Why did they call it the land of three lies? Because Vila Nova de Milfontes wasn’t a village, it wasn’t new and, although it had fountains, it didn’t have a thousand! Nowadays it is already a village, it is still not new and the number of sources remains far from thousands!
WHERE IS “VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES”?
190 kilometers! This is the distance between Lisbon and Vila Nova de Milfontes, one of the most sought after places on the Vincentian coast.
VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES
It is here that the Mira River meets the Atlantic Ocean, at a confluence that can be admired from the top of one of the several viewpoints of Vila Nova de Milfontes.
Although the village lives essentially from tourism, it is still a typically Portuguese village. The habits, the accent, the routines, the calm, the gastronomy, everything we expect from a place from Alentejo.
The village is deliciously Portuguese, social, welcoming, with a good selection of restaurants and several beaches for all tastes. It is a tourist destination for many Portuguese families during the summer (such as Porto covo).
The number of foreign tourists has also been rising in recent years although it is not yet very high. The fact that it is 2 hours away from the airports of Lisbon and Faro, contributes to this relative lack of foreign knowledge.
The Alentejo is famous for its torrid heat (in summer). However, the villages on the Alentejo coast have a milder climate and are still perfect for beach lovers. The Mira River is famous for its calm and clear waters, perfect for a swim or a kayak trip.
WHAT TO VISIT IN “VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES”?
Vila Nova de Milfontes is a small but graceful village. It has some tourist attractions that you should not miss. One day is enough time to know well this Alentejo village! Here is the map of attractions to help you plan your visit!
FORTE DE SÃO CLEMENTE
Located on the edge of the village, the São Clemente fort is imposing and robust. Built in the 17th century to combat the onslaught of corsairs (a group of individuals who worked at the behest of governments and who looted ships and coastal villages to steal goods and slaves) and pirates from North Africa (from the famous Barbary coast). Those who visit this fort can also enjoy the magnificent view that the fort’s belvedere provides. A wide view of the Mira River and the opposite bank.
The Barbacã square is next to the São Clemente fort. It was from this place that Brito Pães and Sarmento Beires left, two aviators who immortalized their name in the history of Portuguese aviation when they made the first air trip between Portugal and Macau (the plane took off at the mouth of the Mira River). The feat is marked in the square with a landmark that mentions the date (April 2, 1924) and the names of the aviators.
This achievement is still a little known and little mentioned fact in Portuguese history. This “erasing of history” was the work of the Estado Novo by one of its protagonists (Sarmento Beires, 1892-1974) who, although military, was an opponent of the Salazar regime.
The Milfontes lighthouse is a modest building worth visiting on foot. The small bank that connects the small town to the lighthouse should be walked so that you can admire the magnificent view over the Mira River and, already closer to the lighthouse, over the immeasurable Atlantic Ocean.
The statue of the Archangel is a controversial work of the sculptor Aureliano de Aguiar. It is located in the center of the lighthouse traffic circle and leaves no one indifferent. It was not initially well received by the locals who found it ugly and disconcerting. It is 3 and a half meters of reused iron that allude to the degradation of the planet.
CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF GRACE
Not far from the Forte de São Clemente (about 150 meters), you can visit the church of our Lady of Grace (built in the 16th century). Very little remains of the original construction. There were two occasions when it was practically destroyed. The first time in 1590 following an attack of corsairs that devastated the village in its almost totality. And a second time during the 1755 earthquake. Hence the name of Vila NOVA de Milfontes (for being a rebuilt village). The fort of São Clemente was built precisely in the wake of this Corsican devastation.
PUBLIC GARDEN OF VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES
The public garden of Vila Nova de Milfontes is a space for recreation and leisure. Its garden is in harmony with the surrounding environment and one step away from the center of the village. Visitors have access to equipment for children and outdoor activities perfect for a family afternoon. It is a modern public equipment, with a careful aesthetic and a considerable dimension.
VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES CENTER
The new town center of Milfontes is relatively small. A rectilinear layout accompanied by a well-kept house in shades of white and blue. The best way to know the center of the village is naturally on foot. During your walk, don’t forget to visit the main attractions of the place and look carefully at the typical houses of Alentejo.
ESTRADA DO CANAL – PORTO DAS BARCAS
It is a little far from the center of the village but it is on the canal road that you can enjoy the most beautiful sunset of the region. In the last years it has also been very sought after to find one of the most sophisticated restaurants on the Alentejo coast, the Porto das Barcas.
MABI, CROISSANTERIE AND ICE CREAM
Obligatory stop for those who like to taste ice cream and/or croissants. Right in the center of the village.
SUGGESTION OF PEDESTRIAN ROUTE
To know the soul of a village it is necessary to walk through it, with time, attention and the will to feel it. Vila Nova de Milfontes is no exception to this rule and for this reason you will find a suggestion for a walk that will take you to the main attractions of this small village. The trail starts at the canal road, ends at the lighthouse and goes through all the attractions previously mentioned in this article ). We hope you find it useful!
VIRTUAL TOUR – VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES
BEACHES NEAR VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES
There are many options for those who like the beach and spend vacations in Vila Nova de Milfontes. Here is a map with what we consider to be the best beaches in the vicinity of the village.
FAROL BEACH (PRAIA DO FAROL)
It is a beach (not very big) but has the particularity of being bathed by an ocean (the Atlantic) and also by a river (the Mira). The promontory (cable formed by a rocky elevation) next to the lighthouse beach is perfect to watch a splendorous sunset. Attention to the children on this beach! On the side of the river Mira, when entering the water the children “lose their feet” immediately.
FRANQUIA BEACH (PRAIA DA FRANQUIA)
Franquia beach is bathed by the calm waters of the Mira River (once again, special attention to children is recommended for the aforementioned reason). The beach is very close to the village and next to the waterfront. It has a very nice bar for those who like “bars with beach”.
The waters of the Mira River are quite cold but perfect for lovers of canoeing or stand-up paddle. There is a company on site that rents this equipment in case you want to try it.
The beaches of the furnas are on the opposite bank to Vila Nova de Milfontes. The access has to be made by car (the beach has a very big parking lot). For this reason it is much less frequented and ideal for those who want to avoid large crowds. In the months of July, August and September there is the option to cross the river by ferry (about 5 euros per person – round trip).
CARREIRO DA FAZENDA BEACH
It is not a particularly beautiful beach, but it has the advantage of being a wild beach of fine sand with curious rock formations. It is frequent to meet surfers. The access is not particularly easy for those who may have some mobility difficulties.
MALHÃO BEACH – VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES
Malhão beach is a beach of “another championship” as colloquially it is said in good Portuguese. It is one of the most beautiful (and frequented) beaches on the Alentejo coast. Surfers, famous Portuguese personalities, common citizens, all frequent Malhão beach. It has a huge sand splashed by rocky formations. Perfect for surfing! It is located between Vila Nova de Milfontes and Porto Covo and about 10/15 minutes by car from Milfontes. Not to be missed!
Aivados beach is, together with Malhão beach, the best beach in the region. It does not have any indicative plate which makes it more difficult to find. Even so, in high season, Aivados beach is very sought after by vacationers.
BREJO LARGO BEACH
Until recently, it was a wild and practically unknown beach. Nowadays there are already some who know it and frequent it. But there are two factors that continue to drive away the great crowds: a) the possibility of getting the car bogged down in the sands; b) the long distance that separates the place where you can park the car and the arrival to the sand.
If you decide to visit this beach and resist the ordeal to get there, then the reward will not be lacking. It is a beautiful beach!
NOSSA SENHORA BEACH
A small wild beach “embraced” by green cliffs. It is a few meters north of the beautiful village of Zambujeira do Mar and has a great affluence throughout the summer. To get there you must use an enormous staircase. During the low tide, the ocean retreats enough to visit the nearby beaches: Praia da Arquinha and Praia da Pedra da Bica. It is an unguarded beach.
ALMOGRAVE BEACH (NEAR MILFONTES)
Almograve beach is 20 minutes by car from Vila Nova de Milfontes (a distance of 15 km). It is one of the most beautiful beaches of the Vicentina coast and deserves this small trip. It is particularly beautiful at low tide, when you can admire the extensive sand and rock formations that form small natural pools of crystalline water. The accesses to the beach are good and there are many parking spaces. The sunset is beautiful!
It is a small and beautiful beach after Almograve beach (26 minutes by car from Vila Nova de Milfontes – 21 km). Surrounded by escarpments and dotted with rock formations in its sand. The beach is not watched, the access is made through a long (and challenging) staircase. Parking is difficult even though it is a little crowded beach.
ANGRA DA CERVA BEACH
It is a small and wild beach. It is almost always deserted because to get there you have to walk 2 kilometers (after an 8 minute drive from the center of Vila Nova de Milfontes). The beach is very beautiful and deserves the effort. If you decide to go there then prepare yourself and take suitable shoes to very challenging sand trails. Don’t forget to bring a hat (for the head and for the sun), water, sun cream and some food.
PESSEGUEIRO ISLAND BEACH
It’s my favorite beach! It is 27 minutes by car from Vila Nova de Milfontes (20 km). It has a large parking lot and good access to the beach (it was renovated in 2020). The view to the island is an extra that never tires the view. The sand is extensive and if you are in the mood to walk 10 minutes (on the sand, by the sea), you will find space to enjoy the beach practically alone (even in the summer months).
METEOROLOGY IN VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES
Given its coastal location, the summer is mild, dry and with sky almost always clear. Winter can be cool (and sometimes cold!), with a wind that blows often strong and with many days of cloudy sky (it rains little in Alentejo). The thermal amplitude is significant (usually between 8 and 28 degrees). The temperature rarely drops below 5 degrees or rises above 34 degrees. Here is a graph for your analysis.
WHEN TO VISIT VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES?
The answer depends on the purpose of your trip. If you want to go to the beach and enjoy the Alentejo sun, then you should give priority to the months of June, July, August and September.
But Vila Nova de Milfontes is also a great place to spend a long weekend, eat well and rest. In that case, and taking into account that the weather is quite mild at any time of the year, you can go at any time.
WHERE TO STAY IN VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES?
CERCA DA VITÓRIA
It has over 700 comments and an overall rating of 9.2. Apartments with bedroom, living room, equipped kitchen, balcony, terrace, good option for families.
Very central location, in front of Milfontes beach and 800 meters from São Clemente fort (sometimes called by castle). In addition to the usual amenities of a quality hotel, it also offers a swimming pool and the possibility of private parking (at an additional cost). It seems to be a great option for couples who give an overall rating of 9.8/10.
HOTEL HS MILFONTES BEACH
Over 1000 comments and an overall rating of 8/10.
The hotel is located in the natural park of Southwest Alentejo. It has a restaurant with a magnificent view to the Mira River. The hotel has a SPA which is a 5 minute walk from the hotel. The town center is 10 minutes walking distance. It has an outdoor pool, bar and free parking.
CHEAP ACCOMMODATION IN VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES
GET LOST IN MILFONTES HOSTEL
Over 250 comments and an overall rating of 8.5/10.
It has a shared living room, a garden and each room has a shared bathroom with shower. The hostel provides its guests with nightlife and a shared kitchen. The hostel is close to Patacho beach, the fort and the Mira river.
GOING OUT AT NIGHT IN MILFONTES
Vila Nova de Milfontes, like all places that live from tourism, has two distinct rhythms. The rhythm of the high season and the rhythm of the low season. During the high season, the village has many options for those who like to go out at night. Cafes, bars, ice cream parlors, games rooms and discos are open until late at night.
During the low season, the offer is very different and much lower. It will not be the ideal option for nightlife lovers.
WHAT TO EAT IN VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES
Alentejo is a paradise for people who love to eat! The Alentejo bread, the quality of its pork, the fish from its extensive coast, the wonderful sausages and also the beautiful shellfish (barnacles, naval, edible crabs, the salads of conch, eggs and octopus). These delicacies, when properly accompanied by the region’s wine, contribute greatly to the overall quality of your experience.
WHERE TO EAT WELL AND… CHEAP IN A NEW VILLAGE OF MILFONTES!
It is not difficult to eat much (and) well in our country! What is not so easy anymore is to eat WELL and BARATO! I am a frequent visitor of this area of the alentejo and I leave you some suggestions duly proved by me (a maximum distance of 15 minutes by car from Vila Nova de Milfontes).
“O PASSARINHO” RESTAURANT
It is located in the siege about 10 or 12 minutes from Milfontes exit. It is a typical small restaurant in Alentejo. Familiar and welcoming. The entrecosto and Carne de Porco à Alentejana with Migas are divine. I have been in this restaurant for more than 10 years and NEVER had a bad experience. Unbeatable in the quality-price relationship.
Price per person: 12 to 15 euros (includes starters, dish, wine and dessert).
WHERE TO EAT WELL BUT… NOT SO CHEAP
TASCA DO CELSO
Maybe it is the most famous restaurant in Vila Nova de Milfontes. I had dinner there once. I liked it but I didn’t think it was fantastic. But the reviews are many and very good. Valid option for those who like seafood, fish or meat (the Alcatra steak is very praised). Price per person: 15-25
WHAT TO SEE NEAR VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES?
HISTORY OF VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES
Throughout human history, rivers have always been an attraction to man. This has also happened with the Mira River which, since the Paleolithic (also known as the Stone Age which began 2.5 million years ago) is the stage of man’s presence.
There are several archaeological remains that prove the presence of the Romans in this area of Alentejo (as an example a piece of a Roman anchor). During the construction of the bridge over the river Mira, several pieces of ceramics were found that are still waiting for a more detailed analysis in order to identify to which period and civilization they belong.
From the Muslim period, there are not many physical traces. It is the toponyms (in other words, the names of the places) that still persist (examples: Odemira and Almograve) that best evidence the Arab presence in this region.
The Mira River was, during the time of the Reconquest, the border between the Muslims (already in decline) and the Christians (who occupied the northern bank of the river).
After the Christian reconquest, the entire coast of Alentejo was poorly populated and suffered from serious organizational problems. In 1486, Bishop John II created a new village on the site then called Milfontes.
The objective was to protect and develop the commerce of this geographical area. This new county (meanwhile disengaged from the county of Sines), lasted more than 300 years (1486 – 1836).
Given its coastal location, the village was often attacked by pirates and corsairs who stole and destroyed everything (not only the boats but also the interior of the village). This problem devastated the village between the XVI, XVII and XVIII centuries. The construction of the fort of São Clemente (“castle” of Milfontes) was an answer to this problem.
In 1801, Vila Nova de Milfontes was a very small fishing village with only 1559 inhabitants.
It was curious to discover that the monument at Praça da Barbacã (next to the fort), is a tribute to Brito Paes and Sarmento Beires. These two aviators made the first crossing area between Portugal and Macau in 1924. The journey began in the field of Coitos near Milfontes.
THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME
Before being designated as Vila Nova de Milfontes, the town is only called “Milfontes”. It is thought that the name is due to the many springs that exist in the region, hence the name of Mil (the number is obviously not exact) sources.
The place is now called a new village as a consequence of a tremendous attack (by corsairs) on Milfontes that totally devastated the locality. When it was rebuilt, it was renamed Milfontes as a new village.