You’ve probably never heard of Vila Nova de Milfontes. Lisbon, sure. Porto, no doubt. The profusion of cosy beachside towns near and around the Algarve, probably.
Situated a couple of hours south of the capital, more or less between Lisbon and southern hub, Faro, Vila Nova de Milfontes offers the budding Iberian tourist a taste of truly laid back, mellow Portuguese life. Here, the seafood is abundant, the tourists (at the right time of year) are scant, and the sun is a golden orb over the roaring Atlantic coast.
On a recent Portuguese jaunt with our beloved Berlin crew, we hit the road three hours south of the capital, and for a few glorious nights, became the only tourists in town. We ate. We drank. And we had a damn good time.
Surrounded by stunning beaches, estuary waters, and the lush Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, Vila Nova is the perfect spring and summertime getaway.
COOL STUFF TO SEE
- Praia do Farol – stunning lighthouse beach, right by the town.
- Praia do Malhão – beautiful duned beach 7km north
- Forte Sao Clemente Castle – a small fort that guarded the Rio Mira estuary from Algerian pirates, under the orders of King Filipe (1598-1621)
- Vila Nova Mercado – hit up this seafood and produce market for delicious fresh local delicacies and fare
MUNCH & SLURP
- O Pescador – R. da Praça 18, seafood
- Ristorante e Chupana – Praia do Farol, Portuguese
- Pão Café E Companhia – R. Custódio Brás Pacheco, pastries, tostas and more
- Mabi – Largo de Santa Maria 25, ice cream and sorbet
- Tasca do Celso – R. dos Aviadores, Portuguese
- Bar Azul – Largo do Rossio 20, maritime dive vibes, great drinks and pool table
Vila Nova’s high season is between July and the end of August, and is swells with families and tourists (upwards of 50,000 people). We went during early April, and the town was pretty empty, though pleasantly warm in the daytime, and jacket weather at night.
The Alentejo region is generally considered substantially cheaper than other regions in Portugal, and Vila Nova is no exception. Expect to pay less here than say, Lisbon, Porto, or along the tourist stretches of the Algarve, especially for meals and drinks.
A whitewashed, sleepy Portuguese getaway, jewelled with stunning beaches and estuaries, surrounded by national parkland. Come here in low season to get away from it all, or join the throngs and surf hard during summer’s peak.
…And be sure to feed the animals (that’s our Milfontes correspondent, Earl).