Beyond the Waves

Table of Contents
View of Nazare Beach in the evening, from Sitio the area above Nazare

Discovering the Charm of Nazaré, Portugal

Join us as we delve into the heart of Nazaré, where the allure of the ocean and the warmth of its people create an uncommon, unforgettable and fascinating tapestry of coastal living.

Adventures for One: A Solo Traveler’s Guide to Nazaré

Nestled along Portugal’s rugged Atlantic coast lies the picturesque fishing village of Nazaré, where tradition meets the mighty forces of nature. Named after the biblical city of Nazareth, this charming seaside haven embodies the essence of Portuguese coastal life.

While steeped in history and tradition, Nazaré is known for its awe-inspiring surfing scene, drawing adventurers and thrill-seekers from afar and witnessing the legendary giant waves crashing on its shores.

man siting on a bench in Nazare Beach, bright blue sky, man dressed in winter clothes
Taking a break

The Seven Skirts

I found myself captivated by the enchanting tales surrounding the iconic seven skirts worn by the fishermen’s wives. Each skirt seemed to whisper its own story, a colorful tapestry woven with tradition, folklore, and the spirit of the sea.

Legend has it that these underskirts, adorned with intricate patterns and vibrant hues, serve as a homage to the rainbow arcing over the ocean’s horizon.

two women dressed in typical fishermen's wives dresses from Nazare

Some say these skirts, cascading in layers, are not merely a fashion statement but also to keep the women warm.

Steeped in tradition, each skirt is said to represent a day of the week, a testament to the rhythm and style of life in this seaside village.

The Best sales woman in Sitio, upper Nazare, wearing her seven skirts in front of her stand
Sales Lady in Nazare

In ages past, the women of Nazaré wore long, dark skirts, their somber attire reflecting the hardships endured by those bound to the sea. Yet, as time unfurled its tapestry, the skirts transformed into shorter, more vibrant garments adorned with lively embroidery.

How to get to Nazaré from Lisbon

Car Rental

Public Transportation from Lisbon

There are no direct trains to Nazaré.

When is the best time to visit Nazaré?

Woman wearing winter scarf, showing part of face and showing other on the beach, Nazare in the winter
Nazare is beautiful during all seasons!

Summer in Nazaré

July and August are the peak months for Nazaré, attracting crowds of visitors seeking vibrant energy and warm weather. During this high season, the town buzzes with activity as people flock to enjoy the sun-drenched beaches and lively atmosphere. As Nazaré is a popular summer vacation destination, booking accommodations and restaurants in advance is advisable to secure your stay and dining options amidst the bustling scene.

Autumn

Do you want to see the big waves? Visit in October through November and, you may still see them through March.

Winter

However, if you prefer cooler temperatures and a quieter ambiance, the winter months from February to April offer a serene escape. While swimming is a bit chilly during this time, the crisp air and fewer crowds provide an opportunity to explore the beauty of Nazaré at a more leisurely pace. 

I enjoy visiting the coast in winter because I appreciate the cooler outdoor temperatures. February to April are delightful times to visit. However, swimming may not be feasible due to the cold weather and red flags on the beach.

Inside the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazare, gold colored alter, Baroque style
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazare, Sitio, Nazare

Is Nazaré a safe place for an over 50 solo traveler?

Yes!

Nazaré is an incredibly safe destination for solo travelers over 50. I’ve visited multiple times and strolled around at various hours without concerns. The locals are friendly and always willing to help if you lose your way. You’ll feel completely at ease exploring this charming town on your own.

Is it safe to swim in Nazaré?

Absolutely! Just be sure to look for the flags on the beach indicating any safety warnings. This is one instance where it’s crucial not to take any risks with your safety.

If the waters are calm, dive right in and enjoy yourself!

How long should I stay in Nazaré?

Consider staying for a minimum of two nights.

You will want to explore the town’s hidden gems and beaches nearby and add a half-day excursion to the delightful town of Alcobaça.

Where to stay in Nazaré

Rent a fabulous apartment

Nautico apartment is rented by a Super Host on Airbnb. It is located just steps from the beach on picturesque narrow streets and welcomes pets! Enjoy the cleanliness and charm of this quiet retreat, ensuring a peaceful night’s sleep during your visit. I loved it!

Hotels in the Town Centre

Hotel Magic

I had a fantastic experience at this hotel! The staff were incredibly friendly and always went the extra mile to help me. My room had a lovely view of the rooftops and was very peaceful! Additionally, they offer parking facilities, but it’s essential to notify them in advance as parking can be challenging to find in Nazaré. Please note that pets are not allowed.

More hotels in Nazaré

I did not stay in any of these hotels, but some of my pickiest acquaintances and friends highly recommended them! 🙂

Inside the Tosca restaurant in Nazare, showing a large Portuguese painting of a fishhing boat and people's faces above the dining tables
Tosca Restaurant in Nazare

Where to eat in Nazaré

  1. Tosca Gastrobar. I loved this family-run restaurant. Reserve your table because it’s quite popular!

Tosca Gastrobar on Facebook

  1. The Restaurant Alelulia faces the beach, where I went for a gorgeous sunset and tapas!
  2. Restaurante a Tasquinha serves lots of fresh fish and it’s a busy place. Reserve early, and it may be a good idea to plan an earlyish dinner so you can eat peacefully!

Phone +351 262 551 945 R. Adrião Batalha 54, 2450-162 Nazaré

They do not have a web site

  1. Restaurante O Veleiro. Arrive early! No reservations.Address: R. António Carvalho Laranjo 30, 2450-169 NazaréI did not go to the Veleiro, but it was highly recommended
  2. O Tonico is in Vale de Paredes, about 15 minutes from Nazaré. This is a fantastic restaurant and is considered more high-end. I have been there twice and plan to go there more times! Yes, it’s that good.

Reservations: +351 965 542 533 O Tonico on Facebook

Always check the Michelin guide for restaurant options.

Things to do in Nazaré

Walk, swim, surf, bike, and have fun!

  • Let’s divide up Nazaré! The town center is called the Praia, and that is where the Praia da Nazaré is, along with many hotels, cafes, and restaurants.
  • Sítio is just up the hill. You can walk up the short but steep hill or take the funicular if it is working.
  • Perdeneira is more of a residential area and doesn’t have a busy cafe life – it’s more relaxed.

Walk around the fishing village, wander through the charming narrow streets, perhaps stopping by a café to enjoy a coffee or treat yourself to an ice cream. Go to the town market. Browse the shops before strolling along the beachfront for a relaxing end to your excursion. How about a few hours at the spa? A quick visit to the museum? Maybe the Atlantic Ocean is calm, and you feel like a boat ride! There are many things to do.

Spa: Thalasso Nazaré

The Outdoor dry fish museum is along the Praia de Nazaré.

Drying Octopus on stands, outdoors on the beach, Nazare Beacy
Drying octopus in Nazare

Sítio

Consider scheduling a leisurely walk up the steep hill in the late afternoon to catch the sunset from a stunning vantage point. Take your time going up to fully appreciate the breathtaking views, and don’t forget to make a pit stop at the swing along the way! It offers a welcome respite from the steep incline, plus there’s nothing quite like swinging with such a magnificent view.

Photo of the author on a swing on the hill going from Nazare beach to Sitio, view of the beach and parts of Nazare
Marguerite enjoing the breeze, Nazare

Visit the gorgeous church, Igreja Nossa Senhora da Nazare.

Walk around the main square and enjoy all the different views.

Walk to the Forte São Miguel Arcanjo and the lighthouse (and museum) right on the tip of the hill. This is one of the spots to see the big waves.

image of surfer stature, body of a human and head of a dear, you can only see the upper body of the figure holding a surf board
Surfer statue

On the way to the Forte, Stop by the surfer statue! It has the famous head of a deer on a human body and is holding a surfboard. You can’t miss it!

Praia do Norte is on the other side of Sitio, which is known for surfing competitions.

Look at this cool video about surfing in this fishing village.

Surf and more activities

Check out Viator to see if there are more exciting things to do in and around town; something new is constantly popping up!

Bridge with street art by Pantonio, in shapes of waves, view of river and houses by river
Art on Bridge by artist: Pantonio

Visit Alcobaça, Portugal!

Alcobaça is about fifteen to twenty minutes (by car) from Nazaré.

Directions: Nazaré to Alcobaça

photo on left shows in side the Alobaca monastery and photo on right shows author  wearing hat and sunglasses in Alcobaca monastery
Alcobaça

Alcobaça Monastery

Behold the legendary tale of the Alcobaça monastery, where romance and royal drama intertwine like a plot straight out of a medieval soap opera!

Future King D. Pedro and the captivating Inês de Castro are caught in a love triangle fit for the history books. So, D. Pedro’s all like, “Hey, I’ll marry D. Constança Manuel, but Inês, you’re my real love.” But there is a plot twist! D. Constança dies during childbirth, leaving D. Pedro and Inês to pick up where they left off, sneaking off to Coimbra and having four kids.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. King Afonso IV, D. Pedro’s dad, decides he’s had enough of this scandalous affair and orders Inês’s demise faster than you can say “royal scandal.” But wait, there’s more! In a move that’s equal parts heartwarming and eyebrow-raising, D. Pedro has a change of heart and declares Inês the Queen of Portugal posthumously. Talk about a love that defies even death!

Fast-forward to today, and you can pay your respects to the star-crossed lovers as they rest near each other in the halls of the Alcobaça monastery.

Who needs Netflix when history serves up drama like this?

The Alcobaça monastery is a Unesco Heritage site! You can take a proper paid tour or a short free visit.

Things to do in Alcobaça

Ceramic figurine of female painted in white with a red flower in the back ground and the figurine has a toy winding mechanism on the back
Ceramic figurine

Wander around the old town, visit the Garden of Love, and check out the ceramic exhibit about D. Pedro and Inês de Castro’s love story by the Alcoa River.

Try the Convent Sweets by the Pastelaria Alcoa

In Portugal, convent sweets are not just delectable treats; they’re an integral part of the nation’s cultural and culinary heritage.

Dating back to the 15th century, nuns have lovingly crafted these delicacies within convent walls. Portugal’s reputation as one of the largest producers of eggs in Europe meant that convents and monasteries were often overflowing with this ingredient. Generous donors would contribute chickens to these institutions, resulting in surplus egg yolks after the whites were used for other purposes, such as starch and glue.

Resourceful nuns ingeniously transformed these surplus yolks into an array of mouthwatering sweets, using sugar and almonds to create delightful variations.

These sweets not only satisfied cravings but also served a practical purpose, as proceeds from their sale helped fund the upkeep of the convents. Prepare to be amazed by the sheer diversity and exquisite flavors that emerge from this humble trio of ingredients in Portugal’s beloved convent sweets.

Pastelaria Alcoa

inside the Antonio Padeiro Restaurant in Alcobaca, set table in the lower part , walls full of paintings
The Antonio Padeiro restaurant in Alcobaça

Where to eat in Alcobaça

  1. Antonio Padeiro: Facebook
    R. Dom Maur Cocheril 27, 2460-032 Alcobaça, Portugal
  2. Pratu:Facebook
    R. Dom Maur Cocheril 6, 2460-032 Alcobaça, Portugal
Surf statue,  surfer holding surfboard, in Ericeira, on hill with people around
Ericeira, the other surfing paradise

Don’t skip Ericeira! It’s a gorgeous fishing village, great for surfing and lovely restaurants.

Marguerite Beaty, Blogger, Photographer & Artist

Welcome to the sunny side of life for women over 50! We aim to create a space where women feel empowered, supported, and inspired to lead their best lives after 50. Join our Instagram!

Share this article with your friends!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our newsletter and get my FREE e-book

Start shifting your routine with creativity and curiosity!

ebook 7steps from 50 and Rising