When you think of Portugal, you probably think of the teeming cities of Lisbon and Porto, or perhaps the beach haven of the Algarve. But we headed to the north of Portugal to explore the region, and we found ourselves in a coastal town by the name of Figueira da Foz.
Now, you might be thinking that sleepy coastal towns aren’t the best place to make yourself at home when travelling in Portugal. But in fact there are a number of reasons why we think Figuera da Foz makes the ideal base to explore this part of northern Portugal.
Find out more in out guide to Figueira da Foz.
Where is Figueira da Foz?
Figueira da Foz is a coastal resort town about halfway between Lisbon and Portugal on the Atlantic coast. And because it’s pretty much bang in the middle between the two big cities, plus a number of other cultural hubs such as Coimbra, Nazare and Aveiro, this is what makes it a great base.
To add to this, it’s just off the main expressway which goes between Lisbon and Porto, meaning it’s just a quick drive (or bus) back to the big cities.
In fact, you can be in Lisbon or Porto within 2 hours, or Aveiro in one hour. And Coimbra is just 30 minutes away.
So, Figueira da Foz is perfectly placed in terms of exploring some of Portugal’s best cities. What is it like as a town?
What is there to do in Figueira da Foz?
Despite being relatively unknown to tourists from outside of Portugal, there is actually quite a lot to do.
Figueira da Foz is actually quite a long town, built along what is supposedly Europe’s widest beach. In fact, at around 1 kilometer, getting from the town to the beach is not so simple.
BUT – don’t let that put you off.
The main beach is very popular, and often not safe for swimming with the rolling Atlantic, although summer months are often relatively calm. But there is also a smaller beach to the south of the town, which is protected by a breakwater and is perfect for swimming even when the waves are a little rough.
One of the major draws of Figueira da Foz is the big casino in town. While we didn’t check it out, it is one of the most popular reasons for local Portuguese and even Spanish to visit the town.
The Casino in the souther portion of the town and right on the main city centre drag, which is hard to miss.
The Medieval Festival
If you’re in town during April there is actually a cool medieval festival which takes place on the seafront. We had no idea when we arrived but it was in full swing. Think medieval bands, copious amounts of roasted meat, games, peasants in fancy dress and a lot of trinkets to buy.
Day trips to Aveiro
Thanks to the central location of Figueira da Foz, it makes a great location for daytrips to nearby cities. The pretty canal town of Aveiro is just over an hour by coach, and there are regular connections to the town. We thought Aveiro was great and would happily have spent more time there.
Day Trips to Coimbra
Another city just a short hop by coach or train is Coimbra, the old hilly capital of Portugal. In fact Coimbra can be reached in a little under an hour and is definitely worth a day trip or longer. Some people may prefer to stay in Coimbra instead and commute the other way for the beach…
Food and Drink
While Figuera da Foz is very spread out, we did find that the food and drinks options were uniformly excellent across the town.
Our favourite spot was Volta e Meia, where we had some incredible fish over lunch. While the restaurant is very boutique with a premium vibe, we found it very affordable.
We also enjoyed a dinner with friends at Bijou, which was equally fantastic. Think traditional Portuguese dishes with a quality angle.
The town is dotted with great little cafes and restaurants, so it’s hard to list all of them. But you can definitely follow your nose and find a gem!
Where to stay in Figueira da Foz?
The Eurostars Oasis Plaza is another great premium option in the heart of Figuera da Foz with amazing views of the ocean and the beach.
Or, for a more boutique vibe, check out the Universal Boutique Hotel. A gorgeous luxury hotel with a great location.
We enjoyed our stay in Figueira da Foz and recommend it as a great place to explore Portugal for a few days…
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Hopefully you enjoyed this guide to Figueira da Foz. While this is totally our honest opinion, the article does contain some affiliate links which, if you purchase from them, will earn us a small commission at no extra cost to you 🙂