2016 has been a very exciting year for us and we’ve been to some incredible places, but very few can surpass the beautiful Portuguese coast line and the wonderful fishing town of Ericeira.
The town of Ericeira is famous for its surf and incredible beaches, but there is so much to enjoy here on top of the swell; beautiful seafood restaurants, enticing independent bars and an exploding culture are begging to be enjoyed.
We stayed for four days in a brilliant apartment high above the old town boasting a balcony view with sight lines from Foz do Lisandro in the south right across to the beach at Matadouro to the north.
Having arrived late on the Monday we spent the first full day getting our bearings and investigating the local surroundings. A short walk down the hill from our apartment towards the coast led us straight on to the boulevard, which stretches from the edge of the old town to the beach at Matadouro, home to some of Ericeira’s best surf. On the boulevard is a charming café where we sat for a late breakfast and coffee. Right on the path, Esplanada Sebastiao Café is the perfect place for a bite to eat and a coffee whilst enjoying the sea breeze and the often glorious sunshine.
From here we walked along the coast to the already highly credited Matadouro beach front, here we stood and watched the busy waters of the late morning and planned the surfing lessons we went to Portugal to take. Down on the seafront we met Sami, surfer and owner of Activity Surf Centre, but more about them to come.
This beautiful spot is an absolute must for all holiday makers, surfers and explorers trekking along the coast. There is access to Matadouro beach, where at low tide you can walk out across the rocks and shallows for 100’s of meters. Overlooking the gold sandy beach is a wonderful seating area which is provided by a perfectly placed American style pop up eatery serving a range of classic food and drink. This is one of my fondest memories of Ericeira, sitting with my feet up enjoying a beer and basking in the glorious heat of the late afternoon.
For the remainder of the day we walked leisurely back into Town to get our first taste of classic Portugal. We drifted in between cobbled streets dressed with white and blue buildings until we arrived at the town centre. From here we ducked down a side street and came across Cassa Portuguesa an authentic restaurant on the corner of Esperanca and Outubro. We sat on the street in the sunshine and both enjoyed freshly caught Octopus; not our usually plate of choice but honestly it was incredible, the rumours of the sensational seafood in Ericeira were true. Finishing our meal and topping off our water we received the bill. One of the great surprises of Portugal and Ericeira was that it is dramatically cheaper than the rest of Europe, in fact you could certainly enjoy yourselves on a budget, enjoying Portugal with out breaking the bank.
For the week that we were staying in Ericeira the Portuguese Surf Film Festival was on, showing two films each evening on a variety of surf culture issues. This was too good of an opportunity to miss so we purchased tickets for every night we were there. The films typically ran from 9pm until 11pm, which meant that after a few drinks beforehand we were usually ready to head home and get some rest before the morning surfs lessons.
The following days passed by in a brilliant routine of surfing in the morning and enjoying lunch at Matadouro; then heading back home to change before walking down into the old town to eat at one of the many seafood restaurant, then watching a few surf films in the evening. We rarely had reservations, but this was not an issue if you are ok with eating between 7pm and 8:30pm as the Portuguese like most Europeans tend to eat dinner a lot later than us British.
The second evening we ate at a place called Restaurante Tik-Tak, decorated with nautical themed antiques with a wonderful collection of wine on display throughout the walkways. Located directly opposite Cassa Portuguesa where we ate lunch the day before. This choice was not made because of its location, in fact it came highly recommended and with great reviews. We got to the restaurant just before 7, found all the tables were reserved and they were completely full for the evening. However one of the staff noticed us reading the menu and kindly highlighted that there was a table for two reserved at 8, but if we were happy to finish our meal within the hour she could seat straight away. Another example of the kind and friendly nature of the people in Ericeira.
The meal itself was divine. Nicole had the catch of the day and I had Monkfish Rice with Prawns. Although we only had an hour the staff weren’t pushy and the service was expertly delivered with recommendations for drinks and bars for after. We left the table at 7:55pm completely satisfied and raving about another brilliant meal.
On our third evening we decided to treat ourselves and we ate at a beautiful seafront restaurant called Esplanada Furnas. This restaurant is idyllically placed, right on rocks with a view of horizon supplied by the restaurant glass fronting. A wonderful piece to Esplanada Furnas’s romantic charm is the option to choose your fish from the counter upon entry, where the staff then grill it there and then. We had an entrée of barnacles and prawns; a messy affair but definitely worth it, the barnacles were superb. Our main was the Flounder we had picked at the start, grilled to perfection and professionally served. Perhaps not the choice of fish if you’re looking for a fish with a lot of meat on the bones, but a wonderfully light and flavourful fish. We stayed for a while after we finished our mains and watched the sun go down; this was possibly one of the most beautiful views and moments we have had on a holiday and if you do make it to Ericeira you must head down to coast on a clear evening.
On our final evening we ate at Restaurant Prim and much like our evening at Restaurant Tik-Tak this place was all reserved and we hadn’t made a reservation. Classic! But true to form the wonderful restaurateurs of Ericeira found us a table. We sat down at 7pm and had to be at the Town Hall for 8 for our final evening at the surf film festival. Once again the staff were expert and helped us with our orders and drink choices, which came in plenty of time for us to enjoy at a slightly increased pace, but still one of pleasant company. Nicole and I both had the steak, a change in diet and menu after days of fish and other seafood. Perhaps it was the overdosing on fish that made the steak all the better, but it was so good.
So ladies and gents that concludes our whistle stop tour of Ericeira, the restaurants and the beautiful spots we found. In short you have to visit for the surf, the food and most importantly the place.