Peniche is known for its beaches, surfing, and strong connection to the sea. Hundreds of years ago, it was an island, but in the meantime, it joined the mainland. During its history, it was the target of constant attacks by pirates and other invaders, and it has one of the largest traditional fishing ports in Portugal. It is a land with many mysteries and charms to find. Come and discover what to see and do in Peniche.
Peniche is located in the center of Portugal, about 100 km from Lisbon. It is a place where fishing is still essential, but it is currently the stage for important international surfing competitions. It has a wide variety of beaches with ideal characteristics for beach and surfing, attracting tourists from all over. But besides its beaches, it has a rich history and many historical landmarks.
Peniche is a fascinating place for a getaway or even a more extended vacation. It has historical landmarks, desert islands, cliffs with Jurassic traces, and the second westernmost cape on the Portuguese coast.
What to do and visit in Peniche? 10 Things Not to Miss
Fortress of Peniche
The Peniche fortress is an important national and historical monument. Built in the 16th century to protect the country against invaders and pirates, it formed a defensive line together with the Consolação beach fort and the S. João Baptista Fort.
Later, during the Estado Novo (1933 and 1974), it was transformed into a political prison, housing critical public figures. Inside the fortress is the Museum of Resistance and Freedom, where you can find information about the resistance movement during the Estado Novo dictatorship. The museum is temporarily closed due to works (2022).
Next to the fortress, under a tunnel, is São Pedro Beach, which is very small but beautiful. There is also a square with a viewpoint with beautiful views of the sea and the Visconde district.
The Visconde neighborhood is the fishermen’s neighborhood located near the Peniche Fort. It is a picturesque neighborhood full of colorful houses in a tangle of streets overlooking the sea.
The district was created for fishermen and workers in the canning industry by the Visconde de Trevões, hence its name. It is well worth walking through the alleys’ labyrinth and discovering this fishing district’s details. In addition, it has magnificent views of the sea.
Bilros Lace Museum of Peniche
Bilros lace is a way of making lace through the intertwining of threads attached to a piece of wood, called the bilro – it is made over a pillow. It is an art that women have performed, especially in coastal areas such as Vila do Conde and Peniche, since the 19th century. XVII.
It is thought to have origins and influence from Flanders. In Peniche, this lace became extremely popular, with eight workshops teaching how to make Bilros lace to children as young as four. The lace is beautiful and detailed. This art is in disuse despite the incentives to teach and do it.
To preserve the cultural heritage of Bilros lace and to show some beautiful pieces, the Peniche Chamber created the Museum of Bilros, where you can appreciate pieces made with bilros lace and learn all about this very different form to earn income.
Baleal was once an island, but today it is a peninsula connected to the land only by a strip of sand. It is located 6.7 km north of Peniche, and it can be reached by car or bicycle. If you want, there is a lovely bike path from the city of Peniche to Baleal, always by the beach.
The name Baleal comes from the fact that in the past, in the Middle Ages, it was a place for fishing and cutting whales. The island has a small fishing village with some houses and tourist accommodations. It has the chapel of Santo Estêvão, a fort that was never finished, and the Baleal fountain, which was the only source of water supply in the past. It is a tiny village, but very charming.
But the main attraction of Baleal is its beaches, Baleal Norte and Baleal Sul, which are joined only by an isthmus of sand, with a narrow road that only passes one car at a time. The beaches of Baleal, especially Baleal Sul, are among the most beautiful beaches in Peniche and Portugal.
One of the main reasons to go to Peniche is the beaches, as it has some of the best beaches in the country. Due to their characteristics, the beaches are also ideal for surfing and bodyboarding, which is why Peniche is sometimes called the wave capital.
The list of beaches in Peniche is extensive, but in our opinion, these are the best beaches:
- Praia Baleal do Sul – It is a beach of great beauty located south of Baleal. This beach has a long stretch of white sand and a relatively calm sea. It is ideal for families with children.
- Praia da Gamboa – It is the closest beach to the city of Peniche, next to the lighthouse. It is delimited by the walls of the Peniche fortress and a sea wall. It is a small beach, but it is sheltered, and the sea is calm.
- Praia do Medão Supertubos – It is one of the most famous beaches, known for surfing and at the same time the ideal place for sunbathing and swimming. With extensive sand, surrounded by dunes and a spectacular sea, it’s a fantastic beach.
- Praia da Consolação – It is located near the fort of Consolação. In addition to being a good beach, it is very popular for having rocks rich in iodine that have therapeutic properties, as explained below.
All the beaches mentioned above are blue flag beaches, with good access, bathrooms, and parking areas. These beaches have access for people with reduced mobility and are recommended for families with children.
Remember that Peniche’s beaches are usually windy and can have strong waves, especially Medão beach Supertubos.
Sunbathing on Praia das Rochas
Praia das Rochas is a rocky beach on the south side of Praia da Consolação Fort. It is a unique beach that attracts people looking for the therapeutic effects of its iodine-rich rocks. The joint action of the sun and rocks helps to relieve joint pain, which is suitable for people with bone and rheumatic problems.
The beach is made up of rocks and slabs where you can spread your towel, feel the heat of the rocks, and be in the sun. It’s a pleasant feeling to feel the heat of the stones and the sun, although, after some time sitting on a hard floor, it’s not very comfortable.
The beach is full of people, usually older people, who come back year after year and swear by the positive effect of these rocks and the miraculous sun.
Surfing in Peniche
Peniche’s beaches are significant for surfing, with ideal conditions for surfing, such as the size of the waves, the wind, and the swell. A professional surfing competition is held yearly on Supertubos beach in Peniche – the Rip Curl Pro Portugal – which is why it is famous worldwide.
The recommended beaches for surfing in Peniche are:
- Molhe Leste
- Porto Batel
- North Beach
Peniche is also one of the best regions to go to a surf camp in Portugal, but if you want only a few lessons or rent equipment, several surf schools are also available.
Explore the geological attractions of Peniche and Cape Carvoeiro
The Peniche peninsula is a place of great geological importance. The limestone cliffs and rocks surrounding the peninsula contain traces from the beginnings of the Jurassic Period, around 200 million years ago. Some of these zones include:
- Ponta do Trovão – Located in the northern part of the Peniche peninsula, it is considered by the international scientific community as having the best worldwide record of the transition between the Pliensbaquian-Toarcian time intervals. This place received a geology award in 2014, the Prego Dourado.
- Papôa – it is a small islet joined to Peniche by a small strip of sand. To go to Papôa, you must walk a short trail, which is quite pleasant, with stairs and bridges, until you reach the tip of the islet. This place is of geological interest because it finds rocks that reveal the volcanic origin of Papôa.
- Cape Carvoeiro – the area surrounding the cape is rich in geological remains, but it is also a geographical landmark; it is the second westernmost cape on the Portuguese coast. Close to the projection, you will find a beautiful lighthouse and lapias – fractures in the rocks produced by the disillusionment of the rock. In addition to the stones, you will find the islet Nau dos Corvos – the small islet in front of the cape.
Riding a Bike on the ciclovia
One of the best ways to explore Peniche is by bike. In addition to enjoying the city better, you can stop wherever you want and don’t have to worry about parking. Besides, the city is relatively flat, you need to be mindful of the wind.
Peniche has a 3.53 km cycle path that goes from Peniche (the roundabout of the patron saint of fishermen) to Baleal. It’s an easy path, always close to the sea; the most significant challenge will be the wind. From there you can go to all the beaches of Baleal Bay and Baleal Island.
Another enjoyable route to do by bike is to go around the peninsula of Peniche. It is a wonderful path that follows the coast and the cliffs, where you can stop at all the viewpoints and geological landmarks. The complete tour of the peninsula is about 10 km, with a flat route. The big drawback of this route is that it doesn’t have a bike path; you must go on the road with the cars.
To rent a bike in Peniche, you have several options, the WOT Peniche and Berlengas Bike Team are some places that rent bikes.
One of the most fun things to do in Peniche is going to the Berlengas. The Berlengas is an archipelago on the Portuguese coast formed by three sets of granite islands. They are desert islands except for the Berlenga Grande, the only habitable one, but it does not have a permanent population throughout the year.
The island of Berlenga Grande is an island with a beautiful beach; it has the fort of S. João Baptista from the 17th century, a lighthouse, and a small village with a restaurant and accommodation. Although small, the island has a lot to do. In addition to relaxing and bathing on its beautiful beach, you can hike and see hundreds of seagulls. You can go Snorkeling and diving or take a boat tour and discover the island’s caves.
Remember that you should reserve a whole day to visit the island. You can also spend the night on the island, staying at Forte S. Batista, at the currently closed campsite, or rent a room in the fishing village.
We strongly advise you to go to the Berlengas. Besides offering some stunning views and cool activities, the trip to the island itself is legendary. Going on the high seas can be adventurous and sometimes even frightening, but rest assured that they only travel when conditions exist. Plus, you can choose to go in a bigger and slower boat, not feeling the swell as much. The boat crossing to the Berlengas takes between 20 and 50 minutes, depending on the boat and sea conditions.
Where to stay in Peniche
Peniche is the land of surf and attracts many surfers from all over the world. This led to the presence of several cheap hostels and hostels with a relaxed atmosphere. The best options for relatively cheap hostels with good vibes are:
It’s a hostel that offers the option of staying in a dorm with a shared bathroom or a room with a private bathroom. Breakfast is included, and it has a delightful common area with a ping pong table, billiards, and several tables to socialize. They also can rent a surfboard and bicycle, or if you have a board, you can store it at the hostel. It has a pleasant atmosphere and is recommended for surfers. We loved our stay here and strongly suggest it. See pricing and more information here.
Supertubos Beach Hostel
This hotel near the Supertubos beach has excellent amenities. It has a shared kitchen where you can prepare meals, and breakfast is included. It has a pleasant atmosphere with a great location. It is also suitable for surfers, as you can store your board at the hostel. See customer reviews and prices here.
We suggest the Neptuno hotel below if you prefer a more luxurious hotel and a place to relax with a pool.
The hotel Neptuno is near Consolação beach and has a garden and outdoor swimming pool – ideal conditions to relax and enjoy. You can stay in a private bungalow or in a modern room with a private bathroom, which is nice. Breakfast is included. Check price and availability here.
What to eat in Peniche
In Peniche, it is mandatory to eat fish and seafood (or it should be). Grilled, cooked in a stew, all forms are delicious. The main fish specialties in Peniche are:
- Caldeirada de Peniche à Pescador– this dish is prepared with several fresh fish of the day cooked with potatoes and vegetables, which are covered in a delicious tomato sauce. This stew is so comforting, and the tomato sauce gives the dish soul. It’s one of those dishes you’ll want to repeat over and over again.
- Roasted sardines – Eating roasted sardines is a good bet in any coastal city in Portugal. And Peniche is no exception. Fresh sardines grilled over the grill with a bit of olive oil accompanied by boiled potatoes and roasted peppers, you can’t go wrong.
- Grilled fish – Generally, restaurants in Peniche serve the fish caught that day. You can choose the fish you want, and they will grill it. They are usually served with vegetables and boiled potatoes. It’s the best way of eating fish. Besides sardines, the most common fish caught on the coast of Peniche are sea bass, horse mackerel, ray, sea bream, and hake.
- Seafood – You can eat good quality seafood in several restaurants in Peniche. You’ll find the popular barnacles, clams, shrimp, crab, whelks, and much more.
As far as sweets are concerned, you will find some unique and reference sweets, which can only be found in pastry shops in Peniche. The most famous are:
- Penichense or Amigo de Peniche– Typical Peniche sweet from the Roma pastry shop; it is made with egg and almond sweets. They are delicious, and you will want to eat more than one.
- S from Peniche – They are “S” shaped cookies made with almonds covered in sugar. Our favorites.
- Renda doce – a candy created at the Calé II pastry shop to honor the tradition of bilros lace. They are cookies with different flavors, lemon, ginger, or caramel, and they have a secret ingredient: macroalgae. In addition to being delicious, they are beautiful; the shape on top of the cookie imitating bobbin lace is so delicate and beautiful that you will feel sorry to eat them.
- Sweet sardines – They are a sweet made with shortcrust pastry and filled with egg jam, and have the typical sardine shape. Thus the name.
Peniche has several excellent restaurants, but the ones we like the most are the restaurant Sardinha, the Toca do Texugo, and the Profresco Peixaria & Restaurante. The latter has a fun concept, as it is a fish store where you can choose the fish to buy and then eat in the restaurant. As for sweets, go to Pastelaria Roma, Pastelaria Brismar and Pastelaria Calé II.
What to visit near Peniche?
Bacahôa Buddha Eden Garden
Buddha Eden Garden is a park with 35 hectares in Quinta dos Loridos about 30 km from Peniche. The park is an exotic and unusual place in Portugal, even in Europe, as it is the most extensive Oriental garden in Europe. Upon entering the park, you will feel like you are in a completely different country. Scattered through the gardens are statues of giant buddhas, pagodas, 700 terracotta statues, African sculptures, and Modern sculpture statues.
José Berardo built the gardens in 2001 as a form of protest against the destruction of the giant Afghan asses of Bamiyan by the Taliban. He desired to create a place of peace and tranquility.
The park is divided into three main areas: the Oriental garden with hundreds of buddhas, pagodas, and a pond with Koi fish; an area with modern sculptures; and a garden with African sculptures and savannah animals. This area is dedicated to the Shona people of Zimbabwe.
In addition to the scattered statues and art, the park is surrounded by lakes, palm trees, flowers, and trees from different parts of the world, making the garden pleasant and a peaceful place to walk and enjoy art. The park also has Modern and Contemporary sculptures on display with pieces from the Berardo collection from artists such as Joana Vasconcelos, Fernando Botero, Tony Cragg, and others.
The entrance fee to the park is €5, and the garden is constantly being renovated, changing the art on display. It has access for people with reduced mobility and even has a train for those who cannot walk long distances. In the end, a shop sells Quinta dos Loridos wines and Bacalhôa wines.
Caldas da Rainha and Foz do Arelho
Caldas da Rainha is a town located very close to Peniche – just 35 km to the north, which is about 30 minutes by car. It is a beautiful city with a historical center and an exciting city park. It is also well known for its thermal baths and for being a therapeutic refuge.
But one of the most exciting things to do in Caldas da Rainha is to go to Foz do Arelho, which is 15 minutes from the city. Foz do Arelho is where the Óbidos lagoon flows into the sea, creating incredible landscapes. You get the best of both worlds; on the one hand, we have a lake with calm waters. And on the other side, we have the blue flag beach. This area is also trendy for windsurfers.
Nazaré is a coastal village located 64 km north of Peniche, about 50 minutes by car. It is a very picturesque village famous for its beach and giant waves. In 2011, surfer Garrett McNamara surfed the biggest wave in the world at 23.77m high, breaking a Guinness World Record.
In addition to being a mecca for giant wave surfers, the village has one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the country, the Miradouro do Sítio, which overlooks the white town of Nazaré and the beautiful beach of Nazaré. We strongly recommend visiting Nazaré.
Ericeira is one of Portugal’s most mythical resort towns; it is 95 km south of Peniche, about an hour by car. Ericeira has magnificent beaches and a charming historic center. It is also a reference area for surfing, with several renowned beaches for surfing. Ericeira is a great place to rest and enjoy the beach and its good vibe.
How to go to Peniche?
The best way to go to Peniche is by car. In addition to being easier to get there, you will need the car to go to most of the beaches of Peniche and to travel to places outside Peniche such as the Buddha Eden Garden or if you choose to go to Óbidos, Óbidos lagoon, Nazaré, etc.
From Lisbon, the best way to reach Peniche is via the A17 and A8 highways, which are 103 km long and take 1h20 min. It is the most direct way and follows a more coastal route that allows you to access some other beach towns such as Ericeira. This highway is paid and has sections that can only be paid electronically, so cars must have this reader.
From Porto, the best way is also via the A17 and A8 highways, which is 268 km and takes 2h30. The highway is paid automatically, so you must have an electronic reader.
We recommend you choose to go by bus as the train is not easy, there is no direct connection. The two largest transport companies are Rede Expresso and Flixbus, which you can catch in several main cities in Portugal, such as Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra. They are cheap comfortable and usually have free internet.