Ericeira - Us and the Sea
We arrived to Ericeira on April 30th 2021, hoping for a coronavirus-free spring. These were the days of the long-awaited easing of restrictions, after long months of confinement – the first weekend with open restaurants had an underlying promise of sunny lunches and windy dinners under the moonlight. The hotel we chose – You & The Sea – was named after everything we were looking for – time to devote to ourselves and the sea.
In my suitcase I bring…
We packed our suitcases with linen shirts and cotton pants, hoping for an early summer to kick-in. But the windy nights made light coats mandatory. Comfortable shoes were also of essence, as we parked the car on the first day to no longer pick it up – we walked between the hotel and the center of Ericeira, a pleasant 20 minutes’ walk.
You and the Sea initially won us over by the airy, spacious look of the apartments. The garden and swimming pool, which from the pictures, seemed suspended over the sea, were next to a road (with traffic) that divides the apartment complex from the rest of the hotel gardens. Expectations adjusted, it was still very pleasing.
The indoor swimming pool had large glass doors which could be open to the greenery of the garden. Although visible from both the Spa area and the restaurant “Jangada”, it was still very private. All the common areas of the hotel seem to fit perfectly in a relatively small space leveraging light wood and glass to gain extra room.
“Scenic ocean view from the poolside”
With 3 or 4 apartment blocks connected by a fun corridor – appropriately illustrated with fish drawings of various color – the hotel also had a garage with an electric car charger, a gym, a children’s room and a spa with varied offer of treatments (Kudos to the excellent masseuse who gave me a relaxating 30-minute massage that yielded hours of well-being).
Our 3-bedroom apartment had only the main suite open – enough for 2 people. It could have easily accommodated a family of 6 with its spare bedrooms and spacious living room. The kitchen was fully equipped, with the odd exception of an electric kettle. The kitchen balcony wasn’t huge (some of the first level houses have large terraces) but from it you could get a glimpse of the sea. It became our favorite place to have breakfast. Note that, although the hotel has breakfast options available, they were not included in our plan, as our reservation was made through Booking.
The allusion to the sea at You & The Sea is made in more or less subtle details, but full of grace – a beach basket available to carry towels or a picnic to the beach; dishes with sea motifs; blue fade robes inviting gests to a dance or the bathroom hanger with a funny pun with crabs. The smell of sea and vacation, inviting our family to settle in.
For seafood lovers, Ericeira is paradise on earth – there are several restaurants with ample supply, from shrimps to crabs and all kinds of crustaceous. As we are not big fans, we delighted ourselves with the offer of fresh fish and seafood rice. There are alternatives for those who do not enjoy seafood or fish, with several restaurants representing different flavors of the world cuisine.
GiG – Green is Good
Our first stop was right at the entrance of the village – hungry and with the sea’s striking blue color opening up our appetite very quickly – we parked in the first place available, close enough to the center to look for a light lunch before heading to the hotel. A sunny terrace full of young and tall tourists caught our attention. We took a place on the terrace and quickly realized that instead of tourists, we were accompanied by habitués – surfers with wet hair and computer – perhaps digital nomads who between one call and the other took brief swims and enjoyed the rhythm of life at a Portuguese village. At GiG, in addition to the daily recommendations, there is an extensive menu of toasts, salads and more or less vegetarian dishes, with options for all tastes. Generously servings, quick service and a very fresh natural beet juice (for connoisseurs!).
The best seafood rice we have memory of. The quality (and quantity!) of Brisa’s seafood rice is unrivaled – served with plenty and diverse seafood together with well cooked, well-seasoned rice. The service is attentive and familiar and the small covered terrace overlooking the sea make the space enjoyable even in chilly days.
Recommended by our family (who often goes to Ericeira) we had high expectations for our dinner here. Esplanada das Furnas is located at the beachfront, watching over the immense ocean from the top pf the rocks. Our table was right next to the large windows, and throughout dinner, we marveled ourselves with the views, sticking our noses to the glass, attracted by the oceans’ strength.
At the entrance, guests choose their fish, guided by the master of the fish counter. We chose a generous turbot, very well grilled, accompanied by delicious boiled potatoes and colorful vegetables.
La Popular Taberna
Ericeira’s best tapas have won us over in a very picturesque setting: wooden tables, unpaired and colorful chairs, squared towels and patterned crockery, together with charming details to be discovered while you are waiting, such as the house of a toy mice, with its occupant’s clothes drying on the rope, hidden in one corner of the restaurant. The service, very cheerful and attentive, matched the love that was put in each dish, created with fresh ingredients, traditional and hand-picked among quality suppliers. We had “Croquetas de Jámon”, “Ovos Ruetos” and an mouthwatering “Tuna and Pepper Salad”, recommended as a favourite, which surprised us by its freshness, seasoning and innovation.
We had lunch in this cozy Italian restaurant, a good alternative for those who want to vary from traditional Portuguese food, without necessarily abdicating from fish and seafood. The menu is varied and the price quite reasonable. Located in the center of the village, it has a sunny and inviting terrace. Closed on Tuesdays.
Walk the Talk
We wandered through Ericeira, without any specific plan, pulled by the light of the buildings to tiny and busy alleys, small squares and white houses, streaked in blue. Our favorite tours and spots include:
Along the Ocean Front, from “You & The Sea” to Praia do Sul
Ericeira’s ocean front is very beautiful and well prepared for tourists, with sidewalks, mostly wide, on both sides of the street. The distance between You & The Sea and Praia do Sul, where the Vila Galé hotel is located, can be made with relative ease in 12 minutes, a little more if you want to get down to the beach and make the route by the sea.
Stop at Miradouro da Baleia (The Whale Viewpoint), above Praia do Sul, to admire the bay and take photographs with the village in the background.
Through the historic center + poetry walk | Praça da República – Praia de São Sebastião – Praia dos Pescadores (1h)
Start in Praça da Républica, the central square of Ericeira, with leafy trees and garden benches. It is the perfect spot to observe the lively town while eating an ice cream at the family favorite “Veneza”. At the northern end of the square, take Rua 5 de Outubro, the longest in the village, and enjoy the traditional houses, whitewashed and with blue stripes. Stop at Largo do Pelourinho to rest, before continuing to St. Peter’s Church. Go straight to São Sebastião Beach, where you can be lucky enough to catch a craft & arts fair. Go down at the beach level and walk the route to Praia dos Pescadores, passing by Praia do Norte through what is known as the “Way of Poetry – Fernando Pessoa” a literary and pedestrian route by the poet’s work, marking the 130th anniversary of the birth of this essential figure of the Portuguese literature.
Fisherman’s Beach – Casa da Fernanda – Chapel of Our Lady of Boa Viagem
The most central beach in Ericeira is right below the viewpoint of Rua de Santo António and Largo das Ribas. It is one of the most picturesque beaches of Ericeira, with many fishing boats moored in the port. If you don’t want to go down to the beach, stop at Casa da Fernanda, which serves the original Ericeira pastries called “Ouriços” (or “sea hedgehogs”) traditional almond cakes typical of the village. We’ve tried several and none as good as these! Comforted by the sweet pastry, take a look at the Chapel of Our Lady of Boa Viagem. Dating back to the 15th century, it is said to protect fishermen when they go out to the ocean.
South Bay Bar & South Bay Beach
Despite being the closest bar to the ocean, and therefore very popular, Baía do Sul (or South Bay Bar) was one of our favorite places to read the newspaper while we had coffee late in the mornings. It is open until late in the evening, for a fresh beer with lupin. It is located in the South Beach, the most popular in Ericeira, with golden and fine sand.
Ericeira Municipal Market
Located in Rua do Mercado, Mercado da Ericeira is not only the right place to buy fresh fish and seafood, but also fruit, bread, cold cuts and vegetables prepared in sachets, ready to use in soup or sautéed. It is a market full of life, where product freshness and traders friendliness leave a mark.
In my suitcase I bring…
Ericeira’s relaxed atmosphere is the perfect match for surf shops with clothing, footwear and jewelry, which are a real temptation for those on holiday. Our favorites were the Billabong Store, at R. Dr. Eduardo Burnay 30 and The Doghouse, in Praça da República. For surf lovers, Waterbound and Wavegliders Surfshop are must-stop points.
Ericeira proved to be the perfect destination for sunny weekends or short breaks and we hope to return soon for a must-have surf lesson.