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Salema is best secret beach of Portugal
Travel & Leisure has listed Salema, the only Portuguese beach in a ranking of 15, as one of the most tranquil and secluded beaches in the world.
Salema was chosen for being one of the few remaining genuine fishing villages in a coastline marked by high density construction. Other countries whose beaches featured on the list were France, Philippines, Australia, Mexico, Hawai, Thailand, Vietnam, Brazil and Mozambique.
Vila do Bispo Mayor Adelino Soares told the Algarve Resident: “It is a privilege to see Salema listed in a world ranking for the best secret beaches by the largest travel publication in the United States, which is read monthly by around 4.8 million people.
“Regrettably this recognition has not been felt at national level as the ‘Seven Wonders – Beaches of Portugal’ panel of judges rejected Salema beach from its selection.”
Vila do Bispo is a small town 22km to the west of Lagos and the centre of the municipality which includes towns such as Sagres, Budens and Raposeira. It is a pretty town with the older, typical Algarvean houses clustered around the 16th century church, and then expanding westwards with newer, more modern, buildings around the cultural centre and municipal building. You will find everything you need for your stay - there are two banks, an 'Alisuper' shop for groceries and plenty of places to eat out. There is a bigger supermarket, 'Ecomarche' on the main N125 at Budens - just a few minutes away by car - which is open every day of the year.
In February 1992, Vila do Bispo signed a 'twinning' agreement with Nishinoomote, in Japan, in recognition of the fact that Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Japan in the 16th century. The square between the cultural centre and municipal building was inaugurated in 1998 and called 'Praça de Tanegashima' ('Tanegashima Square') to commemorate the agreement.
For a town of it's size, there are an amazing number of restaurants! Not surprisingly, fish is the main feature of the menus, as it is in an area surrounded by the sea; the boards outside listing the varieties fresh for that day. 'Perceves' is a real local delicacy and translates as 'goose barnacles'! In the hunting season (October to December) there will often be dishes of wild boar (javeli), hare (lebre), partridge (perdiz) and quails (codorniz) on offer as well.
Vila do Bispo is only a short distance from the coast - the nearest beach on the western atlantic coast is Praia do Castelejo (a favourite with surfers) and the beaches at Sagres are only about 8km. Between Sagres and Burgau, along the southern coastline, are many more quiet beaches which are well worth finding if you want to 'get away' from it all. The beaches of Ingrina and Zavial are the closest ( heading eastwards from Vila do Bispo -turn right at Raposeira traffic lights) and apart from being popular with surfers both also have a beach bar / restaurant if you just want to enjoy the view!
Just to the east of Vila do Bispo is the pretty village of Raposeira where Henry the Navigator reputedly lived although no-one can say quite which house! Just a couple of kilometres to the east of Raposeira is the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe, where Prince Henry worshipped. The chapel stands alone in the countryside just to the left of the N125 as you head towards Budens - there is an access road signposted. It was built in the second half of the 13th century and is one of the few buildings in the Algarve to survive the earthquake of 1755. It's a rather delightfully plain building inside and out and pretty impressive that it's still in one piece! It is open every day except Mondays and holidays - full details are on the 'Things to do' page.
Also along this stretch of coast lies the once small fishing village of Salema. It is now somewhat larger with lots of villas and apartments stretching up and along the steep hillsides that surround the central square.
Amongst the development in Salema was a beach front promenade and additional parking. There are a lot of car parking spaces on one of the roads leading down into the centre, which eases the congestion in the small central area. The houses on the hills above the village certainly have stunning views, and you would certainly get plenty of exercise walking up and down the rather steep hill! Luckily there is car parking part way down which, hopefully, is adequate to cope with demand!
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