When, back in 2011, the American surfer Garrett McNamara set a world record on Praia do Norte, Nazaré went from a little known surfing spot to a world famous location.
Nazaré is a coastal resort north of Lisbon and an increasingly popular destination among surfers and tourists. It makes the perfect day trip from Lisbon for independent travellers.
We highly recommend a few stops along the way to visit the beautiful coastal towns of Peniche, Foz do Arelho and São Martinho do Porto. These are also great places for a family holiday, usually not too hot during the summer thanks to sea breezes.
Follow our guide, and use the directions and map below to get oriented.
A note on Nazaré and its waves: If you’re visiting during summer, you’ll probably see calm waters rather than giant waves. Conditions are perfect only at certain times of year – during the winter and particularly with stormy weather.
Where is Nazaré
Nazaré is a coastal resort some 120 kilometres (about 75 miles) north of Lisbon on the Silver Coast, which includes Peniche, Foz do Arelho and São Martinho do Porto.
What to See
In one day, you’ll be able to see:
Peniche is a coastal town, and the first stop on this itinerary. With several beaches around it, Peniche draws holidaymakers in summer and surfers when the big winter swells arrive. But the town itself also has a few things worth seeing. Visit the fortress, discover Portuguese traditions, venture onward to Cabo Carvoeiro, relax on the beach, and enjoy fresh fish and seafood.
2. Foz do Arelho
The next stop is Foz do Arelho Beach, which has a safe lagoon for kids on one side and the Atlantic Ocean’s waves on the other, where you can watch the surfers and fishermen. There’s a promenade and restaurants/bars beside the beach.
3. São Martinho do Porto
The last stop before Nazaré is São Martinho do Porto, a coastal town with a beautiful bay of calm waters and white sand connected to the sea. Sheltered from the Atlantic breakers, the bay is popular among families, and ideal for a walk or swim. There’s a promenade with plenty of restaurants where you can eat and drink.
Nazaré is the whole purpose of this itinerary on the Silver Coast. Here are the top things to see and do.
- Praia da Nazaré: When you arrive, admire the crescent-shaped main beach, Praia da Nazaré, directly in front of the old town. If you visit during the peak season (July and August), you’ll see the colourful umbrellas pop up everywhere. Walk a bit and you’ll find a space for yourself. The rest of the year, you’ll find an empty beach, ideal for walks.
- Funicular: Take the funicular from the beach up the cliff to the Promontório do Sítio for astounding views of the bay.
- Praia do Norte: Not far from Promontório do Sítio, Praia do Norte is the beach where Garrett McNamara set a world record when he caught a 24-metre (78 ft) wave. He later broke his own record with a 30-metre (100 ft) wave also off the coast of Nazaré.
- Fish and seafood: There’s no better place to experience fresh fish and seafood than in Nazaré. There are many restaurants serving the specialties of region, which include different kinds of fresh fish and seafood. In particular, grilled fish (sardines, horse mackerel, sea bass), caldeirada (fish stew) and massada de peixe (fish pasta stew).
How to Get to Nazaré
You can get to Nazaré by bus and car. If you hire a car, consider a slight detour to Peniche, Foz do Arelho and São Martinho do Porto to discover these beautiful coastal towns. Check our page on how to get from Lisbon to Nazaré.
Where to Eat
There are so many good restaurants that you may end up not knowing which one to choose. With that in mind, here are some suggestions:
- Mirandum, Rua Heróis do Ultramar 23, Peniche: Great seafood.
- Pesqueiro 25, Rua Cândido dos Reis, São Martinho do Porto: Crabs and lobsters straight from the tank.
- A Celeste, Avenida República 54, Nazaré: Great value for beachfront meal.
- Maria do Mar, Rua Guilhim 13, Nazaré: Authentic Portuguese meal.
Where to Stay
There are a few lodging options in the area if you decide to spend the night.
Foz do Arelho
Agua d’Alma Hotel (3*)
São Martinho do Porto
Hotel Palace do Capitão (4*)