Three years ago my boyfriend thought I was finally ready to be apart of his family’s tiny, little secret. A secret that is a half mile by a half mile long, straddled between the Atlantic Ocean and Ria de Aveiro, and home to the best sardines Portugal has to offer. He took me to Torreira, a small, quaint beach town in Northern Portugal, within the city of Aveiro, that is nearly abandoned during the colder, winter months, but full of life and energized by the warm, summer sun.
The beauty of Torreira is its simplicity. It’s the kicking of the wind as you stroll along the beach, the guiltless feeling of having a drink before noon, and the feeling of sublimity as you watch the sunset at your favorite bar. It’s a town that takes all of life’s favorite pleasures and makes them feel innocent, and more importantly, necessary. It’s paradise.
Any day in Torreira should start watching the sunrise on Torreira’s west coast, overlooking Ria de Aveiro. Every morning, I’d stare as the sun rose right in front of me, rising over the mountains in the distance, reflecting on the river. After I witnessed it, I’d normally go back to sleep, but if you’re a morning person, walk down Rua de Hintze Ribiero which will take you directly to the “town center.” Most stores will be beginning to open up and you have a sense that time is irrelevant here.
Enjoy breakfast at the quintessential Portuguese bakery, Paderia Varas, and savor in the greatest croissant you will ever taste. Buttery, sweet, and moist, this croissant will give you a reason to wake up every morning! Take another one if you’d like, or try a chocolate croissant (my favorite!), it seems as if they never run out. Mornings in Torreira were made for croissants.
After you’ve finished your croissant orgasm, stroll along the boardwalk and head to Sardinha’s, a beachfront bar, and take your time to grab an espresso or tea. The owners of Sardinha are the sweetest and most interesting people you will ever meet and they will talk up a storm with you! They’re friendly and love to know who their patrons are. Get carried away in conversation and really enjoy your drink before relaxing at the beach.
As you step on the plush sand of Praia de Torreira, beware of the harsh winds. The beach may be beautiful to observe, but the wind can possibly ruin your day if you don’t grab a wind-guard. Otherwise, you’ll feel significantly chillier while waves of sand flood over you. So, do yourself a favor and pick up a wind-guard and a book so you can relax off your hard morning!
Like the days, evenings at Praia de Torreira will steal your heart. Go to Maribar and grab a cushion (and a caipirinha!) to watch the sunset. They throw sunset parties so people can line up along the beach to watch the sun put on its daily show as it sets over the horizon. It’s a beauty that will keep you coming back day after day.
The sun was really important to me in Torreira, because it was the only determinant of time. When the sun was out, it didn’t matter if it was 11am or 5pm – a drink just felt right. The sunset acted as a stimulant to awaken all the youth of Torreira and to begin a night of bar-hopping and drinking at Sardinha, Maribar, or a favorite restaurant. Everywhere will be packed as people indulge in one euro beers and two euro shots.
The beauty of the nightlife lies in its conclusion. If you stayed out late enough, you’ll be rewarded with the sweet smell of croissants being made at your favorite bakery. The bakers will open the back door and start selling them to those who have been waiting. Trust me, this is the best reason to stay out. A warm croissant in the morning is great, but a hot, freshly-made croissant after a few beers is perfect. And then guess what? The sun will rise and you can start this perfect day all over again (there’s a reason why I slept after after the sunrise!).
The isolation Torreira offers makes you feel as if you’ve discovered the Garden of Eden and life is made to enjoy life’s simplest pleasures. It makes it feel that spending a full weekend totally relaxing is acceptable and normal. Torreira personifies a vacation. It personifies summer.