Portugal this Spring
I love spring! In fact I bet the whole of the nation would say the same. The days are longer, the sun is brighter and the air smells delightfully sweeter. However, reaching this time of year can sometimes feel like such a long old slog. So if you are anything like me and can’t wait for the new season to arrive, then I would highly recommend getting away and visiting somewhere like Portugal this Spring…just to keep you going that little longer! In Portugal the sun is warmer, the sea temperature is bearable and the smells and colours of the spring flowers are mind-blowing.
There is so much to do in Portugal. During our last 10 day trip we travelled from Ericeria to Sagres and packed so much in; such as exploring and surfing the beautiful and wild beaches of the west coast, visting quint fishing villages, indulging in the local cuisine and taking a tram in the capital of Lisbon!
If you want to discover great surf spots during your trip to Portugal as well as being somewhere with a bit of history and culture, then you must stay in Ericeria. The charming fishing town is a 45 minute drive North West of Lisbon, and there is plenty of accommodation in the area. The town itself is bursting with character and traditional portuguese architecture, where many of the buildings are covered in beautiful tiles, also known as Azulejos. On the restaurant / cafe front you will not be disappointed. There is an abundance of pastelarias serving warm and delicious pastel de nata’s with great coffee, and as expected most restaurants have locally caught fresh fish on the menu…mmm. Ericeria is a cute town, I particularly enjoyed seeing the old men hang out together either to play chess or to watch the waves lapping against the shore.
Ericeria is a great place to base yourself, with lots to see without going too far. Of course you can spend a day out in Lisbon, or if you fancy even more culture and history then you must visit Sintra; a UNESCO world heritage site where a once ruined monastery was turned into a castle in the 19th century. As well as the castle, the site also contains other romantic architectural ruins and it is located in the centre of a beautiful nature park…so definitely one for the list.
North of Ericeria you can also check out Peniche, another seaside town that not only has the largest fishing port in Portugal, it is also home to some of the best surf breaks in the world. If you visit there in October you may also get to see some of the best surfers in the world competing in the WSL world tour.
What would any trip be without visiting the capital? Lisbon has so much to offer and the city is packed with interesting architecture, so if you enjoy site seeing, you could literalty spend all day wondering. One of my favourite things to do, is going for a stroll through the quirky and cobbled streets of Alfama. When you get tired or if you fancy a break from walking and seeing the sites, you can then alway indulge in the popular cafe scene listening to soulful Fado music.
Surfing the West Coast
As you can imagine surf spots isn’t something Portugal is short of. The whole of the west coast is a complete swell magnet. There are so many different options, from beachies to river mouths, to point breaks and reefs. Unfortunately, one thing you can’t always escape is the wind. Spring is a good time to surf in Portugal because the water temperature is starting to warm up (much more than in theUK) and the Northly winds are no where near as bad as they are in the summer. Sagres in the very South of Portugal isn’t a bad spot if the wind picks up too much, as there are plenty of sheltered spots that still pick up the swell. Although one word of warning, it is much more crowded than some of the other spots on the West Coast. I absolutely loved the west coast, it is so wild and rugged. Reminded me of being in Cornwall.
One of the highlights of Portugal for me is the local cuisine. The food in Portugal is ideal if you are a pescatarian, there are so many great fish dishes on the menu. It would be a crime not to order their grilled sardines or leave without trying the Cataplana, which is a delicious fish stew cooked in a Moorish copper domed dish.
For those of you that have a sweet tooth, all I can say is Pastel de nata’s! Pastel de nata is a Portuguese egg pastry…nothing like the thick and heavy egg tarts you get in the UK…these are something different and out of this world. As you can tell I really like Pastel de nata’s. They are even better when served warm with a local coffee and you can buy them anywhere. Despite the west coast feeling wild and desolate sometimes, you can normally find a local cafe near by and they are always so clean and serve great food.
Another great thing about the food in Portugal is if you are self catering, you can buy your own locally caught fresh fish to stick on a BBQ…mmm…can’t beat it!
Portugal is such a beautiful country and I can’t wait to visit again one day. There is so much to do and see there, and it is definitely worth escaping the Algarve to get a real taste of the country. Next time I intend on heading further North, to check out Porto and the Douro-e-Minho Province.
Have you been to Portugal and if so do you have any recommendations you would like to share?