VILA PRAIA DE ÂNCORA is a flourishing, built-up resort on the Costa Verde. Sitting on the basin of the River Âncora, there is a superb beach right alongside the train line, sheltered by the surrounding hills and drifting back into the river’s estuary. Here you can swim enjoyably even when the Atlantic breezes are blowing towels around the sands. For good measure there are two forts guarding the bay: the Fortim de Cão, south of the estuary, and the better-preserved Forte de Lagarteira, to the north by a bustling fishing harbour. Legend has it that the river and town owe their name to a punishment doled out to the adulterous Queen Urraca of Navarre, drowned in the river by her jealous husband King Ramiro II of Asturias, Galicia and Leon with an anchor (âncora) around her neck.
Four kilometres north of Vila Praia de Âncora, Moledo do Minho is the train traveller’s last chance to swim in the sea. In the same mould as Vila Praia, it too has a fort – this time half-ruined, guarding the river from a long, sandy spit. If you’re heading for Caminha, Valença, or even Spain, you could easily stop off here or at Vila Praia, wander down to the beach and catch the next train.