Lifestyle & Culture

Mónica Da Silva in Lisbon: Your guide to a wonderful 24 hours on Berlenga Grande island

The natural reserve of Berlengas is an archipelago located on the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Peniche, and if you live in Portugal, you probably have already heard of it. Let me tell you that it is completely lives up to the hype because both the place and the experience of going there are absolutely breathtaking. The archipelago includes one island called Berlenga Grande, the Estelas islets and the Farilhões-Forcados islets.

However, the islets can only be accessed by scientists for research purposes.

How to get there

To reach Berlenga Grande you need to take a boat from Peniche. Going to Peniche from Lisbon is not expensive at all, and the trip is quite fast. That’s why you can easily make your visit to Berlengas a one-day-trip. If you go by car, it takes around 90 minutes with tolls and two hours without tolls. There are several options to go by bus, but for you to have an idea, you can get a round-trip with Rede Expressos from 20 euros on, depending on the season and times. The bus leaves from Sete Rios station, and each trip will take around 90 minutes.

I highly recommend you to plan your trip in advance and reserve your boat seats to avoid that you get to Peniche and everything is sold out, which is not uncommon during high season. There are plenty of companies that sell boat trips to go to Berlengas and other services. We chose Feeling Berlenga because their website had all the information we needed, they had excellent reviews and the process looked easy and quick. 

The offer of each company might vary, and, since the prices don’t differ too much from one company to another, you should base your choice on the kind of activities that you want to do. For example, some packages include guided tours, snorkeling equipment and dolphin watching. Although we didn’t purchase any package or tour because we wanted to explore the island freely, we really enjoyed our boat trip and can definitely recommend them. 

Prices

The main factor that affects the prices is the season, during the high season (the whole month of August) the prices for the boats, tours and activities increase considerably. I also believe that the weather is way too hot to properly enjoy Berlengas during the summer. So if you ask me, I would definitely recommend you to go during the regular season. We went in October, and although it was a bit windy, it was sunny and the temperature was perfect.

The price for a round-trip (Peniche-Berlengas-Peniche) per adult during the regular season is only 20. euros. If you want to include another route, a guided tour, snorkeling or other services, the price increases. The price is also different for children and adults, but you can check them in more detail on the websites of the companies like: Berlengatur, Feeling Berlenga, Viamar and Berlenga Tour. The boats have fixed schedules, so you must be punctual to avoid making the rest of the people wait for you or even missing the boat. 

There is also a surcharge depending on the type of boat you choose. Each company has different options with different prices, during the reservation process we were able to choose between a slow or a fast boat. With the slow one the trip would last 45 minutes and with the fast one 20 minutes.

We chose a slow one because for us, the boat trip was part of the experience. Thanks to this choice, we were able to see dolphins swimming next to us and it was amazing! 

Things to do on Berlenga Grande

The best activities to do if you didn’t purchase any of the packages are hiking, visiting the fortress, bird-watching, swimming and having a picnic. Regarding the picnic part, something very important to take into account is that there aren’t many options to buy food or drinks on the island. There is only one restaurant that gets quite crowded during high season, and it’s mostly closed during the regular season. So, bring your own fruits, sandwiches, snacks and drinks from the mainland so you don’t starve. 

Another very important thing that I just can’t stress enough: pack sneakers! I made the terrible mistake of going there wearing sandals and walking around was horrible. Also, take sunscreen with you as there are not many places to protect yourself from the sun. Please remember that you are on a natural reserve, be mindful about the environment and don’t feed the animals.

Finally, there weren’t a lot of trash bins on the island, so taking your trash back with you and disposing of it when you’re back on the mainland is the best idea.

About the author:

Mónica da Silva comes from a small town near Caracas, Venezuela where she was born. Mónica was raised by her parents and grandparents who left Portugal in the 70s. After living in Germany for some time, she decided to move to Lisbon where she has been since 2018.

She studied Modern Languages and is currently pursuing a degree in European Studies. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and a bit of German. She loves traveling, learning about different cultures and tasting new flavors. You can follow her on Instagram: @monique_df

Read more of Mónica’s posts for Dispatches here.

Read more about Lisbon and Portugal in our Dispatches archives.

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