or by footpaths. Once there, enjoy the panoramic view and the tranquility of the place. The vastness of the ocean will open before your eyes! At this place there was a castro (a prehistoric cluster of houses) approximately 2000 years ago. It is also a good opportunity to visit the chapel of Our Lady of Peace, a temple built at the end of World War II.
MONTE DE ARNELAS VIEWPOINT (GEMESES)
The viewpoint is on the Arnelas hill, between Perelhal and Gemeses. From here you have a magnificent view to the Cávado river and to the parish of Gemeses. From this point you can also glimpse the remains of a mamoa (a small mound that covers a megalithic funeral monument), a monolith (a stone) that marks the division of the parishes and the remains of a windmill.
Right at the top of the parish we can find an amazing place from where we have a beautiful and surprising view. From there we can see the southern part of the parish where the agricultural fields and the church stand out. Also the houses that delimit the small villages are perfectly perceptible from the Frossos belvedere.
VIRTUAL TOUR TO ESPOSENDE
HISTORY OF ESPOSENDE
The presence of people in the Esposende region is very old. Along the time pre-historical archaeological vestiges were found that prove the human presence in the region. The “castro de São Lourenço” (IV century a.c.), dolmens and menhirs that can still be admired by visitors, prove this presence since the megalithic age (4800 a.c. to 3000 a.c.). Also the roman and barbarian people marked their presence in this place, fact that can be proved by documental and also through archaeological artifacts.
Regarding the population of Esposende, there are documents that refer its existence since the XIII century. Fishing, naval construction and commerce were the economic engines of those who lived there from the 15th century on. Activities that called more people to the region and made it grow. But Esposende is intimately linked to the mythical figure of king D. Sebastião (the desired), who in august 1572 gave the name of town to this place. From that time on, Esposende progressed autonomously, based on the sea, around fishing, maritime commerce and shipyards. In 1993 it acquired the status of city.
Gastronomy in Esposende is one more of the great tourist attractions of the region. A land that has the luck of being bathed by the ocean and the river, inevitably has a competitive advantage over the others. It is with the products of the land that Esposende asserts itself, with its fish from the sea and the river! Highlights include grilled sea bass, sea bream, salmon, sardines, shellfish and lamprey. Pour the meal with vinho verde from the Quinta, a smooth and light nectar from the Cávado and Neiva river valleys. Finish your meal with cavacas and clarinhas from Fão. To eat and cry for more!
HOTELS IN ESPOSENDE
INNESPOSENDE SPORTS HOSTEL
A great solution for those who want to spend little money. Although it is a hostel it has the BEST rating in Esposende (ON GOOGLE): 4,6 stars and more than 43 reviews. It has private double rooms with sea view. The most flattering comments mention a central location, super comfortable beds, a great breakfast and a very friendly staff.
RESTAURANTS IN ESPOSENDE
Cheap restaurant with over 350 reviews on google and an overall rating of 4.5 stars (out of a maximum of 5). Cheap restaurant with typical Portuguese food. Customer comments mention a very friendly staff, the quality of the food and a good price / quality ratio. The only less positive point is the time it sometimes takes to serve.
UNMISSABLE PARISHES OF ESPOSENDE
The parishes of Esposende are perhaps the greatest pearls of the municipality. And there are many! We suggest a visit to 4 of the 15 existing ones: Apúlia, Mar, Belinho and Fão. To help you organize your walks, we have prepared a map. We hope it will be useful!
From Esposende to the parish of Apúlia is a distance of 9,5 kilometers, a distance that can be covered in 11 kilometers. Visit the parish of Apúlia! There you will find the most beautiful windmills of Portugal. They are the brand image of this parish that has in its fluffy sandy beach and calm sea another huge attraction for tourists. The windmills have lost their primary function and have been reused as tourist accommodations. The beach has a high iodine index and is very sought after by vacationers from Braga, Porto, Famalicão and Barcelos. Despite being a small place, in Apúlia there are several tourist attractions: the windmills, the main church, walking on the walkways or spending the day at the beach. Very nice!
5.4 kilometers and 8 minutes separate Esposende from the parish of Mar. It was in 1906 that the construction of the parish church began, the maximum exponent of this parish. There is something different about this church… Look closely at the picture… Have you noticed? Of course, the door is facing east and the headboard is facing west. Precisely the opposite of what is usual. Behind the church you will find another point of interest in this parish, a menhir from the Neolithic period (10th century BC to 3rd century BC). It rises more than 2 meters and has some engravings with rudimentary and rough traces. Menhirs would have been monuments related to fertility and the delimitation of territories. Even today there is a legend in the parish of Mar that says that the menhir cannot be removed from the place where it stands. If that happens the sea will invade the land and destroy the agricultural fields. Just in case… Better to leave it where it is…
7.5 kilometers and 12 minutes separate Belinho from Esposende. The chapel and the belvedere of Senhora da Guia are the main attractions of Belinho. From the belvedere we can admire the immensity of the Atlantic. The chapel was inaugurated in 1974 and replaced a small temple that existed there. Two curious legends are associated with the mount of Senhora da Guia. During the Barbarian invasions the population took refuge here and took with them an image of Our Lady of Guia to protect them. The image would have remained on the hill and a religious temple was built there. There is another legend that is worth knowing (because it is so bizarre). In the cave of the Monte Jóia (very close to the chapel), there is said to have lived a monk in the 19th century who would inhabit the cave during the summer and sell cautelas in Lisbon in the winter… Spectacular! Inside the cave you can see 3 images of Our Lady.
5 kilometers and 11 minutes separate Fão from Esposende. In the village of Fão there is a lot to see and know! Start at the historical center where you will find the Bom Jesus church, a temple built in the 18th century. You can also take a walk in the nearby gardens. Relatively nearby, near the cemetery, you can also visit the Chapel of Santo António da Fonte, a 17th century monument. Near the Fãozense club you can visit the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Fátima, a small but beautiful 18th century temple. Other attractions in the village of Fão: Church of the Mercy, Largo do Cortinhal, Fão’s parish church, the Alminhas do Cais (next to the firemen), Fão’s bridge (Dom Luís Filipe bridge). Last but not least… The local beach, known for its fine sand and its beauty! From the beach, if you look in the distance you can see the “horses of Fao”, a rocky structure that owes its name to a legend of King Solomon. In the summer the village is full of people and animation! Bars, restaurants and discos liven up the nights! In the winter calm and tranquility reigns. Perfect for a weekend!