Handy for Porto city are several beach resorts that are connected to the city by the metro and regular bus links.
Espinho is a lively beach resort where you have a choice of activities. You can laze on the beach, surf the Atlantic breakers, play a round of golf at Portugal's oldest course or gamble the night away at the casino.
At just 18 kilometres south of Porto, Espinho was once the resort for the monied classes of Porto. Over the years this has become a modern resort with plenty of accommodation close to the beach.
It is hugely popular in the summer and draws Portuguese in from all over north and central Portugal particularly in July and August when the sea is at its warmest. Then the sands fill with sizzling bodies taking a break from cosmopolitan city life.
Praia de Baia is the closest beach and currently holds Blue Flag status with easy access for wheeled visitors. The breakers here are pretty good too so it is a popular surfing spot. Equipment can be hired at nearby surf shops.
There have been water quality issues around this part of the coast but Praia Azula, Praia Pop and Praia do Costa Verde are recommended as cleaner beaches with sunbathing areas and not particularly dangerous surf.
For calmer waters, there's the town's swimming-pool complex, Solar Atlantico, adjacent to Praia Baia open from mid-May to September.
One mile south of Espinho and eighteen miles south of Porto, Oporto Golf Club is a genuine 18 hole. par-71, links course that is the second oldest in Europe (the oldest on the Iberian Peninsular). It was founded in 1890 by the old British families trading in port wine that needed some form of recreational activity in Portugal.
Being close to the sea it is noted for its brisk Atlantic winds and spectacular ocean views. Visitors are welcome Tuesdays to Fridays (closed Mondays); weekends and Bank Holidays til 10.30 am. A Handicap Certificate is required. Oporto Golf Club, Paramos, 4500 Espinho, Portugal. Tel: 351 227 342 008. Fax: 351 227 346 895.
Another big attraction is the town's excitingly neon lit casino, Casino Solverde.
In recent years this has been modernized and now contains gaming rooms, restaurants, conference halls. Games include blackjack, French and American roulette, point & bank, poker, bingo, 1,000 slot machines with a super jackpot, as well as an electronic racehorse track.
The casino plays host to daily shows and live music including international stars like Natalie Cole. The Baccara restaurant offers Portuguese and international cuisine.