Porto Covo And Its Natural Beauty

Located along the western Alentejo coast of Portugal, 170 km south of Lisbon, Porto Covo is a civil parish in Sines.

Porto Covo is known for its beaches and historical ties to the ocean. The term “Covo” in the name Porto Covo refers to a special fishing net, used for capturing crabs and lobsters. That show the strong influence fishing had and still has in Porto Covo.

Fotografias promocionais Rota Vicentina
© Jo‹o Mariano – 1000olhos.pt

Nowadays, Porto Covo is still a friendly fishing village full of small picturesque white houses that were rebuilt after the 1755 Lisbon’s earthquake.

Porto Covo beaches are sheltered by sheer cliffs and are great attractions for tourists and visitors. During the summer months, many tourists come to Porto Covo to rest, enjoy nature and the sunny weather, and to find the peace and tranquillity that is so rare to find in most cities nowadays.

Another interesting sight in Porto Covo is the “Ilha do Pessegueiro”. Located around 250 meters off the coast near Porto Covo, this beautiful island has the reputation of being a great source of inspiration for poets. There you can find beautiful landscapes and some remains of its occupation by the Carthaginians (3rd century BC), and clear evidence of the island’s Roman occupation. Ilha do Pessegueiro is a magical place where nature and history combine in perfection and providing a really special atmosphere.

While Porto Covo is still a traditional fishing village, its economy is now driven mostly by tourism. Due to its location (just 170km south of Lisbon), Porto Covo became a popular getaway spot during the summer months. Due to this growth, the village has grown immensely with the old center increasingly surrounded by recent holiday villas.

It’s estimated that Porto Covo population increases by up to 10 times during the summer months so if you’re looking to find the most traditional side of the village, with fewer tourists, you need to avoid visiting it during July and August.

Besides the beaches, Porto Covo has a popular square (Praça Marquês de Pombal) which is located in the village center. This square is a common hangout for locals and tourists.

All roads in the old village lead to a little fishing harbor that clings to the side of a deep natural inlet. Some boats still fish from here but, nowadays, most of the traffic in this fishing harbor is generated from boat trips that take tourists to the Pessegueiro Island.

The biggest attraction in Porto Covo remain the beautiful sandy beaches that surround it, but there’s really a beach that stands above all: The Praia Grande. Praia Grande (translated as “Big Beach”) is not only the biggest beach in Porto Covo but also the most reputable. With good facilities, blue flag and lifeguards, Praia Grande is one of those little treasures that used to belong to locals only, but that keeps getting more and more reputation in Portugal and abroad.

 

Arrifana and Aljezur: Nature and History Perfectly Combined

Aljezur is a small village located in the western Algarve. For many, it’s considered one of the prettiest towns in the region, where you can discover breathtaking landscapes perfectly merged with rich local tradition.

The Arrifana village spreads itself above a beautiful beach over the cliffs. The local economy depends on the tourism, but real estate development has been restrained to preserve the local ecosystem, and the village was able to maintain a strong sense of localness.

The largest beach in this region is the “Praia da Arrifana” (Arrifana beach) and is located 10 kilometers southwest of the village.

Arrifana beach is hugely popular with both swimmers and surfers and if you plan to stay overnight, you have a couple of options of staying on local hostels, or you can stay on the campsite which is located in the Monte Clerigo village, just 8 kilometers away from the Arrifana beach.

But Arrifana and Aljezur offer much more than beautiful beaches and picturesque villages. One of the top tourist sights in the region is the castle that has been inhabited by people for centuries. The castle was built in the 10th century and provided at the time control over an important river port. Nowadays it’s an important tourist sight and during the holidays you usually find tourists enjoying the beautiful landscapes and learning a little more about the regions rich history.

There are two different historical churches in Arrifana and Aljezur. The main church was built in the 18th century and displays an amazing detailed interior which still attracts tourists interested in monuments and history. The Misericórdia church was rebuild in the 16th century and represents another historical treasure of the region. The church was affected by the earthquake of 1755 and had to re-rebuilt once again.

There are 2 museums in the region. The municipal museum was actually home to the town council in the past, and it’s a museum that offers a small art gallery, and ethnography and archaeology treasures. The archaeological part of the museum is particularly interesting and shows there are traces of human settlement in Aljezur municipality from around 11,000 B.C. (the Epipalaeolithic period).

Near the museum is the Aljezur Municipal Gallery, which also hosts temporary and contemporary art exhibitions.

The other important museum is the José Cercas museum and was built during the 19th century. José Cercas museum was the house of the illustrious Aljezur painter José Cercas. The municipality of Aljezur converted the house into a museum in his honor. If you like art, this museum has a lot to offer. You can appreciate José Cercas drawings and pictures, other Portuguese artists paintings, and even religious artifacts and porcelain.

The historical center is another place you must visit in Aljezur. You can discover and appreciate the typical houses of the Algarve’s rural architecture, and the colorful borders painted around windows setting off the white facades.

Considering the natural ecosystem, the amazing beaches, and the unique history, no wonder Arrifana and Aljezur keep attracting more tourists each year.

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Zambujeira do Mar – Alentejo At Its Best

Zambujeira do Mar is a small fishing village located on the western coast of Alentejo, in an area cut by various valleys, faults, and cliffs. Zambujeira do mar is known by its small beaches with clear fine sands.

Zambujeira do Mar coast is part of the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina (Nature Park of the Southwest Alentejo and St. Vincent Coast) and that’s one of the reasons why Zambujeira do Mar biodiversity remains intact dispite the village growth and tourist activity.

Some of the most famous beaches in the region include the beach of Zambujeira, the beaches of Nossa Senhora, Alteirinhos and Arquinha and Tonel.

All these beaches attract thousands of tourists and visitors during the summer.

 

Despite its growth and increased popularity, Zambujeira do Mar remains a small fishing village, and it’s still possible to enjoy peace and tranquillity there.

The beaches are the main Zambujeira do Mar attractions for the many visitors that go there, especially in the summer. Due to the region´s well preserved natural environment, and the terrific conditions and facilities for water sports, there’s always something new to do or try at Zambujeira.

The nature tourism and water sport are amongst the most popular activities in Zambujeira do Mar.

In terms of its regional events, one of the great attractions in this region is the South-West Festival, which happens in August at the “Herdade da Casa Branca”. During the festival, for 3 days, thousands of people flock to the area to listen to all kinds of music. The festival popularity keeps growing and while it used to be for youngsters, nowadays people from multiple generations attend the South-West Festival.

This festival is one of the Major music festivals in Portugal and has featured, over the years, many big names from the indie and rock genres world. Some of the big names that performed in the Southwest festival over the years include The Prodigy, Daft Punk, Jamiroquai, Gorillaz and Kanye West. What started to be a national music festival, kept growing over the years and starts to be now an international event attracting especially Spanish youngsters due to the geographical proximity.

In terms of interesting monuments to visit, the small Nossa Senhora do Mar chapel is a local attraction that’s worth a visit.

Zambujeira is not only popular for family vacations and nature tourism, it’s also one of the most popular surf spots in Portugal.

Considering the ecosystem, the well-protected environment, the beaches and all the activities, no wonder Zambujeira do Mar keeps getting popularity abroad and starts to compete with some of the most reputable tourist villages from Algarve.

 

 

27 Stone villages in the mountains

Schist villages are one of the most recent attractions in Portugal. More and more tourists are starting discovering the beauty of these forgotten little villages that are hidden between some high-density forests in the middle of the mountains. Schist villages are the choice of many people, to have a different kind of vacation. Here they can relax and enjoy the contact with nature and local people.

27 Schist villages for you to discover

In case you’re in need of a couple of days away from your daily routines. This is a place where you can enjoy life. You’ll find good weather, beautiful scenery, and direct contact with nature. You definitely need to schedule a visit to one of the 27 schist villages in Portugal.

Schist house in one of the 27 schist villages.
Schist house in one of the 27 schist villages.

Spread over 4 different regions in Portugal – Serra da Lousã, Serra do Açor, Zêzere, and Tejo-Ocreza, these 27 schist villages have plenty to offer. You can choose to live among the locals for a couple of days. You’ll find it’s a unique opportunity to discover old traditions and customs. And in case you love good food, this is the place to visit. After all, you’ll enjoy some of the most traditional recipes from Portuguese cuisine that every generation passes to the next.

Each one of these 27 schist villages has a unique and amazing story. So, don’t be surprised if you spot a castle in the middle of the mountains. And take your time to visit a monument or a museum.

Attractions for everyone at the schist villages region!

Even though it may be interesting to know part of the history behind each schist villages, there are also many other things that you can do. With many trails that you can do on foot following the “Caminhos de Xisto”, you’ll probably end up discovering a river beach with the most crystalline water where you can bathe as well as you can enjoy some water sports. You can also do these trails by bike.

Happy trekkers visiting schist villages region
Happy trekkers enjoying a beautiful scenery in schist villages region.

The available water sports that you can take advantage of include slide, rappel, canoeing, among others.

While tourists mostly know Portugal because of the Algarve beaches and even by the golf resorts. The truth is that schist villages are attracting a lot of tourists from all generations. And in fact, all these little-hidden villages have something to offer to everyone. No matter the age or preferences. Above all, visiting schist villages (one or several) is a journey that you will never forget because of the beauty.

One of the things that tend to attract so many people is the fact that this visit can almost be seen as a return to the past where you can take advantage of the new technologies and have a lot of fun. No matter if you’re thinking about coming with family or friends. You can be sure that you’re going to love these little villages.

The “World’s End”

If you are looking for the right spot for a couple of days off work where you can simply relax and enjoy life. We have some of the most pristine beaches, wild coastlines, protected nature reserves, and jagged cliffs. You need to take the time to visit the Southwest Alentejo And Vicentine Coast Natural Park.

It covers more than 100 km from Porto Covo in Alentejo to Burgau in Algarve. Here you will have plenty to do and see especially if you are a nature lover. After all, this amazing park includes many unique species of plants as well as animals. In fact, many botanists, zoologists, and birdwatchers visit this region due to its unique conditions. In this area, it is possible to see some rare fishing eagles, white storks, and otters.

Stork Flying on Vicentine Coast
Stork flying near the cliffs

Arriving at Vicentine Coast “The End of the World”

In case you are heading to the Southwest Alentejo And Vicentine Coast Natural Park, you just need to take the time to see the Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St. Vincent). Named as the “End of the World” by ancient mariners because of the shelf-like peninsulas and the 200 feet high cliffs. Make sure that you visit the red lantern lighthouse.

While you are there, just make sure that you try out their fresh seafood. Local fishermen bring, on a daily basis, fresh selfish and fish to the local restaurants.

Beaches, trails & hidden spots

When most people think about going on vacation, most tend to immediately think about beaches. So, if you are part of the club, you will be glad to know that you’ll have a huge variety of different beaches that you can go to. Some of these beaches are only used by surfers and are considered the best ones of the country. While others are available for regular individuals who simply want to enjoy the great Algarve weather.

Sunset at Odeceixe beach
Beautiful sunset at Odeceixe beach.

The best beaches that we highly advise you to visit include: Praia do Amado, Arrifana, Monte Clérigo, Almograve, Vila Nova de Milfontes, Malhão, and Porto Covo.

In case you want to take advantage of some of the most difficult bike trails, you can be sure that you will discover some unknown beaches. There are many that are found between the rocks and the cliffs in this area. These are extremely well-preserved due to the difficulty to access them.

The SW Alentejo & Vicentine Coast Natural Park all the way

At the tail of this amazing park is the village of Sagres. Here you can be sure that the beaches, although beautiful and featuring an amazing blue-water, aren’t as crowded as the rest of the beaches in the Algarve. Either surfing, paragliding or windsurfing, there are endless possibilities to have a lot of fun. Sagres is the right place if you’re planning on having a few adventurers in the sea. Since there are always some strong winds coming from the Atlantic Ocean.