Things to Do in Povoa Portugal

things to do in Povoa Portugal

Half an hour north of Porto, Povoa de Varzim is a coastal resort that first began welcoming tourists in the 1800s. Today, visitors can indulge in the pleasures of resort life – tucking into seafood and unwinding on soft sandy beaches, or trying their luck at the casino or teeing off at a links golf course.

1. Beaches

Located an hour’s ride on Porto Metro Line B from the city, Povoa de Varzim is a thriving Atlantic Ocean resort with 12 km of good beaches. This coastal city also has a long history as a ship building port from the Age of Discovery and is still a major fishing hub.

One of the highlights here is Cividade de Terroso, a wall of painted tiles depicting different scenes from local history. This is a must-see for anyone interested in the region’s culture and traditions. Benedictine monks walked long distances to bathe here for the iodine-rich waters, and locals were known for their casamento poveira custom where newly married couples were covered in a fisherman’s net and soaked with sea water.

This traditional lifestyle is still celebrated in the Municipal Museum of History, which is housed in Solar dos Carneiros, a manor from the 19th century. There are many panels that highlight the daily perils faced by the community and even a few genuine Poveiro boats.

2. Restaurants

The city’s fishing legacy translates to its cuisine, with nearly all the traditional dishes featuring seafood. Signature local dishes include Pescada a Poveira (hake salad), Arroz de Marisco (simmered rice with shellfish) and Caldeirada de Peixe (a stew with a whole medley of oily fish and whitefish, plus squid stuffed with potato and eggs). All of this is best enjoyed alongside a glass of crisp, refreshing vinho verde.

The Camara Municipal is one of the most notable buildings on Praca do Almada, and it houses a fine collection of azulejos tile paintings. Other sights in the square include a statue of Eca de Queiros—a giant of 19th-century Portuguese literature—and painted houses that frame the square’s eastern end.

The town’s main restaurants are all located on the seafront, including Restaurante Bodegao and a superb old building that multi-functions as a café, restaurant and book shop called Theatro. There’s also a dedicated vegetarian restaurant—Veggie Mercearia & Cafetaria—that serves healthy, organic fare from Tuesday to Sunday.

3. Shopping

It’s easy to get engrossed in resort life here, unwinding on soft sandy beaches, tucking into seafood at the restaurants or trying your luck at the Casino da Povoa. But take time to explore the local artisanal traditions, such as Hake a Poveira and Sardine Rice. And don’t miss a visit to the Muro de Azulejos, where an extensive exhibition of traditional tiles awaits.

Located around 30 minutes north of Porto, Povoa has been a seaside destination since the 1800s. Large sandy beaches and fishing traditions still attract visitors to its shores, while the town’s other landmarks include Junqueira shopping street, Garrett Theatre, the Municipal Museum, Nossa Senhora da Conceicao fortress and chapel and the medieval Rates Monastery.

4. Museums

Besides soaking up the sun on a beach or trying your luck at a casino, take time out to explore Povoa de Varzim Portugal’s museums. One of the most notable attractions is Paineis dos Azulejos, a tile panel on the beach wall at Praia do Leixo that celebrates the city’s heritage.

The city’s history comes to life on these beautiful murals, which depict fishing boats and trams as well as scenes of the upper class visiting for a swim in the sea. Another great free attraction is Camara Municipal, a town hall on the city’s main square, Praca do Almada. This building is decorated with azulejos tiles and features an 18th-century pillory and the town hall’s coat of arms.

Povoa de Varzim is a coastal resort that first attracted tourists in the 19th century, when fishermen eked out a perilous living in traditional Poveiro sailboats and the upper crust flocked to the beaches for their curative seaweed. The old ways are remembered on a gorgeous tile panel next to the harbour and at Cividade de Terroso, where you can inspect a couple of traditional Poveiro boats.

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