Nazaré is a traditional Portuguese seafront town best known for being home to some of the world's biggest waves. Although most people see this place as an amazing and memorable surfing hotspot, Nazaré has a lot more to offer than just huge waves for the most adventurous surfers.
This quaint fishing village in Silver Coast Portugal is also a popular holiday destination due to its large and beautiful beaches and delicious traditional food, which is especially influenced by Nazaré's century-old connection to the sea. But it is also a place rich in history, folklore and tradition, where there is always something to see and do all year round!
Discover some of the best places to visit in Nazaré Portugal:
1. The fortress of São Miguel Arcanjo
This fortress was initially built in 1577 to defend Nazaré from pirates. Due to its privileged position overlooking Praia do Norte, the famous beach where the best surfers in the world gather to catch huge waves, the lighthouse at the top of the fortress is one of the best places to watch the North Canyon's giant waves.
Discover the giant waves of Nazaré’s North Canyon
Every year, between October and March, thousands of visitors come to Nazaré to see big wave surfers ride the world’s biggest swells…
2. Nazaré Funicular
Nazaré’s funicular connects two different parts of Nazaré: the historical centre next to the beach and the highest part of the village, at the top of the northern cliff, known as Sítio.
The funicular departs every 15 minutes and provides an amazing panoramic scene along the journey, offering breathtaking views of the beach and village.
3. Traditional fishing boats and century-old traditions
In the centre of Nazaré's sandy beach, you’ll find traditional wooden fishing boats overlooking the ocean. These colourful boats are a reminder of the town's long fishing tradition, which started with the Phoenicians centuries ago.
These traditions are also present in local folklore and traditional clothes, such as the seven skirts of the Nazarene women, that helped the fisherman's wives and mothers to count the waves while they waited for their men to return to land. At the seventh wave, the sea was shallow and the boat ran aground. In those moments of waiting, the skirts were also used to wrap their shoulders from the cold.
4. Fish drying racks
Another peculiar tradition is the fish drying racks on the beach, where layers of "carapau" (mackerel) and octopus catch the sun and the sea breeze while drying traditionally.
The tradition of drying fish in Nazaré is ancient and arose from the need to conserve fish for the days of scarcity. Traditionally, it assured the sustenance of many families when there wasn’t fresh fish available, but also allowed the preservation of fish to be later sold in the region's markets, which still happens today.
5. Traditional restaurants & gastronomy
Nazaré also offers an amazing variety of traditional restaurants where you can enjoy the local cuisine.
Honouring its fishing village traditions, you can easily find several restaurants that offer different varieties of fish, most of which caught by local fisherman.
Daily caught fish, seafood and other sea delicacies are incredibly fresh and filled with flavour in several appetizing local dishes that are served in Nazaré's many restaurants. From the famous “caldeirada” (fish stew) to grilled fresh fish over slow-burning coals, it’ll be difficult to choose.
Some popular restaurants include:
Rosa dos Ventos
Taberna da Praia
Maria do Mar
Taverna do 8 ó 80
Restaurante O Luis
Discover Pangeia, one of Nazaré's best restaurants...
In this 'Petisco', Dylan from Portugal The Simple Life Podcast is joined by Carlos Ferreira, owner and head chef of Pangeia.
6. Miradouro da Pederneira
Miradouro da Pederneira is one of Nazaré's best look-out points. On a clear day, this panoramic view stretches as for as the coast of Peniche, to the south, and the green of the Leiria Pine Forest to the north. Right in front of you lies Nazaré village, Sítio at the top of the hill to the left, the marina to the right, and the immensity of the Atlantic coastline that meets the horizon.
The sunset from this viewpoint is absolutely breathtaking!
7. Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré
Among the many historical sites to explore, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré is a mandatory visit. Located in the main square at Sítio, its construction dates back to the 14th century.
On the 8th of September of each year, a major pilgrimage takes place here.
8. Memory Chapel
Located at the top of the promontory in Sítio, the Ermida da Memória chapel may be very small, but it is huge in terms of history and symbolism for the people of Nazaré!
The small chapel was built over 800 years ago by D. Fuas Roupinho and is, to this day, testament of the unshakeable faith of the Nazarene people over the centuries.
Legend has it that, on 14th September 1182, on a foggy day, D. Fuas Roupinho, mayor of Porto de Mós Castle, was hunting in this region when he came across a beautiful deer. In the wild chase, the deer plunged from the top of the rocky cliff into the sea. Having realized his horse was going to follow the deer and kill him, D. Fuas cried for the help of the Virgin of Nazaré, whose image rested in a cave beneath his feet. Immediately, his horse came to a sudden halt and its front hooves froze in midair. Miraculously, through the intercession of Our Lady of Nazaré, D. Fuas was saved, and in thanksgiving, he built on the same spot the small chapel that is living testimony to the powers of divine intervention.
It is believed that this ancient image of the Virgin of Nazaré was made by St. Joseph in Nazareth of Palestine, later brought to a monastery near Mérida and, at the time of the Arab invasion in 711, was transported to Nazaré. The name of the fishing village is directly related to this image and the chapel monument to its incredible history.
9. Ladeira panoramic swing
Another amazing spot to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views over Nazaré is the Ladeira swing.
Although the swing only allows one person at a time, it is well worth a visit! After all, this is an experience that will make your heart beat faster, as is promised by the sentence on top of the swing: "Foi Amor à Primeira Vista" (It was Love at First Sight).
10. Water sports and a fantastic water park
Besides surfing, fishing, boat rides and swimming, Nazaré also has a fantastic water park where the entire family can enjoy the adrenaline of water slides and several other activities.
The Norpark Aquatic Park offers visitors slides, a big jacuzzi, a semi-olympic pool, an aerobics pool and a children’s pool.
Regardless of the time of the year you visit Nazaré, there are always things to see and do! And for the lucky ones who live here or have a holiday home in Nazaré, there is so much to discover. From cultural and sports activities for all ages to the numerous events that are held throughout the year.
Among the most famous annual events are the New Year’s Eve festivities, which include a spectacular fireworks show on the beach, and Carnival, that also attracts thousands of tourists to share Nazaré's genuine joy for life!
As you can see, there are more than enough reasons to visit Nazaré! Or who knows, maybe stay forever...
Living in Nazaré Portugal...
Nazaré offers breathtaking sea views, delicious food, plenty of fresh air and a wonderful lifestyle...