The Artisan Travel Blog

The Alentejo Coast

Graham Hughes

Monday, 09 March 2015

The Alentejo Coast is not the Algarve nor does it pretend to be.

This long overlooked stretch of dramatic cliffs, villages of white walled houses and sandy beaches is where the more discerning Lisbonite now chooses to take their holidays and who I am to argue.

In their search for a more secluded and authentic experience the Portuguese are finally making the most of what is right on their doorstep. My own experience on the Alentejo Coast began in Milfontes just two hours from Lisbon. It is the perfect size with a great selection of restaurants – where else do you get the opportunity to eat a delicious seafood stew while watching the owner's pet octopus reach out of his tank to high-five the customers.

It was also in Milfontes that I was given my first taste of surfing by the incredibly patient Pedro. While his ready smile and encouragement were no substitute for my complete lack of balance it was immensely satisfying when I eventually managed to get to my feet. The entire class shared my joy, in fact their applause lasted longer than I was vertical!

Kayaking along the river Mira provided a welcome change of pace and the chance to take in some great scenery and see a multitude of different bird species – those that were not scared off by my very rudimentary paddling technique!

South of Milfontes I walked along the clifftops that are home to migratory storks. These huge birds make their nests in the most precarious places and are a great spectacle as they catch the thermals high above the sea.

The villages on the coast and further inland all have their own character as well as their own culinary specialty. The Mabi bakery in Milfontes itself serves the best croissants I have ever had and serves ice cream until the early hours – to me this is the very hallmark of civilisation and just one of the reasons I will return to the Alentejo Coast.

Read 2841 times Last modified on Thursday, 22 February 2018

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