Getting Acquainted With Matosinhos

The first time I heard of Matosinhos was when we were looking for rentals in Porto. We had read a few articles on neighbourhoods within Porto, and I don’t think Matosinhos even figured in those as it is a separate municipality, just like Gaia. Our whole focus was on Porto proper, close to the centre as these were the neighbourhoods we were relatively familiar with. 

Our search progressed and we had to whittle away at the meagre listings, meagre mainly due to budgetary constraints, we decided to cast our net further away from Porto central. That’s where we first heard the name Matosinhos. 

The few listings we saw there were nice but again, nothing popped out at us. It was just another neighbourhood, another area on a map. We had no idea what it would be like. I guess that’s why we decided that the first year we stayed in Porto would be devoted to sussing out different neighbourhoods in the city. This would help us to finally figure out if this city was for us and which neighbourhoods appealed.

First impressions

My first visit to Matosinhos was with a few friends and at night. The company was great, the food was so so and the area looked promising. We didn’t hang out much after dinner, so my report on Matosinhos back at headquarters just mentioned that the area seemed nice and worth a look. By then, we had read up a lot more on the neighbourhood and after living in Gaia for over a month, had lost our Porto-centric fixation.

One day, maybe a month after moving here, we decided to visit the fish market in Matosinhos. Two reasons for this – the seafood was supposed to be really good and we were just in the mood to explore. We hopped on to the 906 bus, rode over to Porto and switched to the 501, an honest to goodness double decker. Riding on the upper deck was fun, not as much fun as riding the upper deck of the 1 Ltd. in Bombay back in the day. But I do remember that back in the day, the heat in Bombay would be so bad that the upper deck of the 1 Ltd, right in the front, was sheer bliss!

The mercado at Matosinhos is full of great, fresh seafood. You can also buy your fresh catch and hand it over to one of the restaurants in the market to cook as per your liking

Anyways, the approach to Matosinhos in broad daylight definitely opened our eyes. The area seemed a lot buzzier than the quiet of Canidelo. Plenty of shops and boutiques selling the usual tourist tat, plenty of cafes and restaurants and a lot more lively. Definitely seemed like a fun neighbourhood. Our stop was the market to buy fish and have lunch. While that may not seem fun for many, exploring new neighbourhoods has always been so for us. The market was right next to the shoreline and had a few restaurants serving seafood. So we had lunch, which was lovely, shopped for prawns (I miss the desi prawns at Khar market) and hopped back on to the bus back home.

The beach at Matosinhos has a rich maritime history and is still a buzzing port

A closer look

Yesterday, we went to Matosinhos again, this time early in the evening and for dinner. I had earmarked 3 restaurants in a line, including the one I ate in, that first time. We kept our eyes open, determined to get a better feel for the place. A short walk from the bus stop got us to the beach and it was a revelation. On the right was this broad swathe of beach, about 250m. Deep. Alongside the beach was a promenade that seemed just as wide, a road running along into the distance and a lovely park on the other side of the road. Then came the buildings. I can only imagine the view those residents would have. The beach and the promenade seemed to stretch ahead for miles and miles. And as we walked along the promenade, we fell more in love with our adopted city.

You cannot avoid these fried sardines in Porto. They are served as appetizers and are delicious

Dinner was a short walk away, down a narrow road that was chock full of seafood restaurants. We ate at Tito 2. Luckily we were early and walked in at sharp 7 pm, the restaurant’s opening time. The food was simply superb! Fried sardines for starters and seafood soup followed by grilled salmon steak and Portuguese seafood rice. It goes without saying, we ordered too much! The seafood rice was served in a massive pot and the rice was covered in steaming gravy, definitely enough for a couple of meals. The grilled salmon was delish. Tito 2 was definitely one of the best meals we have had since moving here.

What we have seen of Matosinhos so far makes it no. 1 on our list of neighbourhoods to live in when we finally decide to grow roots. We have definitely fallen in love with Porto and its environs and definitely want to continue living near it. And Matosinhos is a neighbourhood that ticks all our boxes – close enough to Porto, quaint neighbourhoods, close to the sea as well as the river, great beaches and great food with plenty of things to do. The trick will be in finding a home to buy that fits into our budget and that will not be an easy task. The universe has been kind to us and I am sure it will continue to do so.

But, will we ever find a home with a view like this – that’s the real question!

Stay tuned for more! 



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