Peniche is a famous holiday destination mainly due to surfing. Apart from the surfers, who visit all year round, during summer time Peniche is also a chilled holiday destination that manages to keep its fishing town vibe. A visit to the nearby archipelago of Berlengas makes a great day-trip to explore its historical and natural heritage.
Below find the main reasons to visit this special peninsula and its neighbouring islands.
Get in the water!
Peniche is one of the surfing Meca’s in Europe, attracting surfers from all over the world because of the pipe waves (particularly the incredible wave baptised as "supertubos") and great swell. Near Peniche lies the small village of Baleal, where there's a beach with a long stretch of sand and perfect waves for beginners.
Apart from surfing, another handful of water sports gather many fans around the area, such as kitesurfing, SUP, kayaking, kayaksurfing and diving.
Incredible natural scenery and biodiversity
In the shore the beautiful beaches with wild sand dunes are fantastic to lie down and sunbathe, but the highlight in terms of biodiversity is the archipelago of Berlengas, located within a 20 to 30 minute boat ride from Peniche. These islands are the oldest protected area in the country and are UNESCO World Heritage since 2011. Nature enthusiasts will rejoice with the botanical endemic species, the seabirds who build their nests there and also the rich marine life. If you're a birdwatching fan read this post.
Fresh fish and delicious local seafood
Being surrounded by water, fishing was for many decades the main income source in Peniche. Alongside fishing, the boat building and canning industries grew widely as a consequence.
Men departed when it was still dark on board of big trawlers, only to return when the nets were full. Pargos and sargos caught in the rough waters of the Atlantic, schools of sardines, seafood from Porto das Barcas, eels and clams from the lagoon near Óbidos.... Naturally, seafood and fresh fish are the base of the local gastronomy, with dishes such as caldeirada, seafood rice and fingerlicking charcoal grilled sardines.
Local arts and crafts
In Peniche the old traditions are all closely related to the sea. While waiting for their husbands to return from the sea, women did rendas de bilros. This embroidery technique allows them to create beautiful and delicate patters, using some pear-shaped wooden pieces known as bilros.
In the mid 19th century there were almost 1000 women who did rendas de bilros in Peniche. Nowadays there aren't nearly as many, but an effort has been made to preserve this art&craft which is part of the local cultural heritage.
Old historical heritage
The historical value of this part of the country is also a good enough reason to visit.
At Gruta da Furninha, a cave located on the coastline of Peniche, traces of pre-historic occupation were found. In the town itself the square and star-shaped fortress hold a long history and played an important role in defending the town against maritime attacks. Later on the fortress was converted into a political prison and then a museum.
Another peculiar fort is the one located in the main island of the Belengas, São João Baptista Fort, which was built on top of the ruins of an old monastery to defend the island. It creates a mind-blowing picture against the contrast of the big blue ocean.
Half an hour driving from Peniche is the medieval town of Óbidos, which was also declared UNESCO World Heritage. Inside its walls you can find the castle and a maze of adorable cobble stone streets, where you feel like travelling back in time.
Peniche and Berlengas really are worth exploring, either during a short break or a longer holiday period. If you need some personalised tips and suggestions for where to stay and what to do we'd be happy to help :) Get in touch and we'll sort you out!