We recently attended a great wedding in Northern Portugal. We were lucky that the bride was from the area as finding information and making plans online was not the easiest. By way of example, the 3 hotels in the town that she recommended did not take online bookings. The whole area is pretty underdeveloped and the majority of tourism appears to target the ex-pat Portuguese Market who are coming home from abroad on family visits.
We stayed in a beautiful coastline town called Vila Praia De Ancora nestled just south of the Portugeuse/Spannish Border. It reminded me of a smaller, more relaxed, version of a French Town in the Bordeaux region called St. Jean De Luz. The main promenade was cobbled and was dotted with great cafes and restaurants. On the other side of the Promenade is a lovely white sandy beach with about 2km of sand dunes to the left and a lovely fishing port to the right.
We stayed in a lovely small hotel which overlooked the promenade and had great sea views. Make sure to order a sea view and a balcony if possible. The hotel was called Albergaria Quim Barreiros and very good value (about €85 a night for sea view and balcony). It had no real features other than being in a great location and with beautiful views. (Think we stayed in room 308.)
Another option that is about 2 blocks back from the promenade is the Hotel Meira. It has a pool, restaurant, bar and games room. It is more expensive (at around 90-140) but is definitely in a class above the Albergaria in terms of amenities and comfort.
It basically comes down to a preference between. Sea Views or Features. I’ll let you decide.
The 2 main options were to fly into Porto or Vigo. We chose Porto and rented a car. The drive tool us about 1hr 20mins and was motorway the whole way. Our accommodation did not have parking but there was a free outdoor car park towards the southern end of the promenade.
A train service also runs from Porto and stops in the middle of the town. Some people also opted for a taxi from Porto which cost about €140. The drive from Lisbon was over 4hrs and was not recommended by other travelers we met.
Things to do:
The town is really small and compact. It has lovely cobbled streets and is dotted with great cafes and restaurants. We ate the finest sea food, drank lovely local wine and gorged on deserts… and we still could not spend more that €25 per head. The town was exceptional value and every restaurant we tried offered great quality and service.
During the day the main attraction is the beach and the waves. The wind was pretty strong every day we were there so you may want to invest in a wind protector when you arrive. They cost between €7 and €12 and make the beach experience a lot more comfortable.
The waves offer great surfing and body boarding. There is a local surf school in the town and the main beach is also protected by life guards. The beach is also divided by a small estuary which offers a great paddling pool for kids and Kayak rentals are available should you want to spend some time exploring the estuary.
This town is a perfect spot for a lazy 2-3 days of sun, fun and great food. Very relaxed pace of life and friendly people. Perfect for couples or even families with young kids.