What to see in Portugal

Nazarè

Tourist attractions Nazarè

One of the finest and most popular beach resorts in Portugal, Nazaré sits on the Atlantic Coast and is famed for its unique fusion of traditional fishing culture and big wave surfing! The main town sits on the wide, crescent-shaped bay of Praia da Nazaré and during the summer months, this charming destination is bustling with both international and Portuguese vacation-makers, soaking up the Mediterranean sunshine amidst a sea of multi-coloured beach umbrellas. 

If you travel to Nazaré you’ll notice that the town is split into three distinct neighbourhoods: beachside Praia, where you’ll find white-washing buildings topped by terracotta roofs, Sitio, a clifftop village, overlooking the bay and connected to Praia by a funicular, and Pederneira, which sits on a hilltop just behind the main town.

Nazaré is fiercely proud of its fishing heritage and if you visit Nazaré today, you can still see fishermen wearing traditional dress, drying their catch of the day in the sun up and down the beachfront. Fishing runs through the veins of the people of Nazaré, and this is especially evident in the Barrio do Pescadores where restaurants serve the catch of the day and the streets seem to be unchanged by the course of time. 

The best time to visit Nazaré depends on your reason for visiting. If you are hoping to enjoy a laid-back beach break, stick to the summer months when sunshine is guaranteed. You can still plan on nice weather during the off-season of September to April, and you’ll enjoy a much quieter atmosphere, without the crowds of summer, making this the best time to travel to Nazaré. If you’re interested in big wave surfing, or simply spectating, October to February is surfing season. Many visit Nazaré as part of a tour of Portugal, thanks to its convenient location halfway between Lisbon and Porto.

What to see in Nazaré

vacation to Nazaré is sure to centre around the golden Praia da Nazaré, the heart of the city, where tourists rub shoulders with local fishermen and lines of sunloungers are intersected by wooden fish-drying frames. Whether you’re sunbathing or simply taking an evening stroll, life in Nazaré revolves around this charming stretch of coastline.

Just north of the main town, on a rocky clifftop, you’ll find the village of Sitio and the sacred chapel of Ermida da Memoria. One of the most important things to see in Nazaré, not only can you enjoy captivating views across Praia da Nazaré from here, it is famously the site of a miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary in 1182. The story, told through the azulejos tiles of the chapel’s interior, states that a local nobleman was saved by an apparition of the Virgin Mary after he almost rode off the cliff edge on his horse. In the crypt underneath the church, you can see the supposed horse’s hoofprint, engraved in stone. Ermida da Memoria is still an important place of pilgrimage today and whether or not you are interested in the spiritual history of the site, there’s no denying the beauty of the unspoilt views of the Atlantic Ocean from Sitio. Nearby you’ll find the Doctor Joaquim Manso Museum, which hosts exhibitions all about the local culture, traditions and folklore of Nazaré. A great place to learn more about the curiosities of this beautiful town, be sure to visit if you travel to Nazaré.

It is almost impossible for anyone to take a trip to Nazaré without wanting to watch the big wave surfing that takes place at Praia do Norte, just to the north of the headland above Nazaré. The best waves are reserved for the winter months, but you can enjoy the wild, untouched beaches all year round, although they lack the development of the in-town Praia da Nazaré. Nevertheless, Praia do Norte is of great importance in the world of surfing and it was here that the biggest wave ever ridden was recorded in 2018. 

Each winter, daredevil surfers flock to this legendary surf spot to courageously catch the monster waves, created by a unique underwater canyon. The waves are so huge that the surfers need to be towed out to the surf by jet-skis. The best place to watch the frequent surfing championships is from Sao Miguel Fortress, a 16th-century fortress home to a landmark red lighthouse. Many gather here during surfing season to watch these brave sportspeople ride mammoth waves. The fortress is also home to an oceanic museum as well as an exhibition of surfboards. 

 

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