Matosinhos, Grilled pulpo (octopus) salad.
Food,  Portugal,  Travel Guides,  Wine

Matosinhos: World’s Best Fish, Right Near Porto

Many travelers visit Porto with one thing on their mind: Port wine. But there’s a local secret that most tourists don’t know about. A culinary claim that is as intriguing as it is bold. Matosinhos—Porto’s oceanfront neighbor to the north—may just have the world’s best fish.

Shortly after our arrival in Porto, our Airbnb host pointed to a map and let us in on the secret: “this is where you need to go… for the BEST FISH in the area.” The next day, we took his advice and set off for an unforgettable seafood experience in Matosinhos.

If you’re visiting Porto, set aside a day and add this charming fishing village to your itinerary. If your time is limited, try to squeeze in a half day to visit these two can’t-miss destinations:

  1. Mercado Municipal de Matosinhos (the local fish market)
  2. “Restaurant Row” on Rua Heróis França, where fresh fish & crème brûlée are grilled to perfection on outdoor BBQ’s


Matosinhos: a city built on fish & pride

Though humans have lived in the area for over 5000 years, Matosinhos only officially became a city in 1984. What finally put Matosinhos on the map? Fish. The local sardine fishing & canning industry began to boom once the Port of Leixões was built, at the end of the 19th century.

Today, Matosinhos is known throughout Portugal as a prime seafood destination. To the locals however, the fish here is more than just great—it’s a key piece of their identity.

We want to build the brand Matosinhos: World’s Best Fish making it a recognized seal worldwide.

– Câmara Municipal de Matosinhos (Matosinhos City Council)

Getting there

By bus

The two city centers of Porto and Matosinhos are less than 5 miles (8 km) apart, and they’re closely connected through a network of buses and metros. We took the bus, and recommend others do the same. Of course, taxi is always an option, but if you’re traveling on a budget, the bus or metro are the way to go.

The line 500 bus route is considered one of the most scenic public transport routes in Porto, running from the city center (near Avenida dos Aliados) all the way along the coast until it ends at the fish market. A one-way trip from beginning to end will take about 40 minutes.

Fish market stop: get off at Matosinhos Mercado

Restaurant row stop: get off at Godinho or Lota—both will put you within a 5-minute walk

By metro

The Metro do Porto light rail system is another convenient & cost-effective option for reaching Matosinhos. Take the “A” (blue) line from central Porto. This system map shows you several station options.

Fish market stop: get off at Mercado

Restaurant row stop: get off at Matosinhos Sul or Brito Capelo


Seafood sights to see

Local fish market

Many locals—as well as the few tourists that are really in the know—buy their fresh seafood at the Mercado Municipal de Matosinhos. Inside the market, you’ll find sea bass, tuna, sole, cod, monkfish, swordfish, lobster, octopus…and of course the famous sardine. Most of these sea creatures were swimming in the ocean only a few hours earlier.

when to go: the market begins to close around noon, but if you’re on a mission to actually buy some fish to cook yourself, head to the market early in the morning while there’s still a selection to choose from.

Restaurant row

Restaurant after restaurant lines both sides of this walking street. Most of them offer outdoor seating in the sun or in the shade. Outdoor BBQ’s fill the air with the smell of smoke, charcoal, fresh fish and mouthwatering crème brûlée.

getting there: the main intersection is Rua Heróis França & Rua Godinho. If you’ve taken the bus or metro to one of the stops we mentioned earlier, enter these cross-streets into your GPS and you’ll find it within a few minutes.

As we rounded the corner of Rua Heróis França on foot, we soon realized that this was the destination that our Airbnb host had described to us!

Our Matosinhos experience was spent at Casa Serrão, a restaurant that we selected simply based on the crème brûlée they were preparing on the outdoor grills. We spent close to 3 hours here, and the delicious meal included:

  • A complimentary octopus appetizer
  • Perfectly-grilled sea bass (ordered by D)
  • Fish stew built for 2 (ordered by A)
  • A bottle of local vinho verde (“green wine”)

For dessert: the largest & most uniquely-prepared crème brûlée we’d ever seen. Rather than firing the top layer of sugar with a torch, they place the entire dish directly on the grill, and press down on the top with a piping hot, metal device that can best be described as a cattle brand!

The largest crème brûlée we’ve ever seen!

A story that left us smiling

Before we tell this story, let us first say: our overall experience at Casa Serrão was fantastic. The food was incredible, and we shared some very friendly conversation with all of the staff members we interacted with. Nonetheless (maybe it was the 3-hour meal, or maybe it was the vinho verde), this one had us laughing for awhile:

reflections: as we’re wrapping up our meal, we asked waiter #1 (for the 3rd time) if we could have a to-go box for our leftovers. He apologized for the delay, told us ‘just one more minute!’ and then quickly pulled one of his colleagues—waiter #2—aside. We observed their interchange, and then watched as waiter #2 ran as fast as he could away from the restaurant, and out of sight. 15 minutes later, he reappeared—out of breath—and with some newly-purchased, empty to-go boxes. Later still, upon paying the bill, we noticed a 2€ charge for the to-go boxes that we had “ordered”!!!


Other sites & landmarks in Matosinhos

Depending on your consumption during lunch, you may be in need of the nearest patch of grass or plot of sand for an afternoon siesta. If you controlled yourself, there are some other sights to see in Matosinhos or on your way back to Porto.

This map will take you from where we ate lunch at Casa Serrão to each of the 4 places below, heading north to south. The total distance is just over 2 miles (3.4 km).

Matosinhos after-lunch activities

  • Parque da Cidade: as the largest urban park in Portugal, the Parque da Cidade (Porto City Park) offers plenty of open space for sports or siestas.
  • Sea Life Center: directly next to the Porto City Park, the Sea Life Center is an aquarium that features more than 100 species of ocean creatures including sharks, rays & turtles.
  • Fort of São Francisco do Queijo: this small 15th century fortress is across from the Sea Life Center. It’s called the Castelo do Queijo (“the cheese castle”) because the rock it was built upon resembles a block of cheese. No argument here!
  • Praia do Molhe: less than a mile south of the Sea Life Center, Praia do Molhe is one of several beaches you’ll pass on your way back to Porto. It came highly recommended to us as one of the best places in Porto for caipirinhas.
Praia do Matosinhos.


Heading home, deep in thought

Our day ended with a casual stroll along the beach, to-go boxes in hand, shortly before dusk settled over the beautiful beach town. We then caught the 500 bus alongside the beach, and enjoyed the 40-minute ride back to Porto to continue our adventures.

“world’s best fish?” → hard to say…

“the best fish in the area” → in our personal experience, yes!

While you’re in Porto, take a day to visit Matosinhos, and decide for yourself.



▾ Need help planning your trip to Portugal? ▾

If this guide has inspired you to embark on your own seafood expedition to the Portuguese coast, but you don’t have the time to research and plan your own trip, we can help. Whether it’s for a family vacation, a group friend trip, or a honeymoon, we’ve got you covered. Let us take care of the details you don’t have time for, so you can focus on octopus salad and crème brûlée.

Visit our Plan A Trip page and fill out a quick questionnaire to get the ball rolling!



  • Dania

    It is just so amazing to contact you and know how great you guys are doing with the amazing gift of enjoying your love and traveling the world together. I am so happy for both of you. Great job with this page, like always excelling in excellence.

    Yes, this is Dania your friend from Miami. we are going to Portugal on Sept 3rd. we will be traveling from Lisbon to Bilbao by car towards the north of Spain ending in Bilbao.

    I want to know if you know how we can save on car rental. They are charging us 2,300 for rental at Lisbon and leaving the car at Bilboa’s airport. This is very Caroooo. Help!

    • A

      Dear Dania – it is so great to hear from you! Thank you so much for your kind words 🙂 We miss you and hope you and all of your loved ones are doing well!!! We are so excited that you’re going to visit Portugal in September! it is such a fantastic country, filled with incredible people, culture & food.

      As far as car rentals: we have faced the same issue. In our experience, you will ALWAYS have to pay an extra fee for renting a car in one CITY and returning it in another city, but it is MUCH more expensive when you want to return it to a different COUNTRY. For example: pick up in Madrid and drop off in Bilbao, you will have to pay a fee. But pick up in Lisbon and drop off in Bilbao, and the fee might be 5x more expensive.

      Since you are traveling the north of Spain (beautiful!), we would suggest the following: when you are done exploring Portugal, take a bus or a train across the border to Spain. Vigo is the closest Spanish city to the border in Portugal (we have not been). Another 60 miles north of Vigo, you will reach Santiago de Compostela (I was there 5 years ago and it is BEAUTIFUL!). So if you take a bus or a train to one of those cities and pick up your rental car there, then at least you are picking up the car in one Spanish city and dropping off in another, and the “different city dropoff fee” *should* be less expensive. Of course, you have the additional cost of bus/train tickets to get across the border, but you may end up saving a bit of money in the end. It may work for you, or it may not, but at least its something worth looking into!

      Please let us know how it turns out, and feel free to reach out anytime if there’s anything we can help you with for this trip, or any others. Our email is

      UN ABRAZO!!!

  • Brett Aronson

    “We want to build the brand Matosinhos: World’s Best Fish making it a recognized SEAL worldwide.”….well which is it Matosinhos?…do you want to be recognized worldwide for your fish or your seals?!

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