River beaches: Dive into nature

Portugal is not all about the sea. Overlooking bucolic landscapes, rocks and vegetation that stretches as far as the eye can see, river beaches offer a refreshing alternative for a swim in natural surroundings.

Beaches Tours What's New — 16 July 2012 by Sara Raquel Silva
River beaches: Dive into nature

Loriga: ancestral freshness

Nestled in a slot carved by an old and majestic glacier, its tumultuous waters are the symbol of Loriga beach. Located near Seia in the interior of central Portugal, the beach provides holiday makers with a soundtrack that has authentic therapeutic effects. The creek that flows freely along terraces into the Alva river creates one of the most famous local landmarks: the Zé Lages well, which is the best place for a refreshing swim. Praised by Quercus for the quality of its waters, the beach was one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal – Beach Edition
– finalists.

Blue Flag: yes
Facilities: Cafeteria
Lifeguard: Yes
Distance from Lisbon: 309 km
Local landmarks:
Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela – biogenetic reserve that includes unique species of flora and some animals like wolves, boars, otters and foxes. Ideal for summer hikes.
Bread Museum – Located in the heart of Seia, this museum complex offers the opportunity to learn about traditional bread making. Bread and other regional delicacies are available for tasting and purchase at the end of the visit. Contact: www.museudopao.pt
Contact: www.cise-seia.org.pt

Mosteiro: rural swimming

Located in the municipality of Pedrógão Grande, Mosteiro river beach is surrounded by small and large gardens belonging to the villagers, thus boasting a unique rural environment. Bathed by the Pera river, it offers ample green spaces and an extensive swimming area. You will also find a small waterfall with a restored old mill perpendicular to the river. The surrounding pine forests and candlestick trees provide dense shade that is particularly enjoyable at the height of summer.

Blue Flag: No
Facilities: Cafeteria, showers, picnic area, access for people with reduced mobility, playground and car park
Lifeguard: Yes
Distance from Lisbon: 212 km
Local landmarks:
Pedrógão Pequeno and Casais de São Simão: Distinct from each other, but equally well preserved, these two shale villages deserve a visit. The first is fairly flat and brighter with the stone hidden by rendering and its main points of interest are the pillory and the seventeenth-century church. In the second one, the houses adorned with roses and geraniums are traditionally arranged along the mountain, revealing to 21st century visitors the original structure of a mountain village with probable medieval origins.

Penedo Furado: crystalline freshness

About 15 minutes from Abrantes and 10 minutes from Vila de Rei in the centre interior of the country, Praia do Penedo Furado river beach is a heavenly place. Its stunningly beautiful small waterfalls can be enjoyed by walking along a narrow path carved into the rock and are accessible from two viewpoints directly linked to the road.  The beach offers excellent conditions for outdoor activities or simply a quiet and relaxing day out at any time of year. It is one of 21 finalists for the title “wonder beach” from Portugal.

Blue Flag: yes
Facilities: Cafeteria, showers, picnic area, playground and car park
Lifeguard: No
Distance from Lisbon: 296 km
Local landmarks:
Formosa shale village – part of the Shale Villages Programme, most of its houses were built out of shale and retain their traditional character. The village is located 10 kms away from the Geodesic Center of Portugal (another place of interest) on a sunny hillside.
Community mills – There are several scattered along the banks of the many rivers that run through the municipality of Vila de Rei Some are in ruins, but others are in full operation like the mill of Ribeira do Vilar in the village of Fundada.
For more information: turismo@cm-viladerei.pt and (+351) 274 890 010


Furnas: between the river and the sea

Part of the Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina Natural Park, Furnas river beach is on the south bank of the mouth of the Mira river in Odemira on the south coast and is accessible by boat or car. Some people swim across or sail by canoe, but beware of the strong currents. A perfect junction between the Mira river and the Atlantic Ocean: the huge neck tames the ferocity of the ocean’s choppy waters and the river offers calm, away from the hustle and bustle of the summer.

Blue Flag: Yes
Facilities: restaurant, showers, canoe rental, sunshades and
Lifeguard: Yes
Distance from Lisbon: 190 km
Local landmarks:
Vila Nova de Milfontes: A fishing village and summer resort, it offers beaches stretching as far as the eye can see plus a heritage centre and restaurants where fresh fish and seafood are king. Try Tasca do Celso (booking is required: +351283996753), recommended by the Michelin Guide. Then walk down to the Church and take a stroll by the sea and the 17th century Boca do Rio fort , locally known as “Castelo” (the castle).


Louçainha: family secret

The natural reservoirs of Louçainha in Penela in the municipality of Coimbra provide the backdrop for this river beach that is considered one of the best in the country. Recipient of the Blue Flag and accessible beach – Beach for All – titles for several consecutive years, it was awarded the Gold Quality Flag in 2011. Particularly sought after by families, the beach offers excellent facilities.

Blue Flag: yes
Facilities: restaurant, showers, children’s beach, adult pool, parking (also for motorcycles and bicycles), access ramps for people with reduced mobility and picnic area.
Lifeguard: Yes
Distance from Lisbon: 188 km
Local landmarks:
Santo António convent: Founded in 1578, however, all the buildings (church, residential area and attachments) date from the 18th century. The Mannerist chapel altarpiece boasts an excellent course and fine woodcarvings. The tiling is also worth mentioning – manufactured in Coimbra in the 1700s, it feature panels depicting evocative passages in the life of St. Anthony.
Gondramaz: Located on the western side of the Serra Lousã, the landscape that surrounds Gondramaz is a masterpiece of nature. Home to various artisans and ex-urbanites in search of quieter surroundings, this shale village is the perfect setting for a visit to the Portuguese rural past.

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Sara Raquel Silva

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