Flanked by lush-green pine forests, Esposende is an old fishing village with some fine old buildings and airy town squares.
Boasting an idyllic setting on the estuary of the River Cávado, some 50 km north of Oporto, it is a popular resort town for the people of Northern Portugal, who take full advantage of the area's excellent bathing conditions during the summer months.
What to see. Archaeological diggings around Espinho have revealed the remains of a Roman city and necropolis. Worth seeing also are the ruins of the 18th-century fortress, while the town's parish church of the Misericórdia was built in the 16th century. The chapel of Our Lord of the Navigators has impressive ornate paintings and gilt carvings.
Nearby. Ofir on the south bank of the Cávado features an expanse of golden, sandy beach, ideal for bathing, surfing and windsurfing. Just south of Ofir and dating back to Roman times, the sleepy village of Fão is close to the old Roman camp of Belinho and the ruins of Banho Monastery. Visitors driving in the countryside along the river are rewarded with panoramas and secluded spots for river swimming or picnicking.
Part of the Litoral de Esposende Protected Landscape, Apúlia Beach covers a large expanse of sand surrounded by dunes that serve to protect the Beach from stronger winds. The dunes are also home to former windmills that have now been converted into holiday homes.
A popular summer destination, the beach has every kind of service and facility and even comes with a specialist health recommendation given its richness in iodine. The abundance of seaweed is one of its greatest characteristics and resulted in one of the defining landmarks of Portugal’s northern coastline – the ‘Sargaceiro da Apúlia’, known thus due its purpose of collecting sargaço (the local name for seaweed), which was then used as fertiliser on surrounding fields.