The best independent guide to Vila Nova de Milfontes
The best independent guide to Vila Nova de Milfontes
Vila Nova de Milfontes is a charming Portuguese town, which lies at the heart of the beautiful Alentejo coastline. This is a magnificent region, comprising of vast beaches, dramatic coastlines, and unspoilt rural countryside.
Vila Nova de Milfontes sits at the mouth of the Mira River, and the town is adored by the Portuguese. During the summer, Milfontes swells in size, as visitors are drawn by the glorious beaches and lively holiday atmosphere, which suitable for all ages, including families. Outside of the summer season, the pretty town reveals its authentic Portuguese character, and slows to the unhurried pace of Alentejo.
For your holiday there is a lot to do within the region, there are powerful waves for surfing, picturesque coastal hiking trails and scenic cycling routes. With a car, Vila Nova de Milfontes makes for the ideal base to explore the Western Alentejo, with day trips to Porto Covo, Zambujeira do Mar, Odemira and Sines.
Foreign visitors are slowly discovering the allure of the western Alentejo region, but it is still one of the least visited regions of Portugal. This guide will provide an introduction to Vila Nova de Milfontes, one of the hidden gems of Portugal.
Related articles: Beaches of Vila Nova de Milfontes – Activities and sights - The Alentejo region
Vila Nova de Milfontes is a wonderful destination for your holiday. The town combines a beautiful coastline, many varied outdoor activities and an authentically Portuguese town. If you are seeking a less touristy version of the Algarve, then Vila Nova de Milfontes is for you.
Being the largest town of the region, Milfontes boasts a wide variety of restaurants, bars and hotels, and in the summer months, there is lively nightlife.
When planning a tour between Lisbon and the Algarve, Vila Nova de Milfontes makes for a great destination along the route, to explore the western Alentejo region.
The only downside with a holiday to Vila Nova de Milfontes is its remoteness and the long distance to either Lisbon or Faro airport. Also, to get the most from the region, a car is needed, as there is very poor public transport.
The Alentejo coastline is characterised by vast sandy beaches, jagged cliffs and pristine scenery. This coastline faces the might of the Atlantic Ocean, and is battered by huge waves, strong currents and powerful sea breezes.
Vila Nova de Milfontes lies on the Mira River estuary, and this waterway provides shelter from the Atlantic winds and waves, with calm and safe beaches. The main beach of Vila Nova de Milfontes is the Praia da Franquia, while at the mouth of the estuary is the Praia do Farol. On the southern side of the estuary is the Praia das Furnas, and is reached by summertime ferry.
To the south of Vila Nova de Milfontes are the wild and windswept Praia de Almograve and Praia do Brejo Largo beaches. The Praia de Almograve is a stunning beach and considered one of the finest beaches in Portugal.
Heading north is the popular surfing beach of Praia do Malhão, the deserted Praia dos Aivados and Praia da Ilha do Pessegueiro. At the village of Porto Covo, the coastline becomes more rocky and there are numerous small beaches hidden within the coves.
Related articles: The beaches of Vila Nova de Milfontes
Below is an interactive map displaying the beaches and sights of Vila Nova de Milfontes region.
Beaches 1) Praia da Franquia 2) Praia do Farol 3) Praia das Furnas 4) Praia do Porto das Barcas 5) Praia do Brejo Largo 6) Praia de Almograve 7) Praia do Malhão 8) Praia dos Aivados 9) Praia da Ilha do Pessegueiro
Sights 1) Forte de São Clemente 2) Praia do Porto das Barcas 3) Porto de Pesca de Lapa de Pombas 4) Cabo Sardão 5) Porto Covo 6) Odemira
The sheltered Praia da Franquia and the mouth of the Mira River
There are many hotels, rental rooms and guest houses in Vila Nova de Milfontes but as the town is popular with Portuguese tourists, they do completely sell out in the summer season. If you are planning to visit during the summer book, your accommodation well in advance.
The interactive map below shows the location of the best hotels and rental rooms in Vila Nova de Milfontes, if you set the dates to your holiday it will display current prices and availability:
Note: Zoom in to see more options within the town, or zoom out to see accommodation the region
Generally, Vila Nova de Milfontes is the best town within the Alentejo coastal region, but it may be sold out in the summer.
A popular alternative is Porto Covo, a pretty village on a rocky section of the coastline. Porto Covo has a decent selection of restaurants and bars, and a much calmer atmosphere than Milfontes.
The small villages of Odeceixe and Zambujeira do Mar are situated on stunning beaches and provide ample Portuguese charm, but maybe to small for certain visitors. If you are happy to be based inland, there is the town of Odemira.
The one place to sadly avoid is the city of Sines. This is a historic city with beautiful beaches, but there is also a large port and spawling oil refinery.
Vila Nova de Milfontes is connected to the Rota Vicentina, a series of hiking trails that extend along the Alentejo coastline.
These trails were created to boost tourism within the region and provide excellent routes with good signage, passing through stunning scenery and along dramatic coastlines. Vila Nova de Milfontes is one of the largest towns along the “Fisherman’s Route”, so you should consider spending a couple of nights in the town if you’re walking this path.
For visitors based in Vila Nova, the Rota Vicentina provides excellent hiking trails to the north (to the fishing harbour and Malhao beach) or to the south (Funes beach, Almograve and the Cabo Sardao). Unfortunately, the paths near Vila Nova de Milfontes are along sandy routes and are unsuitable for cycling. For more details of the Rota Vicentina, please, see the official website:
(link opens a new tab)
The trails are well marked but are often no more than a sandy footpath….
The Alentejo coastline has some fantastic surfing beaches and Vila Nova de Milfontes is a good base for a surfing holiday. Equipment can be hired in the town (boards €20, wetsuits €10 and bodyboards €15 - per day) and there are a couple of decent surf schools.
The best surfing is found on the Praia dos Aivados and the Praia do Malhão, with both beaches are exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean. While surfing, always be aware of strong currents, tides and hidden rocks (which there can be many), we always recommend surfing in a supervised lifeguard area, and never surf alone.
The amazing surfing waves of the Praia dos Aivados
The Alentejo coastline has hot summers, warm springs and autumns, and winters which are mild but unpredictable. The vicinity of the ocean and sea breezes moderates the summertime temperature, but the intense sun will make it feel incredibly hot. During the mid-season, don’t forget to always pack a jacket, as it cools down at night.
Average weather for Vila Nova Da Milfontes
At this time, the weather is good enough for relaxing on the beaches from April until the end of October. Being fed by the Atlantic Ocean, the sea temperature always feels chilly, with slight variations throughout the year (22C summer to 20C winter). If you are planning to spend an extended period in the sea, you will want a wetsuit.
The intense summertime heat makes it unsuitable for any strenuous activities (hiking, cycling etc) and the majority of visitors spend their days lounging on the beaches or socialising in the cafes and bars.
The mid-season is significantly quieter, the late nightlife evaporates and the average age of visitors increases. The cooler temperatures (although still very pleasant) are ideal for hiking, cycling, day trips or simply relaxing on a completely deserted beach. Most restaurants and all hotels will be open, and this is a great time to search for last minute bargains.
The weather is the dominating factor in the low season, it could be bright and sunny or as equally it could be grey and wet. Vila Nova de Milfontes will feel very quiet, but the town has a permanent population and a selection of cafes and restaurants will remain open.
The bus takes a tedious 3.5 hours to arrive, departs from Sete Rios bus station in Lisbon and costs around €24 for an adult single. The timetable is seasonal dependant, and bookings are a must for the summer. For tickets and schedules, please see the Rede Expressos (the national bus company of Portugal) website: https://www.rede-expressos.pt/
Travelling by public transport between the Algarve and Vila Nova de Milfontes is challenging, there is only a single bus service which departs from Lagos, at the very western end of the Algarve.
Vila Nova de Milfontes is a good destination for a family holiday, once you get there. The beaches that are close to the town centre and overlook the Mira River have calm waters and golden sands. Children will be welcomed in all restaurants and there are two supermarkets which stock all child/baby essentials.
Apart from the beaches, there are not many other activities for children. In the summer Vila Nova attracts a mix of younger Portuguese (who tend to stay in the cheaper hotels) and Portuguese families, who are often in the campsites. English is widely spoken by all who work within tourism, and language will never be an issue for a holiday.
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