Visit Porto Covo in Portugal! If you live in Lisbon, you won’t need more than 120 minutes to get to Porto Covo! It is, together with Vila Nova de Milfontes, one of the most sought after villages by Portuguese holidaymakers.
VISIT PORTO COVO PORTUGAL
Rui Veloso’s song has made an important contribution to the promotion of this beautiful town in Portugal. The parish of Porto Covo, in the middle of the 18th century, was nothing more than a very small and welcoming coastal village. The small size of the place is confirmed by the small number of houses, only 4 (!) in 1780.
If you have a particular interest in the history of Porto Covo go to the end of this article (concise history of Porto Covo). If you want to get tips on what to visit in Porto Covo keep reading!
Visit Porto Covo Portugal – Virtual Tour
Visit Porto Covo Portugal – WHICH I CAN’T AFFORD TO MISS
Visite a praça central para poder admirar as suas casas tipicamente alentejanas.
Go down the main street (on foot). Along the way, pay attention to the residential and commercial houses that side the street. The main street ends in a splendid view of the Atlantic Ocean from where you can also see the peach tree island (on the left).
ILHA DO PESSEGUEIRO
Visit the beach of the peach tree island! The beach of the island is in front of Pessegueiro Island. Historians believe that the Carthaginian navigators were the first to occupy this coast (200 BC)
It was during the Spanish occupation (Philippine dynasty) that the enlargement of that piece of land began. This project aimed to defend the coast against the corsairs (the corsairs were mandated and authorized by a government and had the mission to loot ships from other nations). The island had a mat of rocks and stones that made the connection to the beach.
Later, in 1590, the construction of the Island fort (Santo Alberto fort) began, which was never finished. The objective was to cross fires with the other fortress that is near the beach (fort of our lady of the burning).
WHERE CAN I GET THE BEST VIEWS FROM?
Descent to the “PESSEGUEIRO” island – as you pass the “PESSEGUEIRO” campsite.
DO YOU WANT TO STAY IN A FANTASTIC PLACE?
MATINHA HOTEL ESTATE, 4 STAR HOTEL
(4.5 out of 5 – 365 evaluations). It has an outdoor pool.
MONTE DA ROSA APARTMENTS
Very good quality self-sufficient accommodation. It is 1 km from the mouth of the river Mira and less than 2 km from the furnas.
Rating: 4.5/5 (9 ratings)
Visit Porto Covo Portugal – WOULD YOU LIKE TO STAY FOR A GOOD PRICE?
AHOY PORTO COVO HOSTEL
It has wireless internet, 24 hour reception, bicycle rental and solarium. It is a non-smoking place, with terrace and library. There are 6 rooms with essential and comfortable equipment. The guest rating is 9 out of 10.
PESSEGUEIRO ISLAND CAMPSITE
On the way to the beach on the island of Pessegueiro, the campsite provides wireless internet in the common areas. A great solution for those who want to be in contact with nature and spend little money. The beach is about 800 meters away.
WANT TO FEEL THE SOUL OF THE PLACE?
Start by listening to the music that the musician Rui Veloso dedicated to this beautiful piece of Portugal.
To feel the soul of Porto Covo you must wander the small streets of the parish. Enter a café and listen to the residents talking. Let time run by and talk a little with the locals. Ask what it’s like to live there, show curiosity for the history and evolution of the place. Ask how you live in this area of the country. Listen and talk.
WHERE CAN I REACH OUT INTO THE SUN?
PRAIA GRANDE (BIG BEACH)
In the village of Porto Covo you can find Praia Grande (much sought after by tourists).
Near the north exit of the village, near the garden. The access to the sand is good, the sand is big and the beach is sheltered by the cliffs. It is a blue flag beach and very sought after by surf lovers.
PRAIA PEQUENA (SMALL BEACH)
Small sand on a cliff (center of the village). From the cliff you can admire a magnificent sunset.
At the end of the main street of Porto Covo we reach the viewpoint that gives access to this small beach. Its name is due to the many shells that you will find there (very used by local craftsmen).
BAÍA DE PORTO COVO
Gravel beach. Not advised to bathers. The fishing port works there.
PRAIA DA ILHA DO PESSEGUEIRO (PEACH ISLAND BEACH)
An extensive sandy beach and usually much less frequented (in summer) than most other beaches in the area. The view to the ILHA DO PESSEGUEIRO is a pleasant complement to a beach afternoon.
During the summer, the beach offers various nautical activities such as canoeing, windsurfing and diving.
WHAT TO EAT
Porto Covo’s restaurants offer fish and seafood dishes. Feijoada de búzio, seafood rice and monkfish, fish pasta, pork with clams. Razor clams, seafood, octopus, squid kebabs, among others… Seafood (barnacles, naval, edible crabs; conch salads, eggs and octopus) cannot be left to taste.
WHERE TO EAT WELL AND… CHEAP
I usually say it’s very easy to eat well in Portugal. But eating WELL and BARATO is not that easy. Here are some suggestions in Porto Covo (within a 15-minute drive from Porto Covo).
RESTAURANT “O PASSARINHO” (at Cercal – 12/15 minutes from Porto Covo)
Typical Alentejo restaurant, quite small and welcoming. I suggest entrecosto and pork to the alentejana with Migas. I’ve been a regular customer for many years. The fantastic quality-price relationship has never failed.
Probable price: 12 to 15 euros per person (starters, dish, wine and dessert).
WHERE TO EAT WELL BUT… NOT TOO CHEAP
TASCA DO CELSO (THE CELSO TAVERN)
Maybe it’s the most famous restaurant in the area. It’s located in Vila Nova de Milfontes about 12 or 15 minutes from Porto Covo. I visited once. I liked it but I didn’t think it was great. However, the reviews are many and very good. It is a good option to eat seafood, fish or meat (a good steak from Alcatra for example). Price range: 15-25 euros per person.
WHEN TO VISIT
The answer depends on the purpose of who visits Porto Covo. If the objective is to rest from the city agitation, enjoy the gastronomy and relax, I would say you should visit between October and June. In this period the number of tourists is reasonably small.
If you want to take advantage of the beaches and the warm weather, then the right time is between the months of July and September. In this case, count on a high number of national and foreign tourists (and the inconveniences related to this high influx of people: delays in cafes/restaurants, beaches with great affluence and higher prices).
CONCISE HISTORY OF PORTO COVO
Near Porto Covo, on the island of Pessegueiro, there were still the forts of Pessegueiro, the only testimonies of the great project that Philip II of Spain and I of Portugal had conceived. There were two forts in Pessegueiro. The first was on the coast, which had a reduced garrison and contributed to the defense and surveillance of the coast. The second was already completely abandoned and ruined.
Still in the XVIII century, the main interest of Porto Covo was the use of the local calheta and the anchorage of the Peach tree, as fishing and trading ports. Even this use was limited by weather conditions, because when the sea was rough it was impossible to enter the bar of Porto Covo and, if the weather was southwest, it was not safe to use the shelter of the peach tree.
Porto Covo attracted the attention of a great capitalist in the last quarter of 700, Jacinto Fernandes Bandeira, member of the pombaline high commercial bourgeoisie. Jacinto Fernandes was originally from a family from Viana do Castelo, where he was born on 28 April 1745. He soon went to the capital, where he was helped by family members and engaged in commercial activity, for which he showed great capacity. He belonged to the group of people without titles that quickly became rich and took power during the government of the Marquis of Pombal.
Jacinto Fernandes Bandeira obtained the right to use the denomination of Lord of Porto Covo, which was given to him on 13 June 1796, “in consideration of the activity with which he promoted the establishment and settlement of Porto Covo, for the benefit of agriculture, fishing and the provision of the Court”. Jacinto Fernandes became the Mayor of Vila Nova de Milfontes on 14 November 1802. He was made baron of Porto Covo on August 15, 1805. In order to realize his project of building a settlement in Porto Covo, he had a plan made up of two drawings, currently kept in the National Archives of Torre do Tombo.
One of the known cases of the impact of Pombaline urbanism outside Lisbon is that of the village of Porto Covo, located on the Alentejo coast. Its urbanization plan, inspired by that of downtown Lisbon, has, however, had limited implementation. A certain rectilinearity in the layout of the streets and, especially its nice square. It should be noted that the similarity between Porto Covo and downtown Lisbon’s urbanization is only in the spirit of the urban solution. In fact, Lisbon was about rebuilding a city that the 1755 earthquake had destroyed. In Porto Covo, an individual project sought to bring about a settlement from virtually zero.
While he was alive, Jacinto Fernandes Bandeira, committed himself to increasing the population, which must not have happened to his successors. He died on May 30, 1806, single and left his enormous fortune to his nephews, children of his only sister, D.ª Maria Josefa Cristina Bandeira. A century later, Porto Covo had about 20 houses.
The village of Porto Covo never reached the desired role of port of Alentejo either. The coast where it was located was very sparsely populated, between the bay of Sines and the river Mira, where the two ports of Alentejo were located. It had a secondary role as a commercial port. Fishing was the most important activity of the population of Porto Covo, but it was even characterized by a certain archaism, visible in the use of reed rafts, which has remained almost to the present day. The development of the village only accelerated a few years ago, with the creation of the industrial complex of Sines.
Porto Covo became a parish only in 1984 and is included in the municipality of Sines. Besides being a characteristic fishing village, Porto Covo is also a pole of tourist interest, with its beaches of fine white sand, heated by the sun between the cliffs. Its waters are transparent and rich in tasty fish that delight visitors.
In front of Pessegueiro Island is the excellent beach of the island, with conditions for windsurfing, boat trips and sport fishing. Next to the beach you can see a 17th century fortress, partly destroyed by the 1775 earthquake. On the island of Pessegueiro, which inspired the contemporary musician Rui Veloso, who dedicated a song to it, one can appreciate the 17th century fortress, the ruins of a Roman port and a 15th century chapel. In summer, it is possible to visit the island on fishing boats or on foot.
DEMOGRAPHIC DEVELOPMENT IN PORTO COVO
VISIT PORTO COVO PORTUGAL – EVENTS
February: Carnival of the little ones – Support of the municipality to the Kindergarten and Basic School of Porto Covo, for participation in the Carnival of the little ones in Sines and parade through the streets of the village.
March: International Women’s Day – Commemoration that reminds the fight of women for their rights and equality.
April: Ouriçada – Traditional Porto Covense Festival, which revolves around the baked sea urchin in a traditional way and offered for tasting by the participants.
May: Labour Day – Picnic in the Public Garden to celebrate this day
June: Mast of St. John – Traditional Commemoration of the Holy Protector, who recovers the tradition of the masts of promise
July: Festival Musicas do Mundo (in Porto Covo)
August: Traditional Festivities in Honour of Our Lady of Soledade – It should be noted that these festivals include great concerts with renowned Portuguese musicians, Luau Party, Duck catch, bath 29 and fireworks show.
December: Christmas Lunch of the Elderly of the Parish – Meeting of seniors around a traditional lunch, accompanied by musical animation, which allows the dancing, conviviality and fraternization between the elderly of the rural area and the urban center.
I LIKE TO ENJOY THE EVENING AND GO OUT FOR A DRINK. WHERE MUST I GO?
The parish of Porto Covo is not exactly the perfect place for those who like to go out at night and go to discos. The place is very calm and quiet. It has only a few cafes and ice cream shops open at night.