The Top Things to Do in Nazaré, Portugal

Nazaré is just 80 miles north of Lisbon, but this small coastal town feels like a world away from the bustling Portuguese capital. With a proud fishing tradition dating back many hundreds of years, spectacular waves, and picturesque orange-roofed buildings along a long golden beach, it is a beautiful and peaceful place to spend a night or two.

If you are planning a trip to Nazaré, these are some of the best ways to pass the time!

1. Relax on one of the best beaches in Portugal

Nazaré's main crescent-shaped beach (Praia da Nazaré) was voted one of the best in the country, and the pristine golden sand attracts many Portuguese and international visitors in the summer. Protected from the Atlantic winds by a promontory more than 300 feet high, the area directly in front of the historic center is a quiet and sheltered place to sunbathe and relax.

The colored umbrellas appear like mushrooms in late spring, but the peak season is July and August. Expect crowds near the headland this time of year, but if you're happy to brave the winds further down the beach, you can still get a patch of sand.

When the European holiday season ends in September, the number of tourists drops dramatically. If you visit on a sunny winter day, you may find the beach almost completely empty. Just be sure to bring some warm clothing, as when you are away from the shelter of the cliffs, the wind can cut like a knife at this time of year.

Praia do Norte is on the other side of the promontory, but it looks like it could be in another country. Exposed to the prevailing weather, it is a windswept stretch of sand best suited for thrilling rides - any umbrella or beach towel would probably end up in the sea in minutes!

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2. Marvel at some of the best surfing spots in the world

Nazaré's biggest claim to fame in recent years is the size of its waves. The presence of the next underwater canyon in Nazaré, the largest canyon in Europe, creates huge waves at certain times of the year. Especially during winter storms or tidal waves, 30-meter high waves can form on the shore, attracting renowned surfers from all over the world.

In 2011, Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara set a world record in Nazaré by successfully surfing a giant 78-foot wave. Two years later, he and Carlos Burle claimed to have conquered monsters over 100 feet tall in the same location, but neither was officially credited with the record.

When the conditions are perfect, Nazaré becomes a bustling surf town for a few days; If you are in Portugal at the right time, it is worth keeping an eye on the surf report and planning a visit yourself. The best places to see the action are in Praia do Norte, or on the edge of the promontory near the lighthouse if you can find a place.

3. Take the funicular from the beach to the cliffs

Although officially it is a single city, Nazaré is divided into two different areas: the beach and the main city, and O Sitio, on top of the cliffs. You can walk from one to the other, either directly on the steps going up and down the cliff, or on a longer, slightly flatter route along the road.

If you haven't brought good walking shoes or don't feel like exercising, there is a more attractive option: the funicular. The short train runs up and down every fifteen minutes and dates back to a late 19th-century steam version. Fortunately, it has been very modernized since then.

The journey takes only a few minutes. You'll have a decent view from the carriage on the way up, but the best shots are from the top of the cliff once you get there.

However, there are more reasons to go to O Sitio than just pretty pictures. It is a bit quieter and less crowded than the beach in summer; You'll find a better (and less expensive) variety of shopping and dining options, and it's also worth buying an espresso and visiting the well-preserved church in the square. principal. This square and the nearby streets are also ideal places to buy handmade souvenirs. Many are not particularly expensive and definitely an improvement over the mass-produced items you'll likely find elsewhere in the city.

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