The Berlengas archipelago is off the coast of Peniche, about 10 km from the mainland.
Despite the traces of human presence that date back to the first millennium BC, it wasn’t until the 14th century that the Portuguese began to show an interest in the islands when the Hieronymites settled there and built a monastery.
The project didn’t resist the pirates’ attacks and they had to wait until 1656, when the São João Baptista fort was finished, to permanently settle on the islands.
You can’t visit Portugal and not take a trip to the Berlengas because you’ll be missing out on a must-visit destination.
On this page I share with you a practical city guide with the best places to visit in Berlengas.
Berlengas Portugal: What you need to know
Nowadays, the natural beauty and the historical traces in the Berlengas are what draws visitors, who depart from Peniche to explore the islands.
The Berlengas have some small clean beaches, a series of caves that you can visit on tours organized by local fishermen, and a lighthouse that dates back to the 18th century.
Berlengas were classified as a Nature Reserve in 1981 and as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2011.
You can stay the night at Berlenga Grande island, at the fort, at the parking site where once was the Hieronymites Monastery, or at the small Hotel Pavilhão Sol.
- Take into account that you need to get to Peniche city, in order to get the boat to Berlengas.
Best time to go to Berlengas
In order to
Learn about the seasons and the local climate to know when to go to the Berlengas. The best time to visit the Berlengas is between April and October, the months when the weather is perfect for a vacation in Portugal.
Weather in Berlengas nowBERLENGAS WEATHER
Top things to do in Berlengas
What to visit in Berlengas Islands.
- São João Baptista Fort
- Visitors Center
- Duque de Bragança Lighthouse
- Praia do Forte Beach
- Praia do Carreiro do Mosteiro Beach
- Praia Cova do Sonho Beach
- Gruta da Flandres Cave
- Greta da Inês Cave
- Gruta do Brandal Cave
- Gruta Azul Cave
- Gruta Muxinga Cave
- Gruta da Lagosteira Cave
Map of attractions in Berlengas
Map with the most popular attractions in Berlengas.
Quick travel tips to visit Berlengas
- You can spend the night on the island, at the fort, the camping site, or the rooms you can rent by the pier;
- Go up to the top of the lighthouse for the best view of the island;
- Go on quiet hikes and take the time to explore and enjoy your surroundings;
- Take a boat trip to visit the caves;
- The Peniche to Berlengas boats is very easy to get, buy the ticket at the port in Peniche;
- Berlengas and Peniche in Portugal have plenty to see, so you’ll want to plan and organize your trip well to make sure you don’t miss a thing. That way you’ll have enough time to see all the sites and have a great vacation.
Best places to visit in Berlengas
If you want to know what to see in Berlengas, I organized a list of places to visit so that you can plan your trip and maximize your time during your holidays.
Top 7 places to visit in Berlengas.
1. Berlengas Nature Reserve
The Berlengas archipelago was classified as a Nature Reserve in 1981 due to the importance of its unique ecosystem. That includes a series of island and marine habitats, its relevance to botany, and the richness of its underwater archaeological heritage.
In total, and this includes the surrounding body of water, the Reserve is 9,500 hectares.
The Berlengas Reserve logo depicts one of the typical birds in the Berlengas, the common murre (Uria aalge).
This bird looks a bit like a penguin and it nests on these islands.
The network of 2 km of marked trails on the islands allows you to enjoy all this natural beauty as well as gives you access to over 100 botanical species and to watching the many bird species around.
In 2011, the Berlengas were also classified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
2. São João Baptista Fort
The São João Baptista fort is the best-known attraction in the Berlengas. It began construction in 1651 by order of King João IV and was finished in 1656.
The king wanted to strengthen the Portuguese coast defense system in an area that was frequently attacked by pirates.
It’s located on the southeast side of Berlenga Grande island, built on a small islet that’s connected to the main island by a stone arch bridge.
The irregular octagonal shape building was done by engineer Mateus do Couto and included several places for weapons on the south and the east sides.
A few years after it was built, the fort was in the middle of a battle with the Spanish that forced the fort to surrender.
In 1821 it was renovated and restored later in 1953 to be used as an inn. It was restored once more in the 1980s.
You can spend the night at the fort, but it doesn’t have many amenities. You have to take all you need with you, including a sleeping bag.
3. Visitors Center
The Visitors Center in the Berlengas is your first contact with the islands. It was founded in 2015 by LIFE Berlengas to alert and educate people to the fragility of the Berlengas’ ecosystem and the need to preserve it.
It has a small but well-curated exhibition on all there is to know about the islands and it’s the perfect place to get more information or ask any questions you have about the archipelago.
4. Duque de Bragança Lighthouse
Also known as the Berlenga Island Lighthouse, it’s located on the highest point of the archipelago and it’s one of the oldest lighthouses in Portugal.
It was originally built in 1758 by order of Marquês de Pombal and designed by architect Gaudêncio Fontana.
It was rebuilt in 1836 as the lighthouse you see today. Its 29-meter tower began to work in 1842 and it was remodeled at the end of that century.
At the end of the 1980s, the lighthouse was automated and has worked as an autonomous facility since 2000, powered by solar energy.
You can visit the lighthouse for free every Wednesday afternoon.
5. Praia do Carreiro do Mosteiro Beach
The beach is named like this because of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Hieronymites Monastery) that was built here before the São João Baptista Fort in the 16th century, but was destroyed by repeated pirate attacks.
It’s also known as the Praia da Berlenga Grande beach, and it’s the most central one on the island, near the pier from where the boats depart to Peniche.
The crystal-clear waters are usually calm, benefiting from the natural-made cove, with gorgeous scenery.
There are two other recommended beaches on the island, although they’re not as sandy.
Those are Praia Cova do Sonho and the one by the fort called Praia do Forte.
6. Caves in the Berlengas
The Berlengas is full of beautiful geological formations and phenomena that include some caves worth visiting.
Typically you can only get to them by sea, hiring the services of seamen who try to make a living by taking visitors on their boats to see the many caves on the islands.
It’s an unmissable trip to see the islands from a different angle.
In addition to the caves of Furado Grande, Flandres, Inês, Brandal, Lagosteira, Azul, and Muxinga.
Other must-see attractions include the natural arch Tromba do Elefante (Elephant’s Trunk) and the Falésia Maldita (which translates into Doomed Cliff).