Some websites and holiday brochures claim NAZARÉ as one of Portugal’s most picturesque seaside resorts, and if you come out of season you might just about agree. But in summer, the crowds are far too heavy for the place to cope with and the enduring characteristics are lines of souvenir stalls and identikit fish restaurants with a touch of hard-edged hustle. While elderly local women still don traditional headscarves and embroidered aprons, their trays of fish have been replaced by cheap souvenirs and signs advertising rooms – and the colourful sardine boats that used to be hauled up along the beach at night now dock at an out-of-town harbour. However, as long as you don’t expect a cosy village, and are steeled for peak-season crowds, Nazaré is highly enjoyable, with all the restaurants, facilities and knockabout cheer of a busy resort. It’s not just summer either that rocks: New Year’s Eve on Nazaré beach is one of the biggest parties in Portugal, while the annual Carnaval parades are rumbustious all-night affairs.
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