To the Coast
Towards the coast, found an hour south of Lisbon, the Alentejo’s default landscape becomes cork and pine forest, interspersed with streams and tracks. Fringing this fertile scene are loads of golden-sand beaches – headlined by the 13-mile Tróia peninsula and its hub, lovely Comporta.
Though it now caters to the likes of Madonna and Christian Louboutin, this ex-farming village still offers a welcoming, accessible vibe rather than any pretentiousness or air of exclusivity. It has been compared to Ibiza, back when Ibiza was still Ibiza, and not “Beefa”. The reason for such comparisons is simple: there remains, happily, something wonderfully low-key and back-to-nature about Comporta, from its wild, rangy dunes to simple, single-storey houses backed by green rice fields. Much of the area is a protected reserve where new-builds are banned. Life comes easily here. Pines perfume the air, fizzy surf crashes in from the Atlantic, quiet lakes hide inland, driftwood dots most beaches and chic boutiques in the village sell elegant shawls and hip, hand-loomed kaftans.
You’ll also find beach shacks along wooden boardwalks, their garlicky clams accompanied by beanbags, blueberry caipiroskas and beat‑up stereos playing lazy bossanova. Rather more luxurious, our favourite base is the aptly-named Sublime Comporta: a 17-hectare estate featuring a main hotel and modernist, glassy villas with private pools. The food is as good as at Sao Lourenco, and once more there’s a spa, another pool and bikes to borrow. Other ways to spend your days include dolphin-spotting boat trips – the best time is March- November – yoga and surf schools or horseback trots along the sand.