How I wanted to return to the Costa Vicentina, the stunning coastline along the Atlantic Ocean beneath Lisbon, located in the Alentejo, and reaching all the way to the southernmost part of the Algarve. I travel all around the world and visit the most beautiful locations, but this little piece of Portugal has a special place in my heart. The wildness, space and tranquility (somewhat less so in August) and the powerful sea….they get to me! This is Portugal off the beaten track.
And in my search for potential Local Hideaways, I discover a new and contemporary guesthouse in Porto Covo, run by a young couple, Inês and Pedro. This can´t be a coincidence, it is where I have to be!
Pedro was born and raised in Porto Covo, where his father, who was the local baker, turned the baking of bread into an artform. Because in the Alentejo, bread is quite the thing….it has to have the perfect fluffiness and crunchy crust. Over time, Pedro’s brother has taken over the bakery and Pedro has moved to Lisbon with his loved one Ines. But Porto Covo kept tugging and slowly the idea took shape to turn the family home into a contemporary B&B where they would be able to share their love of Costa Vicentina with travellers from all around the world.
It only has six rooms, all bright and airy, with comfortable beds, charming natural decorations, and a spacious bathroom with rain shower and lovely organic toiletries. It attends the needs of the modern traveller perfectly… a wonderful place to unwind and enjoy the spectacular surroundings. All rooms but one feature a balcony with a sweeping view of Porto Covo’s fishing harbour and the starting point of the Rota Vicentina, the famous hiking trail that runs along the Costa Vicentina. The communal kitchen is perfect for preparing a light lunch or chilling a drink in the fridge. Complimentary coffee, tea and water are available throughout the day. In the morning, a lovely breakfast is served in the common room. Again, the personal touch makes all the difference here. For instance, it includes Pedro’s brother’s homemade bread, different kinds of marmalade prepared from local fruits by Inês’s mother and fresh cheese from neighbouring farms. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze when all the guests sit down at the breakfast table, but it makes for a cosy atmosphere. And if you prefer a bit more privacy, just take a plate up to your balcony!
Porto Covo is a lovely little town, rather quiet in the off season, but with several good restaurants, serving ultra fresh fish at very reasonable prices. In the weekend, the day tourists and Lisboetas (citizens from Lisbon) who own an apartment or house here, arrive for a short stay. It livens up the town and in sunny weather the terraces fill up quickly. This is the place to be for the Portuguese, foreign tourists are a minority here! There are several stunning beaches in the area, so many to choose from and all quiet and empty (except in August, when the Portuguese arrive in droves to enjoy their summer holidays)… and it’s a surfer’s paradise as well. An absolute must-do, if you can spare a few hours or a couple of days, is the Rota Vicentina, 310 km of walking trails: for instance the Fisherman’s Trail (my favourite!) that runs along the coast, or the Historic Way, which goes partly inland. It is also possible to cycle part of the way. Spectacular views, undisturbed nature and hidden coves…..so beautiful!
I haven’t had nearly enough of this region yet and O Lugar is a lovely place that really feels like home, where Portugal’s traditional side and its contemporary side have merged beautifully into a true Local Hideaway! Pedro and Inês dream of a definite return to Porto Covo, and I can totally understand them…this is their home!