Portugal travel guide: Discovering The Best of Nazaré In A Day

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.

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Nazaré beach – Praia de Nazaré attracts many international and Portuguese visitors in summer.

 

By now, we have been fortunate enough to visit many incredible countries and its 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 our 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.

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Nazaré, Portugal.
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The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré.

 

As we finally made our way towards the north, my thoughts lingered back to 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 were 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 a 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.

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Church of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré.
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In Sitio, you’ll find great views, great food and hospitable people.

 

#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 a fascinating place, 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 excellent value.

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By visiting the lighthouse and climbing all the way to the roof, you can watch powerful swells pounder the rugged coastline.
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Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara rode a 78 ft wave back in 2011 and set a world record in Nazaré.

 

#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 do the impossible-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.

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The Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal.

 

#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 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.

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In addition to wooden boats, you’ll see racks of fish left to dry under the sun.

 

#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 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 of imposing churches, is an only 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.

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Óbidos, Portugal – rich in character and full of charm.
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Obidos is one of the best-walled towns to visit in Portugal.

 

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 month when flocks of visitors arrive in Nazaré to relax and sunbath under colourful umbrellas.

Autumn sees near-empty beaches and different kind of crowd, 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.

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Nazaré, Portugal.

 

How to get to Nazaré

Nazaré town is located in 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 a  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 the 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.

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The popular fishing and surfing town of Nazaré is located on Portugals Silver Coast.

 

 

Where to stay in Nazaré

Villas Mare Residence / The fully equipped and beautifully decorated apartments are just 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 pool, comfortable chalets, 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!

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

26 thoughts on “Portugal travel guide: Discovering The Best of Nazaré In A Day

    1. I don’t see anything wrong with keeping a tally of the places you’ve been, but there’s more to travel than counting countries and that’s why we don’t shy away from revisiting our favourite places such as Nazare! Portugal is indeed an amazing place to explore and photograph and I hope you get to see it one day. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

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  1. I loved Nazare too. We discovered it completely by accident, and maybe that was some of the reason why. The ladies in their outfits was such a special sight too. The surf was completely flat when we were there, so can’t imagine it when it is really pumping. It looks like we need to go back. Oh and for the roasted chicken too!

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    1. I’m glad you loved Nazare too! It’s a village unlike any other we have been to and the views over the ocean are simply stunning. Can you imagine, that even after visiting Nazare for five times we are yet to see its famous huge swells – it’s quite challenging to get the timing right but we are not giving up and wish to go back one day to witness it. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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    1. Portugal is our happy place and we absolutely love its biggest cities, but if you make a decision to venture further afield you’ll be greatly rewarded with charming villages and friendly locals. Thanks for reading and safe travels. Aiva

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  2. I really enjoyed this post 🙂 .Nazaré is so beautiful!

    In my quest to explore new places, I do not get back to my old favorites often enough, though there are one tiny town in Florida and one U.S. National Park (1,700 miles from our hometown) that we will revisit as often as possible. Those places now feel almost like second homes to us. As you said, once you’ve been somewhere before – the first time as a tourist trying to cram in as much as possible – the second time you can relax and really just “be” in the place, notice the light and the sounds and smells, enjoy the food a little more, meet the locals, and the place begins to become a part of you.

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    1. We love discovering new countries and cities too, and I often look forward to immersing myself in the culture and lifestyle of the places I visit, not to mention collecting new experiences.

      But there are a few countries we love returning to, and when we do, there’s always a good reason behind it. We’ve been back to Portugal countless times because we have friends there which we miss very much and because the surf is excellent.

      And as you’ve said it – those places now feel almost like a second home to us – isn’t that just one fantastic reason to explore the world?

      Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva xxx

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    1. Thanks so much, I almost feel nostalgic and already long to go back – Portugal is an amazing place to explore and photograph. Hope you get to wander around this place! Thanks for stopping by and safe travels

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    1. Hi, Mark! Nazare really is an amazing place to explore and photograph. Our first visit was in late autumn and because summer season was a distant memory, we practically had village all to ourselves.

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  3. The pictures of your trip to Portugal with your beautiful family are wonderful. I just discovered your blog and really enjoy it. Thank you for your beautiful posts. I especially love the picture of the beach. Makes me want to be there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Nazare is an amazing place to explore and photograph at any time of the year and that’s why we love going back to this little village. Would love to see the big autumn swells ponder its beautiful coastline – yet another reason to return one day. Thanks for stopping by and safe travels. Aiva

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    1. Every time I write about the certain place we’ve had a chance to visit in Portugal, I get this urge to go back! I hope you get to explore Portugal, either you choose one of its cities or quiet towns – you’ļl love it

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    1. Thanks so much, Portugal and its pretty coastal villages are our favourite places to explore in Europe and maybe that’s why when we describe them there is and an extra dose of magic, thanks for stopping by and have a good day.

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