Perfect Half Day Trip from Porto to Matosinhos

Iconic lighthouse in Matosinhos on the coastal journey from Porto, overlooking a beachside promenade. People are strolling along the walkway on a sunny day, with the backdrop of a clear blue sky and urban landscape.

Taking a trip from Porto to Matosinhos

The proximity of this laidback beach town to Porto makes it the perfect half-day trip to balance relaxation in with your bustling, Porto adventures.  Matosinhos is a highly underrated town neighboring Porto.

With several activities from surfing, hanging out at the beach, and visiting towering fortresses,  there’s something for everyone in Matosinhos. 

In this guide, we’ll go through the top things to do in Matosinhos as well as how to get there from Porto.

I originally learned about Matosinhos because I just happen-chance booked my first accommodation for my Porto trip here (for future reference, I recommend home-basing yourself in Porto). 

Matosinhos is ultimately lesser known and off the beaten path.  It is small, but I think it’s worth at least a quick stop combined with your longer Porto itinerary if you have the time!

How to Get from Porto to Matosinhos

Matosinhos is located just over 5 miles away from Porto and can be easily reached by car or public transportation.

Car: This is the fastest option, taking only 20 minutes. However, keep in mind that parking in Matosinhos may be limited during peak season.

Bus: Take bus 500 or 507 from Porto’s main bus station, Praça da Liberdade. Tickets can be purchased on board and the journey costs around 2 euros each way.

Metro: The purple line of Porto’s metro system takes you to Matosinhos in just 20 minutes. A roundtrip ticket costs around 2 euros.

Taxi / Uber: This is the most convenient option, but also the most expensive. Taxis and Ubers are widely available in Porto and will take you to Matosinhos in about 15-20 minutes depending on traffic.

Hop on Hop Off Bus: 18 euro for a day pass. Click their site for the most up-to-date information.  

As goes in any urban location, the route will be further in the early evening due to traffic.  

How much time to spend in Matosinhos

I’m not the beachiest of people.  I think a half-day is totally sufficient to balance time relaxing on the beach and exploring the lowkey town. 

You can totally just spend a few hours here if you’re looking for a city escape during a Porto itinerary, or love the idea of watching a beach sunset.  

Best things to do in Matosinhos

Matosinhos Beach

Rocky coastline of Matosinhos Beach, a scenic point along the Porto to Matosinhos route. Jagged rocks with moss and barnacles are juxtaposed against the calm blue Atlantic Ocean under a bright, clear sky.

The laidback, Matosinhos Beach has really got it all. 

This free (that’s right, free) public beach features a professional volleyball court, sand volleyball court nets, a huge workout area, and lots of restaurants and cafes along the beach.  

It’s also the perfect spot to watch surfers in action!

Matosinhos Boardwalk

Take a break from lounging at the beach and take to the boardwalk!

This long, scenic boardwalk extends from Matosinhos Beach all the way back to Porto!

While walking or riding a bike on this boardwalk, you’ll pass by several small beaches and fishing villages that are perfect for stopping at to grab a bite to eat.  

You’ll also catch some gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean.

She Changes Sculpture

The dynamic 'She Changes' sculpture in Matosinhos, a striking landmark on the coastal route from Porto. This large, red, net-like structure contrasts against the deep blue sky, adding a modern touch to the urban landscape.

The She Changes Sculpture is a lovely architectural stop along Matosinhos Beach. 

The installation was created by artist Janet Echelman in 2005.  It is a massive, fun, and colorful sculpture that looks different depending on your angle. 

No need to plan a whole excursion here- just take note of its vibrance while making your way down the boardwalk or beach! 

Mares Swimming Pool

This is one of the best spots in Matosinhos and I’m so bummed I missed it!  It reminds me of the miraculous tide pools of Porto Moniz in Madeira.  

The Mares Swimming Pool is a unique, natural pool that gains all of its water from the tide of the Atlantic Ocean.  It was officially declared a national monument in 2011. 

Keep in mind that this saltwater pool is seasonal so it only operates during the summer months (June – September). 

Closing dates vary.  Check the site for the most detailed information.  

Visitors recommend purchasing tickets online in advance or arriving right at opening during high season to ensure you get a beach chair, and you’re not waiting in line for hours. 

Recent visitors, as of January 2024, also report that the outdoor shower is not currently working so plan accordingly.  

Castelo do Queijo

Historical fortification with a watchtower overlooking the rocky shores of Matosinhos near Porto. The serene Atlantic Ocean provides a beautiful contrast to the sunlit ancient stone walls, with visitors enjoying the beach below on a clear day.

From first sight, Castelo do Quiejo looked is the BIGGEST, human-sized sandcastle I had ever seen! 

In reality, it’s a massive, historic sea fortress built in the 1600s to defend the city of Porto from invaders.

For a .5 euro entrance fee, you’ll gain access to the small museum and the top of the fort, boasting views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Entrance is cash only, which I unfortunately didn’t have at the time!  I explored this sea castle from the outside only. 

It’s conveniently located on Matosinhos Beach and makes a great stop. 

Fun fact: Castelo do Quiejo directly translates to “Cheese Castle”. 

Farol de Leca

Iconic lighthouse in Matosinhos on the coastal journey from Porto, overlooking a beachside promenade. People are strolling along the walkway on a sunny day, with the backdrop of a clear blue sky and urban landscape.

Located at the end of Matosinhos Beach, you’ll find a picturesque lighthouse that is a must-see.

The Matosinhos Lighthouse was built in 1902 and still operates today to guide boats into the harbor. 

This iconic lighthouse has been recognized as a cultural heritage site due to its historical and architectural importance.

It’s also a great photo spot, so make sure to take your camera with you! 

You can admire the famous lighthouse any day, but it is only open to climb to the top on Wednesdays from 2:00-5:00pm. 

It is 215 steps to the top and as of January 2024, the elevator is not in operation.  Entrance fees vary.

Igreja Paroquial do Senhor Bom Jesus de Matosinhos

Baroque church of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos, a notable landmark on the route from Porto to Matosinhos, Portugal. Featuring twin bell towers and intricate façade details, it stands under a clear blue sky, fronted by a patterned cobblestone square and bare trees.

The Igreja Paroquial do Senhor Bom Jesus de Matosinhos stands as a remarkable landmark, blending history and spirituality in the heart of the city.

This majestic church is celebrated for its striking architecture and the revered image of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos. 

Its location is conveniently centralized, just a brief walk from the Matosinhos Market metro station, making it quite accessible to those using public transport.

  • Metro: The blue line (A) runs frequently from Matosinhos Market station back to central Porto, being a quick and reliable option.
  • Bus services: Several bus routes operate from Matosinhos to Porto. Check the latest schedules for routes 500, 502, and 503 for direct links to the city.
  • Rideshare or Taxis: Available throughout the city, offering a more private and direct journey back to Porto.
  • Bike rental: For the more adventurous, cycling back to Porto via the scenic coastal route can be a refreshing option.
  • Walk: If you’re up for a long stroll, you can walk back to Porto along the waterfront promenade, which takes a couple of hours.


If you’re looking for a half-day adventure from Porto, exploring Matosinhos is a great choice. The lowkey yet urban feel is different than beaches in Sintra but no less enjoyable.

It’s the perfect opportunity to soak up the local culture, marvel at stunning architecture, and enjoy the coastal charm.

You won’t need to invest too much time, as the journey is simple and efficient. Make sure to visit the famous Igreja Paroquial do Senhor Bom Jesus de Matosinhos to get a taste of the local heritage.

With a half-day duration, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy Matosinhos and still have the rest of the day to explore or relax in Porto.

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As a full time employee who loves her job, learn how I honor my wanderlust while working a 9:00-5:00 (because I want to!) This blog welcomes all, and specifically provides resources for those seeking travel intertwined into a busy schedule (3 days to 5 weeks).