The Costa Vicentina is a 95 km stretch of coast in the Alentejo region, Portugal. The beaches are generally small and secluded, with big blue skies for days on end. Although there is human activity at all times of the year – you can visit restaurants or bars on most beaches, or buy drinks at the supermarket in some – it’s usually quiet, peaceful and relaxing.
Costa Vicentina includes the regions Algarve and Estremadura. The coast is mostly cliffs with small bays and beaches. There are several small towns, like Monte Clerigo, Odeceixe and Zambujeira do Mar which are popular among tourists for their beach-side bars, restaurants and shops.
Enjoying the Beaches of Costa Vicentina
Apart from late August (when many people go to the beach to get away from the city heat), you will nearly always have your own private space on any of these beaches. The water is cool even in summer, because there are no rivers flowing into this area that would provide warm waters like you see in the tropics.
Accessibility and Accommodation
The coast is accessible by train (inexpensive and slow) or bus (fare around 6€-7€; slightly cheaper if bought in advance). The only downside to this place is that there are no big towns near it, meaning that any food you need will be limited to what you can bring with you, buy on the beach or at local shops. There are several campsites that rent out bungalows (around 30€/night for a double room), but they are usually full of Spanish people in July and August.
If you plan to visit Costa Vicentina during the months of June through September then make sure to book your hotel well in advance, as this is the time of year that most tourists visit.
Things to do in Costa Vicentina
Costa Vicentina is most famous for its beaches as well as the amazing hiking and mountain biking trails on offer in the region.
This region offers some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe with crystal clear water. The closest city to Costa Vicentina is also called Lagos and is famous for its castle built on one side of the bay right next to the beach.
Activities during your stay include surfing, sunbathing, swimming and simply relaxing at the beach. The water is generally calm due to the fact that there are no major rivers flowing into it. During winter you can also enjoy bird watching between October and April, when many migratory birds pass by in their search for warmer places to spend the winter months.
There is plenty of hiking in the mountains with various routes available. These are not well signposted so it’s best to ask somebody when you arrive in town, or hire a guide for your stay who can show you around and tell you about the history of the region.
There are also several caves that can be visited with tours taking around 15 to 30 minutes. These caves were formed by the sea eroding the rock over thousands of years. There are various sites where you can see fossils and petroglyphs, both dating back many thousands of years ago. The most famous one is Algar do Peneco, near Odeceixe.
Day Trips to Spanish Feeling towns and villages
The Algarve region has a lot to offer for day trips and is easy to reach from Costa Vicentina. The small towns in this area have a more Spanish feel than the ones further north, because of the Moorish influence over the centuries. If you visit Algar do Peneco, the nearby town of Aljuzur is worth a visit.
Boat Trips and Dolphin Watching
During your visit you can also take a boat trip for whale and dolphin watching. The waters around the Canary Islands and Madeira are home to numerous species of these mammals, which can be seen frequently between June and October. There is a fee that needs to be paid for this activity but it’s well worth it as sightings are almost guaranteed.