Foz do Arelho is one of the most beautiful places on the Silver Coast of Portugal. Located on the coast of Caldas da Rainha municipality, this traditional seafront village, nestled between Óbidos lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, is a famous beach destination that is also very popular amongst anyone who loves nature!
A history connected to the sea...
Foz do Arelho’s history is intimately connected to its proximity to the sea and to Óbidos Lagoon.
Throughout the centuries, Óbidos Lagoon underwent changes in its location. According to ancient records, in the past the lagoon is believed to have reached the hills of the medieval village of Óbidos, hence the origin of its name.
Reports from 1580 reveal that there was a large farm here that rented land for agriculture, in what could be the origin of the primitive village of Foz do Arelho. The fertile lands surrounding this area were used for agriculture, but even here the sea held an important role, with farmers fertilising their lands with silt collected from the lagoon.
The origins of Foz do Arelho are closely linked to this agricultural past and the fishing activity that, for millennia, served as a means of subsistence for local communities.
From a small fishing village to a seaside resort...
It was only from the second half of the 19th century that Foz do Arelho began to gain popularity as a seaside resort, attracting tourists mainly from Lisbon. The proximity of the spa town of Caldas da Rainha and its Thermal Hospital was one of the factors that contributed to this popularity, with famous members of the Portuguese bourgeoisie and nobility visiting the region. Among these, Portuguese king D. Carlos I, known for his love of traditional Foz do Arelho cuisine made with ingredients fished directly from the lagoon.
For hundreds of years, the people of Foz do Arelho have made their living from the waters of Óbidos Lagoon, by fishing and harvesting shellfish. Today, although this activity continues to contribute to the local economy, Foz do Arelho has so much more to offer to those who live here!
The natural beauty of Foz do Arelho beach...
Foz do Arelho is famous for its natural beauty and ideal conditions for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts.
The village is especially known as a summer holidays destination, with two different types of beaches: one facing the Atlantic Ocean, the other facing Óbidos Lagoon.
From the seaside, the beach offers a very wide strip of golden sand that is embraced by a beachfront avenue offering restaurants and cafés. A perfect place to stop for lunch, have a drink after a day at the beach or watch the amazing Foz do Arelho sunset in the company of friends and family.
From the sea directly to your table...
In any Foz do Arelho restaurant, you are spoiled with a choice of traditional Portuguese dishes, made with fresh local produce and regional delicacies, filled with flavour… and all this with an ocean view!
The local seafront restaurants and cafés are also an opportunity to taste seafood and fish directly from the boats of Foz do Arelho. Amongst our favourite dishes, don't miss the clams "à bolhão pato" or octopus salad! Two traditional Portuguese “petiscos”, that offer all the flavour and freshness of the sea to your table!
Fresh shellfish can also be bought directly from local fishermen, next to the small pier at Foz do Arelho beach, or at the “viveiro” store next to the lagoon's shore ... it doesn't get any fresher than this!
If you're a seafood fan, don't miss the Foz do Arelho Seafood Festival, a mouthwatering event that takes place between the end of May and the beginning of June.
Every year, between the end of July and the beginning of August, there is also the Foz do Arelho Beach Party, where the locals join delicious food to live music and the Portuguese's genuine joy for life!
It is not by chance that the village of Foz do Arelho is the place where the region's townsfolk go for a family walk on weekends or at the end of the day, to soak up vitamin D or relax in a “esplanada” while catching the last rays of daylight in one of the best places in Portugal to watch the sunset!
An ideal place to relax or play sports... in and out of the water!
On the lagoon side of Foz do Arelho, the conditions are perfect for families with small children. On the long stretch of sandy beach, you can spread out a towel and relax to the sound of the gentle waves.
The calm waters of the lagoon are also excellent for water sports. Favourite lagoon activities include paddleboarding or canoeing. On the side closest to the sea, the wind is favourable for kitesurfing, and it is common to see the lagoon sky speckled with colour.
If you love surfing, then the open sea is the place to be! At Escola de Vela da Lagoa you have at your disposal teachers certified by the Portuguese Surfing Federation and all the necessary material to catch waves or learn how to surf (wetsuits, boards and even a van to take you to the best spots!). Fozcamp - Surfcamp & Surfschool will also help you make the most of surfing at Foz do Arelho, regardless of whether you are a beginner or already at a more advanced level. At Foz do Arelho you will find the best conditions for a surf experience in Portugal!
Foz do Arelho is also perfect for exercising surrounded by nature. From the hiking and biking trails along Óbidos Lagoon, there are plenty of reasons to get outdoors and breathe in the fresh air!
Óbidos Lagoon - a natural habitat rich in fauna
Being the largest coastal lagoon system on the Portuguese coast, Óbidos Lagoon has an area of approximately 6.9 km2 and is a privileged habitat for a large diversity of fauna and flora.
On the shores of this natural wetland, there are many places to discover its beauty, including picnic areas, surrounded by a stunning landscape preserved in its natural state.
Nature lovers will find a plethora of animals that stop here on their migratory routes. Notably, a colony of flamingos, one of the reasons why Óbidos Lagoon is so famous amongst birdwatchers.
The many species that can be observed here also include water birds like the Royal Duck and the Ranger, various species of passerines, rare birds and large land birds.
The waters of Óbidos Lagoon are also rich in fish and shellfish species that serve as sustenance for local fishermen and anyone who loves fishing as a hobby. Foz do Arelho offers great spots for fishing, from the extensive sandy beach, to the "aberta" area where the sea meets the calm lagoon waters, which are also very sought after by local fishermen.
Local fish species include bass, sole, flounder, turbot, bream, grouper, and mullet. In the case of shellfish, Foz do Arelho is known for its clams, cockles, mussels, shrimp, octopus, eels, and the green crab.
The sea-facing cliffs and walkways of Foz do Arelho
If you prefer walking to fishing, then Foz do Arelho is also a dream come true! Besides the footpaths along the shores of the lagoon, on the north side of Foz do Arelho you will find stunning sea-facing cliffs and wooden walkways that offer a unique scenery to stretch your legs and breathe in the fresh sea air.
With an approximate length of 800 meters, the wooden walkways of Foz do Arelho allow you to walk along the cliffs in a safe and sustainable way, without compromising the natural vegetation. Between stairways and flatter areas, there are also seven unique look-out points, allowing superb views over the beach, lagoon and the Atlantic as a backdrop.
On clear days you can also see the Berlengas archipelago looking east. To the south is the coast of Peniche, and to the north the famous giant waves of Nazaré's North Canyon.
Living in Foz do Arelho
In the centre of the village of Foz do Arelho, you will find most of the services you will need for your daily life. From a pharmacy, bakery, supermarkets, traditional Portuguese restaurants, a bank and the local parish council (Junta de Freguesia).
In the village square, the bandstand is the heart of the highly anticipated summer festivals! With sardines grilling slowly and music filling the air, this festive atmosphere embraces locals and tourists alike, making everyone feel at home!
Foz do Arelho is also ideal for those who want to be close to everything. Five minutes from the A8 highway, one of Portugal's main highways, the village is served by two main access roads:
both the EN 360 and the Variante Atlântica road connects Foz de Arelho to the city of Caldas da Rainha and the A8 Motorway;
to the North, the Estrada Atlântica road connects Foz do Arelho to São Martinho do Porto.
Those who live in Foz do Arelho, or have a second home for holidays here, enjoy this privileged central location, with lots of historical monuments and beaches just a short drive away.
Foz do Arelho is a place to relax and leave the worries of the day behind. Let yourself be involved by the smell of the sea air, the colours of the Atlantic Ocean and the flavours of the beach...
Dreaming of a home in Portugal by the beach, surrounded by nature and close to everything?
Foz do Arelho is surrounded by a breathtaking landscape, where the green of the sand cliffs embraces the deep blue of the sea...