Portugal is famous not just for its history and architecture, beautiful azulejos, great wine or hospitality of the local people but especially for its coastline. Sadly, I am almost sure that most of the people immediately start to think about south of Portugal and the Algarve area. My sea-loving heart found joy somewhere else, though. Portuguese coast is long and varies from region to region. And there's plenty to see and experience for any kind of visitor. Here are some of my favourites:
Nazaré - an exciting experience
Nazaré is famous because of the enormous waves which are appearing there seasonally accompanying colder months. It is said that some of them reach 30 metres in height. Every year, they are tempting many “crazy” surfers from around the world who are riding them in a daredevil attempt of doing what so few other people did.
I have never seen bigger waves in my live than I saw there. And in spite of the fact that I am not a fan of such entertainment (when surfers are obviously risking their lives), the experience in Nazaré was unforgettable.
Nazaré is also a favorite summer destination. The town has a cosy center with a charming square. In its streets, you can find many restaurants and cafés. On the coast, you can have a calm walk and try a traditional dried, salty fish (was not tempting enough for me), sunbathe or swim in the calm summer waters.
Porto Covo – for a calm weekend walk
Porto Covo is a perfect place where to spend a lovely weekend. It is a town with traditional Portuguese summer houses. The area nearby is calm and suitable for long walks along the coast which we enjoyed so much. When facing the ocean, I recommend you to go to the left where you can find beautiful beaches and reach ruins of an old castle.
Óbidos Lagoon – the biggest lagoon in Portugal
Near the enchanting town of Óbidos [follow the link for more], you can find a unique place - the biggest lagoon in Portugal. It provides a calm water for swimming as well as bigger waves. We enjoyed charming views on the lagoon from the hills which are surrounding it, as well as mirroring surfaces of its waters during a low tide evening. A sunset witnessed there is even more beautiful than usual.
Baleal (Peniche, Consolacao) – a paradise perfect for photosession (and Instagram freaks)
Another place which took my heart is Peniche (and its surrounding) [follow the link for more] which is a popular destination for surfers. It is connected with other towns on the coast by two beaches. The first one links it with Consolacao, a place which is well- known for its healing rocks (occupied especially by older people). The beach itself is famous for the subertubos (tubular waves which look like a pipeline). They are attracting the best surfers who show their art and compete on them every autumn in Rip Curl Pro Porgugal. On this beach I saw the best sunset ever. That evening the sky created a magnificent and picturesque scenery. I couldn´t stop to take photos and later on I had to swear on Instagram that #nofilter was used. Beach connecting Peniche with Baleal offers yet another kind of experience, and views, and waves... but it is still very popular and we have seen many surfing schools being there especially active.
Costa Nova - a bit of a fairy tale
One of the nicest places we have visited in Portugal was Costa Nova, a tiny seaside town full of cute striped houses. Do you know the story about Alice in Wonderland? I felt a bit like her in Costa Nova, like I would appear in a magical world. Everything looked differently - more colourful, more positive and it seemed like the time would stop for a while. We experienced Costa Nova in winter and enjoyed it, a lot, thanks to an empty beach and lack of crowds. The place was basically only for us!
If you are sad now that you have just a few days in Lisbon and you won´t be able to see any of those places, visit Cascais! It is a perfect place for taking a break from the hustle of the city. It is not far from Lisbon and you can reach it by bike on a pleasant path along the coast or get there easily by train.
Except of the places I named above, I would also like to mention Santa Cruz, Ericeira or Sao Martinho do Porto. When going a bit further from the coastline to the ocean, I fell in love also with an island – Berlenga Grande. It is one of the best places I have ever visited in my life and more about how awesome it is there you can read here [follow the link for more].
I know that there are many more beautiful places on the coast which I haven´t visited yet, but I hope that my examples were enough to convince you that the Portuguese seaside has a lot more to offer than just the Algarve area. So please do not hesitate and go north!