Best Road Trip to the Top 10 Beaches of the Costa Vicentina

This road trip guides you through over 70km of coastline and lists the best beaches and locations for a weeklong adventure.

The Costa Vicentina has turned to tourism for sustenance but it’s not dominated by “resorts” and “high-end holidays”. Instead, locals aim to sustain themselves with “rural tourism” that explores and builds upon the infrastructure and culture that already exists. This allows homeowners of old buildings to repurpose them for accommodation and help preserve simpler lifestyles. Most who visit fall in love with the sense of nostalgia that permeates the culture since most take pride in preserving the local wonders they have.


Zambujeira do Mar Beach

PHOTOGRAPHY: All About Portugal

The main beach is below the cliffside town that has holiday rentals and restaurants with a wonderful view of the ocean. It’s an area dedicated to tourism with some fishing exploits based in the small harbour called Entrada da Barca, where you can watch small boats bring in their catch. 

Zambujeira beach has a decent expanse of sand set in between the cliffs and rocky faults that rip through the rising tides. It’s an excellent spot for family outings, sunbathing and various watersports. 

This place has thrived on its own for its isolated charm but also because of its proximity to the annual festival MEO Sudoeste. It’s one of the largest pop festivals in Portugal since 1997 with some of the top artists in the world. Festival enthusiasts enjoy outdoor camping and flock to Zambujeira and its beaches for a few days during the events. Due to the pandemic, this event has been delayed but in August of 2022, we may see a grand reopening with live music, camping and lots of nightlife fun. For the rest of the year, Zambujeira remains a quiet beach town with amazing sights for all the family. 

Nearest Town: São Teotónio (13km)

Other Beaches Nearby: Praia dos Alteirinhos (800m), Praia da Amália (8.7km), 

Parking: Limited to public street parking stops. There’s a parking lot near Praia dos Alteirinhos

Restaurants: Marisqueira Costa Alentejana earned 2021’s Travelers Choice award, with beautifully displayed food and quality fish, seafood and traditional cataplanas. Of equally impressive food quality is Barca Traquitanas with a cosy fine dining ambiance with a sea view.

Beach Access: Easy with ramps and stairs


Almograve Beach


It’s superfluous to repeat the fact that every beach along this road trip is as wondrous as the next, but Almograve has that charm for a classic day at the beach with children. It has easy access to parking and ramps to the beach. It’s a great place to explore shallow waters, the dunes and nearby rocks for low tide ecosystems with different shells, little fish, sea snails and starfish. 

Nearby you can find a rural resort called Zmar rural, which prides itself in being an eco-resort. It has lots of outdoor activities and promotes ecotourism.

Nearest Town: Longueira/Almograve are merged towns into a single parish less than 4km apart.

More Beaches nearby: Praia da Foz dos Ouriços (2.3km); Praia dos Bicos (2.9km)

Parking: Ample parking in front of the beach

Restaurants: João da Longueira has an excellent selection of seafood and traditional Portuguese dishes just 3km from the beach

Beach Access: Easy with ramps and stairs


Cabo Sardão


This is not a particularly accessible beach but it’s the best place to take cliffside photos with a strong Atlantic breeze in your face. The council has renovated footpaths that set the way for the fisherman’s trail along a safe walk along the cliffs. It’s a location well worth enjoying for the sights and sounds of nature. 

Near the edge stands the Sardão lighthouse that warns ships away from the cliffside. The interior can be visited on Wednesdays and next to it lies a football field with a wonderful sea view.  


Nearest Town: Almograve-Longueira (13Km)

More Beaches nearby: Praia do Creleizão (600m), Praia do Cavaleiro (600m)

Parking: Some dirt road parking available near the cliside

Restaurants: Restaurante Rocamar (600m) has good food at affordable prices and a bar open until 1am. 

Beach Access: Cabo Sardão has a steep cliffside with a worthwhile view but with no beach access except for the nearer beaches 600m on either side with accessible stairs. 


Vila Nova de Milfontes


This is the number one holiday hotspot in the Costa Vicentina. Milfontes has easy access to 5 different beaches, two of which are river beaches and the rest sit by the Atlantic ocean. 

Furnas and Praia da Franquia are beaches that border the Mira River, with shallow and calm waters ideal for kids and water activities like canoeing and stand up paddle. Praia da Franquia is located on the edge of the town with access to restaurants, hotels and a beautiful view of the Castle of São Clemente. The Furnas beach is accessible only by taking the bridge towards Odemira and has a few restaurants and ample parking accessible to the beach. 

Praia do Farol is where the river ends and you are surrounded by the vast Atlantic ocean. It has wondrous views of the river water clashing with the sea ideal for adventurous surfers. Past the dunes, you also find the Praia do Carreiro da Fazenda hidden away from most of the tourists. It’s not perfect for swimming due to rocks and turbulent seas but the raw natural landscape and the quiet make it worthwhile a hike through the sand. Further up you find the Praia do Patacho or as locals call it “Praia do Barco ” as there lies a stranded boat rusting over decades of seashore erosion. 


Nearest Town: Alagoachos (3.4km), Cercal (15km)

More Beaches nearby: Praia da Angra do Cozinhadouro (9.2km), Praia Porto das Barcas (2.6km)

Parking: Ample oceanview parking on both sides of the river

Restaurants: Milfontes has a lot of quality restaurants to choose from but the top picks are Tasca do Celso with excellent food reviews and cosy cellar ambiance. The Patio Alentejano also has great Portuguese food and a quaint environment. 

Beach Access: Easy access stairs and ramps to both beaches. 



Praia dos Aivados & Praia do Malhão


I’ll bundle these two together as they are the best surfing beaches on this road trip with a long expanse of beaches connecting them. Some parts are riddled with stones brought in by the tide and some places have jarring rocks but these conditions are what make some perfect waves for amateurs and professionals. It’s worth noting that access is perilous for cars in certain conditions as the only access is old dirt roads.

Nearest Town: Vila Nova de Milfontes (13km) and Porto Covo (9km)

More Beaches nearby: Praia do Burdo (8km)

Parking: Dirt roads with some parking access.

Restaurants: Closest Restaurant is in the Sitava Camping Site (4.6km) or the nearest towns. 

Beach Access: No man made pathways are available. Some caution is advised.



Ilha do Pessegueiro 


This is a location named after the 16th-century island fort of Pessegueiro. Its ruins are still visible from the coast and its twin fortress on the coast overlooking the island is called Nossa Senhora da Queimada. Its structure remains almost fully intact and often open to visitors. 

This is a place worth exploring for a full day, with nearby camping to fully enjoy the variety of this beach. You can walk along the seaside, over various rock formations that in low tide create puddles of tiny ecosystems of small fish and crabs. Great for little kids to swim and discover. It also has dunes with footpaths that let you walk for hours until you reach Milfontes. In the opposite direction, you can walk to Porto Covo in less than 1 hour. 


Nearest Town: Porto Covo is 4,6 Km

More Beaches nearby: Praia do Sissal (1.3km)

Parking: Ample parking near the fort and restaurant. Beyond this point access to the beach is through a dirt road with some parking near the sand.

Restaurants: A Ilha is a restaurant right next to the Fort Nossa Senhora da Conceição with an ocean view. The only other restaurant nearby is located inside the campsite about 2km from the beach.

Beach Access: No manmade access ramps or stairs. Some care is advised when trying to reach the beach. 


Porto Covo


Another fishing town dedicated to tourism with beautiful whitewashed houses and small but wondrous beaches, like Praia dos Buizinhos (due to the many seashells), Praia Grande being the largest and Praia da Baia nestled between the cliffs. 

Porto Covo is a cosy harbour with some fishing activity but is mostly dependent on tourism, however its splendour, much like Milfontes, is best appreciated in the low season when the masses have left and you can enjoy long quiet walks around town and all its small beaches. 


Nearest Town: Vila Nova de Milfontes (16 km)

More Beaches nearby: Located around 4 km away you will find Praia da Cerca Nova, Praia do Salto, Praia Serro da Águia and Porto Covinho

Parking: Ample oceanview parking

Restaurants: A Mar Restaurant and Beach Bar has a seaview lounge perfect for watching the sunset with great food and drinks.

Beach Access: Easy access stairs and ramps




Still connected to Porto Covo, this beach is a wonder on its own with fine flawless sand. The view has tall standing rocks emerging from the water makes for amazing photography. Depending on the tide you have access to different parts of the beach. It’s best enjoyed at low tide when you get long shallow waters up to the rock formations.  


Nearest Town: Porto Covo is less than 5km across the coast and Sines is 14km away.

More Beaches nearby: Praia do Burrinho (1km), Praia dos Canudos (2km) and Praia da Foz (2.1km)

Parking: Ample ocean view parking

Restaurants: Closest restaurants are in Porto Covo or São Tropez

Beach Access: Stairway access to the beach


São Torpes & Morgavel


Before Sines are two beaches connected by a long expanse of clear sand. They have two surfing schools. These beaches are ideal for learning on the shallow waves with very few rocks. Both have long stretches of sand great for running, skimming and general play atrocities for families. The beaches have ample parking and access to lovely seaside restaurants. 


Nearest Town: Sines

More Beaches nearby: Sines beach (7km) inside the city with easy access to parking and restaurants

Parking: Ample oceanview parking

Restaurants: Kalux Beach Bar & Surf School with inexpensive good food and amazing clear view of the beach. Bom Petisco & Restaurante do Luis

Beach Access: Easy access stairs and ramps


Lagoa de Santo André


This is a sweet water lagoon with unique ecosystems that depend on the yearly reopening of the sandbanks that separate it from the sea. This intervention is aided with excavators every spring to let pass the rising seawater to refresh the waterway improving the lagoon’s water quality for the fauna and flora that depend on the renewal of the waters every year, including the fishing community. This seasonal reopening of the lagoon waters also marks the start of the beaching season as people visit throughout the end of summer to enjoy the warm shallow waters. 


Nearest Town: Santo André

More Beaches nearby: Praia da Costa is an ocean beach close to the lagoon with a nearby Beach lounge.

Parking: Ample oceanview parking

Restaurants: Chez Daniel has inexpensive great quality seafood with wonderful presentation and is just 10 minutes away from the lagoon. 

Beach Access: Easy access stairs and ramps


End of the line

Hopefully, at the end of your trip, you will have felt the full force of Atlantic winds in your face and enjoyed a holiday between the countryside and coastline with all the peace and wonder in between. The Costa Vicentina is a national treasure that locals and visitors cherish dearly and wish to preserve and increase awareness of rural tourism and encourage nature walks like the Rota Vicentina. Sometimes it’s hard to find places to stay and eat, especially in the peak of August, but this just shows that the offer is limited just like nature intended to keep the best for itself


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