86 minutes! If you live in Lisbon, this is the time you need to arrive and visit Nazaré!
Table of Contents
Nazaré is a typical fishing village and the seat of a small municipality. It has small white houses scattered around the hillsides of the village. Today it is one of Portugal’s main tourist destinations and has managed to maintain many of its old traditions. But it is no longer possible to talk about Nazaré without mentioning the world record for the largest wave ever surfed (Garret McNamara at North Beach in November 2011). The town of Nazaré now hosts major international surf competitions and attracts thousands of curious people.
Be aware that public transportation is poor and that the best option is to rent a car. If you need to rent a car, please use this link! YOU WON’T PAY A CENT MORE. THANK YOU!
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But the village has much to see and to tell. It harmoniously combines its past (its fishing traditions), with its present and its future. Whoever walks through Nazaré will find stores allusive to the typical clothes of the village. Fishermen wearing checkered shirts and Black pants and the famous women with the 7 skirts mending fishing nets. But you will also find numerous references to its famous giant waves in a clear appeal to tourism that today plays a vital role in the local economy.
VIRTUAL TOUR TO THE FAMOUS WAVES OF NAZARÉ
WHAT TO VISIT IN NAZARÉ?
There are many attractions in the village. We chose 20 that we believe are the most interesting. But surely the beautiful things of Nazaré are not exhausted in our suggestions. So that you can check distances and then choose your itineraries, we suggest you analyze the map below. We hope it will be useful. Have fun!
Many people wonder why giant waves are formed in Nazaré. The explanation is geological! Close to the coast is an underwater canyon (i.e. a gigantic hole in the bottom of the ocean). In fact, we are talking about 227 kilometers of an extension that reaches up to 5 kilometers deep!
It is believed that this hole is due to a fracture of the earth’s crust. Over time, this geological accident has sunk countless vessels that have ventured into these parts. The waters of North Beach are not for playing. Only professionals (boats or surfers) should enter this
simultaneously beautiful and treacherous sea.
2.SITE OF NAZARÉ (Sítio da Nazaré)
The site is a small but most visited area of the village. Besides gathering those who will see the giant waves, it is also very sought after by pilgrims. There we find the church of Our Lady of Nazaré, the hospital, the museum Dr. Joaquim Manso, the fort of São Miguel de Arcanjo and the Lighthouse. Don’t forget to visit the place of Nazaré, a magnificent viewpoint from where you can admire the beach and, in case the waves are big, you can see the incredible waves of the Nazaré cannon. If you want to see NOW THE SIZE OF THE WAVES CLICK HERE!
3.NAZARÉ SITE WALL
The wall of the Nazareth site was built between 1736 and 1750. Whoever visits Nazareth will surely wonder why a wall was built in the middle of the cluster of houses that we find there today. In fact, the wall was erected with the purpose of protecting the houses from sandstorms. It was a failed attempt! By 1750, the site village of Nazaré had practically disappeared under the sands brought there by the northerly winds. Often, the residents had to leave through the roofs of their houses because their doors were blocked by the mass of sand. A pine forest was later planted north of the site to combat the sandy weather.
4.MUSEUM DR. JOAQUIM MANSO
In this museum we can find collections that document the history and culture of this region. From the prehistory to our days through the analysis of 3 elements: 1. the history and the legend, 2. the sea and the boats, 3. the traditional clothing.
5.ERMIDA DA NAZARÉ (HERITAGE OF NAZARE)
The Legend of Our Lady of Nazaré is a story (probably) invented by Friar Bernardo de Brito who had it told through a large stone (in Portuguese and Latin) that can be found in the chapel: the story of Dom Fuas Roupinho. The story (or legend) goes that Dom Fuas Roupinho was a brave knight who was hunting on a foggy day and came across a great doe. The doe was running as fast as his horse. In pursuit, Dom Fuas arrived at a place (where the hermitage stands) where the horse got his paws stuck. The story goes that the doe was the devil who wanted to take Dom Fuas to Hell. When Dom Fuas realized that he was about to fall off a cliff, he said: “Holy Mary!” The saint made the horse stop, thus saving the life of Dom Fuas, who almost plunged into the depths of the Atlantic, which were also the depths of Hell.
6. MIRADOURO DO SUBERCO
At 110 meters high, we find a magnificent viewpoint with a breathtaking view of the ocean. It is a privileged place for fishing lovers, a place where some challenge the sea that sometimes appears furious.
7.FORTE DE SÃO MIGUEL ARCANJO
It is located on a cliff next to the North beach. This fort was built to protect the village from North African pirates (from Algeria and Morocco). The fort was built by Dom Sebastião in 1577, and was rebuilt by order of João IV, corresponding to the beginning of the expansion of fishing in the village. The fort is located on an unmissable viewpoint with a panoramic view of the village, Salgado Beach (to the east) and North Beach (to the west of the fort).
8. THE PEDERNEIRA
On the opposite side of Nazaré we find Pederneira (the original name of the current town of Nazaré). Pederneira was one of the most important shipyards during the XII and XIV centuries.
But the flint is also a 140 million year old geological monument. It is a tree that petrified and was found by ancient people who gave it a magical meaning. It is even said that it was the stone that gave the town its name, since the ancient name of Nazaré was precisely flint. The monument is located in front of the old Town Hall.
9. NOSSA SENHORA DA NAZARÉ SANCTUARY
It is located in the main square in Sítio da Nazaré. Dedicated to the village’s patron saint, the saint is said to have appeared on September 8th. Every year a big party is organized, dedicated to the village’s patron saint. The sanctuary was erected in the 14th century by order of King Fernando during his pilgrimage to the Lady of Nazaré. Later it underwent several works that altered and enlarged the original church. The interior of the sanctuary is formed only by a nave in the shape of a cross. The ceiling is made of wood. The altar has a golden carving. Since 1978 the tiles and the church itself have been considered heritage of public interest by the Portuguese state.
10. SANTO ANTÓNIO CHAPEL
Situated on the Avenida da República, the chapel faces the sea. It was built with the financing of the fishermen who donated 1% of their income for this religious monument. Covered in tiles, its blue facade includes a panel with the image of Saint Anthony. The interior of the chapel consists of a single nave and the main chapel also has the image of the aforementioned saint.
11. ORCA OVEN NATURAL GROTTO
It is located next to the North beach and bears witness to the town’s geological history. The cave is inside a limestone structure and reflects the erosion caused by the passage of time. During low tide, the cave is away from the water and can be visited easily. However, when the tide is high and with the strong sea that characterizes this area, the waves enter the cave.
12- FISHERMAN’S MUSEUM HOUSE (CASA MUSEU DO PESCADOR)
It opened its doors in 1999. It can be visited in the center of the village. It was created by a former fisherman with whom I was lucky enough to chat a bit in August 2020 (image below).
The interior and exterior of the fisherman’s house replicate a fisherman’s house from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s of the last century. All the furniture, appliances, and screens are allusive to that historical period.
13 NAZARÉ’S ELEVATOR
Along with the giant waves, this is the great point of interest of the village. The funicular connects the low zone to the site (the highest part of the village). The trip takes about 15 minutes and the route is little more than symbolic.
14. MAIN CHURCH OF PEDERNEIRA
Also called Nossa Senhora das Areias Church. It is a sixteenth century construction formed by a nave and a vaulted roof. If you visit this church you will find in its chapel a gilded carved altar also from the 16th century. The paintings allude to St. Anthony. The interior of the church is covered with tiles of various colors.
15. CHABY PINHEIRO THEATER
The Chaby Pinheiro theater is near the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré. It was built in the beginning of the 20th century. Its horseshoe-shaped configuration is famous for providing the theater with magnificent acoustics. It has been of great importance in supporting amateur theater in Nazaré. It was here that the town’s amateur group performed many of its plays.
16.MONTE DE SÃO BARTOLOMEU
The Mount of Saint Bartolomeu appears in the middle of the vast Leiria pine forest! It is a kind of island of varied vegetation in the vastness of the pine trees that cover the region. Much used as a reference point by sailors. It can be seen from about 35 kilometers away. At the top of the hill (156 meters high), the view is amazing. To get there, you can use a huge staircase. There we also found a small chapel and the forest ranger’s house. Since 1979 it has held the title of “classified site”.
17.NOSSA SENHORA DOS AFLITOS CHAPEL
It is a small religious construction built in 1760 (by order of the monks of Alcobaça) in honor of Our Lady of the Afflicted. It was in this chapel that the monks received the tithes from the fishermen during the 18th century. The outside of the chapel is covered with white and blue tiles. The interior has blue, white and yellow tiles. On the sides of the chapel there are two panels.
18. NOSSA SENHORA DOS ANJOS CHAPEL
The chapel was erected in the 16th century. In the past the chapel had around it a small cemetery. Today, we can visit a simple religious construction that has been modified over time. It has a nave that was once lined with tiles. Today the chapel is used for the Senhor dos Passos procession. It holds the title of Monument of Public Interest.
19 A LADEIRA DA NAZARÉ
It was a stretch of sand that made the connection between the beach and the site of Nazaré. Recently the path was covered with cobblestones to make life easier for those who want to access the hospital and/or the sanctuary. It is a must for those who like viewpoints and beautiful landscapes! From there you can admire the infinite beauty of the sea, Nazaré, its beach and its houses. A spectacle!
20 FISHING PORT OF NAZARÉ
The Port of Nazaré came to mitigate some of the enormous risks run by the fishermen of the region. There are many stories of tragedy that the Nazarene people have to tell. The Port of Nazaré was an old desire of the fishermen and their families. A way to reduce the danger of those who risked their lives every day at sea. Until 1950, Nazaré was a land of emigrants. People who could not find sustenance either on land or sea (given its danger). There were many who left Nazaré in search of better living conditions. They left mostly for Peniche, Matosinhos and Canada. The port was thought of as an authentic harbor of refuge. A dream that only arrived in the 80’s of the last century. As the people say, better late than never…
EXCURSION TO NAZARÉ VILLAGE
FROM LISBON: EXCURSION TO FÁTIMA, ÓBIDOS, BATALHA AND NAZARÉ
An 8-hour tour! An excellent opportunity to visit the Sanctuary of Fátima, the magnificent Monastery of Batalha, the village of Óbidos and the charming town of Nazaré. A tour with a very attractive price-quality ratio!
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WANT TO FEEL THE SOUL OF NAZARÉ?
Visiting the Nazaré market is mandatory to be able to feel the soul of Nazaré and to buy vegetables, fruits and fresh fish that so well characterize the region. It is one of the most representative places of the region. In the municipal market you will hear the local cries sung by the “women of the 7 skirts” to attract the attention of the customers and the market’s curious onlookers.
To feel the soul of Nazaré you should also wander through its small streets. Go into a café and listen to the locals talk. Let the time go by and talk a little with the locals. Ask how it is to live there, show curiosity about the history and evolution of the place. Listen and talk.
SUGGESTION FOR A WALKING TOUR IN NAZARÉ
Walking always brings us a little closer to the soul of the places. Here is a suggestion for a walking trail. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
VIRTUAL TRIP TO NAZARÉ (4k aerial view)
THE BEACHES OF NAZARÉ
Beach with a large sandy area. Good for walking by the sea and good for swimming (if the sea is not too rough). Very popular with surfers.
It is the famous beach next to the Nazaré canyon. Famous for the formation of giant waves. It is a beach with a lot of wind, a very violent and dangerous sea. It is ideal for EXPERIENCED and PROFESSIONAL practitioners of bodyboard, surf, kitesurf and windsurf.
A magnificent beach very close to Nazaré. Far from services and practically deserted. At the back of the beach there is a pine forest perfect for a good walk.
It is an almost private beach. Access by the port of Nazaré. Large sandy beach without lifeguards and with a dangerous sea. A good alternative for those who don’t like crowds.
THE HISTORY AND TRADITIONS OF NAZARÉ
Until 1912 this town was called Pederneira and was changed by law to Nazaré. Pederneira is today one of the districts of the town of Nazaré. There we can find several old buildings such as the Town Hall, the pillory, the main church and the church of mercy. During the 20th century Nazaré stopped being a fishing village and became a village dedicated to tourism. This transformation was particularly accentuated since 2011 as a consequence of the giant waves made known by the American surfer Garret McNamara. Tourism is now an important source of employment for the people of the village.
THE TRADITIONAL 7 SKIRTS OF THE WOMEN OF NAZARÉ
It is a Nazarene tradition that the women of Nazaré wear the seven skirts. There is no explanation that gathers consensus among historians but the idea is accepted that it is related to the sea and to working the sea. When Nazaré was a fishing village, women used to wait for their husbands sitting on the sand on the beach. The skirts thus had the function of covering and protecting the whole body. The top skirts protected the head and shoulders. The bottom skirts covered the legs.
DRYING THE FISH IN NAZARÉ
The drying of fish is an old tradition (with many centuries of existence) that aimed at the conservation of the fish. It is an activity that can still be seen on the beach of Nazaré (on Avenida Manuel Remígio). An operation usually performed by women: Initially the fish guts are removed) and then the fish are washed and filled with coarse salt (in the old days sea water was used to salt the fish). The fish is then completely opened and left to dry for a period of 2 or 3 days. If you decide to take a closer look at this tradition then be sure to also take a close look at the famous Nazaré boats.
BOATS OF NAZARÉ
The boats of Nazaré are anchored in the sand and are the testimony of centuries of struggle at sea. Here the xávega art is still a technique used. This art consists of casting the fishing nets from the boats that are (relatively) close to shore. The nets are cast in the morning and, by nightfall, are pulled out onto the beach. In the old days the nets were pulled with the help of ox-carts and a multitude of men, women and children. Nowadays this task of collecting the nets is done with the help of tractors.
WHAT TO SEE NEAR NAZARÉ?
WHEN TO VISIT NAZARÉ?
There are several good seasons to visit Nazaré. If you want to enjoy the sun and the beach, then the summer months are the ideal option. If you want to admire the incredible giant waves, you are more likely to find them between November and February. However, you should keep an eye on the weather forecast, because the sea is not always furious in this old fishing village.
HOTELS IN NAZARÉ
HOTEL PRAIA (4 STARS)
4-star hotel with over 600 customer reviews on Google. It has an overall rating of 4.2 stars out of a maximum of 5. The most complimentary comments mention the quality of the breakfast and the good price/quality ratio.
If you have not yet booked your hotel, please do so through our website.
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HOTEL MIRA-MAR SUL
4 star hotel. It has an overall rating of 4.2 stars (out of 5) based on over 1200 comments on Google. The compliments discuss the friendliness of the staff, the care with cleaning/disinfection, the quality of the food, and a pleasant surprise upon arrival to the rooms.
HOTEL ANCORA MAR
2 star hotel. It has an overall rating of 3.9 stars out of 5. It has more than 395 reviews on Google. The facilities are old. The low price and the central location are its great attractions.
ADEGA OCEANO HOTEL
2-star hotel with an overall rating of 3.8 stars on Google. Over 1170 reviews. Reviews mention central location, price and value for money as strengths.
WHAT TO EAT IN NAZARE?
WHERE TO EAT IN NAZARÉ?
Located by the sea, the town of Nazaré offers gastronomic options based mainly on fresh products from the Atlantic Ocean.
Restaurant has over 1250 reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.6 (out of a maximum of 5). The comments highly praise the friendliness of the staff and the quality of the food. The only negative point is the waiting time to get a table (the restaurant is in high demand).
EVENTS in NAZARÉ
You can check the upcoming events in NazarÉ here: http://www.cm-nazare.pt/pt/agenda