2 hours! If you live in Porto or Lisbon you don’t need more than 2 hours to reach the Queen of the Silver Coast, Figueira da Foz!
FIGUEIRA DA FOZ
The city is at the mouth of the Mondego River and belongs to the district of Coimbra. It is curious to think that the name of the city – Figueira da FOZ – is related to the fact that the river FOZ is located here.
In Figueira da Foz one can find one of the most beautiful, famous and sought after beaches in Portugal. Usually called Queen of the Silver Coast, the city of Figueira is very visited by beach lovers. Here we find a gigantic and magnificent beach. Perfect not only for vacationers but also for water sports lovers. Many also designate the beach of Figueira as the queen of the Portuguese beaches.
VIRTUAL TOUR TO FIGUEIRA DA FOZ
The search for Figueira da Foz is not a recent phenomenon. In fact, at the end of the 19th century, the beautiful beach of Claridade was already a place of choice among Portuguese aristocrats. There they sought and found the sun and tranquility.
Those who travel around Portugal and want to know the Portuguese coast and in particular the Silver Coast, can’t miss this beautiful city. The Silver Coast includes the coastal region between Barrinha de Esmoriz (district of Aveiro) and Torres Vedras (district of Lisbon). Figueira da Foz has a population of 28,000, although more than 63,000 people live in the municipality.
WHAT TO VISIT IN FIGUEIRA DA FOZ?
BEACH OF CLARITY (PRAIA DA CLARIDADE)
The great attraction of Figueira! A vast beach, with fine and clear sand. The width of its sand is impressive, almost one kilometer. Famous also for its cold water (rarely above 17 degrees) and its mild temperatures (even in summer). The wind is an assiduous presence. For this reason, the traditional windbreaks are, on the beach of clarity, replaced by tents and small “houses”. Despite these inconveniences, you should not miss this beautiful Portuguese beach.
Due to its natural characteristics, the beach hosts several sports events such as international beach soccer tournaments and also motorcycling events on the sand. If you are a beach lover, be sure to read our article about the city of Lisbon where you will find the best beaches near the capital.
SANTA CATARINA FORT
It was built in 1585 at the summit of a small elevation when Philip II of Spain was king of Portugal. The fort faces the Mondego River because it defended the entrance to the city by the river. It formed together with the Fort of Palheiros and the fortress of Buarcos, a defensive triangle against pirate attacks. In 1602, the fort was attacked by English privateers who damaged it immensely. Its restoration would take place 40 years later maintaining its triangular shape (which is rare in defensive constructions). At the beginning of the 20th century, the fortress also integrated a lighthouse inside to guide the ships to the mouth of the Mondego River (it was deactivated in 1991).
HISTORY OF SANTA CATARINA FORT
Any child in Figueira da Foz can tell the most famous story of this fort, a story from the beginning of the 19th century. In 1808, the fort was occupied by Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops in the same invasion that expelled the Portuguese royal family to Brazil. Sergeant Bernardo António Zagalo, did not resign himself to the French invasion and gathered arms and troops. About 3000 volunteers surrounded the fort taken by the French. They prevented any food (water, food, weapons) from entering, giving rise to the surrender of the French on June 27, 1808. It is one of the symbols of the city of Figueira da Foz!
CABO MONDEGO LIGHT HOUSE
The Cape Mondego lighthouse is part of a network of 30 lighthouses spread throughout the continental territory. Its function is to assist seamen.
It was in 1858 that the first lighthouse in the region was built (today known as the old lighthouse). This old lighthouse is further south than the present one and was one of the first to operate in Portugal with a white light elevated to about 80 meters high (its light reached more than 20 nautical miles on a clear day).
In 1922 a new lighthouse was built with a better location and it eventually replaced the “old lighthouse” which “retired” after 65 years of service. Only a few ruins remain of it that still deserve a visit.
NATIONAL FOREST LAGOONS
It is in the national forest that we find the lagoons of the sail (Lagoa da Vela), the willow (Lagoa da Salgueira) and the fathoms (Lagoa das braças). Sites of great beauty and lush vegetation! If you like to watch water birds then you will love this place! Winter ducks are a great attraction!
The water level of the Lagoons varies widely and is very dependent on the rainfall that falls (or does not fall) each year. When it rains abundantly we can see birds such as herons and the beaked-billed blowpipes. The most beautiful lagoon is Vela. There you can see several birds throughout the year. In the winter the duck is present. In autumn it is the turn of the rocks blowtorch and the sterna chirp. In summer the Red Heron and the Royal Heron arrive.
The lagoons are also much sought after by those who like to sunbathe and are a good alternative to the beaches on the silver coast.
CASINO AT FIGUEIRA
Another attraction and tourist attraction is its casino located in the new neighbourhood. It is the oldest in the Iberian Peninsula, founded in 1900 under the name of ocean casino. It is the great nightlife centre of Figueira da Foz. The streets surrounding the casino are widely used for walking. For this reason, many artists exhibit their works in the surrounding streets.
SOTTO MAYOR PALACE
The Sotto Mayor Palace was built by Joaquim Sotto Mayor at the beginning of the 20th century. Joaquim was an important and successful entrepreneur. After returning from Brazil, he fell in love with the beauties of Figueira and decided to stay there. He turned to a French architect (hence the French style of this building). The Palace has a conspicuous façade and is inside a magnificent romantic garden. Its construction lasted 20 (!) years and, if its exterior is beautiful, its interior is beautiful.
And don’t forget that the beauty of this attraction doesn’t end in the building. After the visit, take a walk through the surrounding gardens and look carefully at the beautiful tower located at one end of this park.
The palace has been owned by the fig tree casino since 1967. They can only be visited between June 1st and August 31st. between 10am and 6pm. The guided tours last approximately 45 minutes.
MUNICIPAL MUSEUM DR. SANTOS ROCHA
The António dos Santos Rocha Museum opened its doors in 1894. Throughout the 20th century, it passed through several physical spaces. It went through a phase of great splendour and national and international recognition until 1910. Its publications were recognised and regarded as scientific references. This made this institution a scientific reference during the first decade of the 20th century.
The museum has a documentation centre with works related to Art History, Museology, Archaeology, religious sculpture, numismatics, African and Asian ethnography, Indo-Portuguese furniture and a set of weapons that were used in the great world wars. It also has an important bibliography related to the local history of Figueira da Foz. Those who visit the museum can use its reading room.
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR FIGUEIRA DA FOZ?
SERRA DA BOA VIAGEM
It is the largest stretch of forest near Figueira da Foz. It has 400 hectares and is a place with great environmental value. It is a place frequented by the residents of the fig tree who look here and find a place to relax. There are several accesses to the forest park (roads with asphalt several accesses with dirt). Here is the best solution:
The mountain range has a lot of footpaths that can also be traversed by bicycle. If you choose one of these options you will have access to beautiful ” viewpoints ” and to a natural and archaeological heritage that is worth being known.
Inside the forest park, you will find the forest rangers’ houses, the lighthouse of Cabo Mondego, a building called Shelter of the Mountain and the chapel of Santo Amaro. Figueira da Foz has a strong fishing tradition and the history of its people cannot be separated from the sea. For this reason, and if you really want to feel the city, we suggest a visit to Buarcos and the Lavos Coast.
Buarcos is a parish belonging to Figueira da Foz and has about 19,000 inhabitants. It is integrated in the urban density of Figueira, but continues to maintain its particular characteristics and traditions. These particularities are visible in the architecture of the buildings where the fishing tradition is still very evident.
DISTANCE BETWEEN FIGUEIRA DA FOZ AND BUARCOS
It was the seat of the municipality from 1342 and for a long time was more important than Figueira da Foz itself. Even today its population is still strongly connected to the sea despite the growing number of people who live off tourism in Figueira da Foz. Buarcos is today only an area of Figueira but it is surely the most interesting and charismatic parish in the city.
WHAT TO SEE IN BUARCOS?
Built between the 16th and 17th century, this fortress had as its mission the defence of the village from pirate attacks.
MUNICIPAL MARKET OF BUARCOS
Visiting national markets is, for me, a real sociological experience! The municipal market of Buarcos is highly praised by those who seek it. There you can buy fresh fish, seafood, vegetables and fruit of high quality. The sympathy of those who work there is another attraction of this place.
The space is nice, beautiful and very clean! If you search google, you will find an almost endless list of satisfied customers with the Buarcos market. It’s a place you can’t miss.
REDONDOS AND BUARCOS PILLORY
The famous pillories were used during the Middle Ages as a place for exhibition and punishment of (alleged) criminals. Buarcos has 2 pillories as one of them belonged to the former parish of Redondos.
It was built to pay a heartfelt tribute to the fishermen of the region and also to make known the life and harshness of these brave men. The clothes of the fishermen and the boats used for cod fishing in the North Sea are two of the attractions of this magnificent museum. Visiting this place is much more than a trip to the museum. It is a moment of sociological reflection.
In the highest area of Buarcos, we find the round tower. It was built on the site of the castle that defended the village. Today we can only see the ruins of the tower that was rebuilt after the demolition of the castle (1854).
IGREJA DA MISERICÓRDIA (CHURCH OF MERCY)
The beautiful church of mercy was built by Don Manuel I in the 16th century. Very few components have survived from the initial construction, such as the side door of the church and, inside, the pulpit, sacristy, altars and tiles.
CHAPEL OF NOSSA SENHORA DA CONCEIÇÃO
The chapel of our lady of Conceição is near the defensive structure of Buarcos and was erected in the 16th century. It has a simple exterior and a very interesting interior. The gilded carving of the altar, the twisted columns, the blue and white tiles and a panel with an image of our lady of Conceição (dated 1714), are the most attractive elements. It is a chapel with the classification of property of public interest.
SUGGESTION FOR A WALKING ROUTE
Walking is always the best way to get to know the city centre. For hiking lovers here is a suggestion that will allow you to get to know the centre of Figueira, its casino, the fort of Santa Catarina, the marginal and magnificent Claridade beach.
COSTA DE LAVOS (LAVOS COST)
Costa de Lavos is a fishing village. There you can have contact with the Arte Xávega (a type of artisanal fishing). Stop visiting the fisherman’s street where you can visit two museum-houses. A physical testimony about the history and the way of life of the fishermen of this locality in the past. Absolutely not to be missed!
DISTANCE BETWEEN COSTA DE LAVOS AND FIGUEIRA FOZ
After the visit, go to the beach and see with your own eyes the art of good fishing with Xávega Art. This technique was very used in Portugal in the regions between Espinho and Setúbal.
Description of the Xávega Art technique: a net is extended in the sea whose mission is to gather the fish. Then, the fishermen go to the beach in order to attach the net to a tractor that pulls the net (and the fish caught) to land. This type of fishing is carried out between the months of June and August of each year. If you want to see for yourself, ask for information on the days and times at the fisherman’s house which is on the number 8 street.
SALT MUSEUM CENTRE
It opened its doors in 2007. The aim has always been to witness the relationship of man with the salt and salt pans of the region. The museum is formed by a salt warehouse, a pedestrian route through the saltworks, a river route through the Mondego and a bird observatory. It is a real centre of information and education about a traditional activity that continues to be an element of development in the region. If you visit this site you will have the opportunity to reflect on 5 major topics: the nature of salt, its place in nature, technology and salt, its production, saltworks and its conservation.
Finally, be sure to take the 4 kilometre footpath around the salt flats. There you will be able to observe the animals with particular emphasis on the flamingos (to observe this bird is only possible in the morning). You will also have the opportunity to admire the river prato and the “nurseries” (warehouses and water tanks).
WHEN SHOULD I VISIT FIGUEIRA DA FOZ?
A visit to Figueira is always enjoyable and feasible. However, to be able to experience all its attractions (visit the nucleus of Sal, watch the Xávega art or visit the Sotto Mayor palace), the period between June and August is undoubtedly the best option.
WHERE CAN I GET THE BEST VIEWS FROM?
CABO MONDEGO VIEWPOINT
It is one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the city. From here you can appreciate the immensity of the Atlantic Ocean and have another perspective of Figueira da Foz.
Another viewpoint that you should not miss. Another opportunity to admire the extension of the Atlantic Ocean and retain a view over the city of Figueira.
HOTELS IN FIGUEIRA DA FOZ
EUROSTARTS OASIS PLAZA
It is a 4-star hotel and has a Google rating of 4.5 (maximum 5). The most positive comments insist on the spectacular view and the quality of the rooms.
HOTEL SWEET ATLANTIC SPA
4 star hotel. It has over 450 comments on Google and an overall rating of 4.3 (a maximum of 5). The compliments refer to a magnificent view over the beach, the cleanliness of the rooms and the friendliness of the staff.
RESIDENTIAL AREIA DA FOZ
It has over 55 comments on Google and an overall rating of 3.6 (out of 5). Comments range from very good to very bad. At some times of the year room prices start at 13 euros. In my opinion, it gets harder to make a negative criticism when we pay such low prices… Who wants luxuries and amenities has to pay more money, that’s life…
GOING OUT AT NIGHT – FIGUEIRA DA FOZ
CASINO DA FIGUEIRA
Fun space for those who like to play for money. You can also go to the casino just to “have a drink” and unwind.
GASTRONOMY AT FIGUEIRA DA FOZ
Because of its proximity to the sea, fish is naturally the best option.
|SOPA DE PEIXE DA FIGUEIRA|
|CAMARÃO DA COSTA DA FIGUEIRA|
|PETINGA DE FRIGIDEIRA|
|ARROZ DE SARDINHA|
|RAIA DE PITAU|
RESTAURANTS AT FIGUEIRA DA FOZ
RESTAURANT VOLTA E MEIA
700 customer comments and a rating of 4.5 (out of 5) – restaurant of 2 figures. A restaurant with a familiar decoration that becomes a cozy environment. The staff is very friendly and the food very good. To avoid waiting it’s good to go quite early. The price/quality ratio is adequate.
Over 2400 comments on Google and a rating of 4.4 (out of 5). Frenchinha is your big specialty. Good price-quality ratio.
EVENTS – FIGUEIRA FOZ
For all information about all upcoming events in the city of Figueira da Foz, please click HERE
PORTUGUESE PERSONALITIES BORN HERE
MANUEL FERNANDO TOMÁS
He is one of the most illustrious “children” on earth. He has a statue and was one of the ideologists of the Portuguese liberal movement, which began in the city of Oporto in 1820 and was established in 1834 with the fall of the absolutism of St Michael and the taking of the throne by Dona Maria da Glória.
HISTORY OF FIGUEIRA DA FOZ
The history of Figueira da Foz is very old. It was part of the Suevo kingdom, occupied by the Moors and liberated from them by Fernando Magno in 1064. Together with Coimbra, it integrated the kingdom of León and consequently the county of Portocalense. The population of Figueira is engaged in various economic activities with special emphasis on tourism (the main engine of the local economy). Fishing, glass industry, shipbuilding and agriculture are other relevant economic sectors of Figueira da Foz.