Matosinhos was and is a land of fishermen! From a fishing village it became an urban center with many attractions, without ever forgetting its roots. From the sea came the bread, the faith and prosperity. A city next to Porto and currently very sought after by those who appreciate a beautiful fresh fish at an inviting price.
Fresh fish is now a brand of excellence of Matosinhos, which attracts both the Portuguese and the many international tourists who disembark every day at the Cruise Terminal Porto de Leixões. But Matosinhos is also distinguished by its modern architecture, the pilgrimages, the historical and religious monuments and the charm of its beaches. In architecture, the works of architects born in Matosinhos stand out, such as Siza Vieira, Fernando Távora, Souto Moura and Alcino Soutinho.
In religion, it is expressed with great projection the solemn procession of the Lord of Matosinhos, which takes place annually and is accompanied by thousands of believers. On the coast, there are several well equipped beaches, inviting for both bathers and surfers. Matosinhos is also known for its nightlife, with bars and clubs for all tastes, from house to jazz, with room for 70’s revival. Today it is a city with a strong development. A growth supported by the Leixões port and the Cruise ship terminal where many tourists disembark. Beach, religion, culture and good food, nothing is missing in Matosinhos!
WHERE IS MATOSINHOS?
Matosinhos is a city in the north of Portugal, next to the ocean and next to the city of Porto. It is very easy to move from one city to the other, either by car, subway or bus. From Lisbon it is 322 Km, a 3h trip. You can travel by car or public transport.
If you choose the train, the departure is from Santa Apolónia Station or Oriente Station, to Porto, Campanhã Station. From Campanhã, just take the subway or the bus and we are quickly in Matosinhos. For the bus trip, there are two bus terminals in Lisbon, in Sete Rios and Oriente. You get off at the Porto terminal and take the metro or bus to Matosinhos.
WHAT TO VISIT IN MATOSINHOS?
Matosinhos is an immense depository of tradition and modernity. One wanders through the monuments, the paths of history, of faith and of buildings. There is no lack of things to see and things to do! Here is a map with the main attractions of the city. See also the distance between Matosinhos and Leça do Balio and Matosinhos and Leça da Palmeira (two of its parishes). We hope the map will help you organize the sequence of your tours efficiently!
BOM JESUS CHURCH, MATOSINHOS
Bom Jesus de Matosinhos Church is the most emblematic monument of the city. It is a sumptuous building where no detail is neglected. The church is preceded by a wide path of Portuguese sidewalk, flanked by trees. Taking the time to walk along this path allows you to appreciate the beauty of the baroque work on the facade, where two bell towers and two niches stand out, with images of St. Peter and St. Paul. Inside, in the main chapel, the Bom Jesus reigns. It is a life size wooden image of great popular devotion. The faith and veneration of the people gave rise to one of the largest and most important pilgrimages in the north of the country.
In the 16th century, the image of the Bom Jesus was brought from the Bouças Monastery (which was in ruins) to this newly built church. In the 18th century, thanks to the contributions of the devout, the church underwent major expansion and renovation work, gaining the majestic contours we know today. Legend has it that the sea miraculously brought the Bom Jesus, in the year 124. It is believed to be one of the oldest Christian images. It was carved by Nicodemus, one of Jesus’ friends who, together with Joseph of Arimathea, prepared His body for burial after it was taken down from the Cross. It is now known that this image dates from the 12th century, although it is one of the oldest in Portugal, it does not date back to the beginning of Christianity.
SENHOR DO PADRÃO
Senhor do Padrão, or Padrão do Bom Jesus de Matosinhos, is an important monument. It was built to mark the place where, according to tradition, the image of Bom Jesus de Bouças, later renamed Bom Jesus de Matosinhos, came ashore. This monument is also known as Senhor do Espinheiro and Senhor da Areia, since, when it was built in the 18th century, it was right on the beach of Espinheiro.
Until the early twentieth century, the Senhor do Padrão of Matosinhos stood out from miles away, both by land and sea. With the great growth of Matosinhos, the monument lost prominence in the urban mesh. However, it is still an imposing monument, of special value to the fishermen and their families. The devotion of the fishing community manifests itself in a more visible way on November 1st, All Saints’ Day. On this date, thousands of candles are lit at Senhor do Padrão, remembering the fishermen who did not return from the sea. Senhor do Padrão is on Avenida General Norton de Matos, near the port of Leixões.
LEIXÕES CRUISE TERMINAL
This is another must-see place in Matosinhos. The Porto de Leixões Cruise Terminal is a beautiful example of modern architecture. The author Luís Pedro Silva achieved in this work the perfect symbiosis between art and functionality. If from afar the building arouses curiosity, up close the Terminal dazzles with its beauty and care in detail.
MATOSINHOS MUNICIPAL MARKET
Very close to the Cruise Terminal Porto de Leixões is the Matosinhos Municipal Market. A building of modern architecture, which houses the tradition of markets.
MUNICIPAL GALLERY OF MATOSINHOS
This space houses all forms of modern and contemporary plastic arts, particularly projecting Portuguese artists. The Gallery can be visited from Monday to Friday between 9am and 12:30pm in the morning, or in the afternoon between 2pm and 5:30pm. On weekends and holidays, visits are between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm.
QUINTA DE SANTIAGO MUSEUM
The Quinta de Santiago Museum is an elegant building from the late 19th century. It was built by order of João Santiago de Carvalho, to live there with his family. The museum, or Casa-Museu da Quinta de Santiago, seeks to make known the history of Matosinhos through art. One can say that the visit to the museum starts right at the immense garden. This space dazzles by the harmony of the landscape architecture, which frames the beauty of the sculptures of artists like Álvaro Siza and Ruy Anahory. The House-Museum intends to reproduce the experience of the original space. The exhibitions take place on the third floor, where the bedrooms were located. Different types of visits to the Museum are available: the regular visit; the special visit; the visit in the dark, carried out in the pitch of the night; the animated visit; the literary visit and the dramatized visit. For some of these visits it is necessary to book in advance. You can contact us by phone (+351 229 392 410) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
CARRIÇAL URBAN PARK
It is next to Norte Shopping and is distinguished by its dense vegetation (a kind of urban forest). The park is very pleasant and has several water courses and a lake. A magnificent option to walk alone or with the family and breathe fresh air. Very close to the park we can find tennis courts, a swimming pool, a bar, a playground, a rink and a cultural center. A paradise and an authentic lung of the city!
ATTRACTIONS IN LEÇA DA PALMEIRA (Matosinhos)
Leça da Palmeira is perhaps one of the most appealing areas of Matosinhos. Here you can find two famous works by the internationally renowned local architect Siza Vieira: the Casa de Chá da Boa-Nova and the Piscina das Marés. Also of note are the beaches, the nightlife and the Porto de Mar.
NOSSA SENHORA DAS NEVES FORT
The defensive ensemble of Porto’s coastline dates back to the 17th century and includes three forts, the Nossa Senhora das Neves Fort, the S. João da Foz Fort and the S. Francisco Xavier Fort (or Castelo do Queijo). Nossa Senhora das Neves Fort, also known as Matosinhos Castle and Leça da Palmeira Fort, is the northernmost one, defending the port. Currently it is the headquarters of the captaincy of the port of Leixões.
HOUSE OF ARCHITECTURE
In Matosinhos, architecture has a home! It is located in the old royal winery that, without losing its most important features, was renovated to house the house of architecture! The space has rooms for temporary and permanent exhibitions, an auditorium, a library and a store where you can buy some souvenirs. A must-see for lovers of this art!
VIRTUAL TOUR TO LEÇA DA PALMEIRA (MATOSINHOS)
WHAT TO VISIT IN LEÇA DO BALIO? (Matosinhos)
Leça do Balio is a village that belongs to the municipality of Matosinhos (a distance of 8.1 kilometers that can be covered in 14 minutes by car)
LEÇA DO BALIO MONASTERY (MATOSINHOS)
In Matosinhos, the Monastery of Leça do Balio is a place of great beauty. It has been considered a National Monument since 1910. Of the monastery building only the church remains. In its interior is the beautiful bronze grave of Friar Estevão Vasques. The tomb plate is precisely and artfully engraved, displaying decorative elements and the tomb inscription in characters from the Leonese dialect. The original construction dates back to the 10th century. The monastery belonged to a noble family of the region. In the 12th century, it was donated to the Order of the Hospital, becoming the first headquarters of this religious and military order whose main mission was the protection of pilgrims. Although traces of the Romanesque style of the first construction still remain, the monastery is distinguished by the Gothic style of the later interventions. It is located near the Leça river, at the crossroads of the Caminhos de Santiago. While the Order of the Hospital stayed at the monastery, it served as a support point for the pilgrims passing through here.
It is in Leça do Balio that we find one of the houses most cherished by the Portuguese, the super bock casa da cerveja! A modern decoration and a sophisticated environment welcome the curious who want to know the whole process of beer production. From the raw materials to the most important moments of the production process, the space is a true “living museum”! If you visit the Beer House, also take a close look at the walls of the space. Almost 100,000 bottles of beer “reside” there! And the best part is saved for last, the tasting of a vast number of beers!
ABEL SALAZAR HOUSE MUSEUM
Abel Salazar was born in 1889 in Guimarães and lived in the city of Matosinhos for three decades. A doctor by training, he immortalized himself as a social thinker, sculptor and painter. His work is very diverse and has great historical value. The museum house has 3 floors. On the second floor you will find a reconstitution of the environment where the artist lived (with the original furniture). On the second floor you will find several rooms where you can observe various works done by Abel Salazar. His expulsion from the university (ordered by the other Salazar), is also an element addressed in the thinker’s museum. Very interesting.
BEACHES IN MATOSINHOS
The municipality of Matosinhos has a long coastline with several beaches at your disposal, twelve of them with blue flags. Below you will find a list of suggestions that does not correspond to all the beaches in the region. Before the descriptions, you will find a reference about the practice of surfing in this region.
SURFING AT MATOSINHOS
In Matosinhos there are several surf schools that can help you learn this art! The schools provide the material (boards, wetsuit, fins) and the necessary information to start this adventure. The surf school in Matosinhos that has the best Google rating is called “Surfing Life Club”. It has more than 60 comments on google and an overall rating of 4.9 stars (out of 5). Customer praise mentions good facilities, good material and a super friendly and competent staff.
MATOSINHOS BEACHES MAP
Here is a map with the location of the beaches we describe below.
Matosinhos Beach is located south of the port of Leixões. Along the extensive sandy stretch there are leisure and recreation infrastructures such as awnings and sun loungers for rent, or volleyball and beach soccer fields. It also has bars and sanitary facilities at your disposal.
LEÇA DA PALMEIRA BEACH
Leça da Palmeira Beach is located north of the Leixões Marina and is one of the most coveted beaches in Matosinhos. It has a large expanse of sand and usually a strong swell, so it requires some care. This beach particularly attracts surfers, bodyboarders and kitesurfers. It is a guarded beach, classified by QUERCOS as a Gold Quality Beach, has very good infrastructures and a blue flag. The daytime entertainment of the beach extends into the night, in the discos and surrounding bars.
MARÉS SWIMMING POOL
As the rough waters of the sea don’t appeal to everyone, the Piscina das Marés is an excellent option. It is located at the northern end of Leça beach, embedded in the rock, as if it belonged to you. This saltwater pool complex was designed by architect Álvaro Siza Vieira. The project encompasses two pools, one for children and another for adults, which seems to go into the sea. Although the pools close at 7pm, the pool bar stays open until midnight.
In 1832, D. Pedro landed here with his troops, on his way to victory against his brother D. Miguel. Perpetuating this feat, the Obelisk of Memory was erected here, which gave the beach its name. The beach has a wide sandy beach and an area of dunes, which is part of the Memory Beach Dune Park. It is a watched beach, with a blue flag and good infrastructure.
Marreco Beach forms a kind of rocky bay, which gives it great beauty. When the tide rises, water pools are formed, ideal for children to play. It is located in Lavra, the northernmost parish of Matosinhos. It is a guarded beach, with blue flag, access for people with reduced mobility, restaurant service and good infrastructure. Near the beach there is a playground.
A beach with a large sandy beach and no rocks. It has plenty of beach facilities (showers, restaurant, awning rental). There is a lot to do on this beach. You can practice surf, volleyball, bodyboard, beach soccer and sport fishing. It is a beach frequented by many people who stay at the campsite (500 meters from the beach).
It presents itself with a sandy beach 1100 meters long. It is located in front of the Matosinhos refinery. It has a fairly strong swell that is due to the rock formations that are found nearby. It is a beach much frequented by surfers and other practitioners of other water activities. The walkways that pass through the beach are perfect for a walk or a bike ride. The beach is surrounded by natural vegetation that lends great beauty to the beach of the embankment.
PEDRAS DO CORGO BEACH
It has an extensive sandy beach and a sea with a fairly strong swell. It has a very nice wooden walkway that serves as access to the sand. The beach of pedras do corgo has several beach supports such as awnings and stalls. If you like to play sports, you can find volleyball nets there. It is also a great option for those who prefer to lie back and sunbathe!
SENHORA BOA NOVA BEACH
A very beautiful beach with a strong swell (like the other beaches in this area). In front of the beach there are restaurants and various shops. Perfect for walking by the sea or to spend a nice day at the beach. It has a very large parking area. It is perfect for bringing children because it is almost always a very quiet beach. Just keep an eye on the swell and your children.
VIRTUAL TOUR TO MATOSINHOS
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR MATOSINHOS?
To calmly get to know everything the city of Matosinhos has to offer, we suggest a 3-day stay. If you have some time left, know that near the city there are other attractions that deserve a closer look. Here are 2 suggestions and a map to help you decide your tours! Have fun!
From Matosinhos to Azurara park is a distance of 21 kilometers, a distance that can be covered in 21 minutes. It is an adventure park located north of Matosinhos, in the town of Vila do Conde. It has several activities for all ages: tree climbing, slide circuits, paintball, canoeing and much more to discover. The comments of those who have been there praise the friendliness and competence of the staff and the quality of the activities.
From Matosinhos to Porto it is only 8.9 kilometers, a distance that can be covered in 13 minutes. The city of Porto was recently elected several times as the best destination in Europe! A city in shades of gray. With soul, charisma, and personality! Who goes there finds a perfect symbiosis between past and future. Porto has an immense patrimonial richness; it is also a cosmopolitan city that knows how to welcome. Whoever goes there always wants to return. Unmissable!
Before Portugal was Portuguese, the people of this land lived off the sea. In Roman times, in the place where Matosinhos is now, there was a canning industry. Garum, a gourmet canned fish, was produced and exported to Rome where it was highly appreciated. Later, the town was protected around the convent of Bouças, being more protected from Moorish and Viking attacks. After the danger of the Moors, the people returned to the seaside, where the fishing village of Matosinhos was born.
Matosinhos threw itself into the sea, cast the nets and rolled up its sleeves. Over time, it distinguished itself by fishing, by processing and trading fish, by shipbuilding and salt extraction. Anchored by the sea, Matosinhos has not stopped growing, and is today a vibrant urban and industrial center. People come to Matosinhos from everywhere, not only for its many cultural offerings, but also for the quality and diversity of the flavors of the sea.
To say that the gastronomy of Matosinhos is good is quite insufficient for the importance it has in the local economy. It is important to mention that the brand “Matosinhos world’s best fish” was recently created. A brand that says a lot about the increasingly famous gastronomy of Matosinhos and its importance in attracting national and international tourists. The table will get the sea fish and seafood for all tastes, grilled, in cataplana or deliciously recreated. However, the greatest feast will probably be the monkfish rice or the seafood açorda.
RESTAURANTS AT MATOSINHOS
It’s hard to name a restaurant in Matosinhos. There are so many good options referenced on google that our choice fell on the one with the most comments and simultaneously the highest Google rating.
LAGE SR. DO PADRÃO RESTAURANT
It has over 2400 (!) customer reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.6 (out of 5). Among the many compliments some say it’s the best fish and seafood restaurant in EUROPE! The quality is present in all details and products of the restaurant: friendly staff, great starters, excellent seafood, magnificent quality fish and desserts to eat and cry for more. Absolutely not to be missed!
HOTELS IN MATOSINHOS
There is a huge range of hotels in this region of the country. Our choice falls on the hotel unit that presents the best quality / price ratio combined with an (excellent) Google rating.
4-star hotel with over 165 reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.7 stars. The most positive comments highlight the beauty of the rooms, the cleanliness of the hotel and the friendliness of the staff. The location is another strong point, close to the beaches. It has an indoor pool, spa and gym.