From Barcelona we flew to Lisbon where we rented a car and started a two and a bit weeks in Portugal. Our first stop was the beautiful Alentejo coast line just south of Lisbon. A friend recommended Comporta as a must-see spot, so we planned a 5 day visit here. Even though it is very close to Lisbon as the crow flies, its about an hour and half drive south around the Sado Estuary and back up the coast line towards the base of the Tróia peninsula.
It’s a peaceful place with cork tree and pine forests, wild rice paddies, epic sand dunes and untouched beaches that run for miles. The Espírito Santo family (a renowned Portuguese banking family) has owned most of this area for years and subsequently have kept development to a minimum. The beachside has a few beach clubs scattered about, but its mostly deserted. You won’t find the massive resorts like the Algarve up here. In fact the few bigger hotels are actually still comparatively small and are located away from the beaches.
We were still recovering from bronchitis so Comporta was a very nice chilled out place to land for a few days. Lacking hordes of tourists, we loved visiting the town of Comporta itself. More of a village really. We were charmed by the vast local stork community that seem to have built a nest on every high point in town. Power lines, telephone poles, chimneys, rooftop nooks – whereever they can fit their massive nests. In addition to the storks, I loved the cool little shops scattered around town. Every single shop seemed to carry fantastic stuff that’s right up my alley. Cool caftans, yes please. Vibrant ceramics, of course. Fun sunglasses, well duh! I actually restrained myself as my caftan needs were waning as we were weaving our way to cooler weather soon enough and how many pairs of sunglasses does a girl need. And ceramics? Lets just say I’m becoming an expert. Comporta may be in the middle of nowhere but there’s lots of cool shit to buy.
The Little Kid took a few horseback riding lessons during Covid times, so they were particularly excited for the beach ride we planned through Cavalos an Areia stables. Monsieur, the Little and I ventured out on the ride on a beautiful sunny day. We armed ourselves with sunscreen (smart) but forgot two very important things (dumb). Any experienced rider will tell you that riding in shorts isn’t very comfortable, that was our first mistake. The second was that we underestimated how many mosquitoes can breed in rice paddies! Our guide had to take us through the paddies and traverse the sand dunes before we got to the beach. The sand dunes were clearly where all the mosquitoes in Comporta hang out during the day. Monsieur and the Little are literally mosquito magnets on a good day, but this was madness. We did think to wear plenty of mosquito repellent but it was to no avail, we were swarmed. It was brutal. Luckily as we came out to the beach, the mosquitoes stayed in the dunes and we were given a reprieve. We enjoyed a lovely ride along the waves with hardly any other people in sight. Luckily on the way back, the wind was in our favour through the dunes so were didn’t have to endure another swarming. Phew.
We enjoyed some delicious Portuguese food, but struggled a bit as the majority of the options were seafood centric and we aren’t big seafood fans. However, we did try the yummiest steak sandwich called a Prego. Delish. We did also venture down the seafood road a little with sole, which was always awesome. Our favourite meal was at Praia do Pego at Sal Beach Club. We loved the beach shack vibe and watching the amazing west coast sunset.
Comporta reminds me of Big Sur, Makawao on Maui or maybe Montauk (the last one I’ve not experienced first hand). But the design aesthetic is minimal but beautiful, think baskets and white wash. I would definitely come back to this sleepy little place for a break from the everyday tourism routes in Europe.