Nestled in the western reaches of the Algarve, Aljezur stands as a testament to the region’s unspoilt beauty. Far from the bustling tourist hubs, this tranquil town offers a glimpse into the Algarve’s authentic charm, where nature and tradition converge in harmonious splendour. Surrounded by rolling hills, verdant valleys, and a rugged coastline, Aljezur is a haven for those seeking serenity and a deeper connection with nature.
The town’s history is as rich as its landscapes, with remnants of Moorish influence evident in its architecture and culture. The ancient castle, perched atop a hill, offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and serves as a constant reminder of Aljezur’s storied past. But it’s not just history that draws people to this corner of the Algarve. The proximity to some of the region’s most pristine beaches makes Aljezur a magnet for surf enthusiasts and beachgoers alike.
Beyond its natural and historical allure, Aljezur boasts a vibrant local community of both locals and internationals, where traditional festivals, farmers’ markets, and artisanal crafts thrive. The town’s laid-back vibe, combined with its rich cultural tapestry, ensures that every visitor and resident experiences the genuine essence of Algarvian life.
Useful Resources for Your Trip to Aljezur
Here’s our top tips and tricks for getting the best deals for your trip to Aljezur.
- Accommodation: Booking.com and Airbnb are the two most comprehensive websites for finding hotels, hostels, apartments, and other types of accommodation in Aljezur.
- Car Rental: Discover Cars and Rental Cars are the two most useful sites for booking local car rental.
- Airport transfers: There are taxis and Ubers at Faro Airport, but you can also pre-book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups.
- Tours & Things to Do: Both Get Your Guide and Viator list lots of local tours and activities in Aljezur and the surrounding Algarve region.
- Luggage Storage: Luggage Hero and Bounce are two great sites for finding places to store your luggage in Portugal.
- Public Transport: Cp.pt is the main website for trains in Portugal. For longer distance buses, see Rede Expressos. Flixbus.pt often has cheap tickets between cities in Portugal.
- Flights: Skyscanner and Google Flights are the two most useful websites for finding flights to Portugal. The nearest airport to Aljezur is Faro Airport.
What to Do
Explore the Old Town
Nestled in the shadow of its iconic castle, Aljezur’s Old Town is a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets and traditional whitewashed houses, each echoing tales of bygone eras. As you meander through its alleys, the Moorish influence is palpable, reflected in the architecture and the town’s unique layout. Ancient churches, artisanal shops, and local eateries dot the landscape, offering a blend of history and contemporary Algarvian culture. The Old Town’s serene ambiance, punctuated by the occasional chiming of church bells or friendly chatter of locals, provides a stark contrast to the bustling modern world, making it a tranquil retreat for history enthusiasts and those seeking an authentic Portuguese experience.
Perched majestically atop a hill, the Aljezur Castle stands as a sentinel, guarding the tales of the town’s ancient history. This Moorish relic, with its robust stone walls and strategic vantage point, offers a panoramic view of the Aljezur valley and the meandering Seixe River. The castle’s origins trace back to the 10th century, a testament to the Moorish influence that once dominated the region.
Over the centuries, the castle has witnessed numerous battles and changes in rulership, each leaving an indelible mark on its structure and surroundings. Today, while only fragments of its walls and towers remain, the castle’s ruins evoke a sense of nostalgia, transporting visitors to an era of knights, battles, and intrigue. The well-preserved cistern, a crucial water source during times of siege, is a highlight for many visitors. As one wanders through the remnants of Aljezur Castle, the whispers of its storied past resonate, offering a profound connection to the Algarve’s rich heritage.
Explore the Nearby Beaches
Nestled along the Algarve’s rugged western coastline, Aljezur is the gateway to some of Portugal’s most pristine beaches. Each offers its unique charm, set against the backdrop of dramatic cliffs, serene estuaries, and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.
Praia da Arrifana: Just a short 15-minute drive from Aljezur, Praia da Arrifana is a surfer’s paradise. Set within a sheltered bay and flanked by imposing black cliffs, this expansive stretch of golden sand is a haven for wave enthusiasts and sun-seekers alike. The cliffs not only provide a striking contrast to the azure waters but also offer vantage points for breathtaking sunsets.
Praia de Monte Clérigo: Adjacent to the quaint village of Monte Clérigo, this expansive beach is perfect for family outings. Its proximity to the village ensures easy access to amenities, and its gentle waves make it a safe spot for children to frolic and play.
Praia da Bordeira: Renowned for its vast expanse of sand, Praia da Bordeira is a visual treat. From the overlooking hills, one can witness the mesmerising dance of waves crashing onto the shore, making it a favoured spot for both relaxation and reflection.
Praia do Amado: Enveloped by lush natural landscapes, Praia do Amado offers a serene escape. Its consistent waves attract surfers from all over, while its untouched beauty makes it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.
Praia da Amoreira: Unique in its offering, Praia da Amoreira is situated near the confluence of the Aljezur River and the Atlantic Ocean. This dual water source allows visitors the choice of swimming in the river’s calm waters or diving into the ocean’s refreshing waves. The beach’s diverse ecosystem, combined with its natural beauty, makes it a standout destination.
Praia de Vale Figueiras: A hidden gem accessible via rustic dirt roads, Praia de Vale Figueiras is a testament to unspoilt beauty. Its golden sands, set against a backdrop of scenic cliffs, make it a favourite among surfers and nature lovers. The tranquillity of the surroundings adds to its allure, promising a peaceful beach experience.
Beyond individual beaches, the entire 40 km stretch of coastline around Aljezur is a treasure trove of natural wonders. The region, encompassing river estuaries, towering cliffs, and rich marshlands, teems with diverse bird and animal life. Recognising its ecological significance, this area has been designated as part of the Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina Natural Park, ensuring its preservation for generations to come.
Aljezur Municipal Museum
Situated in a grand 19th-century edifice that once served as the Town Hall, the Aljezur Municipal Museum stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of the region’s history and culture. This multifaceted institution comprises three primary sections: an archaeological division showcasing artefacts unearthed from various parts of the municipality, an ethnographic centre that offers a glimpse into traditional Aljezur life with a meticulously recreated old house, and a dedicated Islamic section, the Andalusian Legacy Room. This latter space pays homage to the profound influence of Islamic culture on Aljezur, presenting collections from the Islamic period discovered during archaeological digs.
The museum’s offerings extend beyond its walls. Visitors can further immerse themselves in Aljezur’s history by embarking on the Historic-Cultural and Environmental Circuit. This 5.5 km trail traverses the historical heart of Aljezur and its picturesque outskirts, enriched by audio guides that provide insightful narratives along the way. Whether exploring the museum’s diverse exhibits or wandering the historic trail, guests are offered a comprehensive journey through Aljezur’s past.
Aljezur Market: A Feast of Freshness
At the heart of Aljezur lies its vibrant market, a hub of freshness and authenticity that draws both locals and visitors alike. Renowned for its exceptional quality, the market boasts an array of fruits and vegetables that are a testament to the region’s fertile lands. A standout among these offerings is the local sweet potato, celebrated for its unique flavour and texture, making it a must-try for anyone visiting the market.
While the nearby Intermarché offers competitive prices, especially for fish, it often falls short in matching the market’s diverse selection and unparalleled quality. The Aljezur Market stands as a testament to the value of locally-sourced produce, where the emphasis is on freshness, flavour, and supporting local growers. For those seeking an authentic Aljezur experience, a visit to this market promises not just a shopping trip, but a sensory journey celebrating the region’s rich agricultural heritage.
Hike Some of the Fisherman’s Trail
The Fisherman’s Trail, a segment of the renowned Rota Vicentina, is a hiker’s dream, offering some of the most breathtaking coastal views in Portugal. From Aljezur, this trail presents two captivating routes, each promising a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural immersion.
Heading south from Aljezur, the trail meanders towards the historic town of Sagres, known for its maritime heritage and the iconic Cape St. Vincent, the southwesternmost point of continental Europe. This route is a visual feast, with dramatic cliffs, secluded beaches, and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean accompanying hikers every step of the way. Continuing further south, the trail culminates in Lagos, a vibrant town renowned for its stunning beaches, sea caves, and lively atmosphere.
Alternatively, for those inclined to venture north, the trail leads to the picturesque town of Porto Covo. This route offers a different, yet equally mesmerising, panorama. Rugged landscapes, interspersed with serene coves and the azure waters of the Atlantic, create a backdrop that’s both tranquil and awe-inspiring. Along the way, hikers encounter traditional fishing villages, where age-old customs thrive, providing a glimpse into the Algarve’s rich maritime heritage.
Aljezur is situated on the far west coast of the Algarve. The easiest way to get here is by car, but it’s also possible to get here by bus.
- Flying: The nearest airport to Aljezur is Faro Airport, which is situated roughly 107 km (66 miles) away. The drive takes roughly an hour and 15 minutes. At the airport, there are car rental options, taxis, and Ubers. You can also take the bus into Faro and then take a connecting bus to Aljezur.
- Train: There is no train station in Aljezur. The nearest train station is in Lagos, which is roughly 35 minutes by car. You can get a taxi or bus from Lagos to Aljezur. For train tickets and timetables, see cp.pt.
- Bus: The easiest way to get to Aljezur by public transport is by bus. Local buses are operated by vamus.pt. Longer distance coaches, for example from Lisbon, can be found on Rede Expressos or Flixbus.pt.
- Car: Aljezur is roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes by car from Faro and 3 hours from Lisbon. Having a car is recommended as it’ll allow you to easily explore the nearby beaches and the Costa Vicentina National Park.