Lourinhã, Portugal - What to do and what to see
May 13, 2019
by Andreia M
I can bet you have no idea where Lourinhã is. I can also bet that you have no idea how to pronounce the name of this seaside quiet little village in West Portugal, 65 km from Lisbon’s airport.
Fortunately for you, none of these things matter, if you decide to give this one a chance.
Lourinhã’s people are used to mispronunciation and also to receiving the many tourists that invade their little village every other weekend and in the summer months. The population sometimes doubles in size during those months, but don’t worry, you will not feel crowded. Lourinhã has only 175 inhabitants per square kilometer. When you compare it to Lisbon’s more than 5000 inhabitants per square kilometer, you get the idea. There is plenty of space, but also plenty to see. It may seem remote, but trust me, you will feel very welcomed.
So, what can you do while in Lourinhã? Sit tight and I’ll show you.
Portugal’s west coast is a surfer’s dream
Yes, all the West Coast is very well known for its fine surfing conditions, and Lourinhã is no exception. With stunning beaches all around, that somehow capture the essence of what it is to fully coexist with nature and the beautifully shaped tides coming from the Atlantic, if you’re a surf or bodyboard enthusiast, you will not be disappointed. If you don’t know how to surf, but would like to try it anyway, don’t sweat. Lourinhã was able to capitalize on one of its main assets, so surf schools, camps, and whatnot are all around. The temperature of the water is a bit chilly compared with other Portuguese beach destinations, but you will find it somewhat comfortable during the summer months. If you prefer to sunbathe, a constant light breeze will allow you to do so without getting too hot. Just remember to use sunblock. A lot. Portugal’s UV levels are usually high, so if your country is not very sunny, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t become a part of the infamous lobster people.
Eating in Lourinhã
The food. Italians have a saying that states life is too short to eat bad food. Portuguese agree with that 100%. In Lourinhã seafood rules. Nothing strange, if you think they have the sea at their doorstep. In the municipal market, you’ll be able to find the freshest fish and seafood local fishermen bring to shore every day. If by chance you choose to stay at a private home instead of a hotel, many streets receive daily visits from fishermen, bakers, and fresh produce vendors, that sell out of their trucks, right at your doorstep. You have not tried bread before if you haven’t tried western Portuguese bread. And that is a fact. Lourinhã is also very well known for its sweets and cakes, namely Areias Brancas, a 200-year-old recipe that will get you hooked. If you’re up for some adventure, Lourinhã is one of the three European demarcated regions producing wine aguardiente. The other two are Cognac and Armagnac. You can visit the cellar for 5€ (call ahead) and try this delicacy. Beware, however, of its 40º alcohol content.
How about restaurants? There are plenty to choose from. Sushi, pizzas, burgers and of course traditional or fusion Portuguese cuisine. The best news? Most of them are very much affordable. In Castelo, for example, you may enjoy a full meal for two, including house wine (which is very good) for +/- 30 euros. If you choose the fixed menu, it will be less than 20 euros. If you fancy some seafood, do try Foz restaurant. Sure, the price will be steeper, but it’s worth it. Basically, it’s hard to pick the wrong option in terms of eating in Lourinhã and you can find a restaurant in almost every corner.
Huge dinosaur-themed Park
Have I mentioned Lourinhã is Portugal’s capital of the dinosaur? Because it’s one of the villages most striking features. Here, the stores are named after dinosaur themed words (even the driving school is called Dinosaur), the supermarkets have dinosaur stickers on the walls, and a huge dinosaur-themed park, open since 2018, is the biggest outdoor museum in the country. With 10 acres, you can see more than 100 life-size models of dinosaurs from the 4 most important periods in the history of Earth. You can also visit their lab, where paleontologists are preparing bones for exhibitions and you can see real fossils and eggs. Lourinhã is the most important Portuguese site in terms of fossil findings, and you can see it all at Dinoparque: a nest with more than 100 eggs, dinosaur embryos, and much more. If you’re a science buff, prepare to be wowed. If, however, science is not for you, but you crave some culture, Lourinhã always has exhibitions you can visit (sculpture, photography, ask around) and also a museum dedicated to portraying the agricultural living conditions of the village’s ancestors. Throughout the year, you’ll be able to attend fairs dedicated to almost every theme imaginable. The best of these: street food. Enough said.
When in Lourinhã, have some fun
Near the beaches, you’ll find plenty of bars to quench your thirst. These usually have live music during the summer months and a soothing view of the Atlantic. It’s the place to be to find the younger crowd, that gather around after sunset and fill the air with laughter and good vibes. These are also good places for a snack on the go or a full meal. Areal Beach Bar is owned by one of the most notorious chefs working in the country. Lourinhã has an escape room, recently inaugurated, if you like that kind of thrill and a Karting circuit, if speed is your thing. If you like sports, you can visit the local football team stadium for a cheerful weekend match.
As always, since I’m not able to cover everything you can do in Lourinhã, the best thing you can do is visit. Enjoy your trip!