From the moment we landed in Portugal to the moment that we left, every fibre of my thirsty soul was filled with this infinite energy that would make my head spin. Travelling to Portugal provided so much beauty and wonder that we couldn’t have had a better experience. We were exposed to a world of such a diverse delight we wanted to share every single moment of it.
On our last trip, each day in Portugal began with a family breakfast where we sat at the large square table stuffing our faces with homemade banana pancakes and ended with a proper colour storm created by the setting sun. I know in my heart that I’ll be forever entranced by the magic of this place.
One of the reasons I was so ecstatic about our upcoming autumn trip to Portugal, is I wanted to revisit Nazaré. I have been fascinated by this little fishing village for some time, and to be honest with you, it still remains one of my favourite places in Portugal.
By now, we have been fortunate enough to visit many incredible countries and it’s fair to say that it takes quite a lot to impress us. But when we visited Nazaré for the very first time, we were so amazed by what we saw that we kept on coming back.
See, when it comes to travelling, you can go back to a place you have been to many times before, but it’s never really the same. Not only you are exposed to different weather conditions and smells, but also to different feelings and sounds.
I think that by revisiting, you get an opportunity to pay attention to little things in life. You can put your feet up, relax and observe the world around you. You can take the time to watch a bird glide through the air or listen to the kids laughing and playing.
What we actually learned by coming back to Nazaré village, was that to experience something new you don’t necessarily have to travel to a new destination.
On our first trip, we stayed in a hotel overlooking the main beach, the second one was spent sleeping in a campervan on the North Beach, and most recently we came up from Ericeira town for a day trip with a little one in tow. To sum it all up, that’s three trips to the same village with entirely different experiences.
As we finally made our way towards the north, my thoughts lingered back on our very first visit. It was during the road trip from Lisbon to Porto that we stopped for a night, checked into a Marta Hotel and spend the remaining of the day between the two parts of the town.
I clearly remember sitting on the bench early in the morning, underneath the palm trees, listening to the chirping birds and watching local man and woman set up their stalls, a scene ill carry with me eternally.
Some of the women were wearing traditional skirts, made up of beautiful layers upon layers of cloth. The colourful skirts that are usually worn with knee-high socks, hand-stitched aprons and slippers are made of 7 petticoats.
I have to say that a return visit to Nazaré was s real success, we were reunited with the ocean, ate all things Portuguese, wandered through the narrow streets of Sitio Village and interacted with locals.
In this blog post, we were eager to share some of the highlights of our trip and inspire you to visit Nazaré one day.
Portugal travel guide: Discovering The Best of Nazaré In A Day
Places like Nazaré offer so much more than just an idyllic setting for a relaxing time by the ocean. In this blog post, we are sharing how to make the most time in Nazare as well as the top things to do.
#1. Wander around Sitio Village
O Sitio village is a place like no other, if you are willing to listen, this is where crumbling house facades tell stories. It was here that the very first inhabitants started building the fishing village as nothing offers more security than being perched high up on a steep cliff face.
To visit the old part of Nazaré, that’s bursting with character, you can get there by car, take the funicular or the stairs. If you decide to use the latter, keep in mind that it’s a really steep climb.
The Funicular itself dates back to a steam-powered version from the late 19th century, and since then it’s been modernised. The ride is a short but very scenic one, and it runs from top to bottom and vice versa every 15 minutes and costs EUR 3 for a round trip.
Once at the top you’ll be greeted by truly spectacular views from various viewpoints over orange roofed buildings as well as many souvenir shops that are worth a look because many products are handmade by local people.
There is also the chapel of Ermida da Memoria, the church of The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré, and the Dr Joaquim Manso museum.
#2. Visit Nazaré Lighthouse
From O Sitio make your way to Farol Lighthouse, that’s situated right on the cliff edge and take in the views of Nazare beach on the left and Praia do Norte on the right. You’ll find that a lighthouse and the cliffs are fascinating places, as they stand unbreakable against the howling winds, turbulent waters and huge swells.
The ocean was glassy on our visit, and it’s relatively calm during the summer, yet the immense power of nature can be felt on every step. From the top of the old Forte de São Miguel which is now a lighthouse even the most ordinary views are magical and to be able to see them you have to pay 1Euro entrance which is an excellent value.
#3. See the big waves
Some places leave a long-lasting impression and if you wish to visit one then make your way to the North Beach where the largest submarine canyon in Europe, The Nazare North Canyon, produces enormous waves.
Every winter from October to March Nazaré attracts big wave surfers from all around the world turning this little fishing village into a bustling surf town with the bravest waterman trying to do the impossible task – ride up to 100ft high waves.
If you wish to witness this phenomenon, you have to keep an eye on the forecast you can check here because waves are not always there, they form due to a combination of several elements of nature including the direction of the stream, the wind, the North Atlantic storms and the wave period.
There is also an Annual Big Wave surfing event that lasts for a day and has no fixed date, it’s usually confirmed 3 days in advance.
#4. Sample top-quality cuisine
During the summertime when all the restaurants are up, and running get a table at one of the seafront restaurants, put your feet up and enjoy fresh seafood with a glass of local wine, after all, Nazaré is a fishing village.
The price for the fish you pay depends on the weight, and it’s usually served with boiled baby potatoes and fresh salad. Local specialities include a whole octopus that’s oven-roasted in garlic and olive oil and barnacles.
For a more memorable taste, you can also try salted fish dried on nets in the sun.
Restaurants in Nazaré :
• A Celeste | For a nourishing and delicious meal head over to a beachfront restaurant A Celeste, rumour has it that this is Mc Namara’s favourite restaurant in Nazaré, to enjoy a meal with a view.
• Maria do Mar | For authentic Portuguese lunch in Nazaré, be it grilled squid or fish stew, make sure you can stop at Maria Do Mar restaurant.
• Sitiado | Located in the upper part of Nazaré this small and cosy restaurant has exceptional Portuguese tapas on the menu as well as excellent service and a friendly atmosphere.
• Conchinha da Nazaré | Authentic local restaurant that serves good value seafood, including wood-grilled fish. Don’t be surprised to see a local man watching Tv or playing dominos.
#5. Explore nearby attractions
Sure Nazaré is small, and you can quickly get a gist of everything in one day, it can also be used as a base to explore nearby attractions such as the beautiful Alcobaça monastery, just a 15-minute drive away and a 30-minute drive away is a UNESCO World Heritage Site Monastery of Batalha.
Nearby Sao Martinho do Porto, located just 13 kilometres from Nazaré is a typical Portuguese holiday resort with beautiful sandy beaches, perfect if you are travelling with small children. Here you’ll find great restaurants, a playground, a chance to rent a bike and a local market.
Historic Óbidos Town aptly dubbed the “Town of the Queens” with many sites and attractions including the castle and plentiful imposing churches, is only a 30-minute drive away from Nazaré. Once you walk through the main gate, Porta da Vila, you’ll find yourself in a beautifully preserved town. Parking is outside the medieval walls, and one of the fantastic attractions is the opportunity to walk along its ramparts.
When to visit Nazaré
Summertime in Nazaré is hectic, hotels usually sell out, and the beautiful sandy beaches are crowded. July and August are peak months when flocks of visitors arrive in Nazaré to relax and sunbathe under colourful umbrellas.
Autumn sees near-empty beaches and different kinds of crowds, it’s when the surfers from all around the world arrive in town to surf the huge waves.
Springtime is a fantastic time to explore Portugal’s fishing villages. The weather is comfortably warm, hotel prices are reasonable, and the hillside is covered in beautiful flowers.
For the big waves on Praia do Norte Nazare, again, it’s hard to tell when to go, or for how long as this is due to the direction of the winter swells and wind, so you have to be patient to see the big waves. By now we have travelled to Nazaré three times and were out of luck.
How to get to Nazaré
Nazaré town is located in the subregion Oste and Leira districts which are 75 miles/ 120 kilometres north of Lisbon and only a 2-hour drive from Porto.
• Public Transport | Rede expressos offer direct bus service to Nazaré for only 12 Euros per person. This is the cheapest way to travel to get to Nazaré. Buses depart from Sete Rios terminal, and the trip is around 2 hours long each way.
• Driving | If you are planning on driving, the trip from Lisbon to Nazaré via A8 shouldn’t take longer than 1.5 hours. Because A8 is a motorway expect to pay around EUR 7 in toll fares. By driving you to get an option to see more of The Silver Coast and if you take exit 14 on the A8, it will bring you to Peniche, yet another beautiful fishing village where Quicksilver Championships are held.
• Day Trips | You can join a full-day tour from Lisbon for a chance to visit Nazaré. Day tours are brilliant because they are informative and you get to see quite a lot in one day, usually, a combination of historical monuments and stunning beaches. Most of the tours stop at several towns and villages like Óbidos, Fátima and even at a UNESCO World Heritage Site Batalha Monastery.
Where to stay in Nazaré
Villas Mare Residence | The fully equipped and beautifully decorated apartments are just a 10-minute walk away from the beach. Vilas Mare residence guests can relax by the outdoor pool and rent bicycles to explore the town.
• Address: Rua Drº António Duarte Pimpão, Nº 6, 2450-901 Nazaré
The Quinta do Campo | Located in Valado dos Frades and originally built by monks in the 19th century, this rural hotel has 8 rooms, 6 apartments and beautiful gardens.
• Address: Rua Carlos O´Neill 20 Apartado 48, Valado dos Frades, 2450-344 Valado dos Frades
Hotel Magic | Located just a few minutes from the beach Hotel Magic is a super cool hotel with bright and spaces rooms that are stylishly decorated with murals and artworks.
• Address: Rua Mouzinho de Albuquerque, n 58, 2450-253 Nazaré
Vale Paraíso Camping | Situated in the beautiful pine forest, Vale Paraíso Natur Park is a family-friendly site with a pool, comfortable chalets, a picnic area and free parking.
• Address: Estrada Nacional 242, 2450-138 Nazaré
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Now, over to you!
Have you been to Nazaré? Let us know in the comments below!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Nazaré and have travel-related questions!