The Praia do Senhor da Pedra is one of the finest beaches close to Porto and is famed the for the small chapel perched on a rock outcrop. This Senhor da Pedra beach is a good destination for a beach day, especially if you are based in Porto, as there are direct and inexpensive train services from Sao Bento train station.
The stunning beach of Miramar
The town of Miramar, which sprawls to the rear of the beach, is a favourite with Porto’s residents and has a distinctively Portuguese ambience. Miramar is a low-key destination, with a handful of cafes, restaurants and shops, and does not reflect the wonderful beach it is close to.
Miramar is situated on the northern reaches of the Costa de Prata (the Silver Coast), and the beaches are characteristic of this region, with golden sands, powerful Atlantic waters and frequent bracing winds. This article will provide a guide to the beaches of Miramar and includes travel information.
The town of Miramar has three beaches, the Praia do Senhor da Pedra, the Praia da Sãozinha and the Praia de Miramar. The three beaches may have different names, but are part of the same stretch of sand and are almost identical.
The Praia da Sãozinha is the most northerly and has a more natural appearance, being surrounded by sand dunes. The Praia do Senhor da Pedra directly faces the Capela do Senhor da Pedra chapel and is closer to the main tourist facilities (shops, cafes and restaurants). The Praia de Miramar leads south from the beach promenade, and extends along the Miramar Golf Club.
In the summer the section of beach along the promenade (the Rua Esplanada da Praia) will be the busiest, as it has the easiest access and car parking. The quieter section Miramar beaches will be the northern part of the Sãozinha beach or southern section Praia de Miramar. There is a wooden raised footpath along the entire coastline and all of the beaches can be easily walked to.
The small hexagonal Capela do Senhor da Pedra (Chapel of the Lord of the Stone) is perched upon a rock outcrop and is exposed to power and fierce storms of the Atlantic Ocean. This bizarre setting for a chapel was chosen, as originally it was a site of pagan worship. The construction of the Capela do Senhor da Pedra in 1686 ensured the dominance of Christianity over the superstitious local population.
The sea temperature of the Costa de Prata is surprisingly cold, only reaching 18C in the middle of the summer. The beaches are exposed to the powerful waves and currents of the Atlantic Ocean, so only swim in areas it is safe too. Around the Praia do Senhor da Pedra there are numerous rock outcrops along the water's edge, but the entire region has many hidden rocks. If you are surfing always be aware of these hidden rocks. The sea waters of Miramar are clean, and far away from the Douro River (which actually is not that polluted).
There is an excellent cycling path which extends along the entire coastline from the mouth of the Douro (actually Afurada) south to Espinho. The distinctively red painted cycling path is safe and suitable for all, and has few hills.
For walkers, there is beachfront raised walkway that again heads north and south from Miramar. A pleasant longer walk is from Espinho to Miramar and passes through the protect sand dunes of Dunas Litorais de Gaia.
The Praia do Senhor da Pedra is served by the Porto-Aveiro railway, which departs from the Sao Bento railway station in central Porto. The train is part of the Porto Urban railway and requires a zone 2 fare (€1.50 single). The train journey takes 28 minutes and the latest timetable can be seen on the CP (Comboios de Portugal) website:
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Miramar train station (GPS: 41.06761, -8.64967) is small and without a ticket office. It is a 600m walk from the station to the Praia de Miramar, and is reached by walking down the Avenida Vasco da Gama. Praia do Senhor da Pedra and the Praia da Sãozinha are slightly further away.
The northern Costa de Prata has many outstanding and similar beaches as with the Praia do Senhor da Pedra. The largest resort town of the region is Espinho, it is modern, has great facilities (hotels/restaurants/shops) but lacks any Portuguese charm. Beaches close to Praia do Senhor da Pedra that are served by the Aveiro-Porto railway include Granja, Aguda (our personal favourite). For a complete guide to the beaches of Porto, please read this guide.