Located in Odemira in the Alentejo, Vila Nova de Milfontes lies at the mouth of the Mira Riva and is surrounded by the Southwest Alentejo and the Vicentine Coast Natural Park. The town has some of the best beaches in Portugal, as well as a picturesque village and harbor with fishing boats.
Also known as Vila Nova, this town is particularly popular in the summer months of July and August with Portuguese tourists. However, visiting in the Spring or late September is also a better, more affordable alternative without as many people.
Let’s take a look at our full Travel Guide to Vila Nova de Milfontes, including the best things to do, top restaurants, and more.
4 Best Things To Do in Vila Nova de Milfontes
1. Enjoy a beach day
Vila Nova de Milfontes is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the Alentejo, perhaps even all of Portugal. One of our favorite beaches in Vila Nova is Praia da Franquia, one of the most sheltered beaches in the area, making it popular for canoeing, paddle, and windsurfing.
This small beach has a long tradition of being a popular one in the area, being featured in literature since the 19th century.
One of the best beaches for families with children, as well as water sports lovers, Praia da Franquia is rarely full of tourists and offers a relaxing beach day without too much commotion. Its located close to the town, as well as features several facilities such as a lifeguard, bathrooms, and cafes.
Beware that in this area of Portugal, the water is quite cold, and the waves can get large.
Other great beaches near Vila Nova de Milfontes are:
- Praia das Furnas
- Praia do Malhao
- Praia do Almograve
2. Discover the cuisine of Alentejo
The cuisine in Alentejo is unique to the region, particularly in Vila Nova de Milfontes. You will find a whole range of flavors from local products, including cheeses and olive oil, as well as dishes made of heavy meats. Here are some of our favorite local dishes to try in Vila Nova de Milfontes:
- Baixo Alentejo Lamb: Lamb from Baixo Alentejo has a unique flavor due to its diet of milk and cereal, leading to a slice of tender meat.
- Linguica: A smoked sausage from Alentejo made from different spices and local meats.
- Pig: Known as Carne de Porco Alentejana, this local pig dish is very flavorful. The color of the meat ranges from pale to dark pink, depending on the age of the animal.
- Alentejo ham: This is a regional specialty made from the legs and shoulders of Alentejo pigs.
- Serpa cheese: Serpa is a semi-soft sheep’s milk cheese from the Alentejo.
3. St. Clement Fort
Translating to O Forte de Sao Clemente and also known as the Castelo de Vila Nova de Milfontes, this historical monument was built in 1602. A coastal fortification, this fort is located on a rocky point in the Foz of Rio Mira.
The fort was meant to defend the population from pirate attacks. In the 19th century, it was no longer used for this military purpose, and then later sold to private owners in 1903.
In front of the fort, you will find the Praca da Barbaca, a quaint square featuring a sculpture that pays homage to Brito Paes and Sarmento Beires, the first pilots to fly from Portugal to Macau. The square features beautiful Portuguese cobblestone floors.
4. Milfontes Lighthouse
The Milfontes lighthouse has one of the best views in Vila Nova and is the perfect place to take some photos. The lighthouse is located at the end of the Marginal Avenue, offering a panoramic view that covers Mira Mouth, Furnas beach, and the Atlantic ocean.
We recommend walking from the town to the lighthouse, as this is a local tradition. After exploring the historical center where the fort is located, walk along Marginal Avenue until you find the lighthouse.
Along with the lighthouse, you will find a statue called the Archangel, an environmental project that won the Utopia award in 2009.
Getting to Vila Nova de Milfontes
The best way to get to Vila Nova de Milfontes from Lisbon is by car. The route is beautiful, and you can stop along the southern coast on the way to places such as Sines. The drive is around 2 hours long.
Alternatively, you can take the bus there. Rede Expressos operates a bus route from Lisbon to Vila Nova de Milfontes, which takes around 3 hours and a half. A return ticket is usually less than 30 euros.
Apart from that, public transportation in Alentejo is pretty scarce, so if you plan to take the bus to Vila Nova, you will have to walk around the town. If you have a car, you’ll more easily be able to drive to further away beaches.
Top Restaurants in Vila Nova de Milfontes
- Tasca do Celso
- Mil Take Away
- Porto das Barcas
- 18 e Piques