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Peniche Portugal, Tourism Guide
Peniche is a major fishing port that has developed into a popular tourist destination due to the wonderful beaches that surround the town. These beaches have some of the best surfing waves in Western Europe and most visitors to Peniche are here either to surf the famous tube waves or to learn at one of the many excellent surf schools.
The town centre of Peniche
Peniche reflects the fishing industry and is a hard working town that has a raw and ramshackle appearance that has barely altered with the increase of tourism. Once beyond Peniche’s shabby appearance, there is a lot to love; with fantastic sea food restaurants, interesting day trips and of course the fantastic beaches. From the harbour of Peniche are boat trips to the Berlengas islands, Portugal’s oldest nature reserve and location of the spectacular Sao Joao Baptista fort. This guide will provide an introduction to Peniche.
Highlights of Peniche
The amazing sandy beaches that surround the town that are considered some of the best surfing beaches in Portugal.
The Islands of Berlengas, which are remote, barren but contain a dramatic coastline and a scenic fort.
Why is Peniche a surfing destination?
Peniche is a popular surfing destination for two reasons; there are amazing waves and there is always a beach which faces the best swells. Peniche faces the might of the Atlantic Ocean with huge waves rolling onto the long sandy beaches. The beaches of Peniche face multiple directions which means that there is always one which faces decent swells.
The waves around Peniche are considered as some of the finest in Western Europe. Medão beach if often referred to as Supertubos Beach as the waves, under the right weather conditions, form perfect tube waves (hence the name) and these can reach up to 3m high. To the north of Peniche the Praia de Baleal is a favourite with seasoned surfers.
The Peniche has a surfing vibe; with an undiscovered atmosphere and raw appearance. The town also has a range of excellent and inexpensive accommodation and while meals are always great value.
The Berlenga Islands
The Berlenga are a series of barren and rocky islands that are battered by powerful seas and strong winds, and are a haven for both bird and marine wildlife. Berlenga Grande, the largest of the islands, can be visited and offers a dramatic coastline of caves, grottos and a sea teaming with wildlife.
The harbour at Berlenga Grande
Sheltered between two headlands is the pretty harbour and one of the most picturesque beaches of Portugal, while further around the island is 17th century Sao Joao Baptista fort. The Berlenga Grande is reached via a regular ferry or speed boat service and the excursion to Berlenga is one of the highlights of the region. Due to the rough seas the ferries only operate between May and September, for a guide to the islands please click here.
The walk way to the fort
How long to spend in Peniche?
The length of stay in Peniche greatly depends how much time is going to be spend on the beaches or surfing in the sea. The historic area of Peniche, including the harbour and fort takes around half a day to explore while a full day is needed to visit the Berlengas islands. If touring the region 2 days is sufficient for Peniche, if here for the surf or beaches you will want to stay much longer…..
Fish being dried by traditional methods.
The Fortaleza de Peniche
The most important historical monument in Peniche is the Fortaleza de Peniche a sprawling fortified complex that stands atop the jagged cliffs close to the harbour. The 17th century fort is notorious with the Portuguese as it was used as a political prison during the Salazar “Estado Novo” dictatorship and the small museum details the dark history of the building.
The fort is perched on the edge of the cliffs
Peniche or Nazare
Both Peniche or Nazare are popular beach resorts and are both famed for their waves, Nazare hold the record for the largest surfed wave. Nazare is a much more charming town and is situated directly on the beach but tends to be much busier during the summer. Peniche’s beaches face different directions so there is always somewhere close by with decent waves. Generally, if you are touring Portugal then Nazare is slightly better but if the focus is surfing then Peniche should be the choice. Peniche is the only location with boats to Berlengas, so for this it should be included in a touring holiday.
Nazare and the beach of Nazare
When to visit Peniche
Peniche is a popular destination with the Portuguese and during the summer season the beaches will be busy and the town at it’s most lively. During the summer accommodation will be at its most expensive and should be booked well in-advance.
The average weather of Peniche
The surfing swells are at their best during the autumn months and this is when most surfers head to Peniche. Ferries to Berlenga stop in the early autumn so unless surfing there is very little point visiting during the winter when Peniche can appear quite grim. Late spring is a great time to visit when the weather is warm and bright but without the summer time crowds.
Travel to Peniche
There are direct bus services from Lisbon served by the national coach operator Rede Expressos or the regional coach operator Rodotejo. Annoyingly the two buses depart from different bus stations in Lisbon (Rede Expressos from Sete Rios and Rodotejo from Campo Grande). We recommend using Rede Expressos as Sete Rios is a much easier bus station to depart from and the Rede Expressos buses are faster with a higher level of comfort. The bus journey takes 1h30min, a single costs €8.60 and latest timetable can be found from the Rede Expressos website, www.rede-expressos.pt.