Nazaré, Portugal, is a stunning beach destination internationally renowned for its incredible waves and status as a surfing mecca. It is located in the country’s center, less 90 minutes ride from Lisbon and 2 hours from Porto. It is a great place to visit for anyone looking for an idyllic coastal getaway. With its laid-back ambiance and local traditions, Nazaré has much to offer visitors looking to experience something new.
Although it was once primarily a fishing village, Nazaré’s days as one are long gone. However, it is still home to colorful boats that populate the beach, with the locals still taking part in traditional pursuits like drying fish in the sun. The locals here also wear berets for men and shawls or seven skirts for women, though no one knows exactly why they have taken on this tradition.
The origin of name ‘Nazaré’ comes from a statue of the Virgin Mary, which was brought from Nazareth (in present-day Israel) in the 4th century and then lost until centuries later. Another famous story that adds to this town’s allure is that of a local nobleman who was saved from falling off a cliff thanks to an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1182.
Nazaré’s appeal lies primarily during summer when it becomes packed with holidaymakers enjoying its abundant sunshine and crystal clear waters, but even during winter when it yields colossal waves, there are still many travelers keen to visit this fishing town each year. With surfers coming from all over the world to test their skills on these huge swells, Nazaré has gained somewhat of a cosmopolitan atmosphere making it appealing for people of all ages and backgrounds looking to explore its unique offerings.
Famous surfing beach with the world’s biggest waves
The most picturesque of Portugal’s traditional fishing towns
Meals of freshly-caught fish
Visiting Nazaré is not complete without a visit to the town’s most iconic beach, Praia da Nazaré. Located in the center of Nazaré, a former fishing community, this vast and stunning beach is blanketed by traditional beach tents during the summer and filled with colorful fishing boats that add to its picturesque charm.
Those looking for some outdoor activities will be pleased to find out that Praia da Nazaré is popular among amateur and professional surfers. The waves here are solid and perfect for those who enjoy bodyboarding or surfing. Additionally, visitors can also explore the funicular which leads up to Sítio – the original settlement of Nazaré – on the northern side of the beach or take in views from the nearby fishing port on its south side.
At Praia da Nazaré, you’ll also find various restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops along its promenade featuring wave-patterned cobblestone floors, making it an even more attractive destination. Getting there is easy as well! The beach is within walking distance of the bus station, and if you’re driving, you can park anywhere in town for easy access.
Overall, Praia da Nazaré is undoubtedly one of Portugal’s most iconic beaches, with plenty of activities to enjoy, such as swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, or simply taking in its breathtaking views from afar. Whether visiting with friends or family or just going on a solo trip, this stunning beach will offer something special for everyone!
Getting to Praia da Nazaré is easy! If you’re taking public transportation, the bus station is just a short walk away. Or if you’re driving, street parking is available throughout the town, and you’ll always be close to your destination.
Nazaré Funicular is an essential landmark in the city of Nazaré, Portugal. Built in 1889, it provides a convenient link between the two communities of Nazaré: one located down by the beach and another perched atop a cliff known as Sítio. It has been providing service ever since its inauguration, offering travelers and locals a reliable way to make the otherwise arduous climb up 318 meters (1042 feet).
Initially powered by steam, the funicular has undergone extensive modernization over time. In 2002, it was completely renovated to include access to wheelchairs and bicycles. The stations on both sides of the funicular are decorated with tile panels depicting local features; for instance, in the center is a colorful panel added in 2017 showing dried fish and big waves, while up at Sítio, there is an older panel honoring Our Lady of Nazaré.
A one-way ticket is €1.50, while two-way access is €2.90. It’s also possible to buy a 6-trip ticket for €5.00, a 7-day ticket for €9.50, and a 14-day ticket for €15.00.
The Nazaré funicular operates daily, from 7:15am to midnight, with departures every 15 minutes.
To get to the funicular station located in the center of town, head to Largo do Elevador. It’s at the northern end of Nazare beach, and you can follow a sign pointing there. Once you reach Rua do Elevador, go down it, and you’ll find the station.
Nazaré’s Praia do Norte beach is a paradise for adventurous surfers around the globe, with its iconic big waves reaching up to 30 meters tall (almost 100 feet). This remarkable natural phenomenon is created by the Nazaré Canyon, Europe’s largest undersea canyon, located just off the coast of Nazaré and stretching over 5 km (over 16,000 ft) deep. Sky-high walls of water can be seen speeding toward shore at incredible speeds, and it’s no surprise that this stunning beach has become an international hotspot for surfing competitions.
In 2011, American surfer Garrett McNamara set a world record when he rode an enormous wave here. His feat was met with worldwide acclaim as his photo quickly went viral – inspiring many to come to Nazaré and brave the massive waves firsthand. In 2017, Rodrigo Koxa broke McNamara’s record on this beach by riding a 24.38m/80 ft-high wave. Nowadays, visitors flock to Praia do Norte in October for the annual world championships of surfing and bodyboarding hosted here.
Beyond its impressive size, Praia do Norte also boasts a stretch of golden sand that overlooks the 16th-century São Miguel Arcanjo Fort – which now houses a museum dedicated to surfing and the big-wave phenomenon. Although this beach has grown in popularity in recent years, it still maintains its relaxed atmosphere during most times of the year – making it an attractive alternative to more crowded beaches like Praia da Nazaré nearby.
Nazaré’s Praia do Norte beach is a must-visit destination for thrill-seekers looking for some serious adventure. With its record-breaking waves, rich history, and beautiful natural landscape – there is something special about this place that cannot be found anywhere else in Portugal or even throughout Europe!
Praia do Norte is located in the northern part of Nazaré. If you are driving, follow the signs pointing towards the fort, and there will be a parking lot just before you reach the beach. You may also walk from Sítio by taking the street behind the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré. For visitors staying in town, take the funicular to Sítio, then walk to the sanctuary and continue down its back road for about 15-20 minutes until you arrive at Praia do Norte.
Another reason to visit Nazaré is Nossa Senhora da Nazaré, a 17th-century baroque monument that stands with reverence on the site of an earlier church, built in 1377. The small Memória Chapel across the square was where growing numbers of pilgrims began to come for its revered image of the Virgin Mary, which had allegedly been carved in Nazareth (present-day Israel). This is how the town got its name.
This grand religious building features two bell towers outside, and within it, several alterations were made throughout the centuries, particularly in the late 1600s. Another beauty is found inside, where its main altar is covered with gilded woodwork set between walls adorned with blue-and-white tile panels crafted by Dutch master W. Van Kloet. These depict scenes from the Old Testament.
The sacristy houses an impressive display of sacred art, along with paintings and tiles illustrating stories about Our Lady of Nazaré. Many Catholic pilgrims still come here today to honor and pray at this ancient shrine while also taking time to appreciate its unique architecture and rich history.
The legend behind this sanctuary is one filled with faith and devotion as it is said that when a ship laden with cargo was caught in a fierce storm off the Coast of Nazare in 1558, passengers prayed to Our Lady for help. Their prayers were answered when they safely reached shore after three days at sea. To commemorate this miracle, they erected an altar dedicated to her memory which led to the construction of the existing church later in the 16th century.
With breathtaking views over the Mediterranean Sea and the town, it’s easy to understand why this site has become so popular amongst tourists. Taking a trip to Miradouro do Suberco is like taking a step back in time. The cobbled stone terrace provides an idyllic setting to explore the beautiful surroundings. From this vantage point, you can also get a glimpse of the Nossa Senhora da Nazaré Sanctuary, dedicated to Our Lady of Nazareth, who is believed by locals to have saved their town from destruction.
To reach this viewpoint, you’ll need to take the funicular station in Sítio, which will take you 110 meters above sea level. As you start your journey off the funicular station, take some time to appreciate Rua Azevedo de Sousa with its breathtaking views over town and beach before continuing onto Rua do Horizonte, where you’ll eventually reach a grand square with a monument dedicated to explorer Vasco da Gama who once stopped in Nazaré to pray before his famous voyage to India. The memorial pays tribute not only to him but also celebrates his remarkable achievements and those of other Portuguese navigators who have made an incredible impact on history.
Once you finally arrive at Miradouro do Suberco, no words can describe the experience that awaits. From here, you can truly appreciate what makes this small coastal town so unique and take advantage of its stunning backdrop for postcard-worthy photographs or selfies – perfect for capturing memories that will last a lifetime!
Ermida da Memória is a small chapel situated atop a cliff near Nazaré, Portugal. This site holds significant historical and religious importance, as it was built to commemorate a miraculous event in 1182. According to legend, local nobleman Fuas Roupinho was out hunting deer one foggy morning when his prey suddenly disappeared at the edge of a cliff. Realizing that he and his horse were about to fall into the abyss, Roupinho quickly begged for help from the Virgin of Nazaré- and miraculously, he was stopped in time and saved from certain death.
In celebration of this incredible event, Roupinho had this chapel constructed on the same spot where his life had been spared. The chapel has remained largely unchanged since its original construction, with the only additions being tile panels inside and on the roof erected during the 17th and 18th centuries. One panel depicts the story of Roupinho’s miraculous rescue. Inside the chapel, there is also an image of the Virgin Mary and a small window looking out onto Nazaré’s beach below.
Over time the chapel has become an important pilgrimage site for many people; even famous explorer Vasco da Gama is said to have visited during his explorations in the 15th century. Today its significance continues to be celebrated by locals and visitors who come here to pay tribute to this remarkable miracle that took place hundreds of years ago.
São Miguel Arcanjo Fort is an incredible monument that has had a long, rich history. Constructed in 1577 at the Sítio peninsula’s far end, it was initially intended to be a fort. However, when it was rebuilt and expanded in 1644, its purpose changed to that of a lighthouse. Statues of archangel Michael were sculpted above its entrance to pay homage to him and to show his importance in protecting the town of Nazaré as well as guiding fishermen out at sea.
In the early 1800s, Napoleon’s troops took control of this structure while invading Portugal. Still, it soon returned back to its original owners after their departure.
This fort stands above Praia do Norte, famously known for breaking the record of having the world’s most giant waves during competitions usually held in autumn and winter. Thousands of people gather there to watch professionals and daredevils attempt to ride these huge waves. It’s also one of the main attractions for tourists who come there for its amazing coast views and its museum, which celebrates surfing culture by displaying surfboards from all over the world alongside photos and videos showing extreme surfing. Since 2015, this area has been open for visitors interested in learning more about how these big waves are formed, with scientific explanations presented through informative exhibits.
Located right on the beautiful beaches of Nazaré, the museum is a unique and interactive experience that provides visitors with an educational and eye-opening look into one of the oldest ways of preserving fish. Opened in 2016, this museum offers indoor and outdoor displays that provide insights into the process of sun-drying fish.
The custom of drying fish before selling it at markets dates back centuries, with fishermen using the technique to extend the shelf life of any surplus catches. To this day, you can find locals standing guard over their drying fish in traditional dress – a picture-perfect moment for tourists who can’t help but take photos! Inside the former fish market, visitors learn about the history and practice of sun-drying from informative displays that explain how salt is used to draw moisture from the fish without affecting its flavor or texture. An interactive demonstration also allows guests to witness firsthand what goes into this laborious process.
Outdoor exhibits also showcase Nazaré’s traditional methods for preparing and preserving seafood. For instance, giant salting pans are put on display where visitors can observe how large quantities of fish are cured in brine – a method typically used for anchovy or sardines. There is also an area dedicated to demonstrating how smaller versions of these pans are used in local homes today, providing an enlightening glimpse into daily life in Portugal’s fishing villages.
Altogether, a visit to The Sun-Dried Fish Museum promises a memorable journey through time that celebrates local traditions while providing insight into one of Europe’s most important cultural heritages. With its interactive displays and engaging storytelling, the museum leaves no stone unturned when it comes to giving visitors an in-depth look at Portugal’s unique method of preserving seafood.
The Praia da Nazare open-air museum houses traditional fishing boats used to bring the catch of the day into town. Visiting this museum is an opportunity to view these iconic vessels up close, with detailed displays that explain their history and old photographs showing them in action.
These colorful boats are lined up side by side on the sand near a sidewalk featuring classic Portuguese wave-patterned cobblestone designs. Each boat has its unique story, from how it was crafted to its role in local fishermen’s lives. It offers a glimpse back in time when life here was all about the sea and its bounty.
In addition to providing information about the boats, these displays also offer insight into Portugal’s fishing history and maritime culture. The stories behind these vessels offer an interesting perspective into how life used to be in Nazaré, with details about the different types used in their construction, their traditional uses, and more.
Visitors can learn everything from galleon ships that sailed across oceans to small coastal skiffs that were used to catch smaller fish closer to shore. They can explore replicas of lateen rigs that were pulled by horses along beaches and discover how local fishermen adapted their vessels for long-distance journeys or for use as cargo ships.
Each boat is carefully preserved, ensuring that each generation has the chance to appreciate this important part of Portugal’s past and witness firsthand how these vessels managed to withstand both the elements and time itself.
Unlike many beaches nearby Nazaré, São Martinho do Porto is sheltered from the waves, making it an ideal spot for swimming, lounging, and playing. Its shell-shaped bay is dotted with picturesque villas and apartment buildings with plenty of outdoor seating options at restaurants and cafes. During the official bathing season, visitors can rent out colorful striped beach tents, which give the area a festive atmosphere.
In addition to being great for swimming, this beach also offers a variety of water sports like kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and windsurfing. The crystal clear waters make this an ideal spot to go snorkeling or scuba diving as well. Families can spend the day building sand castles while enjoying the Mediterranean sun.
At night, São Martinho do Porto comes alive with live music and street performers. Visitors can sample some of Portugal’s famous seafood dishes or enjoy a sunset cocktail at one of the many bars and restaurants along the shoreline. For a unique experience, book a nighttime fishing trip where you can relax under starry skies and see if you’re lucky enough to catch something!
The Mercado Municipal da Nazaré is a must-visit location for all tourists in the area. It’s a vibrant market with stalls of every kind, from fruits and vegetables to traditional items such as lace and straw hats. There are also plenty of street foods to try and souvenirs to buy. A stroll through the market is a great way to experience local culture and get a feel for life in this part of Portugal. Not only that, but it’s also an excellent place to pick up some traditional Portuguese souvenirs or treats for yourself or your loved ones back home!