Nazare, Portugal, is a picturesque if somewhat touristy fishing village 80 mi/130 km north of Lisbon. It is worth a visit of at least several hours, and you might prefer to stay overnight. There are Venetian-style fishing boats offshore, an interesting fish auction and one of the cleanest beaches in Europe (local women sift the sand).

The setting is most impressive: The lower part is the fishermen's quarter and beach area; the upper part is the sitio—a peninsula with magnificent high cliffs (it's where most of the residents live and can be reached by a funicular car from the beach). It's fun to spend time at the sitio just people-watching (the men wear distinctive stocking hats). If you need a destination, visit the Chapel of Memory, erected by a nobleman after a vision of the Virgin Mary warned him he was in danger of going over a cliff in a heavy fog.

Other activities in Nazare include eating lots of seafood, visiting the Sao Miguel Fort and attending the Festival of Nossa Senhora da Nazare Romaria (held in September, it features traditional folk dances). If you're staying in the village overnight, watch the fishermen row out to sea until nothing is visible but their bobbing lanterns. Another fishing village in the area is Peniche, Portugal's sardine capital. (May-October, there are several restaurants along the shoreline that grill the fresh catch.)

Just south of Nazare is the medieval walled town of Obidos, which has a medieval castle (now a pousada) and lovely whitewashed houses with flower-filled balconies.

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