The best independent guide to Central Portugal
The best independent guide to Central Portugal
The Lagoa de Obidos is a beautiful lagoon surrounded by pristine pine forests, which opens out onto the sea by the charming town of Foz do Arelho.
Foz do Arelho is a delightful beach resort which is bursting with Portuguese character, and overlooks one of the finest beaches of central Portugal. The Praia da Foz do Arelho is a magnificent beach, with golden sands and a dual aspect; with one side facing the might of the Atlantic Ocean and the other the calm waters of the lagoon, which is popular with Portuguese families.
Foz do Arelho and the Lagoa de Obidos is a peaceful, undiscovered gem of central Portugal, and this is surprising considering it is so close to popular Obidos (just 9km away). There is also a lot to do within the Lagoa de Obidos region, there are water activities on the lagoon (sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing or kayaking), surfing on the mighty waves, along with scenic footpaths and cycle routes around the lagoon.
The Lagoa de Obidos on a busy summer’s day
On the southern side of the lagoon is the Praia do Bom Sucesso beach and this region been transformed into an exclusive golfing area, with the West Cliffs, Praia del Rey Royal Obidos courses, offering some of Portugal’s most stunning golf courses.
During the summer the town of Foz do Arelho has an enjoyable atmosphere and within it are found traditional Portuguese restaurants and bars.
The beautiful lagoon beach, providing an idyllic setting, soft sands and safe waters to splash around in.
The Portuguese atmosphere of Foz do Arelho; families playing on the beach, traditional restaurants serving inexpensive food, and old men sat on benches whiling the day away.
The safe waters of the lagoon ideal for learning to windsurf, kitesurf, sail or to kayak around
The cliff sidewalk north to the Miradouro Foz do Arelho viewpoint
The Lagoa de Obidos is a tidal saltwater lagoon, surrounded on both sides by two headlands.
On the northern headland and at the mouth of the lagoon is Foz do Arelho, while on the southern side is the much smaller village of Praia do Bom Sucesso. South of Bom Sucesso is the exclusive golfing area with four courses that overlook the sea.
The rear of the lagoon is the most pristine, and this is the best area for secluded hiking trails and empty cycling paths or nature watching. The sprawling village of Nadadouro offers lots of rental villas and is another tranquil area of the lagoon.
The main town of Foz do Arelho sits at the top of the northern headland and is a lively Portuguese town, with a decent selection of shops, restaurants and bars.
The sunset set over the Lagoa de Obidos – All sunsets are spectacular in Portugal as the country faces a westerly direction and the sun sets over the ocean
The majority of day-trippers to the Lagoa de Obidos come for the beach at Foz do Arelho. This is a truly magnificent beach and one of best for families along the Silver Coast (another good family beach is at São Martinho do Porto).
The powerful Atlantic has created a massive sand dune between the sea and the lagoon and divides the beach into two. The seaward side is wild and untamed, with huge waves crashing onto the beach, strong winds and rugged cliffs further along the coastline.
The seaward side of the Praia da Foz do Arelho
The lagoon facing beach is the complete opposite, as the sand dune provides shelter from the wind and waves. The lagoon waters at the Praia da Foz do Arelho are calm and shallow, while the tidal flow ensures the waters are much cleaner than most lakes or rivers.
The lagoon side of the Praia da Foz do Arelho is popular with Portuguese families, and the vast size of the beach means there is plenty of space of everyone - unlike the car park!
Insight: If you are based in Lisbon, and are after a lagoon setting, the Lagoa de Albufeira on the Setubal Peninsula is just as pretty as the Lagoa de Obidos, and is much closer.
The calm waters of the lagoon beach
The Lagoa de Obidos is one of the best locations for water sports, especially if you are learning. The lagoon provides calm water (no waves or currents), which never completely drains to low tide (there is always waist-high water).
The winds are great for learning kite surfing as they are onshore, and without the unpredictability of the coastline. There are many kitesurfing schools based in Praia do Bom Sucesso (thekitesurflodge.com and www.privat-kite.de)
If you wish to rent water sports equipment (windsurf, kayaks etc.), then the best location is Escola de Vela da Lagoa (escoladeveladalagoa.com) near Nadadouro.
A day trip to Foz do Arelho usually is to spend time on the beach or combined with a visit to Obidos. Obidos is an extremely delightful walled town, but it is only small, taking a maximum of two hours to explore, and is usually crowded with tourists. The space and tranquillity of the Lagoa de Obidos is the perfect location to follow on with.
Note: In the peak summer months the car park by the beach can get crowded with Portuguese day-trippers. If you’re coming here for a beach day, plan to arrive earlier, or in the afternoon it may be easier to park slightly out of the town.
The Lagoa de Obidos and Foz do Arelho is a great destination for a holiday or as a base to explore the central Portugal region. The area is picturesque and relaxing, and has an authentic Portuguese atmosphere.
It is only a short drive (10min) to the much more touristy town of Obidos, with its many bars and restaurants. There are many wonderful areas close by to explore and day trips could include the fishing town of Peniche, the surfing town of Nazaré or the market town of Caldas da Rainha.
Personal insight: When some friends with a young family (3 and 6) were planning a trip to Portugal for the first time, we recommended Foz do Arelho, out of the whole of Portugal. This is how good this undiscovered and beautiful region is.
Below is a map of Foz do Arelho showing the location of the best hotels and holiday rentals – if you adjust to the dates of your holiday it will display current prices and availability (zoom in or out to see more accommodation options)
The headland south of the Lagoa de Obidos has been transformed into an exclusive golfing region boasting four of Portugal’s finest course; Praia del Rey, Royal Obidos, West Cliffs and Bom Sucesso.
Each complex offers outstanding golf, with views over the Atlantic and the coastline, along with refined amenities, exclusive villas and hotel developments. Further information can be found on their websites:
Royal Obidos - www.royalobidos.com
West Cliffs - www.westcliffs.com
Bom Sucesso - www.bomsucesso.com.pt
Praia del Rey - www.praia-del-rey.com
Note: Fortunately, none of the golf courses can be seen from the Lagoa de Obidos, and none of them has directly impacted the region.
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