Nazaré – Unforgettable vacation for more than 20 years


Visiting Nazaré

Nazaré is unique. That’s why you should be prepared for your visit. Being a beach, it happens that the soul of the city is better felt out of season. Its magnetic attraction to everybody living not to far, makes it difficult to access and park in Sundays and holidays, so if you can, peek another day.

For a several day stay in summer, be prepared for a cold water, excellent and generally safe surf, and crowds everywhere. For a short visit see my Driving around Alcobaça post.

The Sitio

Either using the funicular, or driving uphill, you must go to the sitio. The sights are awesome, but there’s much more to do, from visiting the church, the chapel or the lighthouse, to having a memorable seafood meal. Don’t worry about the name of the restaurant.

​Just stop at the main square and watch locals and their movements, trying not to trust empty restaurants. If you fail, just ask for Luis…

For a night, a weekend or a long stay, Nazaré is a strong attraction. Its unique people, fierce of their traditions, its awesome sights, the freshness of fish, the variety of possible programs in or out the water, call people from inland all year round.

In the sunny winter days, cars line all the seashore, with couples hypnotized by the strong bright surf. In spring and autumn, the emptiness of the beach is an opportunity for surfers and anglers. Summer brings the waves of people to oversize the waves of the sea. All year round Quartos-Chambres-Rooms-Zimmer are the offer of ladies sitting by the roads and streets. Going to Nazaré in free days is as natural as… life!

​Enjoy the beach


It’s a pity, the low temperature of the water, because the beach is really appealing.

The sand is white, thin and soft, the surf is regular, the landscape marvels, protecting against the winds.

Before June, when the beach is still free from the summer barracks, the sense of freedom is total. I remember, about 50 years ago, to check the water temperature, usually from 12(!) to 15 degrees Celsius.

​Nowadays, 18 is common, and this week it reached 21. What is happening to this world?

​Kids Tide

Visiting Nazaré

Low tides in Nazaré are a gorgeous time of freedom and imagination for kids, that are kept away from the water during the high tide, due to the regular surf.

The thin, white and clean sand becomes a kids park, where, sometimes, the water comes gently to test the strength of their buildings, until the final flooding (and laughing bath).

​At sunset the colors get warmer and invite all the amateur photographers.

​Rough Sea (Mar Bravo)

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Visiting Nazaré

It’s kind of a spectacle, the waves striking the shoreline in the summer. One has to be careful, because the currents are very dangerous those days, but the comic incidents in and around the tents compensate the impossibility of bathing.

If you pay attention, you will see some locals walking up and down along the beach, searching the garbage brought by the waves.

They say that, sometimes, even golden rings and necklaces come ashore.

​I’ve seen them quite often, but never saw a lucky one, nor even my marriage ring stolen by a wave in Algarve…

One day, I was surprised by a red flag with a normal surf. I couldn’t believe it, until knowing the reason – jellyfish.

​For the first time in my whole life (and last, till now)… jellyfish in Nazaré! What are we doing to climate?

​Saint Anthony chapel

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Visiting Nazaré

Centrally located and facing the beach, this chapel was built by the fishermen 150 ago.

It is used as the best alternative place to religious ceremonies, though, in summer, it becomes too small.

​The only interesting detail is the facade, all in tiles, and with a panel representing the saint.

​The long walk

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Visiting Nazaré

One of the unbeatable pleasures of Nazaré is, when low tide happens by sunset, a walk up and down the beach.

The colors, the sounds and the smells of the sea, when the agitation and noise of the crowds are leaving, is relaxing and a good end of the day.

​Some other prefer the early morning… not for me!

​Beach sports

Visiting Nazaré

The surf is usually strong but the thousands of dwellers “send” surfers away to less populated areas like Baleal or Peniche.

Anyway, a few people keep practicing surf and windsurf, specially out of peak season.

And, remember, this is the place where McNamara surfed the biggest waves in the world


Visiting Nazaré

Climbing to the Sítio”, by car or taking the lift, is mandatory (I did it twice on foot, and… survived!).

The sights are awesome, and history is there, in a very small area. If you arrive by car go down to the lighthouse – the contrasts between both beaches is great, and the waves are generally bigger there, even in the calm days, but 30 meters high only in very special days.

Surfing dominated Nazaré, and now the access to the lighthouse is partially restricted. It is possible to walk there, but allow at least one hour and do have in mind that the return will be upwards all the time.

Well, there are tuk-tuks!

In summer, when parking in the beach is a nightmare, a good solution followed by some “experts” (yes, me too…) is parking in Sitio, and descending to the beach using the lift, but parking in Sítio is not easy too.

​Sanctuary of Nazaré

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Visiting Nazaré

An unknown small fishing harbor got its entrance in history (and later in tourism) in the 12th century, when a noble man hunting near the cliffs almost felt to death.

A legend was born, starting a new religious devotion, pictured in everything concerning Nazaré.

A church was built in the 14th century getting its final look in the 17th.

​It’s not a big church, but its richness, harmony and the signs of the strong religiosity of the local people, justify an easy visit in your mandatory stop in Sitio that you shouldn’t miss.
​The visit was slightly improved, with a few new displays of religious artifacts.

​Luis Nesi Museum

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Visiting Nazaré

Open in 1996 in the right wing of the monastery, this museum is used to display the offerings of the religious population for centuries made to the temple.

Open from 10 AM to 7 PM in summer and 6 PM in winter.

Entrance 1 €, with 50% discount to children and groups.

​A small display is now available as you leave the church, but I had no time to check if it allows the entrance to the museum, or it is just a sort of advertising.

Website: Luis Nesi


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Visiting Nazaré

Dominating the sea, at the end of the promontory, there’s an old fort, where hundred years ago it was installed the lighthouse.

The military purposes of the fort, almost 500 years old, are easily verified in its strong construction that the several wars and the persistent strong surf hitting below couldn’t defeat. Yet!

The area became dangerous, and descending to the rocks is not advisable anymore.

​This lighthouse is now worldwide famous, because it is the reference to the big wave surfed by McNamara to hit the world record.

​North Beach

Visiting Nazaré

The beach to the north of Sítio is wide and wild.

​Excellent for those who want to stay away from the crowds, it has the drawback of a dangerous sea, not advisable to swim, even in summer.

However, nature dominates the area.

I repeat – This beach is not advisable to swim, and though the news and pictures may attract many curious people, those big waves are quite irregular, don’t happen each year, so, I believe that the crowds will remain away.

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Visiting Nazaré

Allow me to publish the awesome work of Tó Mané, the lucky and skilled guy who caught Garrett McNamara surfing the “impossible” 30 meters high wave in this beach


Visiting Nazaré

Easy to access from the road to Alcobaça, Pederneira, the old village (and, despite seeming so high, the old port), keeps the flavor of the old days, and challenges Sitio as the best sightseeing spot (Sitio is awesome, but we can’t see Sítio from there).

​Pederneira is an excellent spot to take a photo from a different angle, and, since you are there, relaxing from the crowds, why not a visit to the churches of Nossa Senhora das Areias, from the 16th century, or Misericórdia, from the 18th?

Visiting Nazaré

New Look

For many, many years I didn’t go up to Pederneira.

When I did recently, I was surprised by the excellent recovering work that has been done there.

​Once the main population centre of Nazaré, this quarter keeps all the ambiance of the past, and it is a good walking trip to combine with the use of the beach.

Visiting Nazaré


Today, it’s a pleasure to visit Pederneira, the old quarters atop the southern hills.

Great recovering works embellished the area, and now the views over the beach are not any more the only reason to go there.

The square by the sightseeing point is dominated by Misericórdia church, a mannerist small temple with tiles from the 16th century and gilded altars.

​Quartos – Chambres – Rooms – Zimmer

Visiting Nazaré

Spring is nice in Nazaré: the beach and the streets are free of the crowds, yet, and happiness comes with the sun and the expectations of good business with tourists.

​Games come to the street, but everywhere the omnipresent displays – “Quarto, Chambres, Rooms, Zimmer”, always in that order – remind what really matters for them.

​Typical performance

Nazaré 5
Nazaré 5

All year round, in the main avenue, facing the sea, it’s possible to see several women in traditional costumes selling… everything.

If you want to buy anything, for a good price, that should be your last option, because they are there to take advantage of tourists.

​However, if you don’t mind paying a little bit more to live the experience of bargaining with those experts, and to get a picture with someone typically dressed, then you may approach, and, for sure, as long as they understand that you are going to buy, they will become the nicest and funniest persons in the world.


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F1030009 2

Tradition is fading in Nazaré, but, if you look carefully, it’s still present, specially in the old people. That happens because the fading is the result of the new opportunities of live, not for loosing respect and the love of that tradition.

Nazaré is struggling to preserve its unique culture, and, I appreciate that effort, though, sometimes, we easily understand that they are only performing for visitors.

PS – There are several people identifying themselves as the author of this photo. I keep the negatives, just in case…

​Drying Fish

Visiting Nazaré

Once a large activity, the racks of drying fish in the sand almost disappeared, since the closing of the “Lota”.

However, in front of the new cultural center (performed?…) you still may see how it is done, and imagine the look, the smell (the flies) of the large area they once used in that work.

​Would you believe me if I say that I never tasted that dried fish?


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Jordan 0175

One of the characteristics of Nazaré is the religiosity of its people.

The risky work in the sea turned the sand stripe in a stage of prayers in the rough days. Blessings and processions are common in town, that reverences a miracle by the date of the Portuguese independence.

​”Hidden” in the church, in Sítio, there’s a small black image of Our Lady of Nazareth, that, according to another legend was carved by St Joseph, the carpenter, and brought from Galilee to Mérida, in Spain in the 5th century, and from there to Nazaré in 711.

During the middle age several hundred versions of this statue were created in Europe.


Visiting Nazaré

It used to be typical, the Carnival in Nazaré.

The people is joyful and exuberant, and imagination and humor flow with the “cegadas”, small groups that perform in the streets, with texts and improvisation criticizing local figures and themes.

​Not lately, however… The carnival became a parade like any other, with some investment but sometimes without the spontaneity that was its landmark.

I didn’t like my last Carnival in Nazaré – Imagination was absent, and the only remarkable group was a large collection of small girls representing Marilyn Monroe, in a fresh and colorful scene.

​Women’s local games

Visiting Nazaré

The women of Nazaré, in holidays, use to play a specific game whose rules are know only by them.

No man is allowed, and expansive as only they can be, they easily dominate the streets, under the curiosity of visitors.

The true Nazaré easily comes to surface when they disagree with the interpretation of the rules: the show becomes dramatically fun.


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Visiting Nazaré

Nazaré has a special folklore with a special costume. Traditionally the women use seven skirts, and though some of them tend to forget some of them nowadays, folk dancers are very careful and allow us to verify.

​Hand made embroideries make the dresses cost several thousand euros, forcing them to reserve it to festive days (those who can afford it…).

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Visiting Nazaré

S Gião Church

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Visiting Nazaré

South of Nazaré a sign indicates this Visigoth church from the 7th century, and very ruined after a long use as… hayloft.

Unless you like to see wonderful cabbages… don’t go.

The ruined church is being recuperated, it is covered by a metallic structure, and, after a very bad path, the access is blocked.

​Wait for the reopening! I read that it still waiting, and… degrading.



Not far from town, going south to Famalicão, another access leads to the sea, to a place called Salgado.

Dangerous to swim, it is a good place to sunbath far from the crowds, and it allows good sights.

A few weeks ago an English tourist died in the waves!

​Be careful, the sea is tricky, and much more dangerous here than it looks.

Valado lagoon

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Visiting Nazaré

For a picnic, about 6 Km far from the beach, but nested in the pine forest, the lagoon of Valado de Frades is very attractive.

​Don’t risk to swim, and leave before dusk, otherwise you will be “eaten” by the mosquitoes.

​Wild and free

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Visiting Nazaré

The coast north of the Sitio is wild, only punctuated by some small spots where access to the shoreline is easier. Dangerous to swim the coast between Nazaré and S Pedro de Moel (another touristy place close to Nazaré, deserving a visit), is heaven for those who just want to feel the sun and nature, away from it all.

Here and there, the landscape is very attractive, and Falca, Pedra do Ouro, Água de Madeiros, Légua, Polvoeira, Paredes da Vitória, are simple beaches along it, with parking area and some commercial support.

Cultural center

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Visiting Nazaré

By the beach, open and… free!

I recommend Tabernassa


Among the Portuguese, this restaurant has recently become popular, remodeled and converted to modern cuisine. It is not a traditional food restaurant and has a little varied menu.
The food, however, is excellently prepared and presented, without approaching the prices of gourmet restaurants.
Great location, and efficient and friendly service.

I recommend João Clau – Good 1st visit

João Clau

One of the most recent visits to Nazaré was rewarded with an excellent lunch.

Located next to one of the city’s gastronomic institutions, we had passed by the door several times, with another destination.
This time we decided to go in and in good time. Kind service, an appealing list, where I choose a meat and prawns skewer.

The most tender and flavorful meat I’ve ever eaten in Nazaré, everything grilled and seasoned perfectly, with Fernanda on the other side of the table saying the same about the squids she had chosen.

Dessert to match, and, at the end, the cook asking if everything had been all right – Yes it was, congratulations.
Fair price for the quality of the meal made us repeat, with the same satisfaction.

I recommend S. Miguel – ​Balcony of Nazaré

Eating Options
Eating Options

Located right on the beach, in the best bathing area, this restaurant is the best for formal or party meals. The sights are wonderful, and the food uses to follow the sights.

​Trying to stay competitive, the restaurant defined two standards of quality, one for each stage.

I confess that I never used the lower (and cheaper) one, because anytime I go there is to enjoy the pleasure of a good lunch or dinner, and the top floor gives me full guaranties.​

The only problem is common in Nazaré – parking. So, be prepared to walk to and from the restaurant. I keep on going there, and always pleased. It risks to become MY restaurant in Nazaré.

Favorite Dishes: Caldeirada de Lagosta com Robalo, Bife Pimenta, Bacalhau à São Miguel, and, lately, Cataplana de Peixe

It's there Maresia – Pricy

Eating in Nazaré
Eating in Nazaré – Facing Maresia

Maresia is the Portuguese word to define the salty and wet breeze that comes from the sea.

Maresia is also the name of a well placed restaurant, facing the sea.

For several decades I never was temped to try it, but it happened recently.

Well, it conformed my expectations – it is a regular restaurant that bets in location to charge in excess.​

I had a grilled bass. It would be cheap, if it was caught in the sea, but it was very expensive for a fish from aquaculture, as it was. Fernanda had a “Caldeirada”, tasting nothing, she said.

It would be a regular meal for half the price that we paid.

Phone: 262 562 403

I recommend Taberna d’Adélia – Long lines for food

Eating Options
Eating in Nazaré – Taberna d’Adélia street

This is one of the most promoted restaurants by the regular gourmets.

It is good, but I had several bad experiences there.

Several times I went there and gave up, considering the crowds waiting outside.

Once, we decided to wait, and… the wait sitting at the table was even longer than standing; we ordered a soup that didn’t come.

The food, maybe because we were tired and mad with the service, didn’t justify the waiting.

Some of our friends kept saying that it is the best.

I went there a couple of times in winter – it was fine.

Of course, the problem of being popular to the crowds…

Favorite Dish: Cataplana

Address: Rua das Traineiras 12

Phone: 351 262552134

Positive impression O Bartidor – Serious service


After some bad experiences eating in Nazaré (too much concern about serving lots of tourists and be paid above the quality of food and service) I tried Bartidor, and enjoyed it.

As I used to, I became faithful, and use it often in my visits to Nazaré.

It is a small common restaurant, but I always found the quality and the service above average local standards at a fair price.

Its location, just beside main square, makes it ideal for anyone who is in Nazaré, though a little problematic for those who go to Nazaré because of parking difficulties, but that is a general problem in town.

Favorite Dish: Massada de Peixe

Positive impression A Fornalha – Meat in Nazaré


Eating fish in Nazaré is a great experience, either if you taste sardines, caldeirada or anything else (and control the invoice). Sometimes, specially if you travel with kids, someone has to eat meat, and there, Nazaré is not so secure, in terms of quality.

I know only a small list of restaurants where the quality of meat dishes equals fish ones. One of them is Fornalha. Standing in the hills, for those coming by car it has the advantages of easier parking.

For those coming by foot, it’s harder to reach, but, if meat is mandatory it is worth the effort.

Address: R. B, Lt 14 Fraccao B Urbisol, close to Sitio road

Positive impression ​Fontemar – Popular and good

Eating Options
Eating in Nazaré – Fontemar

For several days I was telling Fernanda that we should go somewhere (Nazaré of course) and eat sardines. When it happened, for our surprise, there were not many places to do it with the desired quality. Someone advised us to try a restaurant in Sítio, which was closed.

We decided to try the esplanade of Fonte Mar, where the displayed sardines looked good.

And they were very good.​

Everything perfect (except the company of some flies) lots of sympathy, and cheap price.

​Many more times I went there always pleased, but last Sunday we decided to try another restaurant, famous for its sardines.

​Failed! Maybe because we arrived late, the sardines were not so good. Fonte Mar remains in good position.

Favorite Dish: Grilled sardines

Address: Largo da Fonte Velha, 14, right of the church, in the square behind the museum.

Phone: 351 262 561 771

Phone: 262561366

Bad day Sardinha – Disappointed

Eating Options
Eating in Nazaré – O Sardinha

This restaurant was suggested as one of the best places to eat sardines. As a matter of fact, I didn’t appreciate it much: the only time we went there we arrived late, after many costumers and, maybe because we caught the last sardines, maybe because people was exhausted, things didn’t work well.

Maybe in a next visit, but, with so many good places, I don’t know when.

Address: Sitio, by the monastery

Positive impression Pangeia – Top quality

Pangea - Nazaré
Pangea – Nazaré

In a very good location, overlooking the sea from the wide balcony of Pederneira,  this is now the top restaurant of Nazaré.

A welcoming room and a nice service, are the best ambiance for the excellent food.

Specialized in octopus, served in several original recipes, the menu is not very large, but rich and inviting.

Deserts and house wine matched the high standards of the place, and so did the price… expensive, as expected.

We entered and had a table but it is wise to make a reservation.

Address:   Rua Abel Silva 50; Pederneira          Phone:   +351 917 934 726     Website: Pangeia ​

Bad day O Madeira – To verify

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Eating in Nazaré – O Madeira

With grilled sardines in mind, I went to Nazaré yesterday, knowing, for sure, that it would be easy to park facing Fontemar, the restaurant in Sítio where I use to eat them.

Well, it was too easy – Fontemar was closed, and I had to find another place in the area.

Only a few meters from the parking, we had noticed a new restaurant, or a restaurant with a new image, and decided to try it.

Madeira seems to be a mid class restaurant, betting in a reasonable quality, at an equivalent price. 

​The restaurant has a modern and clean look, the service was gentle, but too slow. When we entered only two couples were eating, leaving soon. No one else entered, so we were the only customers served by the kitchen, during our presence.

We almost decided to eat a seafood rice, but, having in mind that it generally takes 20/30 minutes to prepare, we replaced it by a seafood “açorda” easy to make in less than 10 minutes. We waited for more than half an hour to be served.

What will it happen in summer with a full house?

The food was tasty, and the pot serving it full of… bread. So much bread, that the seafood, well represented by 10 good shrimps topping everything, almost disappeared. The final price of 17€ each was acceptable, but before any kind of recommendation I need to check this restaurant again.

Address: Sítio da Nazaré, Nazaré

I recommend Versus – Good first impression

Eating Options
Eating in Nazaré – Versus

“Hidden” in a corner of one of the narrow streets of Nazaré, some good references made us search for this restaurant.
With a young, bright and wise decoration, the restaurant is a recent project, clearly betting with enthusiasm to please.
Excellent food, very well presented at a fair price and great gentleness, confirmed that this is one more place to rise the city’s reputation.
 We will become regular costumers.

Address: Rua Dr. Jose Maria Carvalho Jr. Nº 63
Phone; ​+351 262 562 258

Picnic32 Picnics – ​”The best” for many


Many visitors of Nazaré skip the restaurants, preferring a picnic in the surrounding pine forests (Some other go expressly for picnics, skipping also the beach).

There are several restrictions that must be scrupulously respected, but a few places are prepared for a shared occupation. 

Picnic spot number 1

In the beginning of Praia do Norte street, in the roundabout with Estrada do Pinhal, in Sítio, there’s the best picnic spot of Nazaré. 

Its problem is being… the best, which means that in the good days, though equipped with several fireplaces, it uses to be crowded. Going early is a wise decision.

GPS: 39.6132, -9.0705

​Picnic spot number 2

If you find the best place overcrowded (or don’t like it) go a few hundred meters ahead from Nazaré, in the Estrada do Pinhal, north of Sítio, you will have at your right a smaller place but also calm and well equipped. I didn’t check yet, but the forest may have been cut here

​Picnic area number 3

In the road to Alcobaça, about 2km out of town, a nice and easily accessible area is my third option. The site is good, but misses water and a few more tables. There’s a steep mount with great views from the top.

GPS: 39.5959 -9.0511

Portugal burnt recently. I didn’t check what happened to these forests…

I recommend Miramar – Best in Nazaré (?)


I didn’t stay there, but I went there to meet a couple of VT friends. I was surprised by the good look of the hotel. Modern construction, with a superb view over the beach, it may be now, the best hotel in town. The only problem is… distance.

Pederneira is less than two kilometers from the beach, but a very, very steep distance. They say 500 meters (maybe 700 for a seagull, about 1200 by the shortest way!) but very steep, and hard to walk frequently.

That’s why they announce free transport to the beach, what makes all the difference, if it works.

Address: Rua Abel Silva,Pederneira, Pederneira, Nazaré, Portugal

Phone: 351-262-550000

Website: Miramar

Positive impression Vale Paraíso

Sleeping in Nazaré
Sleeping in Nazaré – Vale Paraíso camping

Best Camping

Nazaré is not very well served by campgrounds: all of them stay distant, in the hills, forcing to hard walking or to use the car, with the expected parking problems.

Maybe the best will be this one, with the advantage of the pool to replace the ocean, when you decide to stay in the park.

Address: EN 242 on the way to Pataias

Check your bills


I love Nazaré. That’s why I’m always available to forgive everything, but sometimes it’s too much, even for me.

This is the most serious of my warnings in Nazaré!

In May 1st, Fernanda and I went to have lunch in Nazaré. She wished to eat “cataplana”, so we checked “A Taberna da Adelia” where we once saw a beautiful cataplana. Very popular (see my other tips) the line of people waiting was enormous.

​We tried many other, all full. The shortest line was in “Mar Bravo”, a well located restaurant with medium service at top price. Now the scene:

After staring 15 minutes facing three empty tables in the esplanade, we sat inside and ordered a fish soup, a lobster cataplana, one 7 UP and BSE wine.

Ten minutes later the waiter asked us to confirm the drinks: water, and Murganheira wine. We corrected him, and some minutes later he came, with the 7 UP and… the Murganheira.

New correction, and the right drinks came, to join us in a long wait (almost one hour) for the food.

The cataplana, at last (the soup was… forgotten), was OK. Time for the bill – heavy, as expected, and… surprise, the forgotten fish soup was there, also with cheese, probably delicious, but that we never saw or asked for.

A delicate and prompt correction, with excuses, and… it’s done. The three empty tables that we saw on entering continued empty… all the time, but the lines, in mid afternoon were shorter.

My god! Is it so hard to be professional?

Well… I told you. That´s Nazaré, and I’m always available to forgive everything. Yes… be patient, and check your bills.

Warnings in Nazaré
Warnings in Nazaré

Summer crowds

Bathing, circulating or only staying under the sun is complicated in summer days.

The beach has always many resident dwellers from July to mid September, but in Sundays and holidays it may become a nightmare.

​That would be the best time to try the nearby wild beaches (tricky parking) or to explore inland the wonders that surround Nazaré – Alcobaça, Batalha, Óbidos and more.

However, if you may visit out of peek season, spring and fall, allow great days in the beach (with the water as cold as in summer…).​

Warnings in Nazaré – Spring

Memories of Nazaré

Old memories
Old memories

Beach size

Until recently we, the lovers of Nazaré, were fearing its future, with the stripe of sand narrowing year after year, with the strong surf menacing its use and even the front houses.

Recently things seem to be reversed, and it was a relief and pleasure to confirm, last Sunday, the return to the size of the good old days.

Funny to compare the beach in April and August. What a difference!

Memories of Nazaré
Memories of Nazaré – Old Lota


“99…98…97…95…95…94… Chuí.

Sold by 94 to that man in the second row”.

And the basket of fish was replaced by the next one, until the end of that day’s catch.

Now, the “Lota” is closed, and that show is not available anymore, but the place was preserved, and is now used as a cultural center.

Good idea, to preserve the memories of Nazaré.

I saw books and computers around, but forgive me, I only really saw those steps where for decades beat the hearts of the people, and started the spreading of fresh fish to the area.

​At the door, a woman looks at the sea and waits, but to make entire justice to the women of Nazaré, a couple more female figures should be added running with baskets on their heads to the markets.

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Memories of Nazaré – “Peixeira”


The traditional social organization of Nazaré reserves to women a fundamental role: while the men are at the sea, women rule life, taking care not only of the house – traditional woman’s role – but also of business. The “peixeira” (fishing seller) became not only a profession, but a status. And it’s really funny to appreciate the “peixeira”‘s independence and strength in everything, even in games. Things are fading, but when holidays provide free time, the happiness of their meeting with the roots is a special show.

Celestino Graça was a great man from Santarém. He launched a big event, that keeps celebrating his memory many years after his death – The National Agriculture Exhibition.

One of the highlights (for those who know nothing about agriculture as me) was the International Folklore Festival, gathering groups from all the world, sometimes with great disputes with the dictatorship controls. I had the opportunity to cooperate with his organization, and to know him from short distance.


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Memories of Nazaré – Games

One day, we were in Caldas da Rainha in a performance with some groups that we took there from Santarém, when the director of the best group of Nazaré – Tá-mar – also performing, announced the premiere of their 9th dance.

(A parenthesis to explain that Nazaré had a very interesting folklore, absolutely different from any other in Portugal, but composed by only 8 dances – 7 “viras” and a “corridinho”, what stops local groups from performing more than 15 minutes).

The dance started, and immediately, from the audience, a voice sounded, loud and clearly:

“Stop… no… this is outrageous… no… no… out!”

It was Mr Graça.

I approached him, trying to calm him down, and asking him what happened.

​Still furious, he pointed the dancers and continued:

​”Don’t you see? He putted the women dancing backwards! This is an outrage! The woman of Nazaré is the only in Portugal that always dances forward. The woman of Nazaré never recedes before man! She puts the fish upon her head and runs to Alcobaça, Valado, Caldas da Rainha, anywhere, to sell it. “Peixeira’s life is lived forward, the dance always respected it, and that must preserved.”

Many years later I saw Tá-mar performing, curious to see if they kept that 9th dance or not. Well… they did!

​But the women danced forward. Mr. Afonso (the director) also respected Mr. Graça, and also learned from him!

No fish today…

20130804 173729 resize 2
Memories of Nazaré

The witches of Nazaré

2593877 the smile of the wave nazare
The smile of the wave

​Yo no creo en las brujas…

​Once upon a time, when the witches still rode their brooms, I took my girlfriend to Nazaré, in a nice rough winter.

Walking by the seaside, she almost got wet, by a stronger wave, and I didn’t fail the photo, capturing the moment. 

Later on, while developing the photo, the witches showed their power, and a face appeared smiling from the water at Fernanda’s feet.


Las brujas 2

​…pero que las hay, las hay.

Cautiously, I advanced to the second picture, an innocent sunset, and… god!

Flowers, popping from the clouds?

It was too much.

​What could I expect from the third one?

Wild pools
Memories of Nazaré – Winter

But… where?


Fisherman not fishing as usual, people searching the witches in all directions, but… nothing, I said.

We had to think.

The explanation came afterwards, as common as we could expect.

The paper used to print the two first pictures had already been exposed, but not developed.

The smiling face and the flowers belong to an unknown bride, that will never guess what happened.

You say: everything natural and clearly explained.

Of course, but look at the perfect position of both the strange elements.

Coincidence, you say?

​Nah! The witches… The witches of Nazaré. Brrrrr.

The most common

Nazaré 5
Nazaré 5

It’s a tradition in Nazaré!

By the end of June most locals pile with family, or move to secondary houses, to free their main houses to tourism. I think that more than 80% of tourists from July to September, use this solution, renting a house or room from the many women in the walkways, showing a typical announcement “Quartos-Chambres-Room-Zimmer”, in a tight network that passes from one to the others the needs of each family seeking for lodging.

Nazaré info - Lodging uses
Nazaré info – Lodging uses

You will be invited to see a house, and if business fails, you will move a few meters apart, where the same woman or a new one has another offer to make.It is not cheap, but is is cheaper than regular hotels or even hostels.

Of course, many houses are old, with tiny rooms. Some of them giving the idea that we must sleep standing, because there will be no space for furniture. 

Bargaining is almost mandatory, but margins, generally, will not exceed 20 or 25%.

Local authorities are now trying to get some control (and fiscal income) from this market, ordering previous registration. You may find some offers in the many rental sites, but street approach keeps being the main way to make business. Well… some of them not so controlled as wished.

The lift – Practical

Moving in Nazaré
Moving in Nazaré

Parking in Nazaré is a nightmare.

Finding a place in a restaurant in August is an adventure.

There’s an old trick that keeps working: Go up to Sítio, where parking is not so difficult and the restaurants are not so crowded.

If you decide to go to the beach, in 5 minutes of descent you’re in the middle of everything.​

And so, you may appreciate one of the highlights of Nazaré, more than 100 years old.

​This summer I decided to park in Sitio, and use the lift to descend to the beach.

My God! I forgot we were in August!

​The line was so long that we went back and took the car down, to park… far… far… in the south.

Clams Bulhão Pato style


Wash carefully 1 Kg of clams.
Fry two garlic cloves in 1dl of olive oil.
Add the clams with a good quantity of chopped coriander, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Shake until the clams are all open and then drizzle with ½ dl of white wine. Let it evaporate a little and serve.

Where to eat

It is a national dish, easy to make, and that can be found throughout the territory. I had my best experiences in the following places:

São Miguel, in Nazaré
Marisol in Foz do Arelho

Good company

Vbranco orig
Vbranco orig

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