Peniche exudes history – it’s weathered fort has been a maritime defense, a political prison during the Estado Novo regime and today offers stunning views out to the Berlengas archipelago. The town is an idyllically placed and utterly unique study destination, home to the state-run polytechnic Instituto Politécnico de Leiria which offers award-winning degrees in marine technologies and tourism.
Peniche is known for its gorgeous beaches, and yields a multitude of opportunities for watersports – students attending university here must try their hand at surfing. The region’s most famous beach is Praia dos Supertubos, where the excellent breaks make it a hub for international surfing events, and the perfect place for novices to learn! As if sumptuous, dramatic beaches weren’t enough, the virtually unspoiled natural reserve of the Berlengas archipelago lies about 10 km offshore. Peniche may not be a sparkling resort, but it’s fantastic seafood, intriguing historical strolls and bracing surf are more than enough for students to fall in love with.
Things to do in Peniche:
Peniche is perfectly placed for tall, hollow waves that are the absolute ultimate for surfing – if you get the chance, mingle with excited locals the Rip Curl Pro event in October at Praia dos Supertubos. For a somewhat different but no less dramatic coastline take a daytrip to Cabo Carvoeiro, Portugal’s westernmost point. The majestic capes, 25-meter cliffs and crashing waves have historically been a death trap for ships, and the still operational lighthouse has been warding off danger since 1790.
Monuments and Landmarks
The town’s most identifiable landmark is the Fortaleza de Peniche – once a pivotal maritime defense, this cliff top fortress became a prison for opponents of the Estado Novo regime – devotees of history must take a stroll along the ramparts where Salazar detained political prisoners. Peniche’s 16th century church, Igreja de São Pedro, is also a favorite – the chancel contains a plethora of artworks as well as a radiant Baroque altarpiece adorned with carved cherubs.
Places of Interest
About 10 km from the westernmost tip of the peninsula lies the archipelago of Berlengas – the world’s first nature reserve, rich in maritime life and an absolute must-visit for students in Peniche. Another fantastic day trip is Baleal – a tiny coastal village perched on a rugged peninsula. Exposed areas make for fantastic surfing whilst sheltered areas are idyllic for sunbathing and swimming – what better way to take a hard-earned break from your studies?
Peniche is first and foremost a surfing town. For budgeting students who wish to throw themselves into the scene, taking part in a several-day camp as opposed to multiple individual lessons might be a cost-effective option. Most will be standing on their board by the end of the first day! Another important pass time in Peniche is cuisine – long, warm evenings can be spent feasting on regional fish dishes such as caldeirada (a Portuguese version of bouillabaisse) on the Avenida do Mar.