Over 200 years ago, a colony formed by families of Ovar fishermen, came to this place behind the rich marine fauna. It was also about finding a place close enough to Oporto that allowed them to put the fish in that city in good conditions of use, as it was still unknown the conservation processes.

In the early days these “ovareiros” (hence the name “Vareiro”, by which are known fishermen in this area) remained on the coast only during the fishing season, returning to their homeland in the winter, when the sea made fishing in security impossible.

Nomads in a sense, these early settlers did not build houses, sleeping in improvised shelters, often using their boats upside down as shelter. The settlement of people in Espinho began around the year 1776, after they found out about the “secret” of the sardine brine, allowing the storage and sale during the off-season. The fishermen then began to fixate in Espinho solving its economic problem when, in the winter, the sea is “closed”.

Then the first fishermen’s homes started appearing- the haystacks. Later, many of those houses were acquired by families of possessions and subjected to improvements, forming the beach colony of Espinho.


In less than half a century, Espinho would become one of the main beaches of northern Portugal. The county was established in August 1899. The city owes its name to a place in the parish of São Felix da Marinha, Villa de Spino, a village existing since the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula.

On the other hand, there is a legend that the name has been attributed by two Galicians who were shipwrecked on the coast. These were saved by clinging to a plank of wood, after discussing the origin of it, one would say that it was made of chestnut, but the other said: “No! És Piño” (pine wood). So from the combination of these two words the name of the city appeared.
Espinho lived a period of great urban growth and economic stability after the construction of a station of Railways in 1876. Currently the railway is buried providing direct passage of people to the bathing area.

So the sea is an essential part of the history of this city, was the means of livelihood of its first inhabitants, and continues today being a source of income for many families.

It was thanks to the fantastic beaches of the city that Espinho became, during the end of the XIX century, one of the most popular beach areas in the country, generating a huge influx of people from the upper bourgeoisie and nobility that made the city grow and be what it is today. Even in our days the beaches and beach tourism is the largest source of income of the city.