Póvoa de Varzim beaches

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An old Povoan boat in Quião Beach.
Avenida dos Banhos runs along the main city beaches.

The beaches in Póvoa de Varzim are an extensive and continuous group of golden sandy beaches forming small bays or coves along the shoreline in northern Portugal. These do not have any barrier and are in fact a single beach, over 12 km long, under the name Praia da Póvoa de Varzim (Póvoa de Varzim Beach). Division may be arbitrary and serve localization porpoises.

Historically, the waterfront has been used for trading, fish industry, health and leisure since remote periods. The fish industry in Póvoa de Varzim developed during the Roman Empire and is one of the earliest tourist areas in Portugal attracting visitors since early 18th century. Some of its beaches are rich in marine life. In 2016, all its coastline were blue flag beaches, including all the urban area from Cape Santo André to the seaport. Most of these meet even stricter criteria under "Praia com Qualidade de Ouro" (Gold Quality Beach) attributed by the Portuguese environmental organization Quercus.

Beaches (called Praia in Portuguese) are managed by traditional Povoan families, known as Banheiros who are descendant of fishermen who left fishing for this business some generations ago. These families often exhibit their Siglas poveiras family mark in their belongings, in the same way as the fishermen did. Although most fishermen stopped using family marks, the Banheiros kept the tradition live to the present day.

Póvoa de Varzim beach summary:

Blue Flag beaches (2016): Redonda, Salgueira, Verde, Beijinhos Beach, Lagoa, Fragosinho, Fragosa Beach, Esteiro, Coim, Quião Beach, Dois Cabos Beach, Santo André, Aguçadoura/Paimó/Codicheira Beach, Barranha beach, Rio Alto
Gold quality beaches (2016): Redonda, Salgueira, Verde, Beijinhos Beach, Coim, Quião Beach, Dois Cabos Beach, Santo André, Aguçadoura/Paimó/Codicheira Beach, Barranha Beach, Rio Alto Beach
Surfing (best): Aguçadoura Beach, Salgueira Beach, Lagoa Beach
Rock pooling (best): Quião Beach, Verde Beach, Fragosa Beach, Fragosinho
Sand dunes: Barranha Beach, Rio Alto
minor sand dunes: Quião Beach, Dois Cabos Beach, Fragosa Beach
countryside: Barranha Beach, Rio Alto Beach, Quião Beach, Dois Cabos Beach
urban core/beach promenade: Redonda, Salgueira, Verde, Beijinhos Beach, Lagoa
Beach walkways: Fragosa Beach, Santo André Beach
Family-friendly (best): Lagoa Beach, Fragosa Beach, Verde Beach, Salgueira Beach, Redonda Beach
Naturism: Rio Alto Beach
Flirting: Rio Alto Beach, Quião Beach, Dois Cabos Beach, Verde Beach
Gay-friendly: Rio Alto Beach, Quião Beach


In the beginning of the 18th century, Benedictine monks walked distances to take the "Baths of Póvoa", in search of iodine, considered invigorating, and cures for skin and bones problems throw sea and sun-baths. These monks were attracted by the large amounts of algae that ends up in the local beaches from the sheltered bay to Cape Santo André. By the 19th century, the popularity increased with people from the provinces of Minho, Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro that arrived by medical advice to cure several health problems, by breathing the air and diving in the rich iodine seawaters of Póvoa, in a popular movement that occurred in the European Atlantic coast since the 18th century.

During the Belle Epoque, this popularity is especially noticeable among the wealthiest classes and, especially, between the Portuguese-Brazilians (the Brasileiros). Several hotels, theaters and casinos opened. It then became the most popular holiday destination in Northern Portugal,[1] Between the 1930s and the 1960s, beach-going became a popular holiday destination for the masses.

Tide pool life[edit]

Tide pools are very commonly found along the beaches and often only exist as separate entities only at low tide and are habitats of diverse adaptable animals and algae.

In Póvoa de Varzim there are subtropical and temperate fish species. The most common fish in tide pools are blennies (generally called marachomba), including: Parablennius gattorugine, Parablennius pilicornis, Coryphoblennius galerita, Lipophrys pholis, and Lipophrys trigloides. Other small fish recorded locally include worm pipefish, rock gobies and snail-fish. In larger tide pools, schools of juvenile sargo seabreams, Zebra seabreams, small-headed clingfish, brilliantly-coloured and camouflaged wrasses such as the green wrasse, the Common Wrasse and the Ballan Wrasse, rocklings and juveniles of other species of fish are frequently found.

Hermit crabs such as Pagurus bernhardus, Clibanarius erythropus and more rarely Pagurus cuanensis can be found in specific beaches, along with crabs such as Pilumnus hirtellus, Pachygrapsus marmoratus, Xantho hydrophilus, Carcinus maenas, Necora puber, the filter-feeding crab Porcellana platycheles and a number of other species. There are abundant populations of shrimp of the species Palaemon serratus, Palaemon elegans, Lysmata seticaudata and Hippolyte varians.

The most regular species of anemones are: Actinia fragacea, Aulactinia verrucosa, diverse varieties of Actinia equina, Anemonia viridis, Actinothoe spirodeta and Cereus pedunculatus. The giant Marthasterias glacialis is the most sighted starfish, but other smaller species do exist such as purple Asterias rubens, the tiny Asterina gibbosa and the exotic-looking Ophiothrix fragilis brittle star. Paracentrotus lividus is the general urchin locally and has diverse colour varieties including purple, green and pink.

Molluscs commonly found at the local beaches includes the Octopus vulgaris and the opisthobranch gastropods Aplysia fasciata and Aplysia punctata, nudibranchs, and chitons. Other common snails are Patella vulgata, Patella pellucida, Gibbula umbilicalis, Osilinus lineatus, Littorina littorea, Trivia monacha, the predator snails Nucella lapillus and Ocenebra erinacea, the scavenger snails Nassarius reticulatus and Nassarius incrassatus. Two types of mussels often occur, including the extremely common Mytilus edulis and the rarer Modiolus barbatus, along with several other species of bivalves.

Tide pools
The sea hare Aplysia fasciata grazing in a tide pool
A massive honeycomb worm reef. These reefs are important for the sustainability and diversity of marine life
Local tidal pool specimens: Actinia fragacea and Ophiothrix fragilis
Purple Asterias rubens in a tide pool.


Póvoa Bay[edit]

Currently transformed into the port of Póvoa de Varzim, there are still small portions of the former fine sand beach visible. It was known as Praia do Peixe or Fish Beach.

Redonda Beach[edit]

A beach shed at Salgueira Beach.

Redonda Beach or Praia Redonda is a large sandy and family-friendly beach with several beach bars. It is the most traditional leisure beach of Póvoa de Varzim, and still very popular, was known as Praia de Banhos or Baths Beach in the 19th century.

Salgueira Beach[edit]

Verde Beach in late September.

Salgueira Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Póvoa de Varzim. It is a large sandy beach, family-friendly, with several beach bars and the main surfing beach in the urban area, especially popular with body-boarders.

Verde beach[edit]

Verde is a rocky beach, rich in marine life and increasingly family-friendly. Occasionally used for flirting by straight and gay couples, it lost prominence for Quião and Rio Alto Beaches in the outskirts.

Beijinhos Beach[edit]

Beijinhos is a small rocky beach in Verde Beach area.

Lagoa Beach[edit]

Lagoa Cove in late September.

Lagoa Beach or Lagoa Cove is a large sandy beach located in the high rise district it is the 1970s extension of the tourist area of the city. It is family-friendly and occasionally used by surfers.

Fragosinho Beach[edit]

Fragosinho Beach also known as Farol beach is a rocky beach rich in marine life, it was used as a small port.

Fragosa Beach[edit]

Fragosa Beach in Aver-o-Mar Cove.

Fragosa Beach is a large sandy beach located in Aver-o-Mar Cove.

Esteiro Beach[edit]

Esteiro Beach is a large sandy beach used for traditional sun-drying of seaweed.

Coim Beach[edit]

Coim Beach is an extensive sandy beach with some rocks.

Quião Beach[edit]

Quião Beach is a rocky beach, rich in marine life, with some dunes remaining, and a fine sand beach. Used for traditional sun-drying of seaweed. Located south of Santo André Cape.

Dois Cabos Beach[edit]

Dois Cabos Beach is a tiny beach between the large rocks which form Santo André Cape. Hassle-free.

Santo André Beach[edit]

Santo André Beach is a large beach located north of Santo André Cape. Hassle-free.

Aguçadoura Beach[edit]

Aguçadoura is an extensive sandy beach popular amongst Northern Portuguese and Northern Spanish surfers and considered a high-quality surfing beach, during high or low-tide, with consistent waves that break at the beach without obstacles. Hassle-free.

Barranha Beach[edit]

Preserved sand dunes area. while much of the Povoan coast was made out of dunes, the action of man destroyed most. Hassle-free, used for flirting.

Rio Alto Beach[edit]

Used for naturalism and flirting. Hassle-free, with dunes with native vegetation. Very large and extensive fine sand beach. Part of the beach is a links golf course.


  1. ^ "Póvoa de Varzim." (in Portuguese) Grande Enciclopédia Universal (2004), vol. 16, pp. 10683-10684, Durclub