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Swimming on holiday?

Swimming on holiday?


I don't know any Dutch or Belgian who went to live in Portugal without first spending a holiday there. That was different in the 1950s, when there was a big wave of emigration to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. No, nowadays we visit a country first to get our bearings, which is a sensible thing to do. The internet helps with that, but experiencing, yes, that's the real thing.

It starts with the plan and place to start the trip or stay. Booking a ticket or mapping out the itinerary. After that, it really starts. The suitcase. Whereas emigrants in the fifties used to build their new lives with a single suitcase, today tourists go to Portugal with half their summer wardrobe, various shoes, pants and so on. And in a lot of the suitcases, on top is the swimming costume.

This also makes sense. Portugal has a lot of water. For a start, a coastline hundreds of kilometres long: Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Thousands of small beaches, boulevards and restaurants. Fully equipped to welcome and pamper domestic and foreign guests before, during or after their visit to the water. The Atlantic Ocean is cool in temperature and usually has quite a bit of wind and fog for a few hours a day. The Mediterranean gets warmer, during the summer months. Much less wind in the Algarve, but therefore sometimes very hot. Follow the "praia" signs.

Apart from the coastline, there are many rivers, several of which are not navigable because they are too shallow, too many rocks or too narrow. Their function is therefore mainly recreational, with constructed reservoirs encouraging recreational use. River water is fresh to cold: reservoirs tend to be very deep. Increasingly, therefore, we see swimmers, canoes, suppers and divers in addition to swimmers. Doing and watching can both be equally enjoyable, albeit in a completely different form. The rivers, especially on summer weekends, can be a busy place. You will mostly find a mix of locals, their relatives coming to stay and a few tourists. You can find the river beaches by following the signs "Lugar de Ribeira". That is also where the barbecues can be found.

In many cases, municipalities also have municipal swimming pools for the population. There, children can learn to swim in a safe environment under expert guidance. Along the road they are signposted via white signs with black letters "piscina municipal".

If you stay in a hotel or bed & breakfast [for example with us in Barreiros!] you often have a fine swimming pool at your disposal. Follow the staff's instructions there, stick to the restrictions and limit the inconvenience. See then, somewhere on that introductory or holiday trip, that swimming costume suddenly comes in handy! And these may be of little textiles: Portuguese are used to Brazilian bikinis.

Have fun in the water!

This blog previously appeared in an adapted version on

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Published 03-02-2021 / Copyright © Villa Branca Barreiros Bed & Breakfast AL/98139