From Galicia, our journey took us to Portugal. Since we travelled quite a lot in the North of Portugal already, we just drove by and spent a few days in the area around Alcobaça. There is so much to do, so many different options. A UNESCO monastery, a world famous surfing beach, a medieval town with full ramparts, a dinosaur site, and of course a beach with water calm enough for swimming.
Alcobaça is a small town, but its significance is forever tied to the monastery. Established in 12th c., it is the first gothic building in Portugal, together with its church. Visiting one room after another will not leave you wondering why it is a UNESCO site. The kitchen in particular is impressive, with a huge chimney and beautiful azulejos. The church testifies to the importance of the monastery, housing royal tombs.
If you are a surfer, you have most likely heard about Nazaré, the site of the biggest wave in the world (season is from October to May). The German surfer Sebastian Steudtner is the current world record holder for the highest wave ridden (26 meters). The waves here have always attracted some world-class surfers. It is open for discussion weather they are brave athletes or rather crazy gamblers with life, but they have for sure accomplished some extraordinary deeds. There is an interesting museum on it in the Farol da Nazaré lighthouse. Also be sure to check the Santuario de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré and its exquisitely decorated back part.
Since the Atlantic produces waves too high to swim almost every day, one must look for protected beaches to be able to take a dip. Sao Martinho do Porto is precisely that beach, located in an almost closed round bay. Waters are calm and also warmer. Otherwise, it is a regular touristic destination as any other.
Lots of crooked stairs. No railings. Magnificient views. Ramparts all around the town. White houses with red roofs. Medieval fortress. That is Obidos. And streets full of touristic shops, so try to come at a less busy time. But it is worth it, it is a charming medieval town.
The kids will love the Lourinha Dino Park, with 200 full scale models of dinosaurs and other animals. Lourinha is not just a random place for such a park, as dinosaurs bones were found here. There is plenty of educative texts as well as fun facts and playgrounds, so children of every age will have fun here. Check tickets here.