Some speak of the Algarve and its beaches full of life and temperate waters; the Alentejo Coast, with the sands that make up the natural beauty of the Rota Vicentina; I come to talk to you about the beaches of the Center of Portugal, which exert a strange fascination in me.
Maybe it’s because I live in Ericeira, and I’m used to the roughness of the stone and the strength of the waves, something that attracts me to the sea, and the beaches that stretch between São Pedro de Moel and Foz do Arelho.
There is a bit of everything here:
- There are rocks.
- There are ancient cliffs.
- There is a massive sea that provides epic surf sessions if the waves and the wind are right.
But there are also vast stretches of sand, where we can spread the towel and not worry about the noise of neighbors and even calmer waters to swim without fear.
There are many places and charms on the coast of the Center of Portugal to explore. And these places are undoubtedly to point out on the map and make a stop on your next trip through the region.
1. São Pedro de Moel Beach
It was not enough for São Pedro de Moel to be inserted in the area that comprises the National Forest of Leiria – also known as Pinhal do Rei -, this town, very popular in the summer months, enjoys a very picturesque beach.
It’s not large in size, and the sea is almost always rough here, but there’s no one to resist it. Mainly because going to São Pedro de Moel Beach has become a tradition for locals and visitors since several generations of vacationers have passed through there.
2. Água de Madeiros Beach
It’s next to a small town that was once very popular with those who wanted to spend weekends by the sea. Água de Madeiros Beach has not lost its charm and welcomes surfers and fishermen looking for fun – and fish – in those waters.
The rock formations are worthy of repair at the entrance to the beach, as is the dirt track that follows the sand above, leading to and from São Pedro de Moel.
3. Polvoeira Beach
The beautiful Polvoeira Beach extends into a bay, with incredible cliffs that make up a natural frame.
On the right side of the beach, the sea doesn’t seem to hit as hard, especially at high tide, which provides an excellent swimming opportunity.
On the left side, a large rock separates Polvoeira from Paredes de Vitória. Surfers call it “Lion’s Head.” I confess, I look at the stone and can’t recognize the animal…
4. Paredes de Vitória Beach
From Polvoeira to Paredes de Vitória Beach, the road is fast if you go by car. But a better experience is to walk it along the beautiful wooden walkway that stretches over that stretch of coastline.
Arriving at Paredes de Vitória, we find a village that grows and survives thanks to its beach… and what a beach! So extensive that it leaves no one indifferent. The gaze seems to be lost, trying to reach its end.
5. Vale Furado Beach
Nestled in the middle of high cliffs, Vale Furado Beach requires a good physical shape. It’s necessary to make a great descent to reach the beach.
But don’t be demoralized by that. From the car park, which also serves as a viewpoint, to put your feet in the water, you will see that this is a beautiful beach and is worth the trip.
6. Légua Beach
Another long and extensive beach, much sought after by fishing enthusiasts. Despite not having seen sound waves for surfing, I believe that it must have some magical days in the right conditions.
But even if you go here only for sunbathing, Légua Beach also enchants for its natural component, surrounded by a green slope.
7. North Beach
It hardly needs introductions. North Beach is the best known in the Nazaré region, mainly because it has some of the world’s biggest waves! This is due to the Canhão da Nazaré, a fault in the continental plate that channels the swell of the Atlantic straight to that location.
But don’t be alarmed, as the waves are not always big. When I was there recently, the swell was small, offering the possibility to go to baths.
In reality and apart from the waves, North Beach offers a vast and beautiful beach, surrounded by dunes full of vegetation, like beach thistles.
8. Nazaré Beach
A classic of Nazaré is its long beach, which, due to the orientation it assumes, offers the ideal conditions for going for a swim.
But the charm of Nazaré Beach is not only by the shore but at the beach entrance, where the Nazarene spirit and tradition is well represented.
You can see old boats, whose history is on display, and countless “paneiros” used to dry fish.
9. Salgado Beach
Leaving Nazaré and on the way to São Martinho do Porto, Salgado Beach is protected by two hills: the Pescaria, in the north, and the Mangues, in the south.
The length of this beach is unbelievable, and you can walk sideways a few meters and get more isolated. Indeed, a good option if you are looking for peaceful days on the beach.
10. São Martinho do Porto Beach
A classic from the coast of the Center of Portugal. São Martinho do Porto Beach is very popular on weekends and in summer months. And no less. The “West Seashell”, as that beautiful bay is known, is the perfect place for beach days.
The sand is extensive, and the waters are calm, as the waves are stopped by the narrowing of the land. Perfect for those who want to try some water sports, such as SUP (Stand Up Paddle).
11. Foz do Arelho Beach
The best of both worlds! The waves of the Atlantic that break on the coast side and the calm waters of the Óbidos Lagoon. Everything is sheltered by a huge sandbar that leaves space for everything, from sunbathing to beach games.
And to have an incredible view of Foz do Arelho Beach, there’s nothing like a walk on the wooden walkways that start closer to the village.
Whether to practice water sports, such as surfing, bodyboarding, or SUP, just to enjoy beautiful days in the sun or take walks by the sea, these beaches in the Center of Portugal offer beautiful moments.
There are many others to discover, but these 11 are, in my opinion, unmissable. If you have other suggestions, share with me in the comments box below and tell me why they are worth a visit.