After several very enjoyable days in Lisbon, Fatima and Sintra, it was time for us to continue our travel across Portugal. We were going to the Southwest Alentejo and Vincentine Coast Natural Park. All of us, we were very excited, especially because that was supposed to be the best part of our trip. The excitement came from the fact that we knew that we were going to spend time in nature and on the beach. Additionally, it was still relatively early in our stay in Portugal. While we all had memorable impressions of places that we had already visited, we were looking forward to new adventures.
If you look on the map of Portugal, you will see that the Southwest Alentejo and Vincentine Coast Natural Park occupies quite a large southern part of the country, along the Atlantic coast. You would need a lot of time to see the whole park, especially if you go there in summer when you would most likely spend days on some of its spectacular beaches.
As we only had several days for the park, we had to choose carefully where to stay and what to see. We knew that we couldn’t see everything. At the same time, when you visit natural parks like this one, I don’t think that it’s necessary to see absolutely everything. You can get a good feel of the place even if you see just certain key parts and that’s exactly what we did.
We departed from Lisbon by car and after several hours, we reached our new base.
We stayed in a small town called Longueira. The reason why we chose this particular place was because of its convenient position and also because we managed to find an excellent three bedroom house that we rented on Airbnb. There were four of us in total, three men and one woman. Ideally, everyone should’ve had their own bedroom, but that wasn’t feasible. Renting a huge house would’ve been an unnecessary expenditure. In Lisbon, we stayed in a two bedroom flat, with two of us staying in each room. In Longueira, two of us had separate bedrooms and two friends stayed together in one bedroom.
Indeed, the house where we stayed was fabulous. It was one of those places that you don’t want to leave. I would’ve been perfectly happy to stay there all day long, but of course, that wasn’t really an option. We came to that part of Portugal to explore and to be on the beach.
Otherwise, Longueira is a very small town, slightly inland from the coast. Because of its position, it’s not the prime touristic place, like some other small towns that we visited, which are situated right on the coast.
But, I liked this aspect of Longueira. We didn’t have to navigate big tourist crowds, simply because there were no tourists whatsoever in this small town.
We also found a fantastic restaurant – O Josué – where we went for dinner every evening. We didn’t have to book in advance or wait for the table. That wasn’t the case in other places that we visited. Longueira was really a perfect choice for our stay in the Southwest Alentejo and Vincentine Coast Natural Park.
Malhão, ah Malhão! What can I say? Have a look at the spectacular beach in the photo below.
There are many beaches along the Atlantic coast that you can visit. We decided to visit this particular beach, because it was marked as one of the most outstanding ones. From the main road, you have to take a dirt road to reach this beach. There is a car park in front, where we left our car. However, you can see the beach only once you arrive to the top of the stairs that lead down to it, not before.
I can’t describe the amazement that we all felt when we saw the beach for the first time. I’ve seen beautiful beaches before, most notably in Tyrona Park near Santa Marta in Colombia. The Malhão Beach is at the same level, if not more beautiful. A paradise where every moment becomes very special. A place that radiates such positive energy that you wish to remain there forever.
The Malhão Beach is very big. At the same time, there were not many people around. But, I need to mention that water was freezing cold. Unfortunately, that’s what you get with the Atlantic Ocean. I ran into the water for a swim, but after literally five seconds, I had to run out. Some people were swimming, for them the water temperature did not seem to be much of a problem. Anyway, despite that, it was an absolutely perfect day in a perfect place.
We also visited several towns on the coast. One of them was Porto Covo. It was approximately an hour drive from where we stayed in Longueira.
Porto Covo is a very small town. But there, for the first time, we encountered significantly more tourists. I don’t know whether they were all staying in Porto Covo. Certainly, you can’t see big hotels anywhere, so I assume that most of them were staying in rented houses or rooms, the same as us.
I like this particular aspect in this part of Portugal, unlike in Algarve that we visited afterwards and where we came face to face with frightening levels of mass tourism. Porto Covo seemed like a tranquil place, perfect to rest and relax.
But, it also means that there is not much to do in Porto Covo, apart from going to the beach during the day and for dinner and a walk in the evening. Although, this sounds like a perfectly fine way to spend several days.
You can see the main street – R. Vasco da Gama – in these photos. There are some interesting restaurants and also touristic shops that sell alternative Portuguese souvenirs. We were in Porto Covo during the day, so I don’t know how it is in the evening, but I am sure that there would be many more people around, in search of an evening entertainment.
VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES
We also visited Vila Nova de Milfontes. What’s very special about this town is that it’s located at the estuary of the Mira River into the Atlantic Ocean.
The same as Porto Covo, it’s a small place that you can visit in a couple of hours.
There were a lot of tourists in Vila Nova de Milfontes, much more than in Porto Covo. The problem with these small towns is that the tourist infrastructure doesn’t match the number of tourists. What happened to us was that we wanted to go for dinner in Vila Nova de Milfontes, but we couldn’t find a single restaurant with a free table. It was quite amazing that, around 8pm, absolutely all restaurants were totally full. We could’ve waited for a table, perhaps for up to an hour, but in the end we went back to Longueira to our traditional restaurant.
Below, you can see beautiful beaches on the Mira River, they extend all the way along the Atlantic coast.
We spent some very enjoyable days in the Southwest Alentejo and Vincentine Coast Natural Park. Although, I am not entirely sure that I would choose this place for my holiday. The main issue that I have is that the Atlantic Ocean is too cold to swim. For me, a proper summer holiday means a lot of time on the beach, sunbathing and swimming. But, if you cant’ swim while at the same time it’s too hot outside – what’s the point?
Still, the Southwest Alentejo and Vincentine Coast Natural Park is a beautiful place and I am very glad that we went there.