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Discovering Costa Vicentina Beaches: Exploration Guide

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The Alentejo Coast is one of Portugal’s most idyllic regions. Located on the country's southern coast, it is known for its white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. With so many places to explore, renting a car is the best way to uncover Costa Vicentina, a hidden gem of Portugal. This guide will help you explore this region and make the most of your trip.

Where the Costa Vicentina is and why you should visit its beaches

The Costa Vicentina is a Portuguese region with singular natural beauty, with untouched beaches, dunes, and cliffs. It is the ideal spot for those looking for peace and quiet and who enjoy connecting with nature. A destination that can be visited any time in the year, with its moderate climate and a long coastline extending from the Tróia Peninsula to Azenha do Mar, well near the border with Algarve, it is perfect for:

  • families;
  • water sports enthusiasts;
  • nature lovers;
  • romantic getaways;
  • group holidays.

How to reach the Costa Vicentina and why renting a car is the way to go to explore the region

With easy access from Lisbon or Faro, ideal for anyone arriving to Portugal by train, where you may rent a car and reach the Costa Vicentina in 90 minutes. You can also make your way to the region by bus, but the flexibility gained by renting a car is the best option to explore Costa Vicentina. With so many corners to explore, having your own car gives you the freedom to drive along the roads at your own pace and find undiscovered places off the beaten track. You may choose the type of car that is best suited to your needs and get to know the locations completely free from the burden of public transport schedules.


The best cars to explore the Costa Vicentina

You don’t want to miss anything on your trip to the Alentejo Coast, however, not every car will be perfect for your stay. Decide the right car to ensure an unforgettable experience on the roads along the shore. Here are some of the best types of cars to explore the Alentejo south-west coast:


1 - Convertible

If you’re looking for a unique driving experience, renting a convertible to drive along the Costa Vicentina is the perfect choice. With the roof open, enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views while driving along the coast. If you’re visiting during the hot summer days, take the chance to feel the sun's heat on your skin and the sea breeze with the scent of the ocean as you go. It will undoubtedly claim its spot as one of your trip’s fondest memories.


2- Pick-up (4W4)

You’re a lover of adventure and are looking for the peace and quiet of desert beaches, surrounded by dunes and cliffs? Renting a pick-up is the perfect choice to face every terrain on the Costa Vicentina! Known for their durability and ability to drive over rough terrain, explore some of the furthest, hardest-to-reach beaches in the Alentejo south-west coast. This is the perfect car for lovers of water sports, as pick-ups are ideal for carrying surfboards, kite surf boards, bodyboards, fishing or diving equipment, and kayaks.


3- Compacts

Looking for an economy car to explore the Costa Vicentina? A compact car is the right choice. Generally cheaper to rent, they consume less fuel, which makes them ideal for trips on a budget. For those travelling solo or as a couple, these cars are easy to park in tight spots, which can be an advantage when you’re travelling over the weekend through the busiest beaches in the region.


4- Minibus

If you’re exploring the Alentejo south-west coast as a group, a minibus is the perfect choice of car to rent. With enough space to comfortably carry up to seven people, it’s ideal to accommodate large families or groups of friends, and carry all the luggage, beach, and camping equipment.


5 - MVP

The ideal option is to rent an MPV to tour Costa Vicentina, as it will have enough room to comfortably accommodate every member of the family as well as the luggage, stroller, and other essential beach equipment.

Extras you need to include in your care hire

Regardless of the type of car you opt for, remember to include the following extras when renting your ideal car while travelling in Costa Vicentina beaches, which will be extremely important to ensure a smooth drive :

  • GPS - we recommend that you rent a car with GPS, to make sure you reach every beach and restaurant, even those furthest away;
  • Tolls - while there are no tolls in Costa Vicentina, most accesses are made through toll roads. To ensure a seamless ride with no surprises, rent a car at a car hire service that offers this extra;
  • Child seats - children up to 12 must use a child car seat when travelling, so make sure you include this extra in your car hire if you’re travelling with children under 12.

Now that you know what your perfect car is, you can start planning your trip and choosing the places you absolutely need to visit.

Must-sees in the Costa Vicentina

If you’re travelling directly from Lisbon, cross one of the Tagus river bridges southbound, enjoy the expanses of land full of nesting storks, and take the freeway in Grândola.

If you’re travelling as a family, we suggest you access Costa Vicentina through Setúbal and cross the Sado River by ferryboat to Tróia. This is the ideal choice to enter holiday mode at the leisurely pace of Alentejo. If you’re lucky, you’ll see bottlenose dolphins, one of the most notorious inhabitants of the Sado Bay, who often pay visits to ferry passengers.

Top 5 Costa Vicentina Beaches

The Costa Vicentina is known for its white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. Here are some of the beaches that are well worth a spot in your route:

1 - Melides Beach


Between the Melides Lagoon and the sea, this is one of the most gorgeous beaches in the area. Surround by dunes, this is a peaceful beach, perfect for anyone looking to hide from the crowds. With a gobsmacking view, this beach offers a quiet and natural environment, with few buildings in its vicinity. It’s the perfect place for those looking to relax, go on walks, and enjoy the view.

2 - Zambujeira do Mar Beach


This beach is in a small fishing village, surrounded by majestic cliffs. This is among the most popular beaches in the region and offers a wide range of activities, such as surfing, paddling, kayaking, and boat trips.

3 - Malhão Beach


This beach is well-known among lovers of waves. With crystal clear waters and perfect waves for surfing, the Malhão beach is one of the most popular among surfers. Located around 9 km away from Vila Nova de Milfontes, this beach is surrounded by dunes and Mediterranean vegetation, which makes it even prettier and wilder.

4 - Comporta Beach


With its white sands and still, crystal clear waters, this is among the most well-known in the area. Perfect for long lunches after diving, this beach is surrounded by dunes and pine forests, and on cloudless days, you can spot Arrábida in the distance. If you enjoy walking along the shore, you’ll have the chance to explore many kilometers of sand.

5 - Ilha do Pessegueiro Beach


Located around 3 km away from Porto Covo, it is one of the most typical of the region. With an islet at in the background, the clear waters and rocks sculpted by the sea are a veritable paradise for lovers of fishing and snorkeling.

Other beaches to consider

In addition to the five beaches above, there are many other beaches in the Costa Vicentina worth visiting, such as:

  • Franquia Beach;
  • Furnas Beach;
  • Samoqueira Beach;
  • Pego Beach;
  • Amália Beach;
  • São Torpes Beach;
  • Carvalhal Beach;
  • Grande Beach;
  • Santo André Lagoon;

What to bring with you to the beach

There are beaches aplenty in this area, and you can easily visit several in one day. However, if you’re planning to enjoy your trip along the beaches of the Costa Vicentina to the fullest, there are some essentials you need to bring with you:

  • Sunscreen;
  • Beach umbrella;
  • Sunglasses;
  • Beach towel;
  • Water;
  • Light snacks;

Make the most of your trip through the Costa Vicentina

There is no better way to explore the Costa Vicentina than to rent a car and follow your own itinerary. With a temperate climate and an expansive coastline extending from the Tróia Península to Azenha do Mar, this is the perfect destination for a family trip, a romantic getaway, group travel, or water sports. Discover the natural beauty of this hidden gem of Portugal.

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