The Natural Park of Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina (PNSACV) extends from São Torpes to Burgau, a coastline of more than one hundred kilometers and 131 000 hectares. It is one of the most pristine shores of Europe, with a breathtaking scenery and an important ecosystem that are the home to a diversity and an unparalleled wealth of fauna and flora.
In the area of PNSACV were identified about 200 species of birds, including 26 using the cliffs for breeding. In the flora, among the 750 known plants in this area, 46 are unique to Portugal and ten are endemic and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
• The beaches | cerca do sul recommends:
» Carvalhal – good access, beach facilities, ideal for children.
» Amália – access more difficult, without any support, quiet environment.
To the north (up to 45 min drive):
» Aivados – no beach facilities.
» Malhão – no beach facilities.
To the south (up to one hour drive):
» Odeceixe - good access, beach facilities, ideal for children, good for surf.
» Vale dos Homens - good access, rocky beach.
» Amoreira - good access, beach facilities, ideal for children, good for surf.
» Arrifana - parking only on top of the cliff, beach facilities, ideal for children, good for surf.
» Vale Figueiras - good access, ideal for children, good for surf.
» Carrapateira / Bordeira - good access, beach facilities, ideal for children, good for surf.
» Cordoama - good access, beach facilities, ideal for children, good for surf.
Aljezur (15 minutes drive)
Small and quiet, Aljezur is dominated by a Moorish castle of the tenth century and is divided into two parts, overlooking a fertile valley with fields resembling a patchwork of various agricultural crops.
When the castle was built, several streams flowed to the area and the one that ran around the hill was large enough to allow boats to go up to Alzejur. Until the day that the waters were infested with mosquitoes that spread malaria and the population moved away, creating another center and dividing the town into two parts: the Old Town and the New Church.
From the old castle, only a tank and some towers survived, while the mother church, rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755, displays a magnificent neo-classical altar. It is recommended to visit the Municipal Museum, the Museum of Sacred Art Monsignor Manuel Francisco Pardal, the Museum José Cercas or the Misericórdia Church.
Sardão Cape (15 minutes drive)
Between Almograve and Zambujeira do Mar is the Sardão Cape, the westernmost point of the Alentejo coast. Guarded by a lighthouse built in 1915, with a tower 17 meters high, this is a place where it is impossible to remain indifferent before the majestic cliffs overlooking the ocean at the same time powerful and harmonious. Here, time stops and there is only the overwhelming power and unparalleled beauty of nature, seen in the foam of the waves or in soaring birds such as white storks, the peregrine falcon, a crow-billed red or more rarely, the kestrel.
Monchique (one hour drive)
With an altitude of 458 meters, the town of Monchique is located in the Sierra with the same name and is as beautiful as famous for its curative waters, once prized by the Romans. Simple, the village has a special charm, exemplified by traditional Algarve architecture, more mountainous like, where narrow streets show at every turn new lanscapes of verdant hills, with rich vegetation, which invite to safaris and walks.
Monchique has a strong historical legacy, which reflects the region's traditional products such as wooden handicrafts and leather goods, baskets, cork, wool sweaters, ham, honey and the famous brandy.
Odeceixe (5 minutes drive)
Built over a welcoming valley, the village of Odeceixe calls for a nice walk through the main square and narrow streets, rising up to the towering windmill in full operation, where it is possible to observe the whole process scale milling grain, the miller watching the wind direction and mastering all the tasks involved in milling. Also the Cellar Museum of Odeceixe is to be visited as it recreate sa wine cellar space, as once there were several in the area.
You can also choose to relax and walk through the valley dominated by agriculture and grazing, along the winding path of the river Seixe which flows into the sea, at Odeceixe beach.
Odemira (15 minutes drive)
Odemira is the capital of the largest Portuguese county in terms of area , with a diversity of landscape which divides between the plain, the mountains and the sea, and is situated on a small hill of white-washed houses over the River Mira. Rising in Serra do Caldeirão, the river is from here, navigable into the sea in Vila Nova de Milfontes, at a distance of about twenty miles, and is ideal for boating, rowing and canoeing. Deriving from the Arabic “wad emir”, Rio Mira means "river of the emir", is the home to a considerable biodiversity and provides important fish stocks. www.turismo.cm-odemira.pt
Santa Clara (one hour drive)
Be sure to visit the dam of Santa Clara, four kilometers from the headquarters of the village with the same name, which lake covers an area of 1986 hectares and is considered one of the largest in Europe. Powered by the River Mira, from Santa Clara, the water dam traverses 84.9 miles of channels, 50.4 miles of distributors and 309.6 miles “regadeiras”. Santa Clara offers canoeing, rowing or fishing.
A few kilometers from the dam, the village of Santa Clara-a-Velha is worth a visit. White and flowerful, it developed in the shadow of Santa Clara de Assis Church, retaining its rural character.
Vila Nova de Milfontes (25 minutes drive)
Situated on the north bank of the mouth of the Mira River, Vila Nova de Milfontes was founded in 1486 with the purpose of protecting and developing the trade on the coast of Alentejo. In the late sixteenth century the Fort of Saint Clemente (Milfontes castle) was built to tackle the climate of fear and instability caused by pirate attacks. It was also here that pilots Brito Paes and Sarmento Beires departed in 1924, for the first air crossing between Portugal and Macau. With 5000 inhabitants, Milfontes was and still is a fishing village, today very devoted to tourism, with its population greatly increases during the summer.
Zambujeira do Mar (10 minutes drive)
Although it is best known today for hosting one of the most famous music summer festivals in Portugal, this small town dedicated to fishing since ancient times, is a natural viewpoint to the immense Atlantic Ocean. In its vicinity, the sea was cutting large cliffs of shale, and large and small beaches. In the dunes you can watch several regional and in the air numerous species of birds including eagles, herons, storks, pigeons rock and terns, which prove the richness of this ecosystem.