Foz do Douro: River Douro meets the Atlantic Ocean

April 1, 2024Niry Fidelis
FOZ DO DOURO

Have you ever seen the meeting point between the river and the ocean? It is called ESTUARY. It is where freshwater meets salt water. It’s not an any ordinary place, you know? And think that Porto has one of these: Foz Do Douro, the meeting point between River Douro and the Atlantic Ocean.

Foz do Douro is situated in the western part of Porto and is known as one of the more fashionable (and expensive) parts of the city.

Before we dive into Foz Do Douro let’s see why visiting an Estuary area is a must while travelling.

6 Reasons to visit Estuaries.

FOZ DO DOURO
  1. First of all, whatever the weather might be, estuaries have amazing scenaries. This means that wherever you are in the world, despite the different climatic conditions in each country, the area around an estuary is unique. This happens also to Foz Do Douro which also happens to be in a European country; which means that it has four seasons. Consequently, the atmosphere can be different depending on the season. Seasons change things on water just as they do on land.
  2. Because of the easy access to food, water, and shipping routes, since ancient times people often liked to live near estuaries and evidence of this can be seen around this area.
  3. In estuaries, the salty ocean mixes with a freshwater river, giving rise to the so-called brackish water. Brackish water is somewhat salty, but not as salty as the ocean.
  4. For the reason on point three, Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. They are home to unique plant, animal, and fish communities that can adapt to brackish water. Consequently this draws particular birds to this area.
  5. The characteristics of each estuary depend upon not only the local climate, but also upon freshwater input, tidal patterns, and currents. Also for this reason, no two estuaries are the same. 
  6. Because of all these reasons, estuaries are a great reference point to the inhabitants of the city. In fact, in this area you can find all kinds of fun and recreation activities for both adults and children.

Why Foz Do Douro Should Be On Your Porto Itinerary

River Douro meets the Atlantic Ocean

It may not look like it, but Foz Do Douro is one of the most affluent districts of Porto. Why did I say “It may not look like it”? Many tourists, expecially those staying 3 days in Porto, tend to enjoy its architecture, design, food, wine, and music but rarely decide to walk just a few miles west to visit the mouth of the river Douro. How sad that is! This is a completely different place from the central part of the city of Porto.

Foz do Douro is known for its amazing sunsets, sandy beaches, angry waves crashing against the lighthouses, rocks, and over the limiting walls, sophisticated neighbourhood, affluent residents, stunning mansions, pounding surf, and rolling waves.

And also, if you stop to think for a moment, it is impressive realizing that there is nothing else after the Douro river joins the Atlantic but the Americas across the ocean.

To which I want to add the whole context around the estuary: villas, church, fortress, parks, restaurants, and boutiques.

In a nutshell, Foz is in a privileged location. Not for nothing it’s one of the most expensive parts of the city of Porto to live in.

How to get to Foz do Douro from Porto.

Foz do Douro is far about 5 km from Porto city centre and there are several ways to get to Foz.

By walking: Can you walk from Porto to Foz do Douro? Definitely yes! In our case, we were staying 3 days in Porto city centre and we decided to walk towards Foz Do Douro. Between this and that, it took us around two hours to reach the light house of Foz Do Douro. I know that sounds like a long walk, but we like to explore, get out of the original trajectory, take pictures, and so on and this always takes so much time. If you walk at a normal rhythm it won’t take more than an hour.

By car: We said that Foz do Douro is about 5 km from Porto city centre, so I suggest you allow 10 to 15 minutes to reach the lighthouse. There are two options to reach Foz Do Douro by car: You can choose to go through internal roads and have a look at the neighborhood, or you can take the road along the river and see how life evolves around it. Both ways are worth it.

If you are not driving yourself in Portugal and you just want to move from Porto to Foz do Douro you will spend around € 10.00.

By tram: The one operating tram, which is mainly used for tourists (at least this is what was happening this January 2024), is line 18. It is a circular tram line that starts in the city centre and goes all the way up to the Foz Do Douro area.

Being one of the most popular activities in Porto, you will probably have to wait in line for a long time to hop on it, especially during the high season time. Moving from Porto to Foz do Douro by tram is well worth it not only because its route is interesting but also because it has a special charm since it is a historical wooden electrified transport system that’s been operating since 1895.

By bus: One of the cheapest ways to get from Porto to Foz do Douro is by bus line 500 which takes 20 min and costs € 2.50. How long does it take to get from Foz do Douro to Porto? It departs every 10 minutes, so it represents the most frequent way to travel from Porto to the mouth of Douro river.

Guided tours: There are many cool guided tours (from e-bikes and classic cars to tuk tuks and more) that can not only get you there, but show you around as well. It takes about 30 minutes and to date it costs € 5.00.

By boat: I heard about a boat trip to Foz Do Douro, but in January 2024 it was not operating. If any of you have tried this experience, kindly leave your experience in the comment box below.

When to visit Foz Do Douro

As I already said, each moment of the day is a good time to visit Foz Do Douro and every season offers a unique show of the waves which crash on the concrete walls and create a huge wall of water. But if you care a lot about photography and your photos, go there during the sunset or even on a very windy day when the waves are even higher (10 meters) and this gives you an incredible show of the power of nature.

We spent about two hours at Foz Do Douro, enjoying the view and taking amazing pictures.

Is visiting Foz Do Douro worth it?

Foz do Douro is one of the most beautiful areas in Porto. 

As for me, I know that I will definitely return to Porto and I wouldn’t mind staying at least 3 days in the Foz Do Douro area.

Well, to wrap up, I will say that there is a lot to love here and believe me… you cannot leave Porto without having visited this place.

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