Silver Coast back roads and the hidden gems they lead to

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We spend our lives rushing around. From errands to social engagements to meetings to children’s functions and family events, feeling like it never ends and feeling exhausted after, when most of these are supposed to be enjoyable. But we never feel like we’ve enjoyed the moment, the company or the surroundings or savoured the food.
Rushing around for rushing’s sake is something that we can abandon in Portugal. There is a slowness of doing things here, an ‘old worldliness’ that forces you to stop, breathe and open your eyes and soul to the beauty and simplicity around you. There is no rushing and nor should there be rushing around, we keep things simple here, we stop, knowing that the little things count, we embrace the moment and enjoy the now. 

Even though thousands search for property for sale in Silver Coast Portugal, apartments for sale in Nazare or houses for sale in Sao Martinho do Porto, the area has some wonderful back roads that lead to hidden gems. 

These are not back roads to drive fast but meanders to appreciate with windows and eyes open, smiles and gratitude. These are places to visit with time and no other prior engagements or place to be. Meant to be done in good company and taste buds ready for savoury delights. 

We have three wonderful choices for you. Be prepared to slow down, relax and enjoy the perfection of simplicity. 


Atlantic Road to MAD Gastro Bar

Our most Northerly back road route on the Silver Coast, well known to locals in the region with miles of natural beauty, untouched coastline, forest and little detours to hidden beaches. The quaint coastal village of Sao Pedro do Moel is a good place to start with lovely a lighthouse and breathtaking sea views. The village is charming with its own unique character and architecture. Starting here and working South along the coastal road towards Nazare, winding through forests this is a treat for the senses; sea breeze and sea views and detours to some of the most untouched beaches you will see like Agua de Madeiros, Polvoeira, Paredes da Vitoria and Mina. These beaches are sensational, secluded, rugged and beautiful. From Mina beach take the beaten track to Vale Furado, a spectacular beach at the bottom of a steep valley, surrounded by trees and shrubs and steep cliffs facing the ocean.

Our hidden gem is a tiny little restaurant, with amazing views and incredible food. MAD Gastro Bar is a treat on every level. It is cosy, comfortable, has superb service, wonderful surroundings and the food to match. From start to finish you are treated to a gourmet journey. The menu is not big but everything is cooked to perfection with fresh ingredients and the chefs are always coming up with some delightful off-menu surprises. An excellent wine list rounds everything off nicely, along with some wonderful desserts. The most important thing here! Do not rush, stop, relax, order a starter, savour. Then order the main course, savour. Then order your dessert, indulge. In between, enjoying the view, smelling the sea and listening to the waves crash on the shore. This is how a place like this was meant to be enjoyed. 


Obidos Lagoon meander to Eels, Beef & Co.

Obidos Lagoon starts at the magnificent entrance of Foz do Arelho. It is difficult to find a more vast, expansive and dramatic beach, the sand stretches for what seems like miles, the ocean is deep blue, large cliffs form a sensational backdrop and the awe-inspiring Berlengas Islands hover over the ocean in the distance. This is what greets you as you make your way down towards Foz do Arelho. This part is quite well known to both visitors and locals, but the back road and hidden gem are a little bit further along. So keep going, remember the rules: windows down, wind in your hair, lagoon smells filling the car, music optional but, most importantly, there is no rush. At the main traffic circle of Foz do Arelho, instead of going into the old town, turn right and follow the shoreline of the lagoon. Here you will see traditional fishing boats, still in use today to farm clams. Boats painted in vibrant colours with numbers and surnames like Freitas and Dos Santos, taking us back to a time when you could still just put your name on things. Portugal still has this simplicity and luxury. There are some little stops along the shore where you can get out and stretch your legs, watch the birds play or stick your toes in the water. This is a place where life slows down and we realise that the little things are sometimes the biggest things. Keep driving along the shoreline, we are almost there, the road curves around slightly and you reach the village Nadadouro. 

This back road has led you to another Silver Coast gem. Tucked behind the village church is Eels, Beef & Co., a charming, traditional and rustic restaurant. We recommend going at lunchtime and sitting on the outdoor terrace with pleasant views over the countryside. Once again, please don’t rush, this place was not designed for this purpose nor is the food prepared this way. The menu is simple but delicious. Usually, 3 or 4 plates of the day on weekdays, made to eat in good company and pleasant conversation. On weekends, it’s all about the grill, with everything going on the outdoor BBQ. Another reason to sit outside, enjoying the view and the smells of grilled fish, meat and chicken. Choose your wine, dig into the fresh bread and olives to start and then enjoy the wait, your food is coming and you will not go hungry. The only occasional interruption will be the church bells chiming, a reminder that you are in a good place, living the good life. 


Fishermans Ridge to Snack Bar

There is a glorious ridge road between Nazare and Sao Martinho do Porto. It is narrow and windy with the most amazing views over the Atlantic Ocean on the right and lush green valley on the left. This back road has a sweet ending but first, it is about nature and the sea. Serra da Pescaria (Fishermans Ridge) is a natural reserve, covered in gorgeous shrubbery and flowers. This favourite location for hikers and bikers has various little stop off points with trails that go in different directions.

Looking back in your rear view mirror you will see Nazare in the distance and be sure to take the road down to Salgado beach for a chance to stretch your legs. Salgado beach is a huge sandy beach which stretches underneath the magnificent mountain range. Take a deep breath, enjoy the feeling of just you and the sea. The waves are huge some days, vibrating the sand as they crash against the shore. Take it all in slowly; the sounds, the smells, the raw power of the ocean. From here it’s back along the ridge road, through greenery and trees and nature, until you reach the farmers market in Sao Martinho do Porto. Find a place to park the car because you are walking the rest of the way and exploring the old town, past the church, past the old fire station, past the butcher and the library until you reach the lookout point. By now we hope that you have not forgotten the rules, there is no rush. Take your time across the ancient cobblestone street, enjoy the vibrant colours of Bougainvillea on whitewashed walls, enjoy the view over the bay and listen to the sound of people enjoying the calm waters of Sao Martinho do Porto. We mentioned the sweet ending, turn around and make your way back towards the church. Just before you reach the church you will find Concha Pastelaria, a small little cafe on your left, with wooden white doors and a cute, unassuming interior. This is so much more than a cafe, it is a full pastry factory with almost everything made in house, including the most delightful Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts). There are many options and once again you are not allowed to rush. Take your seat, greet the locals inside and see what is fresh out of the oven: bolas de Berlim, guardanapos, croissants and various types of bread. Choose your coffee and selection of goodies, maybe wash it down with some Port wine or aguardente. Enjoy the hospitality, savour the sweet treats made with big hearts. 


There are so many similar journeys like these that you can make on the Silver Coast, as well as all over the country. There is a simplicity and purity here where one is almost forced to slow down. In a time when we have forgotten how to enjoy the moment, forgotten how to slow down, forgotten how to stop playing busy, visit us here in Portugal. Take slow drives, stop to smell the ocean, stop to have random conversations with strangers about wine and back roads. Relax, breathe, eat slow food in good company and enjoy the simplicity of a beautiful place. 


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