If you ask me to describe the small town of Nazaré I will answer “its quite tricky”, complicated but easy at the same time. It has great beaches where you can chill out and enjoy the Atlantic ocean but also remains a place where traditions are well kept, the process locals use to dry the fish is an example.
In the other hand its not possible to understand Nazaré without its well-known massive wave. In many images and videos you can see how only a few men and women are brave enough to challenge what is considered the biggest wave in the world ever surfed.
The Nazaré wave, an (almost) 100 feet tall wall
The wave of Nazaré is so famous for two main reasons. On the one hand, due to its size, it can reach more than 100 feet high. On the other because it is a beach wave, its breakwater is located a few meters from a cliff.
The latter is important because it facilitates not only the diffusion of the events that take place there, but also that anyone can enjoy the show that occurs especially during the winter months.
To Mane/Nazare Qualifica, via Associated Press
Why does the wave appear in Nazaré?
Inside of the Atlantic ocean an underwater canyon (at some points it reaches more than 16.000 feet deep) makes its way towards the portuguese coast. This is the reason why the conjunction of the currents produced in its interior and the collision with the coastal platform results in a massive wave right in front of Praia do Norte.
The Nazaré lighthouse is the best place to see the wave
While the Nazaré wave breaks on to Praia do Norte the ideal place you must choose to admire the exploits of the brave few men and women that like Rodrigo Koxa (in the picture) or Sergio Cosme achieve on top of a surfboard is the lighthouse of Nazaré.
In fact, I was lucky to meet them both, a kind of sea predators capable of gambling with life in order to descend at full speed down the incredible wave (and to live it thorugh). During the time we spent together we went by boat to the exact place where the wave rises, fortunately for me that day the sea was completely calm, not like a few days before.
On November 8, 2017 Rodrigo conquered Narazé’s biggest wave ever and, as tradition dictates, donated one of his surfboards to be exhibited at the Sao Miguel fort where a small museum and a series of panels explain the marine cycle of the area with images of large masses of water breaking at the feet of the lighthouse.
Other must see in Nazaré
Nazaré is small, can be covered on foot, and quiet (10,000 inhabitants). It is one of those towns that maintains the essence despite the tourism that monopolizes every inch of it, especially in the summer months. During winter, it is all peace and quiet, although it maintains a life that no other coastal town in Portugal enjoys.
The small coastal town has managed to maintain itself at the same time modern in summer when tourists invade its streets and beaches but also with a traditional view when the heat is not the main character in the role. In fact I would dare to say that Nazaré does not have great things to see but, at the same time it will not disappoint you, it is like love at first sight.
The drying of fish
One of the essences of Nazaré is reflected in the drying process of the fish that we can see on Praia do Nazaré itself. One could say that it is a living museum in which we see local ladies dealing with a tradition that goes back many years.
What we can see there is how the fish that the husbands bring from the sea passes into the hands of the women who are in charge of drying (on the paneiros) and selling the product in a very interesting conservation process.
Museum of traditional fishing boats
Very close to the fish drying area we find another open-air museum, rather it is an exhibition of different types of boats used for fishing in the area. An example of this is the ship Sol da Vida.
This boat represents part of the history of Nazaré because it was intended to the artisanal local fishing with angling device, trammel nets, seines and buckets.
One of the best sunsets in Portugal
There is no doubt that in Nazaré you can enjoy one of the best sunsets out of all those that can be enjoyed throughout Portugal. And although from the beach itself you can enjoy it the best thing is to take the funicular to the upper part of the city, to the neighborhood better known as Sítio.
There we can not only visit the Nossa Senhora da Nazaré Santctuary but take a look at the Miradouro do Suberco (330 feet high) from where we can see a fantastic view of the lower area of Nazaré. Blues, violets, oranges, a wide range of colors on the horizon will take your breath away.
Where to eat in Nazaré, the D’Adélia tavern
As you can imagine fish is the star product of much of the cuisine along the coast of Portugal. In Nazaré it could not be any other way. I had the opportunity to eat in one of the best restaurants in town, the Taberna D’Adélia.
The restaurant has become a classic place to stop by in town, it has been open and running since 1987 and even today its environment makes the difference. But if there is something that really characterizes the tavern is its tasty dishes.
For sure your mouth will water as soon as you see some dishes come to the table. Take the time to try local carapaus enojados (similar to sardines) with oil and garlic before continuing with a caldeirada of rice and monkfish, delicious!
Our recommended tours is you visit Lisboa prior to Nazaré
Portugal is in fashion and as so its capital, Lisbon, is one of the trendiest cities in Europe It has achieved a great increase of tourists in the past years. Walking its streets is easy and pleasant, the language is easy to understand and locals are friendly with tourists. Little more can be said.
Some of the tours you can book from home are these ↓
- Full day tour visiting Cascais, Sintra & Estoril
- Lisbon history tour, an essential to understand the city
- Book your private transfer from Lisbon airport here
• This trip to the center of Portugal was sponsored and organized by both Simply b – an agency specialized in organizing special experiences together with gastronomic tours – and the tourist board for the center of Portugal. As always, all the opinions expressed in this blog are 100% ours •
Travel smart, travel safe
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