If you are looking for a superb destination for a short break, today’s post will charm you. Continue reading to discover everything that the westernmost part of the Alentejo offers, a pretty unknown region of southern Portugal that will not leave you neutral.
Last January, Aptece and Turismo do Alentejo invited me to explore Alentejo’s ‘rota do peixe’ (fish route). This is a small travel diary that will serve you if you want to visit this area, with some unique directions for eating and sleeping as well as the seven essential stops if a Portugal’s Alentejo road trip is on your list.
Although it is inland, this small town whose Historic Centre was declared of interest by Unesco, was my starting point. I arrived just before sunset, and I could see that it was still as wonderful as I remembered it. Quiet, with its charming squares where the terraces overflow with life and its whitewashed streets, where fortunately, no construction stands out in height or style.
If you go through Évora, do not miss a visit to its Roman temple and cathedral, near a viewpoint that will undoubtedly delight any photography lovers at sunset.
Also, I recommend you to have lunch or dinner at Cafe Alentejo, a restaurant in the old area where you must try the ‘sopa de caçao’.
On the other hand, if you like design hotels, stay at the Vitoria Stone hotel, whose recent renovation has given it a cool cozy style.
Coastal area, its long beaches of fine sand and the traditional port ‘Cais Palafitico da Carrapateira’, built entirely in wood and very unique will make you fall for the Alentejo’s coast in the beginning of this road trip. When you visit, do not forget to check the tide schedules in advance and try to match your visit with the high tide and, if possible, the sunrise or sunset. Neither of them I had when I was there, instead I faced a hard noon light and low tide. Still, I think it’s possible to appreciate the beauty of the place, don’t you think?
Nearby Comporta, A Escola is a restaurant where you can enjoy an extensive menu of fish, such as ‘açorda de tomate con enguias’. And for those of you with a sweet tooth, the ‘pinhon torrado con ovos’ paired by a good Moscatel from Setubal is a delight.
3. PORTO COVO
The abrupt Alentejo coast offers a myriad fascinating spots. Take for instance its coves, cliffs and beaches where you feel like stopping every ten minutes and simply getting lost for a while, exploring its beauty. Like the beaches of Porto Covo, where the turquoise blue of the water and the yellow of the fine sand mix with the charcoal rocks and the sea-foam when hitting against the same. Bring your camera along!
To eat in this area, try Arte e Sal. His travel lover chef, Carlos Barros, has brought many ideas of his adventures around the world. Wonderful dishes such as prawns with cilantro sauce have sprung up, inspired by a trip to Goa, India.
The fourth recommended stop is Sines. An alluring coastal town that has one of the most active fish markets in the region and where it is possible to get close and see how the boats unload fresh, fresh fish. There I learned that the fishermen begin their daily duties when the rest of the world goes to bed. After about four or five hours picking up and releasing pots and nets a few miles offshore, they return in the morning so we can enjoy their catch on the table.
Or in restaurants such as Cais da Estaçao, an old railway station, now converted into a seafood restaurant with modern cuisine and delicious dishes such as gratin scallops, crab patties or their black pasta with cuttlefish.
Finally, if you are a wine lover, do not miss a stop at Herdade do Cebolal, in Santiago do Cacém, very close to Sines. Not only are the wines exquisite, the farm itself is a wonder!
5. VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES
Very touristy in summer, you can pretty much have this village to yourself if you happen to approach it in low season.
At Tasca do Celso, a local restaurant whose decoration will make you feel at home, the grilled robalo and the ‘açorda de camarao’ are two great choices.
On the other hand, for sleeping I recommend that you take a look at the design suites of Monte do Zambujeiro, where I stayed and felt like a modern princess for a couple of nights.
6. PORTO DAS BARCAS
One of the smallest ports with which I have ever drop by, Porto das Barcas serves the local fishermen and community. Once again, I saw the freshness of the fish that was sold in his tiny fish market and a little later, I was able to enjoy it at the local restaurant. Talk about responsible consumption.
The restaurant – the only one there – is called Sacas. Once there, let yourself be surprised by the cuisine of Silvia and Ana Maria, who, I’m sure will suggest you the best catch of the day.
7. ROTA VICENTINA
To lower your meal, after enjoying a leisurely meal in Porto das Barcas, there is nothing better than to venture into one of the coastal paths of the Vincentina Route. I went through a section of the so-called Fishermen’s Trail. And as it was predictable, I came across three of them. The last one, who I watched for a good half an hour from the top of a cliff, gets the ‘most extreme climber fisherman of the year’ award.
It is tricky to explain you without showing in video the feat of the man when descending the steep rock wall in jumps to just arrive down there and perched himself on top of any boulder to fish. So, while you get ready to explore Portugal’s Alentejo fish route, here I leave some snapshots for you to get an idea.
Coming back soon with more unique destinations, meanwhile here’s a bit more Portugal goodness for you!