2016 was all about Lisbon. No matter where you peeked your curious traveler head, you were more than likely to stumble across another story about the Portuguese capital, with some fervent adventurer waxing lyrical about the European city’s best qualities. And while it was, of course, all true, the city has reached something of a peak in its tourism, bringing in the most inquisitive journeyers from all corners of the globe. If, however, you’re less than thrilled to share your little slice of vacation paradise with the world, you might be on the hunt for this year’s alternative. Enter the Costa Vicentina. Jutting out in Portugal’s southwest tip, the region is wild and unchecked, putting the country’s raw beauty on full display. Want to get away from it all? The Costa Vicentina is calling your name.
Less polished than its capital counterpart, the Costa Vicentina nonetheless has a whole host of treasures just waiting to be explored and the best way in which to do so is to ditch your digital gear and don your walking shoes. If you’re feeling adventurous, you might want to try tackling the Rota Vicentina, a 350 km walking path that winds from Santiago do Cacém all the way to Cabo de São Vicente at the very tip of the country. Of course, dipping in and out of the trail is an equally good way to get up close and personal with the area, offering you some of the most beautiful panoramic views anywhere in the world.
Feeling a little sportier? Turn in those walking boots for a surfboard! While Portugal is renowned for its surfing spots, few get better than those dotted along the Southwest coast. Although the professionals are more than familiar with the local waters, you don’t have to be an expert to give the sport a go. Surf schools are plenty in the area, catering to all levels of surfers. The Odeciexe Surf School is one of the very best out there, offering one, three, and five day courses to help to get you into the swing of things. Starting at just 50€ a pop, the courses are well worth it, taking you from slow to pro in the blink of an eye!
Taking to the waters need not be a high–octane activity, however, and across the region, there are tons of ways in which to let loose and reconnect with nature. Kayaking, for example, is an incredibly popular local activity, and with huge stretches of water across the entire Costa Vicentina, there is plenty of space in which to really explore. When it comes to kayaking companies, Nature Activities is one of the very best out there, offering trips that start at the mouth of the Mira River, taking in all the essential natural spots along the way. Courses are available for both children and adults, giving you more than enough excuses to take the whole family out on the waters.
Heading away from the crystal waters of the coast might seem counterintuitive, but there is a great deal to see away from the coastline. Inland retreat Monte da Vilarinha takes influence from both rural and urban interiors, creating a space that is the perfect balance of the two. A stone’s throw from the Vicentina Natural Park, the retreat is the perfect starting point from which to explore, and see Portugal in an entirely different light.
While hangouts might be fewer and farther between than in Portugal’s capital, the Costa Vicentina does offer up its fair share of after–hours gems. Take the Bar da Praia at Odeceixe, for example. Located just above the river, the bar offers stunning views of the River Ceixe where it gives way to the sea. The menu offers Basque pintxos, ice–cold beers, and jamón ibérico to keep you going. Clean your plate and admire the view.