Oh!, the warm weather and the long days – we are all thinking of the same thing, right? It is time to get outside!
The ocean is a big part of Portugal’s identity. From its maritime discoveries to its architecture, gastronomy and leisure activities, the salty water has influenced every aspect of this country planted by the sea. Therefore, the Portuguese coastal towns have developed to be some of the most exquisite places you can visit! From heavenly beaches to savoury food and an exciting nightlife, these places have it all, which makes them the perfect place to spend your holidays.
Pack your things and go explore these magical villages, where you will recharge your batteries and reconnect with the natural world.
The lovely riverside Viana do Castelo
Once you arrive in Viana do Castelo, you will notice the city's iconic symbol immediately: the majestic neo-Byzantine church Basilica of Santa Luzia, suspended on a hilltop. Its intricate architecture and stunning interior make it a must-visit.
In the city centre, you can admire the Manueline-style façades and colourful azulejo tiles that adorn many of the buildings, reflecting the influences of the Portuguese discoveries. Stroll along the Avenida dos Combatentes da Grande Guerra, stretched along the Lima River, and try some fresh seafood at one of the many tasty restaurants around. If you want to properly dive into history, visit the Gil Eanes Museum, a preserved hospital ship now completely transformed into a museum that played a vital role in the country's fishing industry.
After all the history, you should explore the beautiful landscapes around and relax at the many lovely beaches that dot the coastline, such as Praia do Cabedelo, and take a hike along the Ecovia, a scenic trail that follows the river.
If you visit Viana do Castelo in August, you should attend the Romaria de Nossa Senhora da Agonia, one of Portugal's largest folklore festivals. During this lively celebration you will be immersed in the rich traditions of this region.
Go on a boat trip to the Berlengas Islands
Another great coastal destination is Peniche, situated on a peninsula right next to the Atlantic Ocean. Peniche is known for its rich maritime heritage and world-class surfing spots. As you are approaching, you will be immediately greeted by the sight of its imposing 16thcentury fortress, the Fortaleza de Peniche, which proudly guards the entrance of the village. It also offers a glimpse into Peniche's past as a strategic maritime stronghold and gives you panoramic views of the surrounding coastline.
Peniche and surfing go hand in hand, attracting surf enthusiasts from across the globe. Praia dos Supertubos, one of the most famous surf breaks in Europe, lures experienced surfers with its powerful and perfectly shaped waves. Beyond its surfing reputation, Peniche boasts a vibrant fishing culture, with fishing boats floating gently around a fish market you must visit, where the daily catch is displayed in a mosaic of different colours and aromas.
Tip: We recommend you take a boat trip to the nearby Berlengas Islands, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, to explore their pristine beaches, hidden caves, and abundant marine life. However, it is worth noting that the access to the Berlengas Islands is limited and the number of visitors is regulated to protect the delicate ecosystem. Especially during Summer, make sure you plan everything ahead!
Ericeira, the surf hotspot
Just a 40-minute drive away from Lisbon stands the enchanting coastal village of Ericeira. Recognized as a World Surfing Reserve, this small fishing village in the western coast of Portugal has been transformed into a thriving surf mecca, bringing together surfers from all over the world. The perfect fusion between a beach lifestyle and a historical centre, take your time to get lost in its narrow, cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses ornamented with bright blue and yellow details.
Enjoy the sandy beaches, feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and stroll along the cliffs which boast wonderful views of the calm ocean. Indulge in freshly caught fish and succulent shellfish, expertly prepared with a blend of traditional and contemporary flavours.
Let yourself be immersed in its tranquility and charm, as the crashing waves and mesmerizing sunsets leave an indelible mark on your soul!
A picturesque town hovering by the sea
Located in Sintra, you will encounter Azenhas do Mar, very popular for its unrivalled cliffside location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The dramatic cliffs, combined with the traditional whitewashed houses and terracotta roofs, create a postcard-perfect scene that has captivated the hearts of many. Sunbathe at the beach, dive in the ocean and make sure to experience the unique saltwater swimming pool in Azenhas do Mar, which is carved into the rocky cliffs and filled by the tides of the Atlantic Ocean.
You must make a stop at one of the local restaurants and delight yourself in the tasty and fresh seafood, like grilled sardines and codfish. The background sounds of seagulls and the waves crashing make the perfect ambiance for such a delectable meal.
In the centre, you will come across quaint houses adorned with flowers, exuding a sense of peace and simplicity, perfect for an escape from the bustling city.
Stroll along the exquisite village of Cascais
Right next to the Atlantic Ocean is Cascais, with a fascinating history that dates back centuries. Once a humble fishing village, it became the number one destination for European royalty and aristocracy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The legacy of this glorious era can still be seen in the exquisite palaces, elegant mansions and well-preserved architecture that grace the town.
One of the best-known beaches around is the Praia da Rainha, or Queen's Beach, a small and secluded bay with golden sands and calm waters, perfect for a relaxing time. If you are feeling more adventurous, head to the Guincho Beach, famous for its powerful waves, which will allow you to try windsurfing and kitesurfing. At a short distance from the historical centre of Cascais lies the dazzling Boca do Inferno (Hell's Mouth). This dramatic and slightly eerie cliff formation, shaped by the waves, creates a spectacular sight as you stand at the edge of this natural wonder.
After a lot of walking, spoil yourself with fresh and savoury sea dishes, from grilled sardines to succulent shellfish, and quench your thirst with a glass of one of the renowned local wines from the nearby region of Colares.
Enjoy the natural landscapes of Sagres
As you delve into this village’s past, you will discover how Sagres is associated with the legendary Portuguese explorer, Prince Henry the Navigator, who established a renowned school of navigation here in the 15th century. This pioneering spirit can still be felt as you wander through the town.
The imposing Fortaleza de Sagres is definitely worth a visit. Perched on top of towering cliffs that overlook the Atlantic Ocean, this fortress equipped with its ancient walls and commanding views served as a vital strategic point during the Portuguese Age of Discoveries.
Sagres is embraced by the Costa Vicentina Natural Park, a protected area that stretches along the coastline, so you will find yourself surrounded by different sceneries that will for sure take your breath away, as well as glowing beaches, such as Praia do Martinhal and Praia do Beliche.
Do you desperately need a break from the fuss of everyday life and to just enjoy the quietude of nature? Then you must pay a visit to the Cape St. Vincent. Located just a short distance from Sagres, here the land seems to blend with the vast ocean and the sunset that paints the sky in a perfect display of colours is simply out of this world!
Where time slows down
If you are heading to the south of Portugal, you must make a stop at Aljezur, located on the western coast of the Algarve. It is characterized by a superb landscape and it is also surrounded by the majestic Costa Vicentina Natural Park we mentioned above. In Aljezur you will have more gorgeous beaches waiting for you, such as Praia de Monte Clérigo or Praia da Arrifana, where you can hike the rocky and imponent cliffs.
We believe time goes by slowly in this village. Its center exudes an authentic Portuguese ambiance, so you should take the time to soak up the atmosphere and to explore the meanders through the cobbled alleys. The crown jewel of Aljezur is its magnificent hilltop castle, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, as well as the Aljezur River that winds its way through the valley. Its ancient ruins hold many tales of battles fought and conquered.
As the sun sets over Aljezur, the town begins to glow. Enjoy a nice dinner at one of the local seafood restaurants and embrace the warmth and hospitality of the Algarve.
Discover the traditional Ferragudo
Ferragudo is a hidden gem on the Algarve coast, which has maintained its traditional and authentic self, despite the increasing tourism in the area. Nestled on the banks of the Arade River, Ferragudo offers the most authentic Portuguese experience, with its traditional architecture.
When you feel the need to disconnect and get some sun, stop by the Praia da Angrinha and Praia Grande, the two main beaches known as authentic oases. The coastline around Ferragudo is expectably stunning, as it features impressive cliffs and rock formations, creating a beautiful backdrop. Boat trips are also available from Ferragudo and will allow you to be face to face with the greatness if this coastline and discover nearby attractions, such as the bustling marina of Portimão.
The main square, Largo Rainha Dona Leonor, in Ferragudo's historical center, is a popular gathering place with a lively atmosphere and often hosts live music events – the best way to finish your stay here!
The "Venice” of the Algarve
Due to its network of canals and bridges, Tavira is often referred to as the "Venice” of the Algarve. This captivating town, located in the eastern part of the Algarve, has an extremely well-preserved historic center, with traditional tiled façades and picturesque squares adorned with orange trees. The iconic Roman Bridge, which crosses the Gilão River, is a testament to Tavira's ancient and diverse roots.
The Medieval Castle of Tavira is the main historical attraction and can be found at the highest point of the region, which will give you a different insight into the town’s layout.
And of course, beyond Tavira’s historical and architectural wonders, are its prestigious beaches. Just a short ferry ride away from the centre lies the Tavira Island, a long stretch of golden sand and pristine waters you must visit. Similar to the other coastal villages, Tavira is also recognized for its high-quality fresh seafood. From grilled sardines to cataplana (a flavourful seafood stew), Tavira provides a gastronomic journey that will heighten your senses!
Postcards from Câmara de Lobos
In Câmara de Lobos you will be greeted by a postcard-perfect scene of fishing boats floating in the tranquil bay. This town holds a special place in the heart of Madeira, a Portuguese island, as it has a long-standing tradition of fishing.
The village is surrounded by towering cliffs, lush greenery and sparkling blue waters that create a natural paradise where you can explore the scenic trails that take you to breathtaking viewpoints, such as Cabo Girão, the second-highest sea cliff in the world. You can also go on boat trips to spot dolphins and whales in their natural habitat, or dive and go on snorkeling expeditions that will allow you to experience the marine life and underwater treasures of Madeira.
Venture into the heart of the historic centre, where colourful houses are decorated with flower-filled balconies, and savour the authentic Madeiran cuisine at traditional restaurants that offer a range of delicious seafood dishes, including the local specialty scabbard fish with banana.
If you happen to visit Câmara de Lobos in early to mid-September, make sure to attend the vibrant Festa da Vindima (Grape Harvest Festival), where locals celebrate the island's rich wine-making heritage through music, dance and grape stomping!
The city of squares
Angra do Heroísmo is a fascinating town located on Terceira Island, in the Azores archipelago, which was a very important hub during the Age of Discoveries and served as a strategic harbour for the ships traveling between Europe, Africa and the Americas. Its historical centre, known as the "city of squares," is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Dominating the city's skyline is the Sé Catedral de Angra, a magnificent cathedral that dates back to the 16th century. Nearby, the São Salvador Church, with its beautiful azulejo tiles, and the Misericórdia Church, famous for its impressive Baroque decoration, are also worth exploring. Another iconic landmark is the imposing Forte de São João Baptista, a 16th-century fortress situated on the volcanic complex of Monte Brasil peninsula, particular for the jaw-dropping views that it offers of the city, the Atlantic Ocean, and the natural landscape.
The city's warm and welcoming atmosphere, combined with its historical and natural treasures, make Angra do Heroísmo an unforgettable destination. While you are there, make sure you sample the local mouth-watering delicacies such us the Alcatra, a flavorful beef stew, and Queijadas da Graciosa, a sweet cheese pastry.
The sea is part of Portugal’s DNA
The picturesque towns that adorn the shore of Portugal share one common thread: an irresistible allure that just makes you want to explore them all! From north to south, these coastal villages invite you to come and discover their unique charms and experience the delicious and fresh seafood, the culture and all those hidden gems the shore has to offer you.