On my very first visit to Portugal in 2017, I was struck by how wild the country seems to be. To properly visit some beaches, I had to go ‘off-road’ to even get there. I saw several camper vans practicing wild camping. I visited a Naturist beach as well as a sustainable farm, witnessed several hitchhikers, and even dropped off at one of Portugal’s most popular surfing towns, Nazaré. Add the fact that all drugs in Portugal are decriminalised (which is NOT a reason to come here for drug tourism, by the way), and you have a recipe for a hippie’s dream…a wild, wild West of freedom, hosting activities of yesteryear that have not yet been extinguished. Take a look beyond the slick packaging of Lisbon and Porto tourism packaging, and you find a veritable hippie paradise, ready for exploring. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Agriculture and the Agri-Food sector are listed as the most valuable industry in Portugal, with a market value of roughly 3.8 billion Euros per year. In fact, Portugal is split into 7 different Regional Agricultural Areas that contribute to a vast diversity of agricultural products; from chestnuts to cherries, olives to oranges, and pork to Port, Portuguese agriculture has been at the core of its exports over time. Online platforms such as WWOOF and Workaway are packed with opportunities throughout the country, with the highest numbers in the Centro region. Algarve comes a close second. So, if you’re inclined to drop off the radar for a bit and work on a sustainability project, Portugal is an excellent place to give it a go.
Needless to say, I haven’t found my inner Jack Kerouac here in Portugal, but for those inclined to the path of the Dharma Bum, Hitchwiki is full of helpful information. Time to hit the open road! (https://hitchwiki.org/en/Portugal)
Ever wanted to stay utterly silent for 10 days? Of course, in order to enter the Vipassana family, it’s required to participate in a 10-day course first. Currently, there are no 10-day courses in Portugal. They are held in an isolated site just south of Parque Regional de la Sierra de Gredos in Spain. However, 1-day or 3-day courses are easily found around Portugal, and maybe in the future some enterprising Vipassana practitioner will open a retreat centre in Portugal. Until then, radio silence… (https://pt.dhamma.org)
Researching yoga retreats worldwide has become as easy as throwing a dart. Of course, you’ve got options in Bali, India, Mexico and even Hawaii. So what’s the advantage of committing to your yoga practice in Portugal? Listed as the fifth-best yoga destination by BookYogaRetreats, Portugal is considered the best option when it comes to yoga and surf. And it’s true! Surf/yoga retreats are highly popular in the popular surf towns of Cascais, Ericeira, Sagres, and throughout the Algarve. Namaste!
Similarly, information about surfing in Portugal is ubiquitous across the Internet. That said, note that Portugal is home to at least 45 different surfing spots, spread across the following regions: Alentejo (4), Algarve (6), Centro (17), Ericeira (2), Lisboa (9), and North (7). Surf’s up!
It’s easy for those with an affinity toward baring it all to allow themselves to throw caution to the wind and exclaim, ‘We’re going streaking!’, because there are a plethora of recognised Naturist Beaches in Portugal. In fact, there are currently eight recognised naturist beaches around the country (Praia de Bela Vista, Praia d'Adiça, Praia do Meco, Praia do Salto, Praia dos Alteirinhos, Praia das Adegas, Praia of Tavira Island, Praia du Barreta). Is it cold in here?
Wild Camping and Camper Vans
Of course, camping facilities exist (there’s quite an extensive network), but it is possible to practice wild camping. While generally prohibited, with a chance of a 200-250€ fine if caught, wild camping is not for those interested in drawing attention to themselves. Be careful of where you create a fire, don’t park in obvious places that the authorities may patrol (like near the beach, especially in high season), and 100%, definitively, just say no to protected areas or nature parks. Otherwise, if you’re not bothering others with your wild camping, you’re not likely to be bothered.
Finally, perhaps the most hippie events occurring in Portugal is the biannual BOOM Festival! I’ve written about this before. Held in Idanha-a-Nova and occurring in August every two years, this festival is more of a ‘happening’ than a concert. They call this festival Portugal’s answer to Burning Man With attention to environmental and psychedelic consciousness, their ultimate goal is to facilitate individual and collective transformation. One love! (https://www.boomfestival.org)
So as you can see, the chance to let your inner flower child roam free throughout Portugal is on full display in the activities and events on offer. Don’t miss your chance to explore!