Beginning just north of Lisbon and stretching all the way to Porto, the Silver Coast is less well-known and so less developed than the Algarve, with miles of white sand beaches and sapphire waters interspersed with traditional Portuguese villages. Many of the beaches on this stretch of coast have Blue Flag status. Buzzing capital Lisbon has an excellent food and cultural scene, while Porto is laidback and arty and pretty university town Coimbra and UNESCO World Heritage Site Sintra-Vila are well worth a visit. There are a number of world-class golf courses in the region, and plenty of popular surf spots.
Visitors are spoilt for choice on the Silver Coast. Praia da Santa Cruz is a popular string of beaches with plenty of facilities including bars, restaurants, surf schools and showers. Nazaré is a stunning long stretch of sand that gets very busy in the summer months, while São Martinho do Porto is a sheltered bay with calm water which is perfect for children. The Silver Coast boasts some world-famous surfing beaches, and lessons are easy to arrange. Foz do Arelho is a popular surf spot where the sea is often rough, but has a lagoon side for safe swimming so will appeal to families with children of different ages.
Things to Do
Not to be missed is a day trip to Lisbon with its growing food scene, winding alleyways, excellent museums and buzzing nightlife. A little further away is arty Porto with its street art and modern architecture, while an afternoon can easily be spent walking the streets of Coimbra. This is one of the largest wine-producing regions in the country, and wine enthusiasts and novices alike will enjoy a vineyard tour and wine tasting. Days can be spent exploring the Silver Coast’s beaches, with plenty of coastal walks, and surf lessons for the more adventurous, or play a round of golf on one of the world-class courses in the area, one of the best is found at the Camporeal Lisboa Resort. Just outside Lisbon, Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Romantic architecture, splendid palaces and beautiful gardens.
Eating and Drinking
Lapped by the Atlantic Ocean, it’s no wonder that the Silver Coast is renowned for its delicious seafood - sea bass, cod, shellfish and eels are all on the menu. Specialities are caldeirada, a seafood stew, and bacalhau – dried salted cod served in many different variations. There are some excellent red and white local wines, while port is the obvious after-dinner tipple. Lisbon and Porto both have excellent foodie scenes, with everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to gourmet food markets to family run tascas. Don’t miss the custard tarts at Pastéis de Belém.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Trendy Lisbon has a happening nightlife scene, with rooftop bars, craft cocktails and hip clubs, mostly centred around the Bairro Alto district. In Porto the scene is more laidback, with charming cafes and arty bars, particularly around the Rineira quarter, but big clubs can be found on the outskirts of town for those looking for a party. There are a number of family-friendly resorts along the Silver Coast, with a selection of bars and low key entertainment, while there are plenty of beach bars perfect for a sunset drink. In the summer parties on the beach can go on into the early hours, but there is always somewhere to enjoy a quiet cocktail or two.