Below you will find not only the list of awesome things to do in Nazare, Portugal but also all the reasons why Nazare should be more than just a day trip from Lisbon.
Nazare is often recommended as a great day trip from Lisbon. And yes, as much as the town can be seen in a day, I recommend spending a few days in Nazare. It’s not only all those great things to do in Nazare. Nazare is a fantastic place to recharge, relax and really immerse yourself into the Portuguese lifestyle.
Nazare, Portugal is a laid back fishing village situated on a wide bay of golden sands – Praia do Nazare. Sítio, an impressive headland located to the right, provides one of the most famous views of the Portuguese coast and overlooks the second beach, Praia do Norte.
In the summer, Nazare is a perfect getaway for sun lovers and relaxation seekers. In the winter, Nazare becomes home to the biggest waves in the world!
On February 11, 2020, at Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Maya Gabeira broke the record for the biggest wave ever surfed (also as a woman) on a record-setting wave measuring 73.5 feet (22.4 meters), besting her own previous world record of 68 feet. But the fame of Nazare waves started in 2011 when the Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara won the Billabong XXL Global BigWave Award and entered the Guinness Book of World Records.
Now, surfers from around the world visit Nazaré every year to venture into the sea and chase the biggest waves.
I visited in May so the sea at the time was perfectly calm and swim inviting rather than dramatic. Yet on my last day, I received a perfect gift and experienced not only the beautiful personality of the sea but also the best sunset I have seen so far, ever!
Nazare is perfectly walkable, and there are definitely quite a few things to do in Nazare you could fit in, and you could get a glimpse of in a day.
But I think that visiting this kind of town and rushing around to tick all the boxes defeats the whole purpose of the visit.
Wouldn’t it be nice to allow yourself to spend a day on the beach without rushing back to the city or spend the evening watching the sunset while gorging on the freshest seafood out there? Wake up the next day and get the fresh fruit from the local market and delicious freshly baked pastries and bread?
How about taking an afternoon walk by the promenade, pretending you have nothing to do, climbing the lighthouse for the best photo opportunities and then exploring Praia do Norte, where all the surfers can be found?
I stayed for seven days in Nazare. Also, because I had some work on this blog to catch up on, I found this environment very favourable. And even though I stayed for this long, didn’t run out of things to do in Nazare.
So, how long should you stay in Nazare?
I do believe that three days in Nazare is a perfect time to explore what the town has on offer and spend some time relaxing and enjoying the beach. This time would allow you to experience all the fantastic things to do in Nazare and spend time relaxing and enjoying Nazare’s beautiful surroundings. You could also make Nazare a base for further exploration of the area.
Nevertheless, if you only have one spare day while staying in Lisbon, Nazare is still worth visiting. If you are really short on time you can also book a day trip from Lisbon which would cover Nazare, Obidos and Batalha.
So without further ado, here are all the awesome things to do in Nazare.
Table of Contents
11 Awesome Things to do in Nazare
Stroll along the Nazare Promenade
Nazaré is one of the most traditional fishing villages in Portugal, and you can still find some women dressed in the traditional skirts with seven petticoats, taking care and selling the fish that dries in the sun, lined up on posts.
Take a stroll along Nazare promenade, where you will see traditional colourful boats displayed on the beach, fish drying in the sun and cafes and bars spread along the strip.
Explore winding streets and picturesque buildings of Nazare town
I loved getting lost within Nazare’s cobbled streets and discover its nooks and hidden local restaurants and snack bars. You will find many locals enjoying drinks and food amongst whitewashed buildings with colourful linen drying in the sun.
Walking amongst those building and streets was one of my favourite things to do in Nazare, and I always found a corner I haven’t seen yet.
Soak up the sun on Praia do Nazare
Praia do Nazare is one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, and it is much calmer compared to neighbouring Praia do Norte. The long stretch of golden sand and crystal blue ocean will allow you to spend glorious days soaking up the sun.
You will find numerous beach bars along its promenade where you can get a drink as well as a snack or lunch. In the summer colourful tents open on the beach which adds even more charm to this town.
What better way to spend time in Portugal if not enjoying its remarkable beaches? It is definitely one of the best things to do in Nazare.
Explore O Sitio and take a Funicular ride
O Sítio is one of Nazare’s neighbourhoods located at the top of the impressive headland and is an older part of the town. It is an over 300m high rock cliff and provides one of the most famous views of the Nazare coast. Sitio can be reached on foot or by taking the funicular.
The walking path seems to be quite steep, yet I think it’s perfectly walkable. It is paved with cobbled stairs, and you can reach the top in around 20 minutes whilst marvelling at spectacular views.
I liked walking up on foot and then taking the funicular down as I found the steps to be a bit slippery. It is a great workout as well 🙂
A funicular ride is also a lot of fun. The ride costs €1.5 one way and is available throughout the whole day until midnight.
Once you reach the top, you will find yourself in charming Old Town, where life seems slower than in Nazare’s main resort. It’s a great place to walk around round and experience authentic Portuguese life and culture.
There are also a few restaurants, souvenir stalls and snack bars.
The viewpoints offer incredible views over Portuguese cost and Nazare town.
The sites you could visit include Ermida da Memória chapel, Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré and not far away, the Dr. Joaquim Manso Museum, where you can learn about the traditions of Nazaré.
Visiting O Sitio is one of the must-do things in Nazare.
Marvell the views from São Miguel Arcanjo Fort
From O Sitio, you can continue walking towards Farol lighthouse situated at São Miguel Arcanjo Fort, the famous viewing point for Nazare’s big waves.
There is a path that will take you down to Praia do Norte, where you will be able to observe the surfers or just take a walk. Given the dangerous currents and waves, this is not a swimming beach. For swimming, it is best to use a designated part on Praia do Nazare.
Take a surf lesson / Things to do in Nazare
If Nazare is not the best place in the world to learn surfing, I don’t know which is!
Unless you’re a proficient surfer, I wouldn’t recommend catching the massive waves at Praia do Norte. But there are smaller beaches in the area where you can practice your surfing skills, and The Nazaré Surf School offers private and group lessons that range from €25 to €60 per person. You can also book packages of 5 classes or surf guiding with lunch included.
Visit local market / Things to do in Nazare
Nearly Every town in Portugal has its own Municipal Market. And Nazare is no different. This is the place where you can really get a glimpse of local life, especially in a town like Nazare.
Whilst in Lisbon or other bigger cities you will often find those markets heavily catered towards the tourists, here a market is a place where locals shop for local fruit, vegetables, bread and of course fish!
Taste the Freshest Seafood / Things to do in Nazare
There are plenty of restaurants spread across Nazare where you can have a taste of the freshest seafood. Most of them are lined along the promenade but you will also find great eating spots up in Sitio as well as in the town.
You will find many Cervejarias where locals sip a beer and eat clams, snails and other small dishes of shellfish as a snack.
The traditional dish to have whilst in Nazare is of course fish like bacalhau, grilled sardines or octopus.
A word of warning – be careful with the starters! Waiters often would bring few appetisers once you have ordered your food. Sometimes they will say, but sometimes they will not that those starters are chargeable – meaning you pay for what you eat.
This is the case in many smaller towns in Portugal, as I had this happening in Obidos as well.
Walk up the hill to see Pederneira - the lesser-known part of Nazare, Portugal
The town of Nazaré is divided into three different areas: downtown on the seafront, Sítio on top of the cliff and, Pederneira – the uptown. I took a walk up the Paderneira and found a wonderful viewpoint – Miradouro da Pederneira but also many narrow cute streets and church Igreja da Misericórdia da Pederneira.
It is a very peaceful part of the town and really worth exploring.
Make Nazare a base for further explorations
Apart from all the great things to do in Nazare itself, you can also make it a base for further explorations.
Nazare can be a great base to explore nearby towns and attractions such as the beautiful Alcobaça Monastery or UNESCO World Heritage Site Monastery of Batalha. You can also visit Sao Martinho do Porto, a typical holiday resort located just 13 kilometres from Nazaré.
Historic Óbidos is a fantastic day trip from Lisbon but can also be visited if you are staying in Nazare. Although I have to mention that there is no great public connection between those locations, renting a car would be recommended.
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How to get to Nazare from Lisbon
Nazare is located 80km from Lisbon. The best and cheapest way to get to Nazare from Lisbon is by bus. This route is served by Rede Expressos company and the Bus departs from Lisbon Oriente station. The ticket as of May 2021 costs between €8 and €11 (depending on when you book) one way and the journey lasts around an hour and a half.
How to get to Nazare from Porto
It takes 3 and a half hours to get to Nazare from Porto. The best and cheapest way to get from Porto to Nazaré is by bus which costs 12€ – 15€ and is operated by Rede Expressos. The bus will stop right in the town centre.
There is a train you could take from Porto to Nazare but it stops at Valado station which is located 5km away from the town and the journey is longer. No point, really.
Best time to visit Nazare
Nazare is an all-year destination depending on what attractions or activities you are after. For its magnificent waves, the best time to visit is between October and March. For the sun and sunbathing, it would have to be June to September.
There is plenty of sunny days on offer all year long in Nazare. The temperature can get down to around 10° to 7° in the winter, and you will get few more rainy days. Given the town is located on the Atlantic oceanfront, the evenings, even in May, can get cold, so pack a warm sweater or a jacket. During the day you can wear sandals and shorts starting from May or even April all the way to October.
For the hottest weather, visit Nzare in July and August when the temperature can go well above 24°. Mind you, that is also the busiest time of the year when the sleepy town transforms into a bustling beach resort. If you’d rather avoid that, I recommend the months of May, June and September for great weather and an authentic feel.
Where to stay in Nazare, Portugal
There are plenty of charming little hotels and homestays in Nazare and a few excellent hostels.
But I found them very expensive and realised that you can get a nice private room for the same price of just a little bit more.
I stayed in Bairro Típico – Casas da Bela and I loved it. I had a small room with a shower and a mini kitchenette. No stove but I had a kettle, microwave and some kitchenware which was fine for a few days. It was one of the cutest places I stayed. And there was a washing machine we could use free of charge!
I haven’t seen all the fishing towns and beach resorts in Portugal. Yet 🙂 But I was utterly charmed by Nazare and loved all seven days I spent there. To be honest, I could stay longer. Actually, I could live there!
Try to get at least a couple of days to experience the charm and magic of this town, yet even if time won’t allow you – Nazare is worth a visit, even for a day.
I hope you found my guide to awesome things to do in Nazare useful, and if you decide to visit please leave a comment below and let me know how did you enjoy your time.
Heading to Lisbon next? make sure you read my post about the best day trips from Lisbon that are not Sintra and one that cannot be missed is the most charming medieval town in Portugal – Obidos.
Read here about a true hidden gem near Lisbon – Setubal and Troia Penisula!
For exciting photo opportunities, you should take a trip from Porto to Aveiro and Costa Nova.
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