The 10 Best Things to do in Nazare
Whether you are road tripping across Portugal, or decide to focus your holiday on the Silver Coast region, if there is one place you need to stop it’s Nazare. First, it’s one of the top beaches in the country… particularly for surfing! Nazare was put on the map by pro surfer Garret McNamara set the world record for surfing a 100ft wave! Second you’ll find the most amazing fish and seafood that is freshly caught every day. And third, the people! Nazarenos are quite proud of their rich culture and you will frequently see the older ladies in their overlapping skirt and embroidered aprons… even in the cold winter! Though it is not filled with monuments, it is quite lovely to explore and we are showing you the top 10 things to see if you decide to pop over to Nazare on your holiday!
1. Forno da Orca Cave
A beautiful creation of nature right on the beach! Take a stroll along the promontory by Norte Beach leading you to this amazing natural cave! After years of being pounded by the waves, this cave was transformed into a magnificent structure best viewed when the tide is low. If you do happen to visit during high tide, be prepared to see the sheer force of the waves dancing inside the cave!
2. Try dried fish on the beach!
If there is one local delicacy you HAVE to try while strolling along the beachfront, it’s the dried fish! If you pop to the beach early and see the fishermen return to shore in their colorful wooden boats, you may get to see the age old technique of salting and drying fish on wire racks! Sold all across the promenade, this is a local delicacy you may want to give a shot! Though it doesn’t look very appetizing, it is surprisingly yummy!
3. Get to know the authentic Nazare
If Nazare offers you one thing, it is an interesting mix of old and new. Wandering around the town and away from the beach, you’ll see a bit of everything from cute souvenir shops to the traditional market. You may also want to check out the fisherman’s district! On Saturday mornings, you’ll get to see Arte Xavega, or the traditional artisinal fishing! One of the oldest types of fishing, it involves dragging nets laden with fish up the shores.
4. Have lunch at Maria do Mar
Having worked in Nazare for a few years, I ate pretty much every day at Maria do Mar! The fresh grilled fish is an amazing dish in its simplicity, but the fish stew is to die for! Desserts are varied between fruit and home made cake, but I do advise to ask if they have their hazelnut mousse… the best dessert I have ever had! Dinner often includes live performances!
5. Travel up to Sitio on the Funicular!
Hop on board these cable cars for a breathtaking view of the beach, the sea and the town! This trip will take you up to the famous Sitio, approximately 110 meters above the sea. Inaugurated in 1889 and used as a means of transport for the locals, they have since been remodeled and offer you a comfortable and affordable ride.
6. Explore Sitio
Upon arriving in Sitio, you’ll find a welcoming plaza filled with locals dressed in their traditional garb selling everything from dried fish to trinkets, souvenirs and toys. You won’t want to miss the breathtaking sites of Nazare from high above! Points of interest here include the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazare, with its black wooden statue of the virgin Mary, said to have been carved by Saint Joseph. You’ll also want to have a look at the Chapel of Remembrance, The Chaby Pinheiro Theater.
7. Get to know Sao Miguel de Arcanjo Fort and Lighthouse
Built in the 16th century to protect the population from pirates, it is now a well known location that has been open to the public since 2015! It’s one of the best lookout points where you can view Nazare, Nazare Beach and also Praia do Norte! You’ll also find a small surf museum where you can check out a variety of board donated by national and international surfers!
8. Celebrate with the locals
If there is one thing Nazarenos can do is throw an incredible shindig! Carnaval is one of the biggest celebrations and likely the most traditional. You’ll find that right after the New Year, the locals are already planning the celebrations that start at the beginning of February till March. This includes the start of the festivities with traditional picnic and bonfire in the pine forests. You’ll also see weeks of amazing costume parties and of course the famous parade. The end of Carnaval even includes a funeral procession on the last day! If you’re coming out at the end of the summer, you won’t want to miss out on the celebrations of our Lady of Nazareth (September 8th). Three days of religious processions, bullfights and parties in the evening with traditional folk dancing!
9. Go surfing!
Known for it’s fishing traditions, Nazare is also one of the top locations for surfing! Praia do Norte is one of the best spots, having welcomed many international pro surfers. With the incredible Big Wave season in the winter, with waves reaching up to 100 feet! If you’re an experienced surfer, this is a must see beach! There are numerous surf schools in the area that can point you out in the right direction and even help novices with a first experience!
10. Learn all about Nazare at Dr. Joaquim Manso Museum
If there is a go to place to learn all about Nazare’s history and traditions, it’s the Dr Joaquim Manso Museum! You’ll get to know all about fishing and maritime activities. There is also a part of the museum dedicated to the quaint traditional costumes and the origins of each one.