Peniche is known as the surf capital of Europe, drawing hundreds of thousands of pro and amateur surfers to its shores every year. But while the waves are incredible, there’s more to the town than surf. The seafood is incredible, the museums are charming, and the scenery is magnificent. As a working port, it has a slightly grittier feel to some of its flashier neighbors, but its authentic vibes make it all the more appealing. If you’re planning to visit, these are the 20 best things to do in Peniche, Portugal.
20. Sample the local cuisine
If you want to enjoy some authentic Portuguese cuisine, head straight for Avenida do Mar by the harbor. The area is littered with superb seafood restaurants, offering the perfect opportunity to indulge in some of the region’s most famous fishy dishes. Caldeirada, the Portuguese equivalent of bouillabaisse, is a must-try. If you’ve still got room for more after that, try the Arroz de marisco (a tasty combination of rice, crab, and shrimp), a bowl of warming lobster soup, or a plate of traditional barbequed sardines.
19. Hang with the locals at Três Ás
Três Ás is small, smoky, and incredibly atmospheric, with vintage bikes, black and white photos of Peniche, and fishing paraphernalia piled to the sky. Surfers love it, locals love it, and if you’re looking to enjoy a toastie, a beer, and some very lively company, there’s a good chance you’ll love it too.
18. Learn to surf
Peniche is considered one of the best places in Europe for surfing. If you were in any doubt about that, there are a hundred surf shops and surf schools every which way you look to remind you. If you’re new to watersports, use the opportunity to book a lesson or two. If you’re really keen, you could even book a place at a surfing camp, where you’ll learn everything there is to know about surfing safety, etiquette, and practices.
17. Soak up the waters at Praia da Consolação
Consolação beach is split into two distinct sections. The first is accessed from a craggy peninsula that leads to a golden sweep of beach buffeted by white surf and bracing breezes. If you want to surf, this is where to do it. The second section consists of a series of rocky coves known for their iodine-rich waters. According to many, soaking in the waters can help with everything from bone conditions to thyroid problems. Regardless of whether it does or doesn’t, it’s still an incredibly relaxing experience.
16. Visit Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios
If you visit Cabo Carvoeiro (which you really should, for the views if nothing else), be sure to allocate some time to Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, a 15th-century chapel that was built after a carving of the Virgin Mary was found etched into the rocks on the shoreline. Today, it serves as a pilgrimage, with thousands of devotees descending on it each year. If you’re around in October, be sure to check out its annual festival.
15. Grab a beer at Taberna do Ganhão
Peniche is crammed with bars, but if you want to indulge in an authentic Portuguese drinking experience, skip the newer establishments and head for Taberna do Ganhão, a creatively reimagined old school tavern where fishermen used to buy their wines and groceries and make their phone calls at the town’s first, and, for a while only, telephone. The spirit of the original is still very much intact, but the latest owners have taken a few tentative steps into the 21st century with the addition of some cute checkered tables and upscale (but still traditional) daily dishes like sweet and sour fried chicken and cuttlefish with garlic. Come evening, it’s a great place to grab a beer, some tapas, and enjoy the stunning views.
14. Check out the boats at Peniche Port
These days, Peniche’s economy relies mainly on the tourist trade, but there’s still plenty of locals who earn their living on the high seas. The port is the lively, colorful center of the town’s fishing industry. When the fleet comes in and unloads its catch on the quay, the buzz is infectious. If the salt air gives you an appetite, you’ll find plenty of restaurants in the vicinity that, as you’d expect, do a very fine line in seafood.
13. Shop with the surfers at Super Lagíde
Yep, a visit to a supermarket ranks as one of the best things to do in Peniche. Before you start getting snotty or having doubts about the quality of the town, it’s worth knowing Super Lagíde isn’t just an ordinary supermarket. Well, it is for most of the day, but then 5pm hits, and suddenly, it’s party time, with throngs of surfers, locals, and tourists descending on its patio to enjoy some two-for-one beers, lively chat, and incendiary views.
12. Enjoy a cocktail at Base
Base, Peniche’s hippest bar, is famous for its mixology. If you’re a cocktail connoisseur, you’ll love the creativity and flair of the menu. If you’re visiting during the week, grab a Gin Garden and head for the sunny lawn out front to soak up some rays (unless it’s a Tuesday, in which case, draw up a chair and get ready to tuck into the Taco Tuesday delights of carnitas tacos and pulled pork sliders). On the weekends, things get lively as Djs add some funk and house to the mix.
11. Take a trip to Baleal
if you want to get out of Peniche and explore the surrounding area for a day, take the advice of Lonely Planet and head for Baleal. A scenic island village that’s connected to the mainland village of Casais do Baleal by a narrow causeway, it’s an incredibly pretty place to relax, check out the little shops, and enjoy some surfing and sun-worshiping on its gorgeous stretch of golden beach. If you want to take your surfing skills to the next level, you’ll find plenty of surf schools dotted around the sand.
10. Visit Museu da Renda de Bilros
Peniche is home to the ancient tradition of bobbin lace, a form of lace-making that involves braiding and twisting lengths of thread on bobbins. According to dreamstime.com, bobbin lace is generally considered the main handcraft activity of the area, with a cultural heritage that spans centuries. It was originally developed by the women of the town as a means of supplementing the family’s fishing income. At its peak in the late 19th century, Peniche boasted 8 workshops and around 1000 weavers. Although it’s less popular now than it used to be, various establishments are doing an excellent job of preserving and promoting the ancient tradition. If you want to learn more about it, gotoportugal.eu recommends the Museu da Renda de Bilros as the place to head. Along with a short introductory film that gives you an oversight of the craft, there are numerous exhibitions that chronicle its history, production, and evolution.
9. Watch lace being made at Escola de Rendas de Bilros
If your visit to Museu da Renda de Bilros gave you an appetite to learn more about the ancient tradition of bobbin lace, head for Escola de Rendas de Bilros, a school attached to Peniche’s turismo building where you can watch the lace makers in action. Most of the nimble-fingered ladies who work there are incredibly chatty and friendly, so don’t be shy of asking questions.
8. Catch a sunset at Nau dos Corvos
To visit Portugal and not indulge in some of its famous seafood would be remiss (unless you have an allergy, in which case you’re forgiven). One of the best places in Peniche to sample some fruits of the sea is Nau dos Corvos, a seafood restaurant that offers some of the best food, best service, and best views in town. Located at the top of the peninsula, the restaurant boasts a rooftop viewing platform with sweeping views over the Atlantic. There’s no bad time to visit, but considering it promises some of the finest sunset views in the entire country, you’d be well advised to skip lunch and head there for an evening meal instead.
7. Bodyboard at Praia dos Supertubos
Named as one of the best things to do in Peniche by The Crazy Tourist, hitting the waves at Praia dos Supertubos is a must for water sport enthusiasts. It recently got voted one of Portugal’s seven natural wonders, but members of the surfing community have known and loved the beach for years. Whether by alchemy, magic, or some combination of the north wind, ocean currents, and shallow slopes, the waves are tall, hollow, and absolutely perfect for surfing and bodyboarding. Autumn has the best waves, but you can’t really go wrong at any time of the year. If you’d rather watch than participate, be sure to check out the annual Rip Curl Pro event in October when you’ll get to see some of the world’s greatest surfers in action.
6. Splash around at Sportágua
If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to dedicate an afternoon or a morning (or even a whole day, if you feel like it) to Sportágua waterpark. Located just off the man road into Peniche, it boasts a great assortment of water-based attractions for the whole family to enjoy. There’s a children’s pool for little ones to splash around in and a 35-meter pool for grown-ups to do the same. As per travel-in-portugal.com, there’s also an excellent range of slides, including a multi-track slide, two hill slides, and a high speed ‘kamikaze’ tube slide that’s perfect for adrenaline junkies. If you get peckish, treat yourself to a meal at the restaurant or a snack from one of the various refreshment stands. If you prefer to bring your own food, you’ll find plenty of shaded picnic spots scattered around the park to make use of.
5. Explore the churches
As smartertravel.com notes, Peniche is full of beautiful, historic churches to explore. The architecture is stunning, but it’s the tranquility of their interiors that really hits the spot. Regardless of whether you’re religious or not, they offer a place of quiet reflection and contemplation. Key churches not to miss include the Church of our Lady Conceicao with its bell tower and gorgeous tiled roof and the Church of Misericordia with its clock tower. Igreja de São Pedro is also unmissable – originally constructed in the 1500s, it was given a major facelift in the 17th and 18th centuries with the addition of a Baroque chancel devoted to St Peter.
4. Take a trip to Óbidos
Travel just 15 minutes from Peniche and you’ll find Óbidos, a tiny town that obidosportugaltourism.com describes as one of Portugal’s most beautiful destinations. A stunningly preserved medieval village, it served as the stomping grounds of Portuguese queens from the 1200s to 1500s. In 1951, the castle and village were classified as national monuments and in 2007, it was named as one of the seven wonders of Portugal. Understandably, it gets a lot of attraction from the tourist crowd, but providing you avoid visiting on the weekend, you should still be able to wander around its pretty, warren-like streets and explore its tiny artisanal shops in relative peace. If you want to see how the Portuguese like to party, Óbidos hosts numerous festivals throughout the year that are open to all, including the Chocolate Festival in spring, the Medieval Fari in summer, the Literary Festival in fall, and the Christmas Village in winter.
3. Camp at Berlengas Archipelago
Berlengas Archipelago consists of 3 islands located around 10 km off Peniche’s shoreline. If you like wildlife, the chance to explore this scenic nature reserve is unmissable. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the colony of puffins that call it home. Although there’s no permanent settlement on the island, it boasts a reminder of its previous inhabitants in the form of a fort and a former penal colony, the latter of which now serves as a campsite – if you plan on spending a night or two under the stars during your Portuguese adventure, this is where to do it. The rocky shoreline is dramatic, with plenty of small, deserted beaches to explore. Ferries leave regularly for the islands from Peniche.
2. Visit Museu Municipal de Peniche
The Museu Municipal de Peniche isn’t huge, but it’s fascinating. Housed in the Fortress of Peniche (which previously served as the prison of the pre-revolutionary “Estado Novo”), the museum has an intriguing number of exhibits dedicated to the anti-fascist resistance movement. There’s also an archaeological section consisting of Neolithic artifacts discovered at the Gruta da Furninha cave, along with collections of malacology, boatmaking, underwater archaeology, and bobbin lace. if you want to learn more about Peniche and ancient traditions, it’s a must-visit.
1. Head for the Headland
If you like a sunset, a hike, and breathtakingly beautiful views, spend at least one of your evenings at Cabo Carvoeiro. Located at the very tip of the peninsula, it boasts the distinction of being the most westerly point in Portugal. There’s a lighthouse that dates back to 1790, spectacular views of the Berlenga islands, and a very fine restaurant from which to enjoy the magnificent sunset. If you’ve got the energy and the time, it’s worth coming back during the day to take the 8km circuit of the whole headland.