The plan was to drive from Porto to Lisbon and stop somewhere to relax and switch off for a few days in between. I wanted to find a small village, somewhere next to the ocean where I could disconnect and just stare out into the blue and the fewer people the better. Praia do Pedrogao turned out to be just what I was looking for.
How I came across Praia do Pedrogao
With very little knowledge about the best places to stay on the Portuguese coast, I decided to use Google Maps as my search tool. I was looking for a small beachside village between Porto and Lisbon so just zoomed in and slowly traced the coast.
There seemed to be a lot of good choices close to Lisbon or Porto, but not so much in the middle. In the end, I got down to two choices, Nazaré or Praia do Pedrogao and decided on the later, basically because it was smaller . . . and a lot cheaper.
So what’s it like?
Well, the beach itself was pretty much perfect. There is the main beach which has a bar at either end. One is a more structured, pier like bar and the other a proper beach bar on the sand. And talking of sand, there is a lot of it. It is a lovely place to relax.
The biggest drawback to the beach is that the ocean isn’t really suitable for swimming. The water is cold, the waves are big and tides are dangerous. There are lifeguards and a flag system to monitor swimmers, but I wouldn’t be happy swimming, let alone watching over my kids.
But, for relaxing, it was perfect.
As for the village itself, well, to be honest, it’s not pretty, it is just a bunch of brutal looking tourist complexes.
There is a small supermarket, a few bars and restaurants and a playground for kids in the village, but not much else.
Aside from the main tourist beach, there are kilometres of natural beaches and dunes stretching to the north and the south of the village. Here a little drone video I made from the shots I took while enjoying a sunset there one evening.
Things to do in Praia do Pedrogao
Relaxing on a beach and not much else, perfect for what we were looking for. But, there is more than that. The fact you are there means that you more than likely have access to a car, so that means day trips!
Things to do not in Pedrogao
The village makes a great base to explore the centre of Portugal. I would certainly recommend a day trip to Coimbra, home to the oldest university of Portugal and among the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world. The impressive city is built on a hill along the Mondego River and is also home to the Little Portugal attraction, great for kids. It takes just under an hour to get to Coimbra.
A little over an hour away you have the pretty city of Averio, known as the Venice of Portugal, and the village of Costa Nova, home to some of the iconic colourful Portuguese beach homes. If you have kids, a visit to the Vagos Museum of Play could also be a nice idea while you’re in that area.
If you love nature, you are also very close to the stunning Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros, a wonderful natural park for hiking.
Finally, in just 2 hours you could be in Sintra or Lisbon.
So as you can see, while there is nothing much to do in Praia do Pedrogao, the village is in easy reach of some wonderful places and makes a great option as a relaxing base for exploring Central Portugal.
Who is Praia do Pedrogao for?
It is certainly not for everyone. If you are looking for lively bars and fun nightlife, then this is certainly not the place for you. You may be better suited looking at Nazaré, another Portuguese coastal town, just a bit larger and with more going on.
If you are looking for a quaint village with pretty houses and an interesting history, again, this is not the village for you. Maybe Costa Nova would be more suitable for what you are seeking.
However, if you are looking for a cheap place to stay where you can switch off and not worry about anything, this is for you. Whether you are a couple looking for a romantic break to forget about the world, or a family looking for a great exploration base but with a beach option in case you’re a bit tired, this is for you.
Where is Praia do Pedrogao?
It is located on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, about halfway between Porto and Lisbon.
How to get there
Driving is the only realistic way of reaching Praia do Pedrogao easily. If you are insistent on public transport then you can get a bus to Vieira de Leiria, the closest town, and then take a €25 – €30 taxi ride along the coast to Praia do Pedrogao.
However, driving is a sensible option. If you don’t have a car, you can hire cars in Portugal pretty cheaply. Cars start from around €15 per day. I would advise choosing an option with insurance as Portuguese drivers can be a bit careless. A dent or scratch would not come as a surprise.
Where to stay in Praia do Pedrogao
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We stayed in an apartment, booked through booking.com named Sleepy Beach Town Apartments. The apartments offered amazing value with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen and front room with balcony. There were just my wife and I and our 2-year-old, so we had loads of space.
When we arrived we were met by the owner who gave us the keys, a contact number and explained where everything is. Other than that we were just left on our own. It is a nice apartment, no luxurious frills, but we were paying less than €40 per night, so it offered incredible value.
If I were to return, I would certainly stay here again.
There is also a campsite in Praia do Pedrogao if you are travelling through Portugal in a camper or with a tent or if you wanted to look at some more options, check the map below.
Final thoughts on my visit to Praia do Pedrogao
The moment came as I was sat on a bar chair, looking at the ocean, cool beer in one hand with my notebook and pen on the table. The moment was the realisation that I had found exactly what I wanted, nothing. It was one of those moments where you feel all the stresses of life leave your body and just go into full relaxation.
If you are looking for a place to run wild and smash tequila shots until 5am, this is not it. But if like I, you want to find your moment, with a beer in your hand, then Praia do Pedrogao could well be just what you have been searching for.
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