13 Things to do in Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal
Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal, is a small town in the beautiful Alentejo region, bathed by the Mira River on one side, and the Atlantic on the other. Located in the middle of the of the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park, Vila Nova de Milfontes is the perfect place to choose as the base for exploring the Vicentine Coast, which features some of the most beautiful beaches and ocean views in Portugal. But the town’s biggest appeal lies not in the fascinating landscapes and views of the surrounding area, but it’s the town’s unique identity, rich culture, bustling nightlife, and many things to do in Vila Nova de Milfontes which offer tourists the opportunity to make the most of its unique location at the estuary where the Mira River flows into the Atlantic.
Since its foundation in 1468 by King D. Joao II, the town’s identity was shaped by different cultures, as well as many conflicts with pirates, which have left a unique imprint on the town. Visitors of Vila Nova de Milfontes can enjoy the town’s distinct architecture, extraordinary cuisine, various nightclubs, beautiful sandy beaches with both big waves and calm waters, surfing and paddleboarding activities, and fascinating trekking and biking paths. Vila Nova de Milfontes should be on everyone’s Portugal itinerary.
The following are our top picks for best things to do in Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal.
Enjoy the Beautiful Vila Nova de Milfontes Beaches
Vila Nova de Milfontes has four sandy beaches, which lie on the Atlantic coast and on both banks of the Mira River. Enjoying these stretches of soft sands are the most popular of things to do in Vila Nova de Milfontes.
For families and those who prefer calm water, Franquia beach is the perfect spot. Located at the Mira riverbank, it’s completely sheltered from the Atlantic waves and lies very close to the town. It is perfect for a wide variety of activities, such as windsurfing or canoeing, and it’s equipped with a beach cafe and a lifeguard service.
Further towards the Atlantic lies Farol beach, with the Mira River on one side and the Atlantic on the other. It is the closest beach to Vila Nova de Milfontes and is also somewhat sheltered from the big waves. The beach, which offers a unique view of the estuary and ocean, also has a lifeguard service, as well as beach bars and cafés, and in peak season Farol beach can get fairly crowded. It is important to know that children should only swim here under supervision due to the mixing ocean and river currents.
For those who enjoy the characteristics of Farol beach but want to get away from the crowds, there’s Furnas beach, located on the other bank of the Mira River. During the summer months, the beach can be accessed by ferry, which crosses the Mira River hourly and costs $3 for a round trip.
The seawater here is very clean and Furnas beach received a blue flag in 2014. The beach is popular with surfers, but the waves aren’t too big for children, either. During the summer months, a lifeguard supervises the beach, which is especially important because of the strong tidal currents in the estuary.
Carreiro das Fazenda Beach
Apart from these somewhat sheltered beaches, Carreiro das Fazenda’s beach offers an experience truly representative of the Alentejo coastline. It is a wild beach with golden sands and dunes, interesting rock formations, which are pounded by big Atlantic waves. The beach is very popular with surfers, while the waves are too big for children.
Explore the Alentejo Region
Vila Nova de Milfontes can be the perfect base for discovering the stunning beauty of the Alentejo region, as well. If you are interested in exploring some amazing locations in the wider area of Vila Nova de Milfontes, here are some ideas.
The Fishermen’s Trail
The Fishermen’s Trail is a part of Rota Vicentina, a network of 450 km of well-marked hiking routes. The trail is located entirely in the Southwest Alentejo region, always following the coastline, and providing a unique insight into the region’s diverse wildlife and awe-inspiring landscape. The Fishermen’s trail is physically demanding, and can only be followed on foot, preferably between September and June, because the summer heat can be dangerous for inexperienced hikers.
The trail connects Vila Nova de Milfontes with Porto Covo and Almograve, and these sections are 20 and 15 km long respectively. These sections feature very diverse beaches, freshwater streams, awesome cliffs, tiny islands, and amazing biodiversity with endemic species. If you’re up for it, make sure to add the Fisherman’s trail to your list of things to do in Vila Nova de Milfontes.
Considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, Malhão is a must-see location if you are looking to experience Alentejo’s nature at its best. It is located halfway between Vila Nova de Milfontes and Porto Covo, and it features vast stretches of golden sand interspersed with rocky formations and bounded by dramatic cliffs pounded by the Atlantic waves.
Malhão is located in the Sudoeste Alentejano national park, so there are no traces of human activity, which allows the visitors to feel completely connected with the surrounding area and the unique local wildlife. The waves here are perfect for surfers, but there are no places to rent the equipment nearby, so you will have to bring your own. Malhão can be reached by bike or by following the Fishermen’s Trail on foot.
14 kilometres south of Vila Nova de Milfontes is Almograve beach, one of the most famous beaches in this area. Similar to Malhão beach, Almograve is a vast, wild beach with gentle sand dunes and basalt rocks, pounded by the full might of the Atlantic waves. Almograve is protected as part of the national park (earning a Blue Flag status in 2012), but it also offers its visitors the possibility to rest and eat in the nearby town of Almograve. The most convenient way to reach Almograve beach from Vila Nova de Milfontes is with a rental car, although adventurers might prefer the fascinating, but challenging, Fishermen’s Trail.
Enjoy the Full Potential of the Town
Even though it has a population of around 5,000 people, there are many things to do in Vila Nova de Milfontes itself for tourists. Here are some suggestions on what to see in Vila Nova de Milfontes.
St. Clement Fort
St. Clement is a fort built in the 17th century as a deterrent against pirates and North African raiders. It dominates Vila Nova’s landscape with its medieval style and its position overlooking the Mira estuary. Even though the fort has been turned into an exclusive hotel, it has kept its authentic look and it’s definitely one of the must-see places of Vila Nova de Milfontes.
Exploring the Mira River
One of the top Vila Nova de Milfontes attractions, the Mira River is a very popular place to have some fun in the sun, whether it be families with children or seasoned kayakers. There are many kayak and SUP schools and rental services, whose professional instructors have provided the first kayaking of paddle boarding experience for thousands of tourists.
There is a variety of locations to choose from, ranging from safe, calm waters of the Mira River, to more challenging waters of Furnas beach.
Vila Nova de Milfontes Town Center
The historical town centre is a beloved jewel for foreigners and locals alike. It is filled with great restaurants, artisan shops, and patisseries. The streets are lined with houses built wall to wall, where traces of Moorish architecture and uniformity of the colours only enhance the town’s unique identity. Even though the town is very peaceful during the off-season, there is a bustling nightlife in the summer, with four nightclubs that feature different music styles.
Vila Nova de Milfontes Restaurants
Vila Nova de Milfontes is home to many restaurants which take advantage of the town’s perfect spot for fishing. One of the most recommended Vila Nova de Milfontes restaurants in the town centre is “Tasca do Celso“, a lovely family restaurant, which serves amazing fresh seafood, as well as some unique specialities.
If, however, you would like to enjoy the view over the Atlantic with your meal, the restaurant “A Choupana” is a great choice. It is located near the viewpoint at Farol de Milfontes and apart from providing an amazing view, it is home to some superb dishes.
Based on the number of times the word “surfing” was mentioned so far, you may have realized that Vila Nova de Milfontes is a surfing hotspot. The big waves crashing against Carreiro das Fazendas and Malhão (located further to the north) create the perfect scene for experienced surfers to showcase their abilities, while smaller waves that reach Farol and Furnas are ideal for those who want to take up this activity. Surf Camp Alentejo is a well-known company which provides surf lessons and holidays for people of all skill levels. They also rent surfing equipment separately.
Walking From the Town Centre to the Lighthouse
The people of every town have a preferred walking route for relaxing and unwinding, and for the locals of Vila Nova de Milfontes, that’s the walk from the town centre to the lighthouse. This simple route passes some of the town’s main landmarks, like the Church of Our Lady of Grace and the St. Clement fort, while the lighthouse provides a great view of the estuary, Furnas beach, and the Atlantic.
It is one of the most serene places in the area and probably the perfect spot to look back at your experiences in Vila Nova de Milfontes and enjoy the simple beauties that the area has to offer, like the locals do when the tourist season is over in Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal.
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