The beach to the north of Sítio is wide and wild.
Excellent for those who want to stay away from the crowds, it has the drawback of a dangerous sea, not advisable to swim, even in summer. However, nature dominates the area.
Allow me to replace my poor pictures by the awesome work of Tó Mané, the lucky and skilled guy who caught Garret MacNamara surfing the "impossible" 30 meters high wave in this beach.
I replaced the photo but not the speech - this beach is not advisable to swim, and though this news and picture may attract many curious people, those waves are quite irregular, don't happen each year, so, I believe that the crowds will remain away.
Easy to access from the road to Alcobaça, Pederneira, the old village (and, despite seeming so high, the old port), keeps the flavour of the old days, and challenges Sitio as the best sightseeing spot (Sitio is awesome, but we can't see Sítio from there).
Pederneira is an excellent spot to take a photo from a different angle, and, since you are there, relaxing from the crowds, why not a visit to the churches of Nossa Senhora das Areias, from the 16th century, or Misericordia, from the 18th?
Parking in Nazaré is a nightmare.
Finding a place in a restaurant in August is an adventure. There's an old trick that keeps working: Go up to Sítio, where parking is not so difficult and the restaurants are not so crowded.
If you decide to go to the beach, n 5 minutes of descent you're in the middle of everything. And so,you may appreciate one of the highlights of Nazaré, more than 100 years old.
%Last sunday I decided to park in Sitio, and use the lift to descend to the beach. My God! I forgot we were in August!
The line was so long that we went back ant took the car down, to park... far... far... in the south.
For a picnic, about 6 Km far from the beach, but nested in the pine forest, the lagoon of Valado de Frades is very attractive.
Don't risk to swim, and leave before dusk, otherwise you will be "eaten" by the mosquitoes.
Not far from town, going south to Famalicão, another access leads to the sea, to a place called Salgado.
Dangerous to swim, it is a good place to sunbath far from the crowds, and it allows good sights.
Last week an english tourist died in the waves! Be careful, the sea is tricky
If you find the best place overcrowded (or don't like it) go a few hundred meters ahead from Nazaré, in the Estrada do Pinhal, north of Sítio, you will have at your right a smaller place but also calm and well equipped.
In the beginning of Praia do Norte street, in the roundabout with Estrada do Pinhal, in Sítio, there's the best picnic spot of Nazaré. Its problem is being... the best, which means that in the good days, though equipped with several fireplaces, it uses to be crowded.
Going early is a wise decision.
From Nazare we took a day trip to Peniche by bus. The bus journey took about 70 minutes and in 2009 the single fare was 8,50 Euro.
Peniche is located on a peninsula, which is almost completely dominated by steep cliffs. Only the very centre of Peniche with its fishing harbour is flat.
We hiked around the whole peninsula which took more than 2 hours, but was well worth the effort as it offered stunning views of the cliffs and rock formations at the coast.
Among the main sights in the city centre are several churches, the remains of the old city walls as well as the Peniche Fortress from the 17th century.
The beaches in the city centre of Nazare (Praia da Nazare) are usually very busy in high season. As we visited the city at the end of May, the beaches were still empty.
In high season a good alternative to the crowded main beaches seems to be the wide North Beach (Praia do Norte), which is located just in front of a wild dune landscape.
The North Beach is situated in Nazare's district Sitio, just north of the St. Michael Archangel Fort and its lighthouse.
Most people stop their journey Nazaré at Sítio, and do not bother to explore more of the town. Once you are above the cliff, you will see the narrow road that is stretched to, seemingly, the end of the ocean somewhere. That is the path you do not want to miss. Follow the road until you reach the end of it where there is a ruined fortress (closed to public) and a lighthouse ("farol" in Portuguese).
Look to your left; you will see a grand view of the town whose vista is added by a thick cliff that pops out in front of you, while the Atlantic Ocean in deep blue is also in your sight. Look to your light; you will see a wide beach with almost no people, where there is much stronger wind in this rather secluded location. The ocean seems deeper here, and the sky more blue. Enjoy these two very contrasting views, and take some good photos!
There's a upper-level small town called "sitio", which can be reached using the "funicular" or even walking uphill the steep path starting from the village. From "sitio", where the Santa Maria de Nazaré sanctuary is situated, you will experience a wonderful sight of the beach and the ocean: this is worth doing.
In the road to Alcobaça, a nice and easily accessible area is my third option. The site is good, but misses water and a few more tables.
There's a steep mount with great views from the top.