Introduction - Things to do and see - Milfontes beaches - Lisbon to Milfontes - Best Hotels - Day trips

Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal Guide

Vila Nova De Milfontes is a charming Portuguese resort town that is located in the heart of the beautiful Alentejo coastline. Milfontes is adored by the Portuguese, and during the summer the town swells in size, as tourists are drawn by the glorious beaches, delicious food and social nightlife.

Foreign visitors are slowly discovering the allure of Vila Nova de Milfontes and the western Alentejo region, but it is still one of the least visited coastlines of Portugal; with vast stretches of wild and deserted beaches. The town of Vila Nova de Milfontes is delightfully Portuguese, filled with cobbled streets, whitewashed houses and scenic views across the Mira River.

Mira River Vila Nova Milfontes

Vila Nova de Milfontes is situated on the pretty Mira River estuary

Milfontes is a bustling summer resort, and despite its remote location, it has an extensive selection of restaurants, a buzzing nightlife and wide array of hotels. The summertime atmosphere has a distinctly Portuguese vibe, which means it is social and welcoming, suitable for all ages, including families.



Outside of the intensely hot summer, there are excellent coastal hiking trails and empty roads for cycling, and this style of tourism is being actively encouraged by the regional government. Hire a car, and Vila Nova de Milfontes makes for the perfect base to explore the fascinating Western Alentejo, with a selection of enjoyable day trips that include Porto Covo, Zambujeira do Mar and Odemira.

Vila Nova de Milfontes is a fantastic holiday destination, and this guide will provide an introduction to this gem of Portugal.

fishing harbour  Vila Nova Milfontes

The small fishing harbour of Vila Nova de Milfontes

Quick summary of Vila Nova de Milfontes

The Three Seasons of Vila Nova de Milfontes and what to expect from them

There are three very distinct tourist seasons for Vila Nova de Milfontes;
• The summer (Mid-June until the end of August)
• The mid-season (Mid-April to June and September to October)
• The low 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 has it’s liveliest nightlife and there 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.

Costa Vincentina de Alentejano national park

The Praia do Malhão Beach is one of the many outstanding beaches of the region

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 Weather of Vila Nova de Milfontes

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. 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.

Vila Nova de Milfontes Weather

Average weather for Vila Nova Da Milfontes

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. If you’re planning a holiday to Milfontes a rental car is highly recommended.

Mira River Vila Nova Milfontes

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça

There is a regular bus service connecting Lisbon and Vila Nova de Milfontes provided by Rede Expressos (the national bus company). It takes a tedious 3.5hours departs from Sete Rois bus station in Lisbon and costs around €16 for an adult single. The timetable is seasonal dependant, and bookings are a must for the summer. For tickets, timetables and prices, please see the Rede Expressos website:
Traveling by public transport from the Algarve is challenging, as the only bus service departs from Lagos, at the very western end of the Algarve.

Vila Nova de Milfontes for Families and Children

Vila Nova de Milfontes is a good destination for a family holiday, once you got 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.

Mira River Vila Nova Milfontes

The historic centre of Milfontes
Hiking and Vila Nova de Milfontes

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.

Rota Vicentina vila nova de milfontes

It’s a long walk from Milfontes to Porto Covo following the Rota Vicentina.......

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 sandy and are unsuitable for cycling. For more details of the Rota Vicentina please, see the official website:

(Link opens new tab – the website sells official maps and guide books, which supports the project)

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 body boards €15 - per day) and there are a couple of decent surf schools. The best surfing is found on the Praia dos Aivados and Praia do Malhão, and both beaches are exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean. While surfing, always be wary of strong currents, tides and hidden rocks (which there can be many), we always recommend surfing in a surprised area, and never surf alone.

Praia dos Aivados Vila nova de milfontes

Just look at the amazing surfing waves of the Praia dos Aivados

What is there to do in Vila Nova de Milfontes?

Other activities away from the beach include cycling or hiking through the national park that surrounds Milfontes and there are many good coastal walks that start from Vila Nova. For the less energetic, there are cafes and bars to spend the day relaxing. Vila Nova is also an ideal base to explore the westerly region of the Alentejo including the cliff hanging town of Zambujeira do Mar, the regions capital of Odemira or the fortified town of Sines.

blue skys of Portugal

The Praia da Franquia beach, suitbale for children but busy in the summer!

If Vila Nova is so good, why do so few foreign tourists go there on holiday?

Few foreign visitors have ever heard of Vila Nova, yet alone visited and this is mainly due to the location of the town. Vila Nova is exactly halfway between both Lisbon and Faro airports (approximately 170km and 2 hours of driving time from both airports), and there is almost no public transport from the Algarve.

Vila Nova is situated the beautiful Costa Vincentina de Alentejano national park. This has ensured that any tourist infrastructure constructed is in keeping with the surroundings and has prevented massive, package tourist developments.

Today the sleepy Alentejo town is a popular Portuguese tourist destination but is completely undiscovered by non-Portuguese tourists. Vila Nova De Milfontes is a popular Portuguese tourist resort and is designed for the Portuguese so it offers great value for money.

What to expect from Vila Nova de Milfontes?

Vila Nova De Milfontes has been developed in a responsible manner, there are no major apartment blocks engulfing the coast, everything still retains the Alentejo small town atmosphere. This lack of development has extended to the regions beaches where as in any other country there would be mass tourism in Milfontes the coastline is wild and rugged. The beaches are ideal for surfing or body boarding due to the massive swells that originate from the Atlantic Ocean and all surfing equipment can be easily hired.

Vila Nova Milfontes beaches

There are so many stunning beaches close to Vila Nova Milfontes

As the resort is designed for the Portuguese there are many reliable and inexpensive coach services connecting to the major towns and accommodation, restaurants and bars in Milfontes are all good value. The final advantage of being aimed at the Portuguese is that their summer holiday season is very short, outside of this beaches are deserted and hotels have plenty of space.


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