PENICHE AND BERLENGAS - 1H15 MIN.
Fishing is still an important activity in Peniche, and people love to watch the the boatloads of fish coming into port. The regional gastronomy takes full advantage of the abundance of fish in the sea. We therefore heartily recommend that you seek out restaurants in the Avenida do Mar that will serve you a caldeirada (fish casserole), sopa de lagosta à moda de Peniche (Peniche-style lobster soup), arroz de marisco (shellfish risotto) and many other dishes that all use the best fresh fish available.
Peniche is the largest centre in Portugal for bobbin lace, a centuries-old art whose origins are lost in time. It may have been a way for the women to occupy their time while their husbands were away at sea. A delicate art acquired through skill and patience, it is represented at international events, and is an artistic legacy that is well worth preserving.
Visit the beach of Baleal (meaning whale), which stretches between two seas as if it was an island (which in fact it was). Like Consolação beach further south, its excellent conditions for surfing and bodyboarding make it very popular. The Papôa promontory, protruding on the left, brings to mind tragic shipwrecks, such as that of the São Pedro de Alcântara, a Spanish galleon wrecked in 1786 on its return voyage from Peru.
On the way to Cabo Carvoeiro you can see the Berlenga Islands, the only island nature reserve in mainland Portugal.
A natural heritage of great value, the small Berlengas archipelago, situated at about 10km distance of Peniche, is constituted by the Berlenga Grande Island and the adjacent reefs, the Estelas and the Farrilhões-Forcados, classified as a Natural Reserve since 1981.
The main island, Berlenga, occupies about 2/3 of the entire surface; on the eastern side is situated the so called Ilha Velha (old island), separated by the ocean erosion.
Presented in an almost pure and wild state, the Berlenga is accessible by sea. The archipelago presents an important and rich habitat for the most diversified species, with more than one hundred diversified kinds of plants. The Berlengas flora is endowed with yellow marigold, corn poppy, silene, pulicaria or armerias, among many others that make of this a special place. Berlega's Fauna is composed by many sea species, like the octopus, the starfish, the most diversified species of fish and a very rich avifauna, with species such as the Common Guillemot (the symbol of the reserve), the Calonectris, the European Shag, the Ruddy Turnstone, the House Martin and the much famous and numerous Seagull.
The Berlenga Natural Reserve delights for its great beauty landscapes, with crystalline waters and charming natural nooks, like the small Beach Carreiro do Mosteiro, or the Cova do Sonho, among many other special unique places. It is more than worth to discover the secret places of this natural wonder, through the pedestrian itineraries or by the interesting boat trips into the interior of the caves and grottos resultant of the ocean's erosion over the granite stone.
The access to Berlenga is made by Boat, from Peniche, in, as many say, a difficult trip due to the strong ocean tides. The journey takes about 30-40 minutes. The visits to Berlenga are conditioned to the maximum of 350 visitors a day (only available from May to September), in order to maintain the natural environment of this island and all the species that here inhabit.
The island has two restaurants in the aldeia dos Pescadores (fishermen's village).