86 minutes! If you live in Lisbon this is the time you need to get to Nazaré!
Nazaré is a typical fishing village and the headquarters of a small municipality. It has small white houses scattered along the slopes of the village. It is today one of the main tourist destinations in Portugal and has managed to maintain many of its ancient traditions.
But it is no longer possible to talk about Nazaré without mentioning the world record for the largest wave ever surfed (Garret McNamara on North Beach in November 2011). The village of Nazaré has become the host of major international surf competitions and has attracted thousands of curious people.
But the village has a lot to see and tell. It harmoniously combines its past (its fishing traditions), its present and its future. Whoever walks around Nazaré will find stores allusive to the typical costumes of the village. Fishermen in chess shirts and black pants and the famous women in 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.
VISIT NAZARÉ – VIRTUAL TOUR
WHAT TO VISIT?
There are many attractions in the village. We chose 20! The ones we believe are the most interesting. But surely the beautiful things of Nazaré are not exhausted in our suggestions. So that you can measure distances and then choose your itineraries, we suggest you to analyze the map that follows. We hope it will be useful. Have fun!
Many people wonder why giant waves are formed in Nazareth. The explanation is geological! Next to the coast is an underwater gorge (that is, a giant hole in the bottom of the ocean). In fact, we are talking about 227 kilometers of a length 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 the North Beach are not for play. Only professionals (boats or surfers) should enter this sea simultaneously beautiful and treacherous.
2.SITE OF 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 DIRECTLY THE SIZE OF THE WAVES CLICK HERE!
3.WALL OF THE NAZARÉ SITE
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 Nazareth site had practically disappeared under the sands brought by the north winds that blew through it. Often the residents had to leave through the roofs of their houses because their doors were blocked by the mass of sand.
Later a pine forest was planted north of the site to combat the sand storms.
4.MUSEUM DR. JOAQUIM MANSO
In this museum we can find collections that document the history and culture of this region. From prehistory to our days through the analysis of 3 elements: 1. the history and the legend, 2. the sea and the boats, 3. the costume.
5. ERMIDA DA NAZARÉ (or memory chapel)
The Legend of our Lady of Nazareth is a story (probably) invented by Friar Bernardo de Brito who had it told through a large tombstone (in Portuguese and Latin) found in the little chapel: the story of Don Fuas Roupinho. The story (or the legend) says that Dom Fuas Roupinho was a brave knight who was hunting on a day of intense fog and found a great doe. The deer ran as much as the horse. In pursuit, Don Fuas arrived at a place (where the hermitage is located) where the horse stuck its paws. The story goes that the deer was the demon who wanted to take Don Fuas to Hell. When Don Fuas realised that he was about to fall on a cliff he said: “Holy Mary! The saint made the horse staked, thus saving the life of Don Fuas who almost plunged into the depths of the Atlantic which were also the depths of hell.
6. SUBERCO VIEWPOINT
At 110 meters high, we find a magnificent belvedere with a stunning view of the ocean. It is a privileged place for fishing lovers, a place where some challenge the sea that sometimes presents itself furious.
7.FORT OF SAN MIGUEL ARCHANGEL
It is located on a cliff by the North beach. This fort was built to protect the village from North African pirates (Algeria and Morocco). The fort was built by Dom Sebastião in 1577 and has been rebuilt by order of João IV, corresponding to the beginning of the fishing expansion in the village. The fort is located in a viewpoint with a panoramic view of the village, Praia do Salgado (to the east) and Praia do Norte (to the west of the fort).
8. THE PEDERNEIRA
On the opposite side of Nazaré we find Pederneira (original name of the current town of Nazaré). Pederneira was one of the most important shipyards during the XII and XIV centuries.
But the “pederneira” is also a geological monument of 140 million years. It is a tree that petrified having been found by ancient peoples who gave it a magical sense. It is even said that it was the stone that gave the town its name, since the ancient name of Nazaré was precisely a flint. The monument is located in front of the old Town Hall.
9. SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF NAZARETH
It is located in the main square at Sítio da Nazaré. Dedicated to the patron saint of the village, the Saint will have appeared on September 8th. Every year a great feast is organised dedicated to the patron saint of the town.
The shrine was erected in the 14th century by order of King Fernando during his pilgrimage to the Lady of Nazaré. Afterwards it was the object of several conversations that changed and increased the original temple. 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 gilded carving. Since 1978, the tiles and the church itself have been considered a heritage of public interest of the Portuguese state.
10. CHAPEL OF SAINT ANTHONY
Located on Avenida da República, the chapel faces the sea. It was built with funding from fishermen who donated 1% of their profits to this religious monument.
Covered with tiles, its blue façade includes a panel with the image of Saint Anthony. The interior of the chapel is composed of a single nave and the main chapel also has the image of the aforementioned saint.
11.ORCA OVEN NATURAL CAVE
It is located next to the North beach and testifies to the geological history of the village. The cave is inside a limestone structure and reflects the erosion caused by the passage of time. During low tide the cave is far from the water and can be visited easily. However, when the tide is full and with the strong sea that characterises this area, the waves enter the cave.
12- FISHERMAN’S MUSEUM HOUSE
This place was created by a lover of Nazaré traditions and opened its doors in 1999. It has recently been restored and can be visited in the centre of the town. The inside and outside of the fisherman’s house replicate a fisherman’s house from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. All the furniture, electrical appliances and canvases are allusive to this historical interval. If you have a particular interest in visiting fishing villages visit our page about the city of Figueira da Foz.
13 NAZARETH LIFT
Along with the giant waves, it is the great point of interest of the village. The lift connects the lower area to the site (the highest area of the village). The journey takes about 15 minutes and the route is little more than symbolic.
14. MAIN CHURCH OF PEDERNEIRA
Also called the Church of Our Lady of the Sands. It is a 16th century building formed by a nave and a vault as a roof.
If you visit this temple you will find in its chapel a gilded carved altar also from the 16th century. The canvases there allude to Saint Anthony. The interior covering of the church is of tiles of various colours.
15.CHABY PINHEIRO THEATRE
The Chaby Pinheiro theatre is near the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century. Its horseshoe-shaped configuration is famous for providing magnificent acoustics to the theatre.
It has been of great importance in supporting amateur theatre in Nazareth. It was here that the city’s amateur group brought many of their plays to the scene.
16.MONTE DE SAN BARTOLOMEU
The São Bartolomeu hill appears in the middle of the vast pine forest of Leiria! It is a kind of island of varied vegetation in the immensity of the wild pine trees that cover the region. It is widely used as a reference bridge by navigators. It can be sighted about 35 kilometres away.
At the top of the hill (at an altitude of 156 metres), the view is amazing. To get there, you can use an immense staircase. There we also found a small chapel and the house of the forest ranger. Since 1979 it has been called a “classified site”.
17.CHAPEL OF OUR LADY OF THE AFFLICTED
It is a small religious building built in 1760 (by order of the monks of Alcobaça) in honour of Our Lady of the Afflicted. It was in this chapel that the monks received the decimation of the fishermen during the 18th century.
The outside of the chapel is covered with white and blue tiles. The inside has blue, white and yellow tiles. On the sides of the chapel there are two panels.
18.CHAPEL OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS
The chapel was erected in the 16th century. In the past the chapel had a small churchyard around it which also housed the dead (it was a cemetery).
Today we can visit a simple religious building that has been modified over time. It has a ship that was once covered with tiles. The chapel is now used for the procession of Senhor dos Passos. It holds the title of a monument of public interest.
19 SLOPE OF NAZARÉ
It was a stretch of sand that made the connection between the beach and the Nazaré site. Recently the road was lined with paving stones to make life easier for all those who want to access the hospital and/or the sanctuary.
It’s a must for those who like viewpoints and beautiful landscapes! From there you can admire the infinite beauty of the sea, of Nazaré, of its beach and of its houses. A show!
20 FISHING PORT OF NAZARÉ
The Port of Nazaré mitigated a little the enormous risks taken by fishermen in the region. There are many stories of tragedy that the Nazarenes have to tell. The port of Nazareth was an ancient desire of the fishermen and their families. It was a way to reduce the risk of those who risked their lives at sea every day.
Until 1950, Nazareth was a land of emigrants. People who could find no sustenance either on land or at sea (given their danger). Many people left Nazareth in search of better living conditions. Most of them left for Peniche, Matosinhos and Canada.
The port was thought of as a real harbour of shelter. A dream that arrived only in the 80’s of the last century. As the people say, better late than never.
DO YOU WANT TO FEEL THE SOUL OF NAZARETH?
Visiting the market of Nazaré is mandatory in order to feel the soul of Nazaré and to buy the vegetables, fruits and fresh fish that so well characterize the region. It is one of the most representative places in the region. At the municipal market you will hear the local trading sessions sung by the 7-skirt poles. The trading sessions are a way of attracting the attention of customers and the curious of the market.
To feel the soul of Nazaré you must also wander its small streets. Enter a café and listen to the locals talking. Let time run by and talk a little with the locals. Ask what it’s like to live there, show curiosity for the history and evolution of the place. Listen and talk.
SUGGESTED WALKING ROUTE
Walking always brings us a little closer to the soul of the places. Here is a suggestion for a walking tour. Let’s hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
VIRTUAL TRAVEL TO VILA IN NAZARÉ (4k aerial view)
THE BEACHES OF NAZARÉ
Beach with a great sand. Good for walking by the sea and good for swimming (in case the sea is not too rough). Very popular among surf lovers.
It’s the famous beach next to the canyon of Nazaré. 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 EXPERIENT and PROFESSIONAL practitioners of bodyboarding, surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing.
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’s an almost private beach. Access through the port of Nazaré. Beach without surveillance and with a dangerous sea. Great sandy beach. A good alternative for those who do not like crowds.
THE HISTORY AND TRADITIONS OF NAZARÉ
Until 1912 this municipality 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 Pelourinho, the main church and the church of mercy.
During the 20th century, Nazaré ceased to be a fishing village and became a village dedicated to tourism. This transformation has been particularly accentuated since 2011 as a consequence of the giant waves made known by the American surfer Garret Macnamara. Tourism is today a very important source of employment for the people of the village.
THE TRADITIONAL 7 SKIRTS OF THE WOMEN OF NAZARE
It is a Nazarene tradition for the women of Nazareth to wear the seven skirts. There is no explanation that meets with consensus among historians, but the idea that it is related to the sea and to work is accepted. When Nazaré was a fishing village, the women used to wait for their husbands sitting on the beach. So they had the function of covering and protecting the whole body. The top skirts protected the head and shoulders. The bottom salts covered the legs.
DRYING THE FISH
The drying of fish is an ancient tradition (with many centuries of existence) that aimed at the conservation of fish. It is an activity that can still be seen on the beach of Nazaré (on Avenida Manuel Remígio). Operation usually performed by women: Initially the fish is tined (i.e. the guts of the fish are removed) and then washed and filled with coarse salt (formerly they used sea water to salt the fish). The fish is then opened completely and dried for a period of 2 or 3 days.
If you decide to take a closer look at this tradition then don’t forget to also look closely at the famous boats of Nazaré.
The boats of Nazareth are anchored in the sand and bear witness to decades of struggle at sea. Here the Xávega art is still a technique used. This art consists in throwing the fishing nets from the boats that are (relatively) close to the coast. The nets are thrown in the morning and are pulled into the sand in the evening. In the past, the nets were pulled with the help of ox-carts and a crowd of men, women and children. Today 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 reasons of attraction in Nazareth. 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 out for the weather because the sea is not always furious in this old fishing village.
WHERE TO SLEEP IN NAZARÉ?
DO YOU WANT TO STAY IN A FANTASTIC HOTEL?
hOTEL PRAIA (4 STARS)
4-star hotel with over 600 customer comments on Google. It has an overall rating of 4.2 stars out of a maximum of 5. The most commendable comments insist on the quality of the breakfast and the good relationship between price and quality.
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 insist on the friendliness of the staff, the care with cleaning/disinfection, the quality of the food and a pleasant surprise when arriving at the rooms.
DO YOU WANT TO STAY IN NAZARÉ FOR A GOOD PRICE?
The town of Nazaré has a huge offer and has options for every pocket.
HOTEL ANCORA MAR
2 star hotel. It has an overall rating of 3.9 stars out of a maximum of 5. It has over 395 comments on Google. The facilities are old. The low price and central location are its great attractions.
ADEGA OCEANO HOTEL
2-star hotel with a global Google rating of 3.8 stars. Over 1170 ratings. Comments refer to central location, price and quality/price ratio as strong points.
WHAT TO EAT IN NAZARE?
WHERE TO EAT INAZARÉ?
Located by the sea, the town of Nazaré offers gastronomic options based mainly on fresh products from the Atlantic Ocean.
Restaurant of 2 ciphers (a maximum of 3). It has over 1250 comments on Google and an overall rating of 4.6 (maximum 5). The comments highly commend 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 very popular).
EVENTS in NAZARÉ
You can check the upcoming events in NazarÉ here: http://www.cm-nazare.pt/pt/agenda
FAMOUS PERSONALITIES RELATED TO NAZARETH
North American surfer who became famous for riding the biggest wave ever on the North Beach in 2011.
Former football player and current coach of the Portuguese national teams.