Portugal is well known for its beaches and its coastline, but we believe that you don’t necessarily need to be close to the sea to enjoy your holidays in Portugal. It is certainly an enormous plus to be close to water during summer in Portugal, so that is why we are proposing some alternatives to consider when planning your Portuguese holidays. Here are some ideas of ways to spend your time in the unspoiled countryside of Portugal by river beaches, waterfalls or lakes that we recommend as worth a visit.
Sao Pedro do Sul/Castro D’Aire (Viseu District)
In this area you can find some of the cleanest rivers and streams in Europe, such as the Teixeira river or the Paiva river. Along the course of the Teixeira river there are several gorgeous sites for outdoor wild swimming, for example Poço Azul (40.781001, -8.165295), Poço Negro (40.815972, -8.228222), or Adernal da Ribeira Paraduca (40.795217, -8.256486). Along the Paiva river there are also river beaches for wild swimming with easy access from the road and with facilities nearby: the Reriz river beach (40.908929, -8.012990), and the Ponte dos Cabaços river beach (40.908929, -8.012990).
In the region of the Serra da Lousã Mountains, between the Coimbra and the Leiria district, it is possible to find several river beaches with lifeguard surveillance, equipment for disabled people, changing rooms, restaurant and bar. All these beaches offer safe areas for children to swim. There is a river beach network scheme that connects and promotes more than 20 beaches in the region. They all give you the chance to be beside the flowing water of the river for the whole day and to choose between several possibilities of local accommodation in remote isolated villages in the region.In Poço de Corga (40.024083, -8.189311), a camping park just next to the beach is accessible. From here it is only few kilometres to the town centre of Castanheira de Pera where you can find all main facilities and another river beach, this one with artificial waves, Rocas beach (40.003645, -8.207481).
In the region of Lousã, it is possible to explore amazing hiking trails, well signed and popular, running through an area of schist villages which are denominated as the “Aldeias do Xisto”. One of the river beaches in this area, N.Sr. Da piedade (40.100255, -8.234492), is in a valley between a castle and a pilgrimage chapel offering wonderful scenery and at the centre of hiking routes. Louçainha (40.026145, -8.304043) and Mosteiro (39.935884, -8.186012) are other river beaches that we definitely recommend in the region, and there is also the blue flag certified river beach of Canaveias (40.184916, -8.150022).
In Fragas de São Simão, there is a small river (39.916408, -8.316366) popular for its beauty; the canyon around it provides great opportunities for climbing; see more details here. The opportunities for eco-tourism in some of the Schist Village that surround the area have been described in the Washington Post, where one gets a glimpse impressive views across a mountain ridge of rugged cliffs. However, the region is still comparatively unspoiled.
In the centre of Portugal, in the municipality of Mação, we recommend some river beaches with life guards, and with good accessibility, changing rooms, equipment for people in wheelchairs, bars and picnic parks. Firstly, we recommend Carvoeiro beach (39.630211, -7.923146), as it has held blue flag certification for more than a decade. The river beach in Cardigos (39.708997, -8.014108) has good standards and facilities. In the basin of the Belver dam, there are other river beaches on the margin of Tagus river, the Alama river beach (39.488588, -7.967818) and the Ortiga river beach(39.483143, -8.000985). Lifeguard surveillance, medical facilities, bar, hotel, restaurant, water sport activities and camping can be found in this area. Pedestrian walkways next to the Alama river beach offer another way to explore the magnificent scenery that the green flora surrounding the Tagus river provide.
For wildswiming in the region, there are many different lakes and places along rivers to explore, but two of them are recommended here as places where Vasco often enjoys a swim: the “Pego da Vaz Mestres/Morena” (39.583194, -7.943341) or further upstream in the same small river (39.585354, -7.931293). Access is by unpaved roads for around 2km which makes the journey a bit more challenging, so it is rarely overcrowded, and especially recommended if you enjoy isolated unspoiled streams.