Costa Vicentina is Europe's last wild coast. Starting on the continent’s southwesternmost tip, in western Algarve, it stretches for about 60km (37 miles) and becomes wilder the further north you go. It’s a protected area with pristine beaches and nature reserves, and with a stunning landscape of jagged cliffs, rugged headlands, sea stacks, and wind-blown dunes. There are no beachfront resorts and only a few small villages (Aljezur, Vila do Bispo, and Carrapateira are the main ones). It’s mostly inhabited by eagles and storks, and frequented by surfers, hippies, naturists, and those looking for a relaxed beach life. Coming here is experiencing what a European seaside holiday was like before mass tourism.
Most beaches are long and wide, and surrounded by tall cliffs. They’re often nearly deserted, and some are quite remote. They have big waves so, naturally, the main activity is surfing, but they’re also perfect for long walks by the sea. Many are nudist-friendly and have no facilities (no bars or restaurants, or even bathrooms). Some have no lifeguards either, so you have to be very careful in the water. Beware of rip currents, and if you’re not a surfer, stick to getting your feet wet by the shore. If you like to swim, you should go to eastern Algarve instead. The Portuguese towns of Ericeira and Nazaré, in the center of the country, are world-famous surfing meccas, but many surfers actually prefer this coast. It’s more dramatic, quieter, and even more beautiful. You’ll see camper vans with licence plates from different European countries, and often hear as much English and other languages as Portuguese.
A microclimate keeps the southern end permanently cool and often misty, even in July and August, when elsewhere in southern Portugal it’s hot and sunny. The northern end, between Arrifana and Odeceixe, is actually warmer and less windy. Odeceixe is the northwesternmost village in Algarve. To the north is the region of Alentejo, whose coast is similar to Costa Vicentina. Together, the two coasts form the tourist route known as Rota Vicentina and are officially a natural park (“Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina”). In total, the park covers over 100km (62 miles), from Porto Covo in Alentejo to Burgau in Algarve. This is the only place in the world where storks build their nests on rocks by the sea, and one of the last places in Europe where you can see otters in a marine habitat.
There are about a dozen major beaches but you’ll find over 30 if you go off the beaten path, over cliffs or down dirt roads.
Costa Vicentina Beaches
- Praia da Amoreira
- Praia da Arrifana
- Praia da Bordeira
- Praia do Amado
- Praia de Monte Clérigo
- Praia de Vale Figueiras
- Praia do Castelejo
- Praia da Cordoama
- Praia da Barriga
- Praia da Murração
- Praia do Vale dos Homens
- Praia de Odeceixe
- Praia das Adegas
Widely considered the most beautiful beach in Costa Vicentina, this is where the Aljezur River meets the Atlantic. The calm and shallow waters of the river attract families with children, while the waves of the ocean bring the surfers. It’s a big beach, flanked by cliffs and backed by dunes, with plenty of space for everyone. A boardwalk at the top of the cliff on the southern side offers a panoramic view of the beach and the green valleys behind it.
See the Praia da Amoreira Guide.
Costa Vicentina’s main surfing beach is also one of Portugal’s top destinations for the sport. While the official bathing season is from July to September, it’s visited throughout the year, and especially in autumn, for the best surfing waves. It’s a narrow but relatively long beach, surrounded by steep, dark cliffs. The views from the top are absolutely stunning.
See the Praia da Arrifana Guide.
The largest beach in Costa Vicentina is also known as Praia da Carrapateira. Once only frequented by fishermen and naturists, it’s now a favorite of Portuguese families and surfers. People in their birthday suits are now rare, but there are often more wetsuits than bathing suits. It’s very wide, with extensive dunes and a beautiful natural scenery that invites long walks by the sea. You can admire it all from the viewpoint on the southern end.
See the Praia da Bordeira Guide.
Praia do Amado is where pro surfers go in Algarve, often for national and international competitions. It’s just as popular as Praia da Arrifana for the sport, and is just as good for beginners. Those without surfboards are Portuguese families, and you won’t see many foreign tourists. On summer weekends, this is usually the most crowded beach on Costa Vicentina. Behind it are green valleys and cliffs, and if you follow a trail to the north, you reach Praia da Bordeira.
See the Praia do Amado Guide.
While the other beaches in the region have a remote and wild atmosphere, this one is livelier and usually more crowded in the summer. It preserves dunes and a natural landscape, but there’s also a hamlet above it, on the hill on the southern side. It’s popular with local families and surfers, and because the access doesn’t involve going down cliffs, it’s accessible to those with mobility issues.
See the Praia de Monte Clérigo Guide.
It’s quite a large beach and it almost triples in size at low tide, when you have access to a longer stretch of sand to the north. This northern section has rocks, which offer privacy to naturists. The main beach, however, has become a favorite of Portuguese families and is especially frequented for the surfing conditions. The beautiful landscape of tall cliffs and small rock formations invite long walks by the sea.
See the Praia de Vale Figueiras Guide.
Once somewhat of a secret, this is now a very popular surfing beach. It’s also known for its natural beauty, which includes a rock formation that resembles a castle and the tallest cliffs on the Algarve coast. There’s a grand view from the top. A surf school rents equipment, and there’s a restaurant for meals with sea views.
See the Praia do Castelejo Guide.
Located to the north of Castelejo, this beach also attracts its number of surfers. In the summer it has a school offering lessons and rentals. If you’re not a surfer, the reason to come here is for the view of the coast from the viewpoint on the clifftop, and for long walks by the sea, enjoying the wild landscape. The tall cliffs also make this a good paragliding site, and the northern end is for those who like to sunbathe au naturel.
See the Praia da Cordoama Guide.
At low tide, you can walk from Praia do Castelejo or Praia da Cordoama to this beach, to the north. Also depending on the tides, you can walk around a cliff on the northern end and see two tall rock formations on the sand. It’s often deserted, except when surf schools bring their clients for a change of scenery. Naturism is also common. When not accessible from the other beaches, you need to drive down an unpaved road.
See the Praia da Barriga Guide.
The most remote of Costa Vicentina’s remote beaches can only be reached by driving down a dirt road for several kilometers. For this reason, very few people come here. You’ll mostly see naturists, campers, and a few families who take advantage of the free space for the kids and dogs to run around. The sea is very much like at the beaches in the region, meaning with waves for surfing, but here the currents are strong, so you’re advised to just get your feet wet on the shore. It’s a beach to sunbathe in peace and quiet, surrounded by a magnificently wild landscape.
See the Praia da Murração Guide.
It’s in a very remote location with nothing but farmland and pine trees in the surroundings, so it’s one of the least visited beaches on this coast. It’s also quite narrow and practically disappears when the tides rise in autumn and winter, but on a low-tide summer day it can be wonderful. It’s backed by schist cliffs and there are rocks along the shore. These rocks often form tidal pools, trapping sea creatures like starfish and crabs, while the big rock formations on the northern end provide seclusion for naturists.
See the Praia do Vale dos Homens Guide.
The people have spoken -- this is officially one of Portugal’s best beaches. A national survey conducted in 2012, to select the country’s seven wonders in different categories, gave Praia de Odeceixe the title of most wonderful beach in the “cliff beaches” category. This has made it the most famous in Costa Vicentina and brought the crowds. It’s now a favorite of families and surfers. The kids swim safely on the northern and eastern sides, in the waters of the Seixe River, while the surfers ride the waves of the Atlantic to the west. There are beautiful views from the top of the cliffs.
See the Praia de Odeceixe Guide.
Although naturism is tolerated and even common at many of the beaches on this coast, this is the only one that’s officially a nude beach. It neighbors the popular Praia de Odeceixe, and is reached via a wooden staircase that goes down a steep cliff. Although the often-rough sea isn’t great for swimming, it’s the perfect place to avoid tan lines, letting go of inhibitions and sunbathing nude -- everyone else will be doing the same.
See the Praia das Adegas Guide.
How to Get to Costa Vicentina
Costa Vicentina is so remote, there’s practically no public transportation. There’s just a very infrequent bus (Vamus bus 79) between Lagos and Odeceixe (stopping in Aljezur on the way), but none to the beaches. From the major Algarve towns (Faro, Albufeira, Portimão, and Lagos), drive east towards Sagres, then north, through road N268, which cuts through the villages of Vila do Bispo and Carrapateira. Continuing north, the road becomes the N120, which goes to the towns of Aljezur and Odeceixe. You’ll find signs to most of the beaches in these towns. From Lisbon, you can take an express bus to Odeceixe, Aljezur and Sagres. To explore the beaches from these towns, however, you’ll need a car.
Hotels in Costa Vicentina
Praia do Canal Nature Resort
The only resort and 5-star accommodation in Costa Vicentina opened in 2022 and is about 15 minutes from the center of Aljezur. It’s named after a pebbly beach nearby (about 4km or 2.5 miles away), while the closest sandy beaches are Praia de Vale Figueiras and Praia da Arrifana. It has 56 rooms and suites, three restaurants and bars, a spa, and views of the coast. Each room and suite offers spacious balconies or terraces and access to a garden. One of the restaurants serves regional cuisine using fresh, local ingredients. The outdoor pool is heated and includes bar service in the summer. There’s another pool inside, at the spa. The common areas of the resort are decorated with pieces of art, while the rooms feature a minimalist design, using Portuguese furnishings and local materials.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Praia do Canal Nature Resort
Monte da Vilarinha
Surrounded by the peaceful landscape of the Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina Natural Park, this property is 15 minutes from the beaches of Amado and Bordeira. It’s a place for the ultimate relaxation, with bright double rooms, apartments and entire chalets built with the traditional materials of the region. The interiors are contemporary, and the chalets have one, two or three bedrooms. It’s great for couples as well as for families, with a swimming pool and a children’s playground.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Monte da Vilarinha
Aldeia da Pedralva
About halfway between the villages of Carrapateira and Vila do Bispo is a formerly abandoned hamlet that has been brought back to life. After a careful renovation, the ruined cottages are fully equipped to welcome tourists looking to explore the wild beaches of Costa Vicentina or to relax in peace and quiet in the countryside. There’s a total of 24 whitewashed cottages, with one, two, three or four bedrooms, and many of them with patios. The interiors mix the contemporary and the traditional, while the exteriors preserve the original architecture. Praia do Amado and Praia da Murração are the nearest beaches (about 15 and 20 minutes away, respectively). All guests have access to a seasonal swimming pool, and there’s also a restaurant. Don’t be surprised if you cross paths with a donkey, sheep or chickens roaming freely in the hamlet’s cobbled streets.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Aldeia da Pedralva
For the beaches on the southern end of Costa Vicentina (like Castelejo, Cordoama, Barriga, and Murração), consider this design hotel by the Sagres promontory, once believed to be the end of the world. It has 144 rooms and suites, many of them with sea views. There’s an outdoor swimming pool with more views and a heated indoor pool, a spa, a gym, and a Mediterranean restaurant. It organizes a variety of activities, including yoga, surfing and boat tours.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Memmo Baleeira
Casas do Moinho
Traditional houses in the center of the charming town of Odeceixe have been completely renovated, maintaining the original architecture. The interior design, however, is contemporary and they offer all of the modern comforts. There’s a total of nine houses, on a street leading to the town’s landmark windmill. The beaches of Adegas and Odeceixe are 10 minutes away by car, or you may simply stay home and swim in the pool instead.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Casas do Moinho
Herdade Monte do Sol
This highly-rated “herdade” (country estate) is less than 10 minutes by car from Arrifana Beach. Here you can stay in a villa with a private terrace, relax in an outdoor pool, enjoy views of the countryside with horses and goats, and rent surfboards to join the many surfers at the beach.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Herdade Monte do Sol
The main hotel in the village of Aljezur places you a short drive from a number of beaches. The closest ones are Praia de Monte Clérigo and Praia da Amoreira, which are 10 to 15 minutes away. It has double and twin rooms, studios and 1-bedroom apartments, a restaurant and an outdoor pool, and appeals to all kinds of travelers (from couples to families).
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vicentina Hotel
Hotel Mira Sagres
The location in the heart of Vila do Bispo is perfect to explore the beaches of Castelejo, Cordoama, Barriga, and Murração. It offers double and twin rooms, some of them with a terrace. Although it doesn’t have a restaurant, it serves breakfast and features an indoor pool and a spa.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Hotel Mira Sagres
Pure Flor de Esteva
The beaches of Castelejo, Cordoama, Barriga and Murração are also just 10 to 20 minutes from this highly-rated bed and breakfast in Vila do Bispo. The rooms are bright and decorated in a simple but tasteful style. It serves a good breakfast and guests may prepare meals in the shared kitchen.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Pure Flor de Esteva
Pure Fonte Velha B&B
Also highly rated and located in Vila do Bispo, this good-value bed and breakfast has double and king rooms, a studio, a suite, and a loft in an elegant and contemporary style. The fully-equipped kitchen is available to all guests, who can also relax in the shared lounge.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Pure Fonte Velha B&B
Monte Velho Retreat Center
To get away from it all but still be close to the beach (it’s 10 minutes by car from Praia da Bordeira), choose this hotel in the countryside. It has double and family rooms, and serves a vegetarian breakfast.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Monte Velho Retreat Center
Quinta das Alfambras
Bordeira and Arrifana are the closest beaches to this property in the countryside. It consists of townhouses, with one or two bedrooms, and has an outdoor swimming pool.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Quinta das Alfambras
It’s in the village of Rogil, roughly halfway between Aljezur and Odeceixe, and just 5 minutes by car from Praia de Vale dos Homens. Its beach-themed rooms have balconies or terraces, and there’s a garden to relax in the sun or after a day at the beach.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Hotel Alcatruz