Here at MeetFigueira we have a slogan: “Living Figueira 12 months a year”. We are Figueirenses (the people from Figueira da Foz) and we want to show, to anyone who is interested, that Figueira da Foz is a land to visit and live in all seasons. For 2023, we have already made our top 10 of spring, now follows the summer, when the city opens to the sun and becomes the “queen of Portuguese beaches”. This top 10 is subjective and could easily be a top 20, but for this year, these are our proposals of things to do in Figueira da Foz in the bathing season:
1 – Going to the beach
Of course. If in spring we advised going to the countryside, in summer it can’t be anything else at the top of the list but the sea, the sun and the sand. Lots of sand, in the case of Figueira da Foz’s urban beaches. Going to the beach is a must for the vacationer, who here has plenty to choose from and beaches for all tastes, from the most deserted (hello Murtinheira!) to the most congested (hello Praia do Forte!): the municipality of Figueira da Foz has an extensive coastline and no less than 11 Blue Flag beaches, nine of which are quality Gold, as we have already noted and celebrated at Meet.
And this year there are even giant inflatables and two heated sea pools in the middle of the sandy beaches of Praias do Relógio and Buarcos, for the chilly and averse to sea turmoil (to be inaugurated soon at the time of this publication). Also for those with walking difficulties, for Praia da Claridade the Municipality has prepared a transportation system between the avenue and the sea, with three new electric cars. In Buarcos, to make the summer more welcoming and inclusive for everyone, the Municipality’s project “Praia M+ Mais Mobilidade, Praia Segura para Todos” allows people with reduced mobility and other limitations to enjoy the beach walk and go bathing safely. “The M+ Beach Station, located in Praia de Buarcos next to the bathing rooms, has a team to assist those interested in bathing in the sea, using specific equipment for this purpose – the Tiralô.”, informs the Muinicipality of Figueira.
So, with the sun heating, there is no excuse not to go bathing and this is the ultimate suggestion of things to do in Figueira da Foz in the summer.
2 – Contemplating art
After a swim in the sea, there’s nothing better than an art bath to wash your soul, in refreshing and soothing indoor spaces. And Figueira da Foz also has a lot to offer in this regard. Beyond the unavoidable Centro de Artes e Espetáculos (CAE)always with excellent exhibitions of contemporary fine arts taking place at the same time in the various galleries, we have spaces and galleries such as the Magentaunder the Silva Guimarães Esplanade, the O Rastroin Bairro Novo, where you can appreciate local artists or purchase works by renowned national and foreign painters, or spaces where exhibition mixes with creation, such as the A Tua Cara, at the Caras Direitas Theater in Buarcos. Another must-see is the Laranjeira Santos Contemporary Art Center, in the beautiful Castelo Engenheiro Silva building, recently rehabilitated. And to finish in beauty, a visit to the Santos Rocha Municipal Museum, with its vast collection of paintings, sacred and decorative art from various parts of the world.
If the heat doesn’t get too much, however, the city of Figueira is also one big open-air gallery, with countless examples of public and mural art all over the city and Buarcos. Set off to discover the many graffiti, monuments and statues. To make it easier for you to wander around, the City Council recently launched an updated version of these Figueira da Foz urban art routes, which are also available online. Today, we feel like suggesting a stroll in the late afternoon, that magical hour of Figueira, and highlight the magnificent mural by the artist Smile (Ivo Santos), which occupies the entire wall of the Buarcos promenade, up to Tamargueira: dozens of meters of art overlooking the sea.
3 – Taste artisanal ice creams
Another proposal that appears on all lists of “what to do in Figueira da Foz in summer”, ice creams and “homemade” ice creams, usually associated with the oldest and most prestigious brand in the city, Emanha, with two establishments next to Avenida 25 de Abril. However, rejoice the sweet tooth, there is more ice cream life in Figueira besides Emanha and we have other excellent houses such as the San Remo and the Farggiboth in Buarcos and overlooking the sea, or the various ones that we find in Bairro Novo, such as the Odo or the Cassata, whose specialty will be more festive cakes, but also produces its range of artisanal ice creams. Below the Esplanada Silva Guimarães, we can also find Kali Geladaria, which proves that when it comes to artisanal ice cream, size is no document.
4 – Taste the local cuisine
Restaurants, then. Lots of good ones, with our MeetFigueira 2023 tourist map partners leading the way, all of them guaranteed to be top. But also learn and then practice the local recipes and buy products from the land and sea of Figueira da Foz, some of them of excellence, such as rice or salt. For traditional products, the simplest and most fun option is, of course, the municipal markets ( Engenheiro Silva in the city center, Buarcos or São Pedro, on the south bank), but we also advise you to go to the places and buy from the producer or small local shops, whether in the salt pans of the Mondego estuary, directly to the salt pans, or with the xávega art companies that still regularly go to sea on the Costa de Lavos or Leirosa, unloading the live fish on the sand, or even in the many rural villages, where you can find, for example, bread and broa to cry for more or superb sweets.
There are many alternatives to eating well in Figueira da Foz and the traditional recipes of the land (and the sea) also do not leave the credits in the hands of others. In this context, we cannot fail to recommend the municipal gastronomic editions, especially the magnificent “A nossa mesa: receituário gastronómico da Figueira da Foz”Guida Cândido, the author of the work, will be on August 20 at the Férias com Livros tent in Buarcos, an occasion not to be missed if you want to know more about Figueirense gastronomy (see poster below).
5 – Find a place in the shade
The sun is good but it’s also tiresome, and too much exposure is bad for your health. So, in summer in Figueira da Foz, cultivate coolness and look for your place in the shade. We also have many: Elegant, like the Municipal Garden, relaxing, like the one in the São Pedro Picnic Park or luxuriant, like the Serra da Boa Viagem and its many places to snack, stretch out your blanket and doze off listening to the birds and looking at the monumental treetops, here, the hardest part is even finding a place in the sun.
The Parque das Abadias, although more of a grassy splendor, is another proposition to consider and here too we find some areas with large trees or the leafy weeping trees by the stream, providing cover for the nap blanket and picnic. The Quiaios Lagoons, on the other hand, although they do not allow bathing, also provide some green and shady spaces, with nature already recovering from the great fire that devastated that area of national forests a few years ago. It is also a good spot for sport fishing, with the proper licenses, and has some bird watching structures.
6 – Go to a terrace cafe (in the shade)
Probably the summer vacationer’s favorite sport, it had to be on a list of things to do in Figueira da Foz in the summer. Socializing points par excellence, the terraces also provide shade, refreshment and nutrition (think of the famous binomial imperial + percebe / snail / lunch), constituting environments conducive to dialogue, communion, contemplation and, above all, the sophisticated art of “dolce fare niente”.
Fortunately, there is also no shortage of terraces for all tastes in Figueira da Foz, especially on the seafront, from north (hello Sand Murtinheira!) to south (hello Xiringuito!) there are plenty of bars and restaurants with outdoor areas where the sport is practiced, overlooking the sea, along the entire coast; or overlooking urban life, in the famous Bairro Novo, with emphasis on the Picadeiro, the social heart of the neighborhood and where we find the highest concentration of terraces per square meter in the municipality.
7 – Facing the waves
Going to the beach can be a wonderful exercise in quiet sunbathing, especially in the company of a book or a podcast, but if the heat is on we all know that the only way to feel good is in the water. And if there are beaches, such as the fluvial beaches of Forte or Cabedelinho, that are not meant to make waves, most of the beaches in Figueira da Foz offer a decent surf, conducive to surfboards and strong emotions, or at least to some foam dives with the right to “carreirinha” (swimming along with the wave).
For the wave sports themselves, the lack of skills or equipment is also no excuse, as Figueira da Foz has a wide range of clubs and companies that teach and rent boards and wetsuits, especially in the great reference of surfing and bodyboarding in Figueira da Foz: Praia do Cabedelo.
8 – Getting to know the villages
Preferably the people, the traditions and the gastronomy and, above all, their festive uses. August, the solar month in which most emigrants or figueirenses in other cities return for a smell of home, is naturally a month of festivals, pilgrimages and celebrations throughout the county, communities unite in traditions, celebrate their saints and their landmark dates, almost always festivities of a religious nature but with plenty of recreational and, of course, gastronomic programs.
Whether you are a visitor or a resident, join in the dance, attend the pilgrimages, get to know the local cults, enjoy the delicacies of the region and get to know the “deep” Figueira da Foz, beyond the bathing postcard. Our calendar of Figueira events helps (search under Traditions): Agenda – Meet Figueira. Where you can find festivities like these:
9 – Read
On the beach, under a pine tree, on the terrace, on the balcony, pause the screens and catch up on your reading, in Figueira da Foz there are also plenty of quiet places to read. If you didn’t come prepared, don’t panic, Figueira da Foz has also thought of you. Here at MeetFigueira we recommend two excellent cathedrals of books, one temporary: the fair “Holidays with Books” in Buarcos, an initiative of Ao Pé das Letras with the support of the Municipality, where you can have direct contact with the authors (poster/calendar below), and another permanent one: the excellent Miguel Carvalho Bookstore, one of the best antiquarian booksellers in the country, right in the city center. And of course, there’s the friendly, eclectic and polyglot Bruaá bookstore on the first floor of the Centro de Artes e Espetáculos.
In addition, you can also make use of the Municipal Library and its summer services Biblioteca na Praia e no Jardim or the Bertrand Bookstore in Foz Plaza, a national reference in bookstores, more focused on publishing novelties and bestsellers.
10 – Reflecting on the coast
And why not learn more about the challenges and dynamics of our coast and the mouth of the Mondego River, in a more serious perspective, letting yourself be carried away by the exhibition route organized by architects Miguel Figueira and André Tavares and reflect on the environmental and human impact of the interaction between the ocean and the coastline. “The Sea is our Land”, explain the curators, is an exhibition that “maps and presents the contradictions between land and sea, from the perspective of architecture, land use planning and landscape construction” .
It takes place at Meeting Point (Praça Ledesma Criado), 50 meters from the Clock Tower, until May 2024, with a pole at the Núcleo Museológico do Mar, in Buarcos – another mandatory “spot” in the chapter “things to do in Figueira da Foz”, by the way, in all seasons. Partnership between the Municipality of Figueira da Foz and the Centro Cultural de Belém, in Lisbon, where this multimedia installation was inaugurated. The exhibition is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 2pm to 10pm.
+1 – Xávega on the Lavos Coast
And since we are in the field of the sea and its interaction with coastal communities, we add a bonus: get to know the Lavos Coast through the program Summer Pedagogical BeachIt is ideal for families and children, where you can combine beach, tradition and even gastronomy, because there is no fresher fish. It is organized by Fishermen’s HouseThis formalizes the invitation: “Come and get on the arte-xávega boat, see the nets coming out, touch our red-legged shark and all the species that come in the net. Share the experiences and knowledge of the people of the sea in the Fishermen’s House, a creative ethnographic space, full of life and knowledge “.
Guided tours take place on Tuesdays and Fridays during the month of August, with the following starting times: 9h00; 11h00; 14h00 and 16h00. Participation costs €3 and registration is by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 967723720. Find out all about it here: Facebook.