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The Silver Coast in Portugal (or Costa de Prata in Portuguese), is an area that has remained fairly untouched by the influx of tourists arriving into Portugal. In saying this, today Portugal’s Silver Coast is steadily gaining popularity, largely due to its sheer beauty, stunning coastlines, historic villages and towns and a relaxed and authentically Portuguese way of life.
As such, if you are planning a visit to Portugal or even considering a move (as so many foreign Expats are currently looking to do), then the Portugal Silver Coast should be high up on your list of areas to explore. I can assure you, you will no doubt fall in love with it!
In this guide I will cover all the relevant and important info you may need access to, in order to truly discover this gorgeous Silver Coast Portugal stretch.
It’s worth noting that there isn’t a legally recognised demarcation of the area and some still debate its exact layout. But what’s not in doubt is that the Silver Coast covers a vast and uniquely diverse landscape.
Spanning from just north of Lisbon and travelling all the way up to just south of Porto, the region meanders all along the coastline covering approximately 150km’s. It however, not only covers the coast, as it name alludes to, but also stretches inland and includes fishing villages, medieval and historic towns and cities as well as a natural park.
See the below map of the Silver Coast Portugal that better represents and displays the geographical layout of the region.
The closest airport really does depend on where in the Silver Coast you plan on visiting or starting your journey from.
Southern parts of the Silver Coast can easily be accessed from Lisbon’s Airport in under an hour and likewise for northern parts being accessible in under an hour from Porto. As such either Lisbon or Porto’s airports would be your best bet depending on your starting point / destination.
When planning a route most travellers decide on either travelling north to south or vice versa and as such will chose the appropriate airport to fly into and out of.
Whether you are after history, nature, golfing or into surfing, the area has it all.
The following is just a short overview of each top destinations found in this region as well as what you can expect to see and do there.
The medieval walled town of Obidos has a rich and culturally important history dating back many centuries. Gaining particular prominence after King Dinis of Portugal gave the town to his bride-to-be, Queen Isabel, as a wedding gift, it has flourished ever since and attracts plenty of visitors annually. And for good reason too, Obidos is undoubtedly one of my personal favourite places in Portugal.
There is nothing better than wandering through the cobbled streets and alleyways, having a shot of Ginjina de Obidos (a very popular cherry liqueur) or enjoying a coffee in the main square whilst admiring this charming town!
Considering a trip to Obidos? Read my travel guide on how you may want to travel from Lisbon to Obidos, outlining all the various modes of transport options to get there.
Also be sure to not miss out on some of the annual festivals taking place in Óbidos, such as the medieval festival that takes place around July-August, the chocolate festival towards the end of April, beginning May and of course the Christmas festival and markets at the end of the year.
The beach-side village of Nazaré has long been known as a surfer’s paradise but recently shot to fame world-wide for having been declared the place where the biggest ever surfed wave was recorded!
The wave, surfed by Rodrigo Koxa and measuring at around 80 feet tall, was officially recognised by the Guinness World Records.
Of course, it has so much more going for it too, apart from the gigantic waves. The town has everything you would come to expect from a typical Portuguese seaside village too.
Another popular beachside delight found in this region is Peniche, popular with surfers and beach-goers alike.
This fishing village is also a popular stop for those visiting the nearby Berlenga Island. It’s a small archipelago and nature reserve set just off the coast of Peniche and a fantastic trip for both nature lovers and bird watchers.
There are several boat / ferry operators that run regular scheduled trips to the Island, especially over the summer peak season. Or you may also want to book an organised day tour.
Click on the link below for availability and more info.
Peniche itself is a traditional fishing and maritime village. Its worth exploring the historic town centre, the Peniche fort, which used to house political prisoners during the Salazar dictatorship regime in Portugal. Or plan a visit to one of the surrounding beaches, such as Praia do Baleal or Praia da Consolação.
Coimbra, the former capital of Portugal and known for having one of the worlds oldest Universities, is a city that’s often overlooked by many tourists. But I’m here to tell you that if you’re visiting Portugal’s Silver Coast then a visit to this charming city is an absolute must.
When myself and my partner visited Coimbra, we decided to make it an overnight trip and we were so happy we did. There is honestly so much to see and do that will keep you busy for more than just an hour or two.
Coimbra’s star attraction is the University, set atop a hilltop overlooking the historic city centre. We could see why this was said to be another of JK Rowlings key inspirations for her Harry Potter novels. From the students dressed in their black robes (which is tradition across Portugal), the beautiful main hall of the University through to the absolutely gorgeous library. You can see the magic and inspiration that Rowling must have drawn from everywhere.
But Coimbra isn’t just about the University. There’s a botanical garden, beautiful churches, lots of bars and restaurants owing to a vibrant nightlife and just strolling through the historic centre in itself is worthwhile.
So, take my advice, if you’re visiting the Silver Coast then make sure to allocate enough time to get to really explore this wonderful city.
Nicknamed the “Venice of Portugal”, Aveiro is one of the bigger cities found along the Costa de Prata and a firm favourite holiday destination amongst both Portuguese locals and tourists alike.
Known for it’s maze of canals (and tourist-crammed gondolas giving it the ‘Venice’ nickname) as well as the colourful city streets where you find some of the most amazing tiles, the city offers up a ton to see and do. If you’re after a beach holiday then the vibrant and colourful Costa Nova is the place to be.
For those with a sweet tooth, try out the Ovos Moles, a traditional Aveiro sweet made with egg and sugar.
When we visited we did so as a day trip from Porto but I could also highly recommend you spend more time here. We simply loved wandering through the downtown city and just getting lost in the maze of houses and admiring all the incredible tile-work you find covering all the buildings.
We certainly loved Aveiro and I’m sure you will too!
One of Portugal’s first and most prolific examples of Cistercian Gothic architecture can be found in the town of Alcobaça, a real hidden gem. The Alcobaça Monastery, today a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a truly spectacular building dating back to as early as 1153 when it was founded by the first King of Portugal, Alfonso Henriques.
Over the centuries it has served an important part in Portuguese culture and history. Most notably is that it houses the tombs of King Pedro I and his mistress Inês de Castro. It’s a tragic love story that resulted in Inês being murdered on orders from Pedro’s own father, King Afonso IV. When Pedro ascended to the throne, he ordered the exhumation of Inês de Castro’s body and crowned her Queen of Portugal. A pretty incredible story, wouldn’t you agree?!
Today their tombs, in the Alcobaça Monastery, lie facing each other, a testament to a truly tragic and forbidden love story.
Located almost halfway between Obidos and Coimbra is the small town of Batalha, known for it’s impressive Batalha Monastery which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal (Sete Marvilhas de Portugal).
The town itself is small and quaint but in my honest opinion, you would likely only really visit for the sake of the Monastery. It is an impressive display of Manueline and Gothic architectural styles that dates back to 1386 when King João I constructed it in honour of Portugal’s victory over the Castile during the Battle of Aljubarrota.
Rounding out to the golden triangle of monasteries in the region (together with Batalha and Alcobaça) is that of the Convento de Cristo (The Convent of Christ) in Tomar.
Dating back to 1160, it has a rich history involving the Order of the Knights of the Templar, of which Tomar was the former seat. This impressive monastery sits on top of a hill overlooking the city of Tomar and I almost felt that I was stepping into a castle instead of a monastery. The architecture and intricate detail found in and around the building is astounding and you can easily take well over an hour just exploring the monastery itself.
But the town of Tomar is not to be overlooked either. Every four years the town plays host to the Tray’s Festival (Festa dos Tabuleiros), which we sadly missed this year (2019). The entire town is decorated and lined with flowers and the dates back to the time of King Dinis of Portugal.
I’m dying to experience this centuries-old festival. No doubt a must, must see, so I’ve already diarised for the next one, that will take place in 2023.
There are plenty of other gorgeous towns and cities to visit in and around the Silver Coast region, including amongst others Torres Vedras, Fátima, Caldas da Rainha, Leiria, Figueira da Foz and many more.
Visiting this region offers up such a diverse range of beauty and landscapes and will in my mind require at least a few days of exploring.
Planning on travelling to the region? My advice would be to rent a car in order to make the absolute best of your time when visiting the Silver Coast.
Whilst public transport does exist, trains and buses often connect to the main hubs and you would definitely be limited in your ability to explore some of the smaller and more hidden gems at your own leisure.
If you’re looking to rent a car then I can recommend booking through Rentalcars.com as I’ve found their rates to be very competitive. They compare the various providers and offer a range of different car rental providers based on your search parameters. We’ve found hiring through them to be a pretty seamless and straightforward experience.
Looking to plan a more extensive holiday to the area? Then click on the relevant link below in order to search and book Silver Coast hotels and accommodation.
Are you pressed for time and rather considering a day trip from Lisbon to the Silver Coast? Then, perhaps a few day trips to key destinations may be a better bet for you.
Have a look at some of the below tours & activities that you can take as a day trip to this region. Click on the link for availability and more detailed information on each:
All in all, with so much to see and do along this beautiful stretch of Portugal, you cannot go wrong. Certainly, if you are planning a full north to south exploration trip of Portugal, then you have to set enough time aside to fully get to grips with and enjoy exploring the Silver Coast.
Have you visited this region before? I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts. What was your highlight? Any tips or suggestions you would like to add on?
Please feel free to comment and share your personal experiences!
Welcome! I'm Marco Santos a.k.a Travel-Boo. A South African & Portuguese travel blogger connecting with my Portuguese roots. Since I've moved to Portugal from South Africa permanently a few years ago, I've decide to share my story of discovery of all things Portugal travel related. So follow along and see what makes this beautiful country so very special!
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