Travel Portugal: Porto Covo, Portugal

Beat the Beach Crunch: Porto Covo, Portugal

Europe has a long list of beach destinations that attract summer holiday-goers from both Europe and around the world. After all, Southern Europe is a place where fun in the sun can be had with serious Old World class or Old World decadence. Whether it be the scenic beauty of Croatia or the throbbing clubs of Ibizia, there are a lot of reasons to hit the beach in Europe.




Berlengas Islands, Portugal - Fort of São João Baptista

Berlengas Islands, Portugal – Fort of São João Baptista (source: Flickr.com)

The problem is that most of Europe’s beaches are crowded. Portugal’s Algarve, for example, is one of the Continent’s most popular and most over-stuffed beach destinations. However, just a little further north along the country’s Costa Azul (Blue Coast) is an alternative in the form of Porto Covo.

Getting There:


Located about 65 miles south of Lisbon, there are three ways to get to Porto Covo. The most expensive, but flexible, choice is to rent a car and simply drive there. The town is easily accessed from the A2 Highway, the main road leading south to the Algarve. The cheapest way is to take the train from Lisbon to Grandola, and from there to catch a bus.

Beaches:

Porto Covo is a former best-kept secret in Portugal. The word is out now, though, and the town is steadily becoming developed for tourism. The peak period of mid-to-late summer draws RVs from France and Germany, summer home renters from the UK, and a good crowd to the beaches. However, it is still possible to find the place relatively deserted at the beginning (May to early June) and end (mid-to-late September) of the season, and even during the peak of the season the crowd on the beach is nothing like what one would find in such places as Tenerife, the Algarve, or Cyprus. Despite being busier and noisier, July in Porto Covo is still quite tolerable compared to the other European alternatives.
The area around Porto Covo is surrounded by picturesque cove beaches. Each one of these is secluded by semi-circular rock cliffs, with only the largest taking on the image of a great strip of white sand. Arriving outside of the July-August peak period opens up the possibility of being able to claim one of these coves and enjoy it without intrusion all day. Some of the beaches also enjoy conditions that are perfect for learning how to surf, and there are surfing schools offering lessons there.
The one drawback to Porto Covo are the cold Atlantic waters of the Blue Coast. Water temperatures rarely exceed 68 F, and are usually closer to 64 F. The warm Portuguese sun will help balance that, but no one should expect warm swimming waters from the area.
In addition to surfing, the cliffs and small, rocky islands in the area make it a good sea kayaking area. However, while there is scuba diving possible, it is best to skip it. The local waters are disappointingly short on sea life.

Praia dos Três Irmãos. Portimao. Algarve, Portugal

Praia dos Três Irmãos. Portimao. Algarve, Portugal (source: Flickr.com)

Other Attractions:


No visit to Porto Covo would be complete without feating on Portuguese seafood. Whether it be grilled fish or a pot of arroz de marisco, there are plenty of restaurants in town and along the beach road offering some of the best examples of the seafood menu of this nation of foodies.
Just in sight of the town and due south is an island that has the ruins of an old Roman garum factory. Garum was a Roman sauce that was made from fermenting fish, so it was probably the smell that resulted in the sauce works being located offshore. The island can be reached by tourist boat, or swum to by intrepid snorkelers from a beach directly opposite.
Also in the vicinity is the town of Sines, the birthplace of famed explorer Vasco de Gama.
Plan your travel to Portugal. Looking for romance, discovering culture, living adventure, relaxing? Indulge yourself in Portugal, your holidays’ destination.

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