Alma da comporta
live & feel Comporta
Comporta in Portugal, a paradise between ocean and rice paddies
Comporta is surrounded by rice paddies, the ocean, sand dunes and pine forests. It’s a unique place, where you can connect with nature and live in the moment. To some people, the fishing cabins on stilts conjure up images of Asia, whilst for others, the magnificent white-sand beaches bordering the ocean evoke the Hamptons, but Comporta has a rhythm and an ambience that are all its own.
This wild place has long been kept secret by regular visitors, who appreciate the ‘tranquilidade’ of this distinctive region. And although spending holidays here is becoming more and more ‘trendy’, make no mistake – Comporta isn’t the new Ibiza. This is the epitome of slowness and simplicity; a little corner of paradise, suspended between the ocean and the rice paddies.
Tradition and simplicity reign supreme in the villages of the region. The buildings fit together harmoniously and the villagers can still be found in the same cafés they have always frequented. There are no legions of tourists, and no nightclubs. What you can find is the authenticity and easy living of Portugal.
A paradise at 1:15 from Lisbon.
Comporta is located 1 hour and 15 minutes from Lisbon, so it’s perfectly possible to spend a few days in the region during a holiday in Portugal. Far from Lisbon’s hectic lifestyle, in Comporta you’ll find a cosmopolitan mixture of surf spots, authentic beach cabins, forests of pine and cork oak, generous meals and cool boutiques. It’s the perfect place to re-energise and enjoy the delights of Portugal.
Hiring a car is essential for reaching this destination. From Lisbon airport, head towards Setubal to catch the Sado estuary ferry towards Troia.
Everything starts here, during the crossing. When you smell the pines and feel the Atlantic breeze on deck, you’re already on holiday. If you’re lucky, you may even see dolphins on the way. Once you’ve disembarked, it’s only fifteen minutes further to Comporta and its enormous beach, more than 10 kilometres long, bordered by dunes.
Herdade da Comporta
A highly protected nature reserve
When we talk about Comporta, we actually mean the surrounding region, called Herdade da Comporta. This territory is situated between the Sado estuary and the ocean. It covers 12,500 hectares and seven hamlets: Pego, Carvalhal, Brejos, Torre, Possanco, Carrasqueira and Comporta. A tranquil harmony reigns across this almost-deserted terrain, broken only by the clacking beaks of the storks that are growing more and more numerous in Portugal.
This region is particularly well maintained, partly because it is largely classified as a ‘highly protected nature reserve’, but also because it belongs to the large banking group Espírito Santo. Thanks to that, this part of Alentejo remains surprisingly unspoilt and pristine. Herdade da Comporta has understood the issue well, and imposes strict restrictions on what can and cannot be built on its territory. The idea is to avoid the uncontrolled construction that has ruined part of the Algarve.
A particular region of Portugal
Comporta’s charm lies in its large rice fields, crisscrossed by multiple irrigation canals. These are the biggest rice paddies in Portugal. They extend to the dunes bordering the long beaches along the coast. This unusual crop sketches and colors the region’s countryside, which changes with the passing of the seasons. In the months of April and May, the rice fields are ‘drowned’. They are transformed into vast, watery mirrors, reflecting the nature that surrounds them. You’ll never tire of admiring the beauty of these places.
You can’t have a holiday in this region without stopping by the Rice Museum. Situated at the entrance to the village of Comporta, this cultural space is dedicated to local rice-growing and, more broadly, to the traditions linked to it. The museum will take you back in time to better understand the impacts of this unusual crop on the history and development of Herdade da Comporta.
The rice paddies are protected today, just like the flora and fauna that shelter in them. Strolling among these extraordinary fields is one of the many pleasures of this destination. On foot, on horseback, on a bike or even on a paddle board, you have to get lost among the rice shoots to discover the many birds hiding there that cannot be seen anywhere else, for more information: alma-da-comporta.com/les-rizieres-de-comporta
In fact, bird-watching is a big hobby in Comporta. The area forms part of the Sado estuary nature reserve, where more than 200 different species of bird can be seen, which is unique in Portugal.
Simple and authentic fishing villages
The villages of Comporta, just like many others in Alentejo, have lost none of their authenticity or their customs. Modernity is welcomed without losing the history that created it, or the way of life that characterises it. That’s what makes them so authentic. You feel good there, straight away, as though you’re at home. The rhythm is slow, and people stop and chat.
In Carvalhal, you’ll see locals sitting on plastic chairs in outdoor cafés in the mornings. They have coffee alongside tourists or people from Lisbon out enjoying themselves, as they probably have done for decades.
Families from Lisbon never miss the chance to stop by one of the three bric-a-brac stores in the village, hunting for a new bargain trinket for their holiday homes. The open-air stores, like Júlio Luis’, are bursting with old furniture, ancient ornaments and a few nice surprises. For example, you might find ancient pottery, or glass bottles containing wine and alcohol. These will take on a new life in neighbouring gardens, for more information: alma-da-comporta.com/bargain-hunting-in-comporta
In Comporta, Gomes shop is the place to meet. You can find absolutely everything there, in a very small space. The locals, just like summer visitors, head there to stock up on fruit and vegetables, local pastries, charcuterie, fresh produce, wine from Porto and Herdade da Comporta, tinned sardines, straw baskets, hats… it’s unmissable!
Life on the beach
Fine sand and fresh fish
The beaches are an integral part of the Comporta ‘myth’ in Portugal, just like abroad. The ocean here is particularly blue, more so than on the Costa da Caparica, and the sand is white and very fine. Vegetation-covered dunes border the beach, and no building work ruins the dream-like scenery. The beauty of the landscape is raw and authentic, and you feel as though you are at the edge of the world.
Even if there is no shortage of activities, you can go to the beach just to watch the surfers and local fishermen. Let time fly by, contemplatively, until you go for lunch in one of Comporta’s famous beach restaurants, a real pleasure.
Depending on how you feel, you could try a delicious arroz negro in Sal, undoubtedly the trendiest of these restaurants. You could also decide to admire the scenery with your feet in the sand and a glass of white sangria in your hand at Comporta Café, or even enjoy an excellent fresh grilled fish at O’Dinis.
The ambience is relaxed and children play in the sand; everything comes together to create a pleasant setting for discovering the region’s specialties and wines.
Heading a little further away from these famous Comporta spots, you’ll quickly discover some even less-frequented hidden gems. That’s the case for Galé beach, further to the south. It is, without a doubt, one of Portugal’s most beautiful beaches. Huge ochre and red cliffs line the beach, and in the morning light, you could easily believe you were standing on the shores of Australia.
Another short distance south, you can admire the sunset over Aberta Nova beach. The spectacle is magnificent. Reserve a table in advance at the Caverna Dos Tigres, a little local restaurant on the road to Melides, to enjoy a rustic dinner in a shack overlooking the beach.
These beaches are a real peaceful haven when you want to escape the summer crowds on Comporta’s main beaches.
Eat and Drink
There are plenty of restaurants serving delicious food in Comporta and the surrounding area. Whether you’re looking for a salty lunch with your feet in the sand, a cosy dinner by the fire, or a top-notch cocktail in town, you’ll find the addresses to make all your dreams come true in this section.
The culture of rice farming and fishing makes Comporta a distinctive region, rich and steeped in history. If you want to get to know it better, the Roman ruins of Troia will send you back in time, to an era when this part of Portugal was an important economic hub in the export of fish and seafood products. Other places you’ll find in this section are unmissable if you’re spending a holiday here and want to understand more about the region.
Feel the nature
To make your trip to Comporta truly extraordinary, you can experience an outing at sea to observe birds that are only seen here, follow the dolphins of the estuary, or even make a flight in hot air balloon over the wild nature of Sado.
Free your mind and body
Comporta offers an ideal environment for taking care of yourself, your body and your mind. It’s a particularly suitable destination for a family holiday. There are many sporting or even spiritual activities available, even for the youngest children: riding lessons and treks, surfing, cycling, tennis, golf etc. To relax and clear your mind, you can take a yoga course in the rice fields, head to the Quinta Comporta spa or even cross the rice paddies on a paddle board.
Looking for beauty
If you’ve fallen for the wicker baskets you can see everywhere in Comporta, if you want to take home an authentic, local souvenir, or even if you’ve decided to decorate your home in the style of a fisherman’s cabin, this section will give you all the addresses you need to know to find the beautiful objects your heart desires.
A typical Comporta house
Staying in a typical regional house is the simplest way to adopt the rhythms of Comporta. Switch off, lose yourself in the wild natural surroundings, and admire the sunset whilst enjoying some regional specialties. Our houses are made with this in mind. Facing the rice paddies, they blend into the magnificent scenery. You’ll feel as though you have the whole world to yourself, in a privileged setting. It’s the perfect place to take a real break and to enjoy the present moment.
We have created this travel blog to share all the unmissable places and experiences to try in Comporta, and in the magnificent region of Alentejo.