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5 Outdoor activities to enjoy in Porto

5 Outdoor activities to enjoy in Porto

Portugal’s second city, Porto, is an ideal place to visit for an activity holiday. Here are five different physical outdoor options

While the amazing weather might encourage it, Porto isn’t just a city to kick back and sip some vinho verde. If you like to get physical on holiday, you’re reading the right guide.

Here are the best running, hiking and biking routes around Portugal’s second city. If you’re more into surfing or even rollerskating, you’re in the right place too. On your marks, get set, go…

Running along the Douro

5 Outdoor activities in Porto—Running in Porto
Running alongside the Douro River is idyllic. Photo: anamejia18

You can’t beat a sunrise or pre-sunset run along the Douro. Start off at the foot of the Dom Luis I bridge on the Gaia riverfront and head west along the restaurant-filled promenade. After half a mile or so, the promenade becomes a wooden walkway along a main road.

Watch out for the fishermen who angle their rods from pods on the wooden walkway; you don’t want to crash into them mid-run and risk turning the unflappably polite Portuguese into swearing sailors.

The wooden walkway eventually becomes a wide pavement. Keep running until you reach Cabedelo do Douro, a stunning nature reserve and beach at the mouth of the Douro. The beach is also said to be nudist-friendly, if that’s your thing.

Temperatures can easily hit the high twenties and low thirties degree Celsius in late spring and summer so make sure you bring enough water, wear a cap, and pack some sunscreen.

Estimated running time: 1-2 hours

Length: 4.5-8.5mi (depends on if you want to run back from the beach)

Difficulty: Moderate

Trail running in the Santa Justa mountains

Into trail running? Try this roughly six-mile loop trail in the Parque das Serras do Porto found less than 12.5 miles east of the city centre.

"Open year-round, this trail comes with breathtaking views and, if it gets too hot, there's a stream you can dip into to cool down"

Open year-round, this trail run has a total elevation gain of 348 metres, and comes complete with breathtaking views of the Santa Justa mountain range. If you’re more relaxed about your approach to trail running, you might want to stop for a couple of photos along this eucalyptus tree-filled route. Meanwhile, if it gets too hot, there’s a stream you can dip your toes into to cool down.

It’s easy to spend hours admiring the beauty of your surroundings post-run, but make sure you leave enough time to get back down before dark as otherwise, you’ll have to rely on the moon for guidance home!

Estimated running time: 3 hours

Length: Roughly 6mi

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

Hiking the Paiva Walkways

Paiva Walkways in Porto, Portugal
The Paiva Walkways are a challenging but stunning hike. Photo: Luis Fonseca

Featuring steep wooden walkways, The Passadiços do Paiva (Paiva Walkways) is an ultra-scenic but steep riverside hike found about an hour’s drive southeast of Porto.

The hike features plenty of tiny beaches you can picnic on and you can even go for a swim in the river if you fancy it.

The walkways trail along forests and mountain scenery, and you’ll be able to spot loads of wildlife, as well as some ancient monuments. Both ends of the sign-posted and tourist-friendly trail have restaurants and toilets too.

You might also want to know that the Arouca Geopark, which the trail cuts through, is recognised by Unesco as a Geological Heritage of Humanity.

Estimated time: 2 hours

Length: 5.5mi

Difficulty: Challenging

Surfing

If you didn’t know, Porto sits right next to the Atlantic Ocean, and the nearest continental land mass to the west is North America. That means the waves are pretty big, and perfect for surfers.

If you’ve never touched a surfboard, let alone surfed, there are a number of surfing schools that cater to complete beginners.

"The nearest continental land mass to the west is North America, so the waves in Porto are pretty big, and perfect for surfers"

Back to the fact that this is an ocean we’re talking about—you’ll need some thick wetsuits if you’re planning on going with friends or solo. Surfing schools will typically always provide some, potentially at an extra cost.

If you’re looking to rent a surfboard, there are plenty of rentals over on Matosinhos beach. Beginners or surfers who haven’t ridden any waves for a while can check out lessons from the Porto Surf School.

Rollerskating at the Casa Da Musica and along Matosinhos beach

Matosinhos Beach in Porto
Matosinhos beach is perfect for rollerskating beside. Photo: Pedro Menezes

While it may be popularly known as a concert venue, Casa Da Musica is a haven for skaters.

On any given weekend or weekday evening, you’ll probably have to weave yourself through all the skateboarders and rollerbladers to make it to the entrance.

"This route is hugely popular with rollerskaters, so if you’re solo you’re sure to make skater friends quickly"

Featuring smooth tiles (bar the odd cracked one here and there), it’s no wonder it’s such a hit with skaters. There are also some ramps you can try if you’re feeling up for it (remember your helmet though or you’ll need to get a sweet travel insurance deal booked asap).

Head along to Matosinhos, a popular resort town located just three miles northeast of Porto’s city centre, for a relaxed skate along the promenade. This route is hugely popular with rollerskaters, so if you’re solo you’ll be bound to make skater friends quickly.

Estimated time: Your call!

Length: 0.5mi (Matosinhos beach promenade)

Difficulty: Easy (Experienced skaters)

Banner image credit: Surfing by Jeremy Bishop

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