Portugal has been on my list of countries I wanted to visit for several years now, but it wasn’t until this summer that I finally decided that it was about time for a Portuguese road trip along the beautiful coast line for a month. I didn’t have a lot of expectations on how to be Vegan in Portugal or how I was going to eat during those few weeks, to be honest I thought that it would be quite similar to Spain, where veganism is more or less known in the cities but quite challenging in smaller villages and the countryside. Holy guacamole, I was in for a treat though! As it turn out – Portugal is an amazing travel destinations, especially for vegans and nature lovers that are looking for pristine eco-friendly getaways near beautiful beaches! 🙂
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably have been bombarded already with tons of images and experiences from my Portugal road trip throughout this whole summer, but in case you still haven’t had enough you’ll find an extensive guide and recommendations for the best places to travel, see, stay and eat below! If you have any further questions or if you have additional tips or recommendations regarding restaurants/accommodation/retreats – let us know in the comments below (this is super helpful and helps the post stay up to date)!
If you’re not exactly familiar with Portuguese geography I have added a map of my exact road trip below: I started in Lisbon, continued a bit north to Ericeira, Sintra, Peniche, Islas Berlengas, and from there went all the way south along the coast to Odeceixe, Aljezur, Sagres, Salema, Lagos, Tavira and eventually flew back from Faro.
In case you haven’t seen it – I have already written a full Vegan Guide to Lisbon including all the amazing eats & stays this gorgeous city has to offer! So instead of repeating myself here I’m going to focus on all the other treasures Portugal has to offer! While I didn’t have enough time on this particular road trip to explore the north of Portugal including Porto, I’ll add those throughout next year once I catch up on that missing part.
Known as one of the best surfer spots in Portugal, Ericeira is a great and nearby getaway if you want to escape Lisbon for a little while. Despite the fact that I don’t know how to surf, I’ve enjoyed Ericeira’s vibe and friendly people so much. Ericeira is located about 45 minutes outside of Lisbon and filled with surfers from all around the world. It has 9 surf beaches in total within a range of 8kms, as well as a few hidden gems. The town itself is one of Portugal’s most beautiful, full of interesting old cobblestones streets and local restaurants and bars. Just standing on those impressive rock formations, watching the powerful waves as they break or one of those beautiful sunsets, is wort a visit alone!
The town itself is incredibly charming, full of young surfers and kind of has that white-blue greek house style to it. Despite the fact that it was beginning of September and hence summer, it can get incredibly windy and chilly in Ericeira so be sure to bring some cardigans along!
Where to eat?
If you’re craving those Bali, post-surf, smoothie/açaí -bowl vibes then Nalu Bowls is YOUR place! In fact this is the partner shack to the famous and ‘Instgrammable’ Nalu Bowls from Bali and they’re perfect to satisfy those sweet cravings in a healthy way!
R. Manuel Ortigão Burnay, 2655-304 Ericeira, Portugal
Amazing homemade ice cream with tons of vegan options! Possibly one of my favorite places in Ericeira! Grab yourself some creamy ice cold goodness and stroll through the cobble stone streets! Highly recommend the coconut and fig flavors!
Tv. Misericórdia 6 R/C, 2665-311 Ericeira, Portugal
Green is Good (GiG)
Located just next to Nutwood, part Hostel part Restaurant, Green is Good is a great place to enjoy an awesome feast including matcha/turmeric latte, one of their fresh juices/smoothies, avocado, hummus or peanut butter toast, salads, vegan tapioca wraps, or even vegan lasagna! It’s the perfect place to stop by in the morning or after a long surfing session in the early afternoons (beware they close around 17:00)!
Casa das Tres
This coffee shop is a small, yet charming and really delicious place. Apart from vegan options like chia pudding, amazing coffee, matcha latte and other drinks, they offer preset vegan buddha bowl combinations or mix-your-own bowl from a list of ingredients. I created a ‘sushi’ bowl including rice, seaweed, avocado, cucumber, carrot and sesame seeds.
R. de Santo António 12A, 2655-360 Ericeira, Portugal
Sunset Bamboo Bar
Cute little corner cafe, sandwich shop and cocktail bar on the main square in Ericeira. They serve a variety of veggie sandwiches, carob bread, salads, wraps, hot drinks with plant milk, nachos with guacamole, juices, açaí bowls, chia puddings, and smoothie bowls.
Tv. do Jogo da Bola 3, 2655-297 Ericeira, Portugal
Where to stay?
Incredibly cozy place with all the necessities – a kitchen and proper dining area to prepare some food. 3-5 minutes walk away from the main square and 2 big supermarkets (great for preparing some sandwiches for the day). Perfect for more independent and quiet people that want to explore the surroundings (Sintra, Cabo da Roca) and have a good night sleep.
This charming surf shop is run by Petrina and Mario, who have put tons of love and design details from their former life in Kuala Lumpur into the place. Furniture, wooden lamps and macramé wall hangings are almost all the work of Petrina or local designers. Apart from renting surf shacks and beach cabins they also offer to test/hire boards by Portuguese and international shaper (for the surf enthusiasts here).
Sintra & Cabo da Roca
Definitely worth a half-day trip if you’re staying in Ericeira! Sintra is a resort town of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains and its National Palace counts as a longtime royal sanctuary. It’s a beautiful place to visit with unique views. It sometimes feels a bit like Disneyland because the designs are kind of clashing with each other and you’ll surely feel like a princess exploring the palace.
PRO TIP: be there the second the park opens! Otherwise you’ll get crushed by the bus loads of Chinese and other selfie-sticking tourists from all over the world.
I ended up planning Sintra and Cabo da Roca as a day trip from Ericeira which turned out to be perfect. I spent the morning exploring Sintra and the palace and the afternoon running topless at Cabo da Roca beach! I never really explored Sintra town itself, as my bags were filled with homemade sandwiches and fruit for a picnic at the beach so I can’t speak to Sintra vegan eateries!
You might have seen Cabo do Roca in countless Instagram photos but it really is as stunning as it seems and DEFINITELY worth a visit if you’re quick on your feet and up for a hike! In fact, Cabo da Roca forms the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal, continental Europe and the Eurasian land mass! Getting there involves some serious down climbing so be careful! I totally managed in rope sandals and a bikini though so no worries! The beach itself is never too crowded and most of the time filled with young people and topless tanners – my kinda crowd!
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going into the water as it’s freezing and the currents/waves are quite strong but a quick dip never hurt nobody! To be honest it’s the perfect place to read a good book, bring some food and just enjoy a calm afternoon by the beach!
The rock formations and color of the sand is really impressive and the post card-worthy views are always great to send back home to the family! 😉
Peniche & Islas Berlengas
I almost skipped this part of my travels but my friend and I got a last minute tip from a local not to miss out on the beautiful Berlengas Islands right off the shore of Peniche (silent “e” btw). The islands themselves are situated 10km west of the fishing town of Peniche, and are home to the Arquipélago das Berlengas nature reserve. It is possible to visit and explore the largest of the three islands, the Berlenga Grande, and this 1-day excursion is considered as one of the highlights of the Peniche region – with good reason!
In fact, I’d say that these islands are definitely a hidden gem and rather known by locals than tourist (as my friend and I were the only tourists on the ferry). Especially young Portuguese people tend to go over for the weekends, filling up the islands small camping site in a hot second. As the island is part of the nature reserve, it is only visited by scientists and, in the summer, by a small number of tourists.
The big island itself is basically just a big red-ish rock in the middle of the ocean. There is not much growing there or on it really, apart from a few bushes and birds. However, there is one gorgeous beach just at the small port of the island and the Fort of São João Baptista is located in the waters off the southeastern coast of Berlenga Grande, on a small islet connected to the island by a causeway/arch-bridge. You can actually sleep and stay the night in that fort if you’re into those kind of things as it has been retrofitted as a rest house for tourists to stay at while visiting the islands.
The highlight of these islands, however, is definitely the dramatic natural landscape, and surrounding crystal-clear waters that are are teeming with sea life. Despite the fact that it wasn’t the warmest day and the Atlantic ocean is freezing cold, we ended up jumping into the waters from the arch bridge. There is one specific spot where it is safe to do so (at your own risk), but you got to be extra careful to watch out for boats/divers/canoes. If jumping is not your thing you can also just take the stairs down to the water or remain at the main beach!
I have found my favorite Portuguese costal town: Aljezur! Despite the fact that there are tons of these little villages and towns along the West Algarve, Aljezur really stood out to me for a) it’s vegan-friendliness and b) it’s overall beauty and charm! 🙂 I honestly fell a little bit in love with this place, its people, stunning beaches and general vibes! Although we initially only planned to stay for 2 days, we ended up extending our stay because we had such a good time!
It’s most likely one of the best places to come for a month or two, learn how to surf and just enjoy the nature and amazing food around you! This place is always full of young surfers and fun workawayers that are traveling the region and decided to stay for a bit.
Coming back to this place is so high up on my list for 2019 that I should actually just leave right now! 🙂 I’m not sure when exactly I’ll be back, but at latest when I finally decide to learn how to surf! 😉
Where to eat?
Local Farmers Market
If you’re in Aljezur you simply HAVE TO check out the weekly farmers markets (Saturday early mornings). It is not very touristy, in fact it’s quite the opposite, filled with only regional sellers or expats that settled down in Aljezur for good. The market itself is quite hidden way behind the church in the new town, so you gotta know where you’re going (always helps to ask a local)! To be honest I haven’t been to such a lovely farmers market in a long time. Everyone I met was SO lovely, giving away free food, always up for a little chat and just so warm and welcoming.
Apart from the tastiest regional produce (figs, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, passion fruit, broccoli, etc.) we found delicious hummus (a really good one made by an Israeli guy), vegan sweet potato bread and sandwiches by Pão do Sol (a regional gluten-free & organic bakery), the best vegan Indian food & Mango lassi made by the loveliest Indian couple that just gave away their food for free, delicious cakes and bread from a German family, cookies, handcrafted arts, clothes and so much more! To be honest I could have spent hours at this place just eating my way through all the goodies and chatting with everyone! Such good vibes!
If you’re already in that area I highly recommend to check out the local zero-waste/health food store called Madame Granel! Diane sells the most delicious vegan granola, cookies and a ton of bulk ingredients and zero-waste items like bathing cloths, sponges etc. In fact, if you can’t find the store just open your nose as the smell of freshly baked cookies will surely guide you across the church square into that gorgeous little shop!
Bring your own reusable jars or get some at the store itself!
Mó Veggie Bistro (Moagem)
Wow. I remember this place and it’s stunning food so dearly! I was so pleasantly surprised when I found out that there’s a crazy popular vegetarian now-turned-vegan bistro in Aljezur that not only serves amazing food but also hosts live music events on the regular! They always have a daily dish on display but you can also choose some other things from the menu. Their raw cake desserts are divine and literally melt in your mouth. The bistro itself is located inside the town’s historic mill which makes for a stunning setting! Their food is made with the best local ingredients and produce and will surely leave you with a happy belly! If you can try the unicorn soup, triptica open sandwiches, burgers and always check out their daily dishes!
Also make sure to check out their event calendar and ask for the yoga classes (happening in the building opposite Mó Veggie Bistro)!
R. João Dias Mendes 13, 8670-086 Aljezur, Portugal
The local Italian place serving a variety of vegetarian pizzas, one directly labeled vegan pizza, and some other vegan and vegetarian dishes like pasta and salads. their dough is amazing, super fluffy with tons of veggies on top!
R. do Vento 3, 8670-082 Aljezur, Portugal
This gem is not exactly located in Aljezur itself, but in the neighboring town of Rogil, which is just a 5 minute drive away! They are a fully vegetarian restaurant that is super vegan-friendly and run by the loveliest people. You can find tons of amazing dishes including fresh juices, muffins, cakes, crackers & dips, avocado toast, vegan sushi, lasagna and so much more! I had already seen this place on the road to Aljezur as it’s just located on the main street leading through the village and I’m actually so happy we decided to come back here for dinner one evening!
Av. 16 de Junho 134, 8670-440 Rogil, Portugal
Situated just upon the beautiful beach front of Monte Clerigo, this cool beach bar is the perfect place to get in a yummy afternoon snack! Whether you’ve been surfing all day or just working on your tan, this place is a great pit-stop for a refreshment. They have the usual smoothie and açaí bowls, but also a good matcha latte and delicious vegan carob fig cake!
Praia do Monte Clerigo, 8670-156 Aljezur, Portugal
Another place that we found passing through that is not located in Aljezur but in the wider area in Odeceixe (20 minute drive). This is a cute little vegetarian cafe offering vegan options like hummus, gluten-free cakes, burgers and more. We stopped here for lunch and spent a few hours at the beach in Odeceixe which is wonderful!
Travessa do Rossio, Largo 1 de Maio, 8670-320 Odeceixe, Portugal
Again, not exactly in Aljezur but very close by you’ll find this spot clearly advertising vegan and gluten-free options. They have two vegan pizzas, pancakes, breakfast options, fresh juices and desserts.
Largo do comércio 3, 8670-230 Bordeira, Portugal
Where to stay?
Surf Shanti Lodge (≈85 per night for 2-3 people) << check prices
The perfect nature boutique lodge and retreat venue in Aljezur! This must be one of my favorite accommodations throughout the whole trip. We ended up staying here for 4 nights and enjoyed EVERY second of it! There are currently 4 different lodges located in the most serene valley right between Aljezur town and the beach! If waking up with sunshine and the singing of birds for a calming yoga session is your thing, or even if you’re just looking for a relaxed place to stay during your surf/family vacations – this is your place! 🙂
Surrounded by hectares of pristine and untouched private land and dreamlike ocean views this really is the ideal place to unwind and relax! In total there are two charming and beautifully appointed self-contained apartments and a studio all coming with private terraces and views on the mountains and ocean in the distance. Both apartments and studio are very spacious and beautifully designed with tons of attention to detail (especially love the minimalist and eco-friendly design aspects)! Big plus, there are 2 lovely cuddly dogs that say hi during the morning and evenings! 🙂
We were hosted by Stephanie, who not only made us feel so incredibly welcome but also helped with anything we needed, including showing us the local farmers market and vegan gems of the area! 🙂 She is a passionate surfer and health foodie herself so she can help you with organizing surfing lessons or anything else you might need.
The Surf Shanti Lodges are such an ideal place to come with a group of friends or a family, to really take advantage of all the space and facilities (including an extensive ocean view picnic with fresh good from the farmers market)! They’re open all year long so even perfect for a quick winter getaway! 🙂
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Atlantic Lodge Aljezur (≈45€ per night for 2 people) << check prices
In case you’re looking for a more hostel type accommodation for individual travelers or backpackers you’ll surely feel welcomed at the Atlantic Lodge! It’s a nice place in the new town with a great roof terrace to sit on and wind down! They also rent out bikes which is highly recommended to explore the area a bit!
Instead of competing with the thousands of tourists overcrowding Lagos and Faro this time of the year we decided to book our accommodations in those cute villages surrounding the cities and explore the area from there. As it turns out, this was one of our smarter ideas! It’s not only cheaper but so much more lovely! We ended up finding the perfect eco-friendly getaway in Salema, a charming costal village located 20 minutes from Lagos.
Where to stay?
Salema Eco Camp (≈35€ per night for 2 people) << check prices
There are a number of eco-friendly stays in the area but this once is definitely one of the more budget-friendly ones! We ended up staying here for 3 nights in a tipi – so much fun! There are double beds, a small clothing rack, a mini fridge, hammock, outdoor seating and some more basic equipments provided with the tent! The camp offers various activities including surfing lessons, bike rentals etc. A lot of people come here with their vans/caravans/motorbikes and camp for a few days, but for people without vans/tents the tipi option was PERFECT!
There is one main beach in Salema which is already cute, but for the real deal go to Praia da Figuera – a totally hidden gem filled with nudists and topless bathers. There are two ways to reach this beach: take a canoe from Salema main beach or simply take the car and take the small hiking trail to the beach. In fact, there are 3 beaches separated through rocks, where the people gradually become less naked. The first bay is for anyone who just arrives off the trail whilst at the beaches further in you’ll find hardcore nudist usually a good amount of dogs! 🙂 The water is so clear (a little less cold than Aljezur) and the beach so clean that it’s one of my favorite beaches in all of Portugal.
Where to Eat?
Best vegan pizza I’ve had in Portugal! This gem is located in Sagres (about 15 minutes drives from Salema) and a great lunch/dinner spot! It is a lovely Italian place with tons of vegan options like pizza, chickpea farinata, aubergine croquettes, fermented cashew cheese and so much more!
I regret not taking a photo of the pizza but we came here straight from the beach so I didn’t bring my camera.
Estrada Nacional 268, 8650-355 Sagres, Portugal
Also located in Sagres, this snack bar has some simple vegan gluten-free options including dips, bruschetta, falafel, garlic bread, burgers and fries.
R. Cmte. Matoso, 8650-357 Sagres, Portugal
Gelateria Alice, Art & Heart
Ice cream shop with vegan cones a some great homemade vegan ice cream flavors. The almond and chocolate ones are amazing!
R. de São Vicente, 8650-370 Sagres, Portugal
A short 20 minutes drive into the other direction, and you’ll find some city life and crowded beaches in Lagos. Personally I didn’t like Lagos too much. We came here early in the morning and walked among the rock formations, just to have busloads of tourists crowd the place around 10am. We tried 3 of the most famous beaches and all of them were much more crowded, dirty and simply less pretty than the ones we had found before. So we decided to do a few quick stops at some of the local vegan eateries and leave Lagos and Faro behind us! I’ve heard that it’s much nicer in off season, and there are many more smaller surrounding villages to explore on the south Algarve which look lovely (if you have any tips – let me know in the comments).
We stopped here for lunch and had some great food and drinks. Goldig is a vegetarian bistro serving breakfast, lunch and early dinner with tons of vegan options including cakes, ice cream, organic coffee, chai lattes, fresh fruit juices, toast with vegan pesto/vegan cheese, hummus, and banana bread! The space itself is quite small so you gotta be lucky or wait a bit to get a table but definitely a nice spot for a recharge!
R. Infante de Sagres 64, 8600-315 Lagos, Portugal
This place came highly recommended from some of my followers. It’s located in the Lagos old town serving a variety of dishes including curries, falafel, lasagna, smoothies, salads, desserts, etc. The vegan chocolate mousse is amazing and the general vibe of the restaurant is really lovely!
R. da Oliveira 30, 8600-315 Lagos, Portugal
Another gem that came highly recommended! Lalitana comprises a restaurant, yoga studio and guesthouse in one serving up delicious food made with local organic ingredients! They have a variety of dishes including vegan burgers, coco gratin, cakes, soups, dips and avocado toast and a very warm and welcoming atmosphere in the place itself!
R. Gil Vicente 28, 8600-596 Lagos, Portugal
The last stop on our Portugal trip was the lovely coastal town of Tavira. Tavira is only a 30 minute drive from the Spanish border but shouldn’t be overlooked! It is a delightful Portuguese town that has retained its traditional charm and cultural heritage!
Where to eat?
Bistrot O Porto
A vegetarian and vegan restaurant that uses local organic ingredients. They have a great vegan cheesecake and main dishes ranging from pasta to veggie platters, dips, and tajine. The food is a bit overpriced in comparison to other places.
Largo Dr. José Pires Padinha 180, 8800-354 Tavira, Portugal
Lovely little vegan grocer, zero-waste, bulk food and coffee shop, serving light meals, snacks and drinks. We had some awesome spirulina smoothies here to refresh ourselves (we chose the smoothie ingredients ourselves with the foods from the bulk section).
R. Dr. José Pires Padinha 100, 8800-354 Tavira, Portugal
There are also tons, and I mean TONS, of Indian restaurants in Tavira that all have great vegan options!