BY JENNA SCATENA
While Lisbon and Porto get all the love, travelers would be remiss to bypass the Portuguese coastline connecting the two cities. Known as the Silver Coast, the roughly 200-mile stretch is packed with craggy cliffs, crescent beaches, and classic surf towns. Plan for two to three days, and make sure to drop pins on your GPS for these five stops, starting in Lisbon and working your way north.
1. Cascais: Royal Retreat
To vacation like the Lisboetas, or really any celebrity (Madonna recently bought a vacation home here), you don’t have to travel far outside of Lisbon. A 30-minute drive west lands you at the glamorous coastal resort village of Cascais, where a scenic promenade is dotted with sandy coves and cliff-hugging seafood restaurants such as Mar do Inferno, which serves fresh flounder and grouper by the kilogram.
2. Sintra: Historic Opulence
High in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains sits Portugal’s architectural crown jewel: the whimsical Pena National Palace, a nineteenth-century castle with 360-degree views. Head just down the hill to explore the Gothic Quinta da Regaleira’s underground grottoes.
3. Peniche: Maritime Bliss
Peniche wins the award for most dramatic ocean views of Portugal’s central coast. Take a quick stroll through the salty fishing village, then hop a ferry to Berlengas (May through September), an archipelago and nature reserve with turquoise waters, otherworldly rock formations, and ancient shipwrecks.
4. Óbidos: Medieval Charm
Detour 30-minutes east of Peniche for medieval Óbidos, a fortified town with a well-preserved castle, churches, and wine cellars that have been converted into bookstores. Save time to stroll along the wall that encompasses the historic town.
5. Nazaré: Big-Time Surf
Nazaré’s claim-to-fame is being the site of the largest wave ever surfed on record: an 80-foot monster ridden by Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa on November 8, 2017. But you don’t have to risk life and limb to appreciate the ocean here – there are plenty of safe overlooks and beach-towel real estate, and the town itself is full of laid-back cafés and bars, such as casual A Deriva Beach Bar.
Top Photo: Turismo Centro de Portugal