With the name Espinho translating to 'thorn', it is perhaps no surprise that this crumbling beach resort less than 20km south of Porto features the ubiquitous ugly high-rise buildings and polluted water that are the less attractive side-effects of tourism.
There is a long stretch of golden sandy beach, but it tends to be hot and overcrowded in summer and deserted and exposed to the prevailing northerly winds in winter, with the cleanest section, the Praia da Baia, right opposite the glitzy, neon-lit Casino Solverde.
If you need a break from the crowds or wind try one of the top-quality fish restaurants that line the promenade and offer good views of the sea. The resort was once a small fishing village and, although there remain only a very few of the colourful, narrow fishing boats, the fish and seafood served in these and other restaurants is superlative.
Seemingly oblivious to cold winds and bad water quality, surfers tend to be out in force on any day that the waves are rideable, this being the best surf spot close to Porto. The Invert Surf Shop, one kilometre inland (!!), can offer advice and equipment, although on its day the waves at Espinho are extremely powerful and for experts only.
If the beach doesn’t look particularly enticing then try the swimming pool at the north end of the esplanade. It is filled with filtered seawater and could be a cleaner choice for bathing.
There is a range of accommodation on or near the beach and a good campsite 1km inland.