The city was built on a rocky peninsula which is considered by geologists a unique example of the Toarcian turnover during the worldwide Early Jurassic extinction.
Peniche is known for its long beaches, which are popular for recreational activities and sports such as surfing, windsurfing, bodyboarding and kite surfing. These beaches are consistently windy and have good surf breaks with Supertubos, i.e., waves forming fast and powerful tubes, considered among the best in Europe. The area has been called the "European Pipeline", after the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii.
Peniche Fortress is a notable example of Portuguese coastal defences. During the 20th-century period of authoritarian rule known as the Estado Novo, or Second Republic, it was used as a prison for communists and other opponents of the regime.
The Berlengas islands, about 10 kilometres (6 mi) offshore from the peninsula, are part of the municipality. They form one of the world's first nature reserves. In summer, the islands can be visited by taking a ferryboat from Peniche.
Peniche, with its scenic harbour, white windmills, chapels and long sandy beaches has inspired famous artists like Maurice Boitel.