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Place Of The Month – February 2018 – Berlengas

Looking for adventure? Wanting to find one of those magical looking islands that looks like its come right out of a fantasy book? Well February’s Place Of The Month is quite possibly for you! With the added bonus of only being an hour or so off the mainland of Portugal, Berlengas (known to British mariners as “the Burlings” ) is one of the 3 archipelagos that Portugal has (the other two being the somewhat better known Madeira and The Azores)


Credit Ricardo Marques

Berlengas Grande is the only habitable island of its group and is also classified as a natural reserve (Arquipélago das Berlengas) it is thought to have been occupied by humans as early as 1 millennium B.C. but one of its earliest recorded uses for inhabitants was to be used as a point for navigators crossing from Northern to Southern Europe.  In the 16th century The Hieronymites  (who were hermit monks) settled on Grande Berlenga to provide religious teachings to ship crews.


Credit Visit Portugal

The small sandy beach (Praia do Carreiro do Mosteiro) is named after the 16th century monastery, which used to be above the harbour, it is regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in all of central Portugal, it’s safe to swim in the small cove and the many shipwrecks and crystal clear waters make for ideal snorkelling and kayaking terrirory, glass bottomed boats also leave the harbour at regular intervals allowing you to view the stunning marine life, if you prefer to keep your feet dry there are many grottos to explore and hiking trails high up around the islands, you can also head to the São João Baptista Fort, which really is something right out of a fantasy tale with its tiny arched bridges. Built in 1651 under order of Dom Joao IV to prevent the island being occupied by North African pirates and enemy powers, it was successfully defended by 20 or less men for many years. Now it is remodelled and works as a kind of bed and breakfast accommodation of the archipelago and has a shop and restaurant.

The Islands are only accessible between May and September by boat caught from the harbour in Peniche (tickets can be bought from the harbour walkway). The ferry usually only takes about 45 minutes to get there or, you can take the faster and more adrenaline filled ride in a speed boat which takes just 20 minutes. During the summer months it’s worth booking tickets early to avoid disappointment 

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