The beaches of Portugal’s Alentejo region are mostly part of the south-west Alentejo and Vicentina Coast natural park, making this one of Europe’s best-preserved coastlines. But while strict planning laws have restricted the building of high rises, you can still find lovely places to stay on the beach for well under €100 for two B&B. Here’s our pick of the best small hotels, guest houses and campsites.
Ilha do Pessegueiro campsite, Porto Covo
Directly in front of this campsite lies Ilha do Pessegueiro, with the ruins of a 16th-century fortress, a reminder of how strategic this stretch of coast once was. Boat trips to the island can be arranged in the village. The campsite is in a nature reserve, and although it is well-equipped its pitches don’t have much shade. The best choice in summer is an apartment (sleeping four) or wooden bungalow (sleeping five). Most apartments have barbecues and there is a restaurant, bar, playground and shop.
• +351 269 905178, ilhadopessegueirocamping.com, apartments from €28, bungalows €30
Monte Carvalhal da Rocha campsite, Brejão
This campsite is on a rugged stretch of coast, close to quiet Praia do Machado, a less well-known beach than Praia do Carvalhal, partly because it is harder to reach – check your route with the friendly staff. The site has 2.5 hectares of woods overlooking the sea and the valley, a swimming pool, restaurant, cafe, mini-market and playground. It is also a perfect spot for hikers on the Rota Vicentina. Explore small, hidden bays, take a walk on the rocks with a local fisherman to pick goose barnacles, or watch the boats arrive with the catch of the day in the fishing port of Azenha do Mar (weekdays until 11am). Choose between camping, a room or an apartment (sleeping up to six ) – and ask for a sea view.
• +351 919 833529, montecarvalhaldarocha. com, double from €55, apartment €80, tents €9
Hotel Soltróia, Tróia
This new nine-bedroom hotel is in a small village complex, on the Tróia peninsula, a nature reserve with gorgeous beaches about an hour south of Lisbon. The hotel has direct access to two beaches, each with its own charms. One, 30m from the hotel, is on the quiet Sado estuary; the other, opposite this narrow sand corridor, is the Atlantic beach, with views of the Serra da Arrábida and passing dolphins. Away from the beach, you can walk around Roman ruins, where fish used to be processed, and a lagoon with sunken boats and birdlife.
• +351 265 490540, albergariafozdosado. com, doubles from €59
Comporta Village, Comporta
Comporta beach has been discovered by the rich and famous (from politicians to royals), but this stretch of glorious white sand is still affordable and peaceful, though the stretches near the beach bars and restaurants are busy at times. There are 26 colourful apartments at Comporta Village, close to the Museu do Arroz (Rice Museum) restaurant. Hop on a bike (ask to hire one when you book) and visit Tróia, 15km away, partly on a cycle path, and the fishing village of Carrasqueira, with its simple but great restaurants. Restaurants in Comporta to try include Dona Bia and A Escola. Beaches at Pego, Brejos da Carregueira, and Carvalhal are also worth a visit.
• +351 265 490640, comportavillage.com, doubles from €75
Refúgio da Praia, Praia do Queimado
This isolated, six-room monte (the name for single-storey rural houses in these parts) is on the beach south of Porto Covo. It has stunning views amid 10 hectares of countryside and is on the Rota Vicentina – the old fishermen’s route that has been restored as a 110km coastal walk. The village of Porto Covo is great for fish and seafood: don’t miss O Marquês restaurant (+351 269 905 036) in the main square, with its cheerful atmosphere and reasonable prices (seafood rice is a speciality).
• +351 269 959063, refugiodapraia.com, doubles from €73
Pátios da Vila, Vila Nova de Milfontes
Vila Nova de Milfontes is a pretty village on the Mira estuary and a favourite with Portuguese families. Pátios da Vila is close to the beaches of Franquia (on the river) and Farol (watch out for strong currents). Apartments (sleeping four) are simple but well-equipped. The river is excellent for kayaking. Kayak & Nature Activities offers river tours and Clube Náutico rents kayaks.
• +351 283 996487, patiosdavila.com, doubles from €55
Mil Reis, Vila Nova de Milfontes
Its location in the centre of Vila Nova makes this guesthouse a good option for those who want to keep driving to a minimum. Renovated five years ago, it has one self-catering apartment and 10 bedrooms, some with a balcony. There’s also a roof terrace. Take time to explore the village, where Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close stayed in 1993, to film The House of the Spirits, its fortress built in 1602 and some classic fish restaurants, including A Fateixa (Largo Cais, +351 283 996415).
• +351 283 998233, milreis.tripod.com, doubles from €40
HS Milfontes Beach, Vila Nova de Milfontes
This modern hotel probably has the best location for sunseekers. There are 15 rooms with balconies facing the sea and the river, and another 10 facing the pool. The beach is nearby and the hotel provides boat rides up the river. Take a day trip to nearby Cercal and further inland to Odemira, two traditional Alentejo villages where there are fewer tourists and great local food – the famous sourdough bread, pork with clams, lamb stew, and sheep’s cheese.
• +351 283 996517, hsmilfontesbeach.com, doubles from €40
Herdade do Touril, Zambujeira do Mar
This monte has a great location. Zambujeira is the site of a music festival, Sudoeste, each August. But for the rest of the year, Herdade do Touril is a perfect sanctuary. The house is set in 365 hectares, mostly farmland, and families can stay in the estate’s little houses (one or two bedrooms), decorated in rustic style. Tonel beach is close by (though it is an adventure to get down there) and free bikes are available to venture to other beaches, or to the impressive Cape Sardão, for the lighthouse and nesting storks.
• +351 937 811627, touril.pt, doubles from €50
Rosa dos Ventos, Zambujeira do Mar
This small B&B in Zambujeira do Mar is also a good base if you are hiking the Rota Vicentina. Painted sunny yellow and white, it has a quiet courtyard where you can chill out after a day on the beach. There are 10 comfortable rooms facing the courtyard, with en suite bathrooms, TV and Wi-Fi. Zambujeira do Mar beach is nearby, but if you enjoy walking, try the peaceful and expansive Alteirinhos beach (1km away, with an area for naturists). The village is crammed with fish and seafood places, such as O Sacas (Rua Nossa Senhora de Mar, +351 283 961 151) and A Barca Traquitanas (above the fish jetty, +351 283 961 186), where fried octopus with chips, sardines or goose barnacles are a good choice.
• +351 283 961391, rosadosventoszambujeira.com, doubles from €45, minimum two nights