In the fishing villages, where time flows slowly and the sea is served at the table, there is a world of history, heritage, and tradition to be discovered. Destination of sun and beach par excellence, Portugal hides small treasures that seem untouched by time throughout its coastal areas. Follow All About Portugal's suggestions and walk the narrow streets of these small towns, observe the colourful boats, and get to know the ancestral customs and traditions linked to fishing. You will fall in love with the genuineness of its people and, of course, feed your body and soul with delicious freshly caught fish and seafood delicacies.
Vila Praia de Âncora
The immense beach between the fortresses of Lagarteira and Cão is a delight to those who visit it in the summer. But there is much more to discover in this small fishing village in Alto Minho, between Viana do Castelo and Caminha. Take a stroll along the waterfront or cross the bridge over the mouth of the River Âncora and reach the beach through the dunes. In Bairro dos Pescadores (fishermen's quarter), feel the aroma of freshly washed clothes, mixed with the irresistible smell of fish on the grill.
The typical Apúlia windmills no longer grind grain, but remain the postcard of this village. Do not be discouraged by the usual strong winds in the northern coast. Walk the seven kilometres of wooden walkways and, on the beach, enjoy the rituals of fishing and of the traditional harvesting of sargaço (sargassum or gulfweed). There you will find fishermen in their colourful boats, preparing their tools, repairing nets, or immersed in their daily routine.
From Afurada, the views of Porto are breath-taking, but there are more reasons to visit this picturesque parish of Gaia, with its colourful houses lined with tiles, good fish and, of course, its stories and the soul of its people. Talk to the fishermen and women who wash clothes in the community tank. At the market, witness the traditional shouting of fishmongers, sales pitching to attract clients: "Olh’ó peixe fresquinho!".
The colourful striped wooden houses along the Ria de Aveiro are the hallmark of this famous holiday destination. Currently used as housing or holiday homes, these traditional Costa Nova constructions were originally used by local fishermen to store fishing materials. On the beaches of Vagueira and Mira, it is still possible to watch the xávega ritual, an ancient way of artisanal fishing in which fishing nets are pulled from the sea by tractors.
Garrett McNamara's waves have transformed this tiny village into an international surfing stage, attracting surfers and lovers of the sport from all over the world. But Praia da Nazaré, a long sandy beach in the shape of a half moon, is populated by men and women who live off fishing throughout the year. You can see them next to the colourful boats, mending the nets or drying the fish; the men with their plaid shirts, the women with their seven skirts, as tradition dictates.
In the municipality of Mafra, about 30 kilometres from Lisbon, discover this village overlooking the sea that seems to stand still in time. Days run at the pace of the waves in what is, since 2011, the only World Surfing Reserve in Europe and second in the world. But if you are not a fan of the sport, know that Ericeira has much more to offer besides its beaches of incredible beauty. Discover traditions, history, heritage and, of course, gastronomy. In a land of fishermen, the sea meets you at the table.
The top of the hill, around Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors), is perhaps the best place to enjoy the picturesque Sesimbra, the perfect curve of its bay and the immensity of the blue sea. Take a stroll along the waterfront and linger in one of the restaurants to taste a delicious fish dish. The Santiago Fortress, right in the middle of the beach, also invites you to a visit. And to get a closer look at the fishing gear, there is nothing like a walk around the fish market or a walk along the pier, as boats arrive and depart.
Vila Nova de Milfontes
Wonderful beaches, the River Mira inviting you to enjoy beautiful boat trips, the irresistible gastronomy - perfect synthesis between the typical Alentejo cuisine and the flavours of the sea; there are plenty of excuses to visit Vila Nova de Milfontes, on the Alentejo Coast. Get a little out of the tourist circuit and take a stroll through Porto das Barcas, where local fishermen guard their boats. The sunset makes the perfect setting for a seafood or fresh fish dinner.
Away from the tourist hustle and bustle of the summer months, the Algarve gains redoubled charm, so the winter months are the perfect time to discover its soul. And for that, nothing better than a visit to the fishing villages that populate the region. Alvor is one of the most picturesque, known for its beaches, narrow streets, the estuary and fish and seafood restaurants. Taste the cockles with olive oil and garlic, the açorda of razor clams or a beautiful sea stew.
Welcome to the capital of the octopus! In this small town in the eastern Algarve, at the gates of Tavira, the octopus is king and responsible for the immense crowd that flocks together to restaurants to taste this delicacy. Accept the invitation and set out to discover this peaceful and paradisical corner, bathed by the charming Ria Formosa, coloured by dozens of small boats. On the other bank of the river, there are white sand beaches as far as the eye can see…
A few kilometres from Vila das Furnas, on the Island of São Miguel in the Azores and nestled among green escarpments, we find the beach of Ribeira Quente, also known as Praia do Fogo (Beach of the Fire). This beach lives up to its name, as the warm waters invite long baths and repeated dives. On the other side, in Ribeira, be amazed by the picturesque fishing village and its fishing port, where the traditional boats rest.
Câmara de Lobos
If you are not able to paint it, as Sir Winston Churchill did during his stay in Madeira, you must at least stop to photograph this charming fishing village and its inspiring bay. Currently, it is the centre for the fishing of black scabbard fish, one of the many specialities of the island’s cuisine. In local taverns, be sure to taste the traditional poncha, a spirit drink made with lemon juice, honey, and aguardente de cana, distilled alcohol made from sugar cane juice.