The best independent guide to Vila Nova de Milfontes

The best independent guide to Vila Nova de Milfontes

Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal; a tourism and holiday guide for 2024

Vila Nova de Milfontes is a charming Portuguese town that lies at the heart of the beautiful Alentejo coastline. This is a magnificent region comprising of vast beaches, dramatic coastlines and unspoilt countryside.

The town sits at the mouth of the Mira River and is adored by the Portuguese. During the summer, the population of Milfontes swells as visitors are drawn by its glorious beaches and lively holiday atmosphere, which is suitable for families and visitors of all ages. Outside of the summer season, this 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, such as surfing the powerful Atlantic waves or enjoying the picturesque coastal hiking trails and cycling routes. With a car, Vila Nova de Milfontes makes an ideal base for exploring 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 parts of the country. 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 MilfontesActivities and sights - The Alentejo region

Highlights of Vila Nova de Milfontes

Praia do Almograve beach Vila Nova de Milfontes

The Praia do Almograve - Its dramatic natural scenery, huge surfing waves and golden sands make it one of the finest beaches in Portugal.

Mira River  Vila Nova de Milfontes

The Mira River – The picturesque estuary of the Mira River is sheltered from the mighty Atlantic Ocean and contains the tranquil Praia da Franquia beach. The calm river waters are also perfect for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding.

Rota Vicentina Vila Nova de Milfontes

The Rota Vicentina - A spectacular network of hiking trails that wind along the stunning coastline, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, pristine beaches, rugged cliffs and unspoiled natural landscapes.

Authentic Alentejo

Authentic Alentejo - Vila Nova de Milfontes offers a glimpse into the authentic side of the Alentejo region, with its traditional whitewashed houses, cobblestone streets, and a vibrant local culture rich in gastronomy, crafts and warm hospitality.

Vila Nova de Milfontes for your holiday

Vila Nova de Milfontes is a wonderful destination for your holiday. It offers not only a beautiful coastline, but many varied outdoor activities and an authentically Portuguese atmosphere. If you are seeking a less touristy version of the Algarve, then it could be the ideal location for you.

Being the largest town of the region, Milfontes boasts a wide variety of restaurants, bars and hotels, with a lively nightlife in the summer months.

When planning a tour between Lisbon and the Algarve, Vila Nova de Milfontes makes a great destination along the route from which to explore the western Alentejo region.

The only downside with a holiday here 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.

Porto de Pesca de Lapa de Pombas

The Porto de Pesca de Lapa de Pombas must be one of the most challenging beaches from which to launch a fishing boat…

Vila Nova de Milfontes beaches

One of the main draws of Vila Nova de Milfontes is the magnificent beaches of the Alentejo coastline.

This coastline is characterised by vast sandy beaches, jagged cliffs and pristine natural scenery. The region 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 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, which is reached by the summertime ferry.

To the south of the town are the wild and windswept Praia de Almograve and Praia do Brejo Largo beaches. The Praia de Almograve is a stunning beach that is considered one of the finest 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. (Note: zoom in or out to see all of the points)

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 10) Forte de São Clemente 11) Praia do Porto das Barcas 12) Porto de Pesca de Lapa de Pombas 13) Cabo Sardão 14) Porto Covo 15) Odemira

Praia da Franquia beach

The sheltered Praia da Franquia and the mouth of the Mira River.

fishing harbour of Vila Nova de Milfontes

The fishing harbour of Vila Nova de Milfontes.

Forte de São Clemente

The Forte de São Clemente dates from 1602 and was constructed to protect the Rio Mira from pirate raids.

Accommodation in Vila Nova de Milfontes

There are many hotels, rental rooms and guest houses in Vila Nova de Milfontes, but there is extremely high demand in the summer. The town is a popular holiday destination with the Portuguese and the best accommodation will be booked many months in advance.

Hotels and accommodation within Vila Nova de Milfontes tend to be smaller and more personal than the mega-hotel complexes found within the Algarve. This is in part due to the protected status of the surrounding region.

Many of the hotels within the town are owned by the Duna Parque group. One of their best centrally-located hotels is the 4-star Hotel HS Milfontes Beach, which overlooks the estuary and the Praia da Franquia beach. Offering a more relaxed experience in the summer months is the Lazy Days - a 4-star, adults-only hotel that has a rooftop pool and lounging area. Another of the Duna Parque Group hotels in Vila Nova de Milfontes is the Blue Bamboo Hotel, offering the same great services as HS Milfontes Beach, but with a slightly cheaper 3-star rating.

A further good choice is the Villa Eira, which is to the west of the town and close to beaches. There are a couple of hostels in Vilan Nove de Milfontes, including the Pirata Hostel Milfontes, which offers dorm rooms and great communal areas.

If you have a car and would prefer a relaxed rural setting, the Hotel Rural Monte Xisto is a fantastic option, but it is 20km from Vila Nova.

We have worked with for over seven years, and the interactive map below shows the location of the best hotels and rental rooms in Vila Nova de Milfontes. If you adjust the dates to suit your holiday, it will display current prices and availability:

If the map does not load, please click here for a list of the best accommodation options in Vila Nova de Milfontes.

Alternatives to Vila Nova de Milfontes

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, with 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 may be too small for certain visitors. If you are happy to be based inland, the town of Odemira is nearby.

One place to avoid is the city of Sines. This is a historic city with beautiful beaches, but it also has a large port and sprawling oil refinery, which sadly gives the region a distinctly industrial atmosphere.

Porto Covo

The main street in Porto Covo leading to the beach.

Zambujeira do Mar

Pretty Zambujeira do Mar.

Hiking and the Rota Vicentina

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 about the Rota Vicentina, please see the official website:

Rota Vicentina

The trails are well marked but are often no more than a sandy footpath….

Surfing at Vila Nova de Milfontes

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 exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean. While surfing, always be aware of strong currents, tides and hidden rocks (of which there can be many). We always recommend surfing in a supervised lifeguard area - and never surf alone.

Surf Milfontes provide surf lessons and surf equipment rental -
Another good option for surf lessons is CC Board -

The sea around the Alentejo coastline always feels chilly, as it is the Atlantic Ocean, and there is only a slight variation in temperature throughout the year (22C in the summer to 20C in the winter). If you are planning to spend an extended period in the sea, you will want a wetsuit.

Praia dos Aivados surf

The amazing surfing waves of the Praia dos Aivados.

When to visit Vila Nova de Milfontes

The Alentejo coastline has hot summers, pleasant springs and autumns, and winters that are mild but with a high chance of rain. The vicinity of the Atlantic Ocean moderates the summertime temperature, and there are often strong breezes on the beaches.

The weather is good enough for spending time on the beaches between April and the end of September. During the mid-season, don’t forget to always pack a jacket, as it cools down at night.

Vila Nova de Milfontes weather temperature

The average day time maximum and the nighttime minimum temperature for Vila Nova de Milfontes

Vila Nova de Milfontes rainfall sunshine rain sun

The average hours of sunshine per day and monthly rainfall (in mm)

There are three very distinct tourist seasons for Vila Nova de Milfontes:
• The summer (Mid-June until the end of August)
• The low season (Mid-April to June and September to October)
• The off-season (November to March)

The summer season is when Vila Nova is at its most hectic, mainly filled with Portuguese tourists. This is when the town’s nightlife is most lively and there is a great holiday atmosphere, but hotels sell out and need to be booked well in advance.

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, with the late-night venues shutting down and the average age of visitors increasing. 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 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 it could be grey and wet. In the winter, 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. Try to avoid the region during wet or grey weather in winter, as it can feel very bleak.

Paddle boarding along the Rio Mira

Paddle boarding along the Rio Mira.

Travelling to Vila Nova de Milfontes

One of the reasons why Vila Nova de Milfontes has never grown into a major resort or been discovered by mass tourism is that it is difficult to get here.

The town is equally distant from both Lisbon and Faro airports, there are no rail services and the bus journey from Lisbon takes forever.

The bus service from Lisbon to Vila Nova is operated by Rede Expressos, the national bus company of Portugal. The journey takes a tedious 3.5 hours and departs from Sete Rios bus station in Lisbon. Ticket prices are dynamic (increasing on demand), but a single typically costs around €24.

In the summer, you must book well in advance. For the latest timetable, please see the Rede Expressos website:
Public transport between the Algarve and Vila Nova de Milfontes is very limited, and there is just a single bus service to Lagos, also provided by Rede Expressos.

Vila Nova de Milfontes for Families and Children

Vila Nova de Milfontes is a good destination for a family holiday once you get here from the airport. 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 that 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 cheaper hotels) and Portuguese families, who often stay on the campsites.

Vila Nova de Milfontes Holiday Guide
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