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Vila Nova de Milfontes: the Best Coastal Town in the Alentejo

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On the western coast of Portugal (between Lisbon and the Algarve) lies the town of Vila Nova de Milfontes, a picturesque little town with a laid-back atmosphere. Vila Nova de Milfontes is situated in the giant nature park ‘Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejo and Costa Vicentina‘. This means that you can admire a lot of natural beauty in the area, including some gorgeous sandy beaches, beautiful rock formations and of course, the wild Atlantic.

vila nova de milfontes river mira boat

Strangely enough, Vila Nova de Milfontes has not yet been discovered by foreign tourists, causing it to be a relatively quiet town (especially in low season). You won’t experience any mass tourism here, instead you will encounter a laid-back surf vibe. When traveling along the South-Portugese coast, you should definitely plan a few days in this charming town. In this article we will give you some tips and must-do’s if you plan on visiting Vila Nova de Milfontes .

 

Vila Nova de Milfontes: 5 Tips and Must-Do Activities

1. Beaches in the area

The beaches at Vila Nova de Milfontes are quite spectacular. On both sides of the river there are several beaches, ranging from small secluded beaches to grand, vast beaches with cliffs and rocks. More then enough choice.

Almost all the beaches are sand-beaches. Perfect for sunbathers, but walkers will also appreciate this.

Here is an overview of the most beautiful beaches in the area (with pictures):

 

Praia da Franquia & Praia do Farol

Praia da Franquia - Vila Nova de Milfontes

Praia da Franquia is a relatively small beach, but it is situated closest to the town. It lies fairly sheltered on the Mira River. A little further (where the river flows into the sea) lies the small beach Praia do Farol. The two beaches are separated by a cliff.

A 5-10 minute walk takes you from the city centre to both beaches, they are therefore easily accessible.

 

Praia do Carreiro das Fazendas

Praia do Carreiro - Vila Nova de Milfontes

To get to this beach, turn right on the road to Praia do Farol and take the footpath through the dunes. After a few minutes you will reach Praia do Carreiro das Fazendas: a nice, medium-sized beach with a beautiful dune landscape in the background. We were here in May, when the dunes were blooming. A beautiful sight.

vila nova de milfontes - dunes flowers

 

Praia do Patacho

When you walk a bit further to the north, you will reach the pebbly beach Praia do Patacho. The eye-catcher of this small beach is an old rusty shipwreck, that is a real treat for photographers.

Praia do Patacho - Shipwreck near Vila Nova de Milfontes

The origin of this shipwreck is unknown, but according to stories it is an old Dutch tugboat, used by smugglers. The boat got stuck here while sheltering from the Portuguese Coast Guard.

Note that the walking path leads you up along the beach. It requires some climbing and scrambling to reach the beach (and the shipwreck) itself.

Praia das Furnas

Praia das Furnas

Praia das Furnas is located south of the River Mira. You can reach this beach by crossing the river with a small ferry. You can also get there by car: drive over the bridge and exit at the sign Praia das Furnas. This road leads you straight to the beachfront restaurant.

If you follow the path along the wooden boards through the dunes, you will arrive at a beautiful large sandy beach. On the far left you can see a group of rocks. When you walk all the way to these rocks, you will discover another stretch of beach.

 

Praia do Malhão

Praia do Malhão is situated a little further from the town from, but it is the largest and definitely the most beautiful beach in our opinion.

Praia do Malhão

Praia do Malhão is vast beach, totalling over 8 kilometers. Several rocks and cliffs can be found here. The beach is surrounded by protected nature, so you can barely see any buildings for miles around. Praia do Malhão is also a perfect surf spot ( more about that below). There are very few facilities at this beach (only a parking area), so keep this in mind when visiting.

To reach Praia do Malhao you need a car or bicycle. Drive out of town to the north, along the N390. Moments later, turn left at the roundabout and drive further along a dirt road, this will take you along the campsite to the parking lot.

 

2. The cosy Town Centre

Fort Sao Clemente

Vila Nova de Milfontes is not a very big town, so reaching the center from your hotel should never take too long. The town was established around the Fort Sao Clemente, which is also one of the main attractions. The fort was built around the year 1600 to protect the area around the river against North African pirates and conquerors.

Vila Nova de Milfontes - Uitzicht

Furthermore, the center consists of a number characteristic Portuguese streets with some cosy restaurants and bars . A few restaurants were recommended to us by locals: Ritual, Tasca do Celso, Porto das Barcas and Patio Alentejano. The nicest restaurant, however, can be found outside the city center (See chapter 3). In the center you will also find practical matters such as supermarkets, banks, laundry service and tourist information . If you’re looking for some more information on the area, it is always a good idea to go have a look here.

 

3. Having dinner by the Ocean

Restaurante A Choupana (photo by andamare.com)
Restaurante A Choupana (photo by andamare.com)

When you decent from the wooden stairs near the viewpoint at Farol de Milfontes down, you’ll arrive at a small restaurant ‘A Choupana‘. This restaurant is built on wooden poles above the beach and serves some delicious dishes. Reserving a table near the window is recommended, this way you can have lunch or dinner with a magnificent view over the Atlantic. Obviously they serve delicious fish, but you can also go for a nice Portuguese chicken from the grill. On the other side of the river, there are also two restaurants overlooking the sea.

 

4. Surfing

The coast around Vila Nova de Milfontes is ideally suited for surfers. Both beginners and experienced surfers can enjoy some good waves here.

Praia do Malhão is suitable for beginners and intermediate surfers. The local surf school Surf Milfontes also regularly accommodates surf lessons overhere.

Kite surfer - Vila Nova de Milfontes

Praia das Furnas is also a popular surf spot. The sea here is undeep, so it is suitable for both golf and kite surfers.

Is surfing not really your thing? Just watching the show that the kite surfers put on can also be quite entertaining.

 

5. Watch the sun set into the Sea

Praia do Malhão - Vila Nova de Milfontes - sunset

You’ve probably heard the term ‘Golden Hour’ before, it’s the hour before the sun sets. This is ideal time to take a stroll on one of the beautiful beaches in Vilanova. Look around and see how the dunes are beautifully enlightened by the setting sun. then plop down in the sand and watch the sun slowly sink into the Atlantic Ocean. Photography tip: Golden Hour is the ideal time to make nice pictures of this beautiful area.

 

Accomodation

There is plenty of accommodation to be found in Vila Nova de Milfontes, there are hotels, hostels and apartments for every budget. During high season (July, August) it is wise to book your accommodations in advance. In low season, a luxury apartment will cost you around 60 euros per night. This is exactly what we paid for our stay in a suite with sea view from Castilho Apartments. Looking for a good hotel or apartment in Vila Nova de Milfontes? Here are some tips:

 



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