The understated, Portuguese town of Ericeira may not as yet have suggested itself to you as being high on your list of places to visit. The small fishing town, known mainly to the Portuguese people may have you asking yourself if it is worth visiting. The answer is quite definitely yes.
Ericeira is located 50 km from the Portuguese capital Lisbon. It has yet to be discovered as a mass tourist resort, which makes this relatively unknown gem simply charming. Yet in spite of a lack of overseas tourists, Ericeira caters extremely well for visitors. It welcomes an influx of Portuguese holidaymakers in the summer months and as many surfers in the winter. You can find beautiful hotel accommodation, an array of restaurants and bars, and a surprising number of activities and attractions.
So if you are still wondering if Ericeira is worth a visit, here are 7 of the best reasons for adding it to the top your vacation list.
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A Surfer’s Paradise
Ericeira is known for surfing, and whether you are an experienced surfer or are a complete beginner, there are waves to suit every level. Considered as the surfing capital of Europe, Ericeira is the only place acknowledged by the World Surfing Reserves.
Beginners are advised to visit Ericeira between the months of May and October. Intermediates from Jun to October and those advanced in surfing, between September and January. If you are familiar with surf terminology, the diversity of waves in Ericeira has everything from Beach breaks to Point breaks. Here are a few of the surf spots along the coast.
|Foz do Lizandro||Ribeira D’Ilhas||Pedra Branca|
|Wave Type||Left and Right Beach Break||Right hand Point Break||Left Hand Reef Break|
|Wave Height||0.5 to 2.5 Meters||0.5 to 4.0 Meters||0.5 – 2.5m|
|Wave Length||30 – 50 M||150 – 300||40 – 100 meters|
If you are a beginner, there are many surf schools offering tuition. Prices range from 40 euro for 1 lesson or 170 euros for 5 lessons. This includes surfboard, wetsuit and insurance and is for 90 minutes tuition per lesson.
A Stone’s Throw from Lisbon
One of the best things about staying in the quaint fishing village of Ericeira is that you are so close to the beautiful, hilly capital of Lisbon. In just a 45 minute drive you can experience the contrasting vibrancy of city life. After a few days of surfing, or relaxing on the unspoiled beaches of Ericeira, why not take a day trip or weekend break to neighboring Lisbon. Here you can enjoy buzzing nightlife, international cuisine and give your camera access to some of the most stunning architecture that a city has to offer.
With several tours starting from Lisbon, it will only cost you 9 euros for a private transfer to the capital. From here you can choose from exciting tours to some of the most outstanding attractions in the area. For example, you can take a full day tour which includes Sintra and Mafra, for just 50 euro. Or for a similar price, take in Pena Palace, and Mafra. The list goes on.
There are so many excursions to be had in and around the Lisbon area and being just a stone’s throw away in Ericeira, means you can easily take advantage of them. Alternatively, if your main vacation is in Lisbon, there are several day trips available to Ericeira for a similar price. Either way this combination is a match made in heaven.
A Certain Unspoiled Charm
Unlike most of the tourist destinations in Portugal, Ericeira has a subtle charm about it, which gives the visitor a sense of peace and tranquility. It makes your visit to this little town, a refreshing change from the busy, bustling more popular destinations that surround it.
Ericeira’s beaches project a natural beauty with rugged coastlines and powerful surf. Fishermen’s cottages adorn the cliff tops, and they are interspersed with a variety of restaurants and bars. The cobbled streets lay way to white and blue houses, and you will stumble across several stone monuments on your walk through the center of town.
Dating back to the 12th century, you can still see much of its history, preserved in the many chapels and Baroque style palaces, completely unspoiled by modern day life. The beauty of staying in such an unassuming place, is that you are never far from more lively towns if you want a change of scene every once in a while.
Activities and Attractions
Although surfing plays a huge part in Ericeira’s tourism magnet, there is so much more that this little fishing town has to offer. Mafra Palace is one of the world’s largest palaces, and is located just 14 minutes away. Built in a grand Baroque style, by King Joao V, this beautiful palace is classified as a world heritage site. There are regular tours incorporating the Mafra Palace, and it is also accessible by bus. This really is one to add to your itinerary.
No trip to Portugal is complete without visiting at least one Vineyard, and Ericeira is no exception. Some of the finest wines are produced in this part of the world, and there are many day trips with wine tasting experiences to be found. Prices start from 15 euro and depend on vineyard location. Some tours incorporate the wine tasting experience, with other attractions such as the Mafra Palace. Alternatively many of the bus route will take you near to them.
If you are interested in architecture then Ericeira has a lot to offer. Mostly designed in the Baroque style, you can find many monuments and chapels to explore. Igreja de Sao Pedro, which is Ericeira’s main monument, dates back to 1446 and is just a short walk from the center. The stunning white and blue Capela de Boa Viagem dates back to the 15th century. It is located on a terrace above the Praia dos Pescadores beach, and for century’s protected local fisherman who observed it as a beacon.
A Town For All Seasons
Ericeira is an ideal location to visit at any time of the year. In the summer months, the resort is packed with native Portuguese, and is a popular destination for them to take their vacation. Should you choose to visit during this time, from May to October, then expect to enjoy a lively tourist experience. Restaurants with live music, playing jazz and blues can be heard filling the cobbled streets until the early hours. Music festivals are popular during July and August, and hotels can get booked up fast, so be sure to book nice and early.
In the winter months, Ericeira turns from summer vacation, into a surfer’s paradise. Known as “Surfing Mecca”, you can expect to find surfer’s arriving from all over the world, to take advantage of Ericerias world class surf zones. If surfing is not your thing, then perhaps a winter yoga retreat is for you. Ericeria offers several of these, and combine surfing with yoga to create a way to completely relax and get in touch with nature.
Temperatures in Ericeira, range from a mild 15 degrees Celsius in the winter months of Dec and Jan, to a very warm 28 degrees in Jul and Aug. For those interested in frequenting the many water activities on offer, the sea temperature is pretty comfortable all year round, measuring between 14 and 18 degrees.
A Variety of Beaches To Suit Everyone
One thing that Ericeira offers visitors in abundance, is its many stunning beaches. There are four main beaches, two major surfing beaches, and some smaller secluded coves, scattered in between.
Praia dos Pescadores, is the most central of the beaches. The name translates to ‘Fishermen’s Beach’ and not surprisingly you can find many fishing boats in its scenic harbor. This beach is popular with families due to its calmer waters. Praia de Norte is located north of the town and is also very good for couples and surfers. The main surfing beach is Parai de Riberia d’Ilhas where the surfing championships happen each year.
If you are looking for something a little more off the beaten track, then Praia de Empo may be for you. It is small yet stunning and is part of the World Surfing Reserve. It is usually deserted making it a good choice for complete relaxation. Praia do Sol is Ericeira’s closest beach and located just south of the center of town. Overlooked by Ericeira’s largest hotel, this beach is very popular and tends to get very crowded in the summer months. With so many beaches to choose from, there is one for you, whatever you are looking for.
Freshly Caught Seafood and Cafes Galore
Apart from its fame within the surfing world, the quaint village of Ericeira produces some of the best seafood in Europe. Its name derives from the literal translation meaning sea urchins. Once a small and unassuming fishing harbor, Ericeira is now considered as a big contributor to the fishing industry and trades with countries worldwide. So with all this in mind, you may not be surprised to learn then that most of the restaurants, serve the most exquisite platters of the freshest seafood there is.
You can get a sumptuous meal for around 6 euro per person, and for a village that is relatively off the tourist radar, there are an awful lot of restaurants to choose from. A cobbled side avenue will take you a multi cultured selection of cuisine, including Portuguese, Brazilian, and Italian with many places incorporating live jazz and blues music. Combine that with a bottle of home grown wine and you have the perfect culinary experience.
If you don’t eat fish, there are plenty of other options to choose from. Most menus will have alternatives such as soups, traditional platters of meat, olives and breads, and pizza. Vegetarian and Vegan dishes are becoming more popular, and there are several dedicated restaurants in the area. In the center of the village, lays the main square called Praca da Republica. This charming center piece, laden with cobbled street and white washed houses, is home to the many cafes and cake shops. You can unwind with a cup of espresso for around 2 euro and watch the world go by.