Espinho – Portugal, is a coastal town, originally a fishing village. However, with a small canned sardine industry.
In recent times, the seaside resort attracts crowds to its golden beach with perfect waves for surfing. However, not during the lockdown that left the town completely without tourists.
But I have been there! Can you imagine then, having the opportunity to visit a city that is normally crowded, completely deserted? Unimaginable, isn’t it?
I told here how I ended up in Portugal completely closed for tourism.
Today I will talk specifically about this wonderful place in Portugal called Espinho without the tourist movement.
Where is Espinho in Portugal?
The city of Espinho is located on the coast of the northern region of Portugal, in the district of Aveiro.
It is about 300 kilometres north of Lisbon, and just over 20 kilometres south of Porto – the second largest city in Portugal.
There are trains and buses that make it very easy to get to the city. The journey between Espinho and Porto by train takes 40 minutes and the railroad runs parallel to the beach. In other words, you can travel enjoying the beautiful beaches between the two cities.
Espinho Portugal - Tourism
When I visited Espinho, all the tourist attractions mentioned in the guidebooks were closed. Including the Municipal Library, the Espinho Casino, the Oporto Golf Club, and the Balneário Marinho, with its heated seawater pool.
But certainly, most visitors to the city are really looking for the outdoors, the beach, and nature. And undeniably, I was able to enjoy this during the week I spent there as the only tourist in town.
You may be wondering about the restaurants.
Yes, unfortunately, just like the tourist attractions, all the restaurants in town were closed. This was a very negative point because the restaurants in Espinho are famous for good food. Especially those that serve seafood. After all, fishing is still an important part of the town’s culture. By the way, while I was on the beach, I walked among fishermen and surfers only.
Surf in Espinho
The coast of 8 km of beaches and many waves, in a huge sea and extensive fine sand, make Espinho a very popular surfing destination.
Wave experts say that its Atlantic swell provides the best Portuguese waves and the best waves in the North, for Surfing, Bodyboarding and Longboarding.
The blue beach, for example, has one of the most powerful Portuguese waves. Surely, this provides a real playground for bodyboards and more experienced surfers. Mainly because of the big tubes.
Needless to say how much time I spent on the beach photographing surfers, right?
Imagine such a scenario for a photographer living in a city like Berlin, one year confined. In other words, practically only doing: either trail shots in forests, or lakes, or street photography (which I love, but it is good to vary the landscape).
I was even getting used to the meditative routine of going to the beach every day, and waiting for good waves to be photographed. Believe me, I even started to get along with the local photographers.
This was because, since there were no tourists, everyone knew each other. That is, when I showed up there with my camera, I immediately attracted curious looks.
When visiting Espinho, go every day to watch the sunset on the beach. With the vastness of the beach and open view, it is a sight not to be missed.
Sustainable Tourism in Espinho Portugal
At the beginning of the year 2021, Portugal launched a challenge called #CantSkipTomorrow. This challenge is certainly a call for collective awareness and for the protection and preservation of what has been assigned to them by nature.
This nature dazzles travellers and that will only be maintained if each one takes responsibility for attracting more respectful and conscious visitors.
Ecovia do Litoral
One of the coolest and most sustainable things is the Ecovia do Litoral. It was built to avoid the transit of people through the dunes. There are 12 kilometres of Ecovia (footbridges) that guarantee a beautiful walk by the sea. Especially in the southern direction, where there is no parallel railroad and the houses are at a greater distance from the beach.
Of course, I did the pleasant walk more than once, because it is delicious to enjoy the quietness of walking alone enjoying the beautiful beaches in the region.
It is possible to travel to the Ecovia on foot or by bicycle.
The ongoing renovation of the 2020 railroad between Espinho and Vila Nova de Gaia is also an initiative that will help in the sustainability of the region.
There is also a project for the protection of the dunes.
The vegetation is also catalogued and preserved.
The negative points were the excessive garbage on the beautiful beaches and the still excessive use of plastic bags in supermarkets.
Singularity in the city of Espinho Portugal
There is a uniqueness to the organization of Espinho.
You will not find names on the streets of the city. They are all numbered. The seaside street, for example, is street 2.
This way, the organization of the city is done in blocks, that is, if we look at the city map we will see the perfect organization of the blocks and streets. This form of organization was created in the city plan designed in 1870.
With this, you will find not only greater fluidity of the local traffic, but also the ease of moving around the city without getting lost.
Weather in Espinho
I was in Espinho in late March, early April, i.e., early spring. I experienced mild temperatures, between 15 and 21 degrees.
But we know that Espinho comes alive in the summer when precipitation is very scarce. Especially between July and August. On the other hand, it rains a lot in the fall, winter and spring. So if you want a guarantee of drier days, best not to travel to beach destinations in northern Portugal outside the summer months.
Also remember that the cold Atlantic Ocean cools the coastal air of Portugal, making it milder compared to the interior of the country. Very rarely does the temperature reach +30°C on the northern coast of Portugal, and instead, +22-25°C are typical. At night, temperatures drop to around +15°C, and in this case, it is always good to carry a jeans jacket or a pullover in your luggage, even if it is in your light suitcase, and even in the middle of summer.
The sea water remains between +16-18°C throughout the summer.
Due to the strong winds and currents, the Espinho sea is not recommended for children.
How to reach Espinho
If you are flying, Porto’s airport is located about 23 kilometres away from Espinho. From there, the most convenient way to get there is by cab or Uber. The cost of an Uber ride is about 24-45 euros, depending on traffic congestion. Uber works very well in the Porto metropolitan area.
An alternative route is to take the metro from Porto Airport to Campanha railway station, and then continue by train to Espinho. Since the airport is the terminus station of the E line, there is only one line and direction for the subway departure.
However, the final station of the E line in Porto is Trindade, which is located just before the city centre. Therefore, it is necessary to change metro lines at some point to reach the Campanha railway station.
Is it possible to travel to Espinho during the pandemic?
Not yet. Portugal is closed for leisure travel. So now all we can do is wait!
Waiting also in the commitment to sustainability that Turismo de Portugal is committed to lead the tourism of the future. The Tourism Strategy 2027, which establishes priorities and commits to goals of economic, social and environmental sustainability.
However, this concept derives from the global guidelines of the World Tourism Organization which indicate that the responsible recovery of the sector, after the pandemic of COVID-19, will allow it to resume activity even stronger and more sustainable.
If you are interested in these and more photos of Espinho – Portugal in original size and high resolution, please contact me.