The waves of Nazaré (day trip from Porto)
While in Porto, we wanted to squeeze in as much as we could: discover the city, take surf lessons, have good coffee, explore the whole area and its surroundings.
So what’s at a stone’s throw available to visit from Porto?
One day trip idea would be the one we did to Douro Valley, but before that we visited a very popular spot on the Atlantic coast: Nazaré.
Nazaré is super famous for its huge waves that led to a few surfers breaking records here. It is said that the best season to witness the sea showing off in all its splendour (and grandeur, I might add) would be somewhere between October and March.
We were there in May, therefore we didn’t get to see those monster waves, or any surfers trying their skills, but it was impressing nonetheless and I recommend you check it out.
We took the bus from Porto to Nazaré (you can check the ticket prices, availability and schedules directly here). The trip is about 3 hours long, but the bus was very comfortable and time passed by quickly.
A perfect day in Nazaré
We arrived right in time for lunch and went directly for a walk through the narrow white streets to find a place to have lunch. Once we silenced our stomaches with some fish soup and fried fish, we headed towards the town’s beach (Praia da Nazaré). The town itself didn’t impress me much at that time. It has that “holiday village” vibe, with plenty of shops and small restaurants, and although it was quite crowded, I expect it to be even more during high season.
Our bad luck was to score an abnormally chilly month of May and a cold wind was piercing through my jacket. I naively had my bathing suit with me, no need to ask what for. You can already imagine there was nobody in the water and only a few crazy people on the beach.
From the main street parallel to the beach we took a local bus to head towards the hill with the lighthouse. There’s also a funicular railway available, as well as a series of alleys and stairs that climb uphill (we took the stairs on our way back for the views and the workout!).
The views towards the town below are gorgeous from the viewpoints uphill (miradouros), no wonder every one was crowding there with their cameras.
But more impressing is the lighthouse, the perfect location to watch the waves crash in the rocks underneath you.
We stayed there for what seemed like ages, looking down at the immensity of the water roaring right below, striking blow after blow to the promontory, cold salty water drops hitting my face and shivers of fear and adrenaline down my spine.
It was very hard to unglue our eyes from the water, but it had to be done at some point. Next, we took a stroll around this part of the town (Nazaré actually extends with its white streets uphill too) and stopped for a quick snack and a drink at Zulla Nazaré Surf Village, which was almost empty at that time. I loved the clean, laid back design and holiday vibes here and I wish we had stayed more. We enjoyed our meal under the warm afternoon sun on the lawn by the pool and then headed to what turned out to be my favourite place in Nazaré, which is…
Praia do Norte
We arrived at this beach through a pine forest, without knowing exactly if we were on the right track. A few times we almost wanted to go back, but I’m so glad we didn’t, as Praia do Norte soon unveiled itself at our feet.
An endless beach strip overlooking an endless ocean, almost empty at that time, as it was a very cold day.
There was something both mesmerising and overwhelming about standing there on the yellow sand, watching the sea furiously throw waves at my feet and hearing only my thoughts due to the screaming wind. Made me feel small, yet so happy to be alive.
We lost track of time here and the sun was already preparing to set.
Walking along Praia do Norte towards the lighthouse we stumbled into another pleasant surprise right at the base of the hill: Forno de Orca Cave, a spectacular rock formation of circular shape that you can access from the beach if the tide is low and the water is calm.
The evening found us seated on the hill overlooking the lighthouse, watching the sun go to sleep over the Atlantic Ocean.
Nazaré, it was a pleasure to meet you!