• Nazaré


I got hooked on Nazaré back when colorful fishing boats littered its long, sandy beach. Today that beach is littered with frolicking families, and it seems that most of the town's 10,000 inhabitants are in the tourist trade. But I still like the place. You'll be greeted by the energetic applause of the surf, widows with rooms to rent, and big plates of percebes (barnacles). Relax in the Portuguese sun in a land of cork groves, eucalyptus trees, ladies in petticoats, and men who stow cigarettes and fishhooks in their stocking caps. And several other worthy stops are within easy day-trip distance: Batalha (for its monastery), the pilgrimage site at Fátima is nearby, and Alcobaça, home to Portugal's largest church (and saddest romance).