Aljezur – the complete guide (2020)
Aljezur is a town on the west coast of the Algarve, within the Costa Vicentina natural park. This means that Aljezur is surrounded by wild and unspoiled nature that is very different from the nature in the south of the Algarve. Moreover, this part of the Algarve is great for surfing. The town itself is full of cobbled streets and typical, whitewashed houses. Whether you are looking to relax or prefer an active holiday, Aljezur is the place to go. On this page you can read all of our favourite things to do and see in Aljezur.
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Contents of this article
The beaches surrounding Aljezur are all part of the Costa Vicentina natural park, which is known for its wild and rugged landscape. All beaches in this area are thus quite different from the crowded beaches you can find in the southern Algarve. Our favourite beaches near Aljezur are:
Praia da Arrifana
Praia da Arrifana is located within a small bay and is popular among surfers. The beach is only a 15 minute drive from the town of Aljezur. The black cliffs make for a stunning background.
Praia de Monte Clérigo
Praia de Monte Clérigo is quite a big beach, situated right next to the village of Monte Clérigo. It is a great beach to visit with kids.
Praia da Bordeira
Praia da Bordeira is one of the biggest and also most famous beaches in the area. From the hill you have a great view over the beach and it is just fantastic to watch the waves here.
Praia do Amado
Praia do Amado is surrounded by beautiful nature and is a true delight to visit. You can often see some surfers hit the waves here.
Praia da Amoreira
Praia da Amoreira is located near the mouth of the Aljezur River. That is why you can swim both in the sea as well as in the river here. Overall, this is an absolutely wonderful beach.
Praia de Vale Figueiras
Praia de Vale Figueiras consists of golden sand and is popular among surfers. The scenery around this beach is also very beautiful.
Aljezur is famous for its sweet potato. Every November/December you can even enjoy the yearly Sweet Potato Festival. Also fresh grilled fish is one of the specialties in town. There are several very good restaurants in Aljezur. Below you can find our favourite ones.
- Restaurante III Geração. This is without a doubt one of the best Portuguese restaurants of Aljezur. They serve a variety of great fish dishes, as well as meat dishes. Good wine as well. Highly recommended.
- ShaBouco. This place has a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence for a reason. The food is great, as is the staff. Amazing grilled fish. Prices are very reasonable, which make this a great place to eat.
- Pizzeria Italiana Pomodorino. This Italian restaurant has very good pizza and friendly service. They have a great variety of pizza choices. Nice Italian desserts as well.
- Sector B. If you like burgers, you have come to the right place. This place serves amazing beef, chicken and vegetarian burgers. Prices are very reasonable and the atmosphere of the place is very nice.
What to see
Castle of Aljezur
On top of an 88 metre tall hill you can find a castle, known as the Castle of Aljezur. The castle dates back to the 10th century. Back in the days, Aljezur was a port village and this castle served as a defensive Moorish structure to guard the village and its port. The castle was conquered by the Christians in 1249, by general Paio Peres Correia, who was a general in the army of the Portuguese king D. Afonso III. When you visit this castle, you can find information panels at several places, which will tell you more about the history of the castle.
The strategic importance of the castle declined over time. By the 16th century, the castle was actually abandoned. Most of the castle was then destroyed by the earthquake of 1755. However, two of its original towers still remain standing. In the 1940s, part of the walls of the castle were restored. Still, the castle is nowadays pretty much in ruins. There is no entrance fee, it is free to enter the castle. You can either walk or drive up the hill. There is a parking area on top, which is free.
From the castle you have a beautiful 360 degree view over the town of Aljezur and the surrounding area. You can even view the hills of Monchique far away. The view from the castle is actually one of the main reasons to visit it.
The Misericórdia Church (in Portuguese: Igreja da Misericórdia) in Aljezur dates from the 16th century. It was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake and subsequently rebuilt. Near the Renaissance style entrance you can find a sign with the year 1577 on it. Its interior contains some statues and religious art. Recently this church has been restored, so it looks quite good.
Nossa Senhora da Alva Church
The Nossa Senhora da Alva Church (also known as Igreja Nova or New Church) is located in the newer area of Aljezur. This church was built by the Bishop of the Algarve at the end of the 18th century, after the 1755 earthquake destroyed much of Aljezur, including the Misericórdia Church. The church has an impressive main altar and several statues. Next to the church there is a square, where you can find restaurants, cafes and a supermarket.
Fort of Arrifana ruins
Near the beach of Arrifana you can find the ruins of an old fortress. This fortress used to defend the coast and protect the local fishermen. The fortress was built in 1635 and subsequently destroyed by the earthquake of 1755. Afterwards, the fort was rebuilt again, but then abandoned in the 19th century. Nowadays, the fort is pretty much in ruins and you can only see a part of the wall and entrance which were restored in 2007. However, from the fort you have a great view over Praia da Arrifana.
Make sure to visit the municipal market of Aljezur, which is located near the bridge. Here you can find fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as fresh fish and meat.
There are 4 museums in Aljezur and you can visit them with a combined ticket. These museums are quite small and you can visit all of them together within a couple of hours.
The municipal museum of Aljezur is located in a striking white and blue building, which was once the town hall of Aljezur. The building dates from 1883, as can be seen on the inscription on top. This museum is relatively small, but still worth a visit. There is an archaeological exhibition, with exhibits from the Neolithic period and Islamic period. Also you will learn more about the lifestyle of local inhabitants back in the days and the farming tools they used. And last but not least, there is a small art gallery in the museum. The municipal museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Sacred Art Museum
The Sacred Art Museum of Aljezur exhibits a collection of religious art, including sculptures and paintings. This museum is located next to the Igreja da Misericórdia and can thus be found easily. Back in the days, this building was a home for the elderly.
Museu Pintor José Cercas
José Cercas (1914-1992) was a Portuguese painter from Aljezur. His house is used as a museum since 1995. It contains a variety of Portuguese art, ceramics and sculptures. It is a small house full of typical things. This museum provides a glimpse into the life of this Portuguese artist from the 20th century. If this museum seems closed during your visit, you can ask to enter here at the municipal museum. They will then open the door for you.
St. Anthony’s Museum
This small museum is devoted to St. Anthony. It exhibits paintings, statues, books, coins and more of St. Anthony. This building became a museum in 1998. Before that, it used to be a private home and in the 18th century this used to be a chapel.
Costa Vicentina natural park
On the west coast of the Algarve you can find the Costa Vicentina natural park. This protected area is characterized by wild, rugged and unspoiled nature. There are no high-rise buildings here. That is why there are much less tourists on the west coast than on the south coast of the Algarve. The Costa Vicentina is a great place for hiking, biking and enjoying nature. Alternatively, you could explore the area by horse. Also, this area is very good for birdwatching.
Pontal da Carrapateira
Between Praia da Bordeira and Praia do Amado there is a beautiful walk along the cliffs. This is known as the Pontal da Carrapateira walking trail. If you want to enjoy some scenic views and enjoy nature, this walk is highly recommended.
If you wish to stay near Aljezur, we recommend any of the following hotels.
- Herdade Monte Do Sol. This luxury country resort offers spacious villas, complete with a private terrace and hammocks. There is an outdoor swimming pool as well and the views to the surrounding countryside are great. The breakfast in this place is made from fresh fruits and vegetables from the orchards nearby, which is great.
- Vicentina Hotel. This four star hotel near the centre of Aljezur is well equipped with everything to make your stay as great as possible. The staff is friendly and all rooms have a private balcony. You have access to an outdoor swimming pool as well.
- Daguasoul Hostel. This hostel near the centre of Aljezur will make you feel at home. All rooms are clean and comfortable. And there is a shared kitchen, so you can cook your own meal if you want to. This hostel is popular among surfers and there is a great vibe. All beds are in mixed dormitory rooms.
After the busy summer season of last year, we recommend to book your hotel now, as it will probably sell out. Below you can find a map with the location of hotels in Aljezur. By changing the date of your holiday, the map will show you the current prices.
The beaches around Aljezur are famous surf spots. Actually, these beaches are the best places to go if you are into surfing. The surf conditions here are excellent. Also, you can find plenty of surf schools nearby. And if you don’t have any surf equipment, don’t worry, you can rent this as well. Beware that in the winter, the waves can be extra dangerous. That is why usually you can only find experienced surfers in the winter here.
Aljezur and the surrounding area are great for relaxation. That is why you can find several yoga classes and workshops here. You can even go on a full yoga retreat. Make sure to balance your body & mind and come join a yoga class near Aljezur.
If you wish to really explore the west coast of the Algarve, we recommend going with a guide. He or she can tell you much more about the background of the area. Some of these guided tours can already be booked online. Below you can find our favourite tours to explore the west coast.
Aljezur – general information
Aljezur is a town on the west coast of the Algarve. The town has about 6000 inhabitants. Aljezur is situated on a hill, which can be a bit challenging when you want to see everything, because you will have to walk uphill. In general, there are fewer tourists coming to this part of the Algarve than to the south coast. But Aljezur is a great place to relax and discover peace and tranquility. Also, it is one of the best areas for surfing in the Algarve.
Agriculture has been the main economic activity of Aljezur for hundreds of years. This is because the town is situated on the fertile plains of the Ribeira de Aljezur river. Traditionally, agriculture has focused on vegetables, sweet potatoes and peanuts. Sweet potatoes are Aljezur’s speciality: they are among the best sweet potatoes of Portugal.
Aljezur actually consists of two parts:
- The old town, on the western side. Here you can find the castle and the museums.
- The newer part, on the eastern side. This part was made by Francisco Gomes de Avelar (Bishop of the Algarve), after the earthquake of 1755 destroyed much of the old town. Here you can find the Igreja Nova. Nowadays this part of the town is the main area of expansion of Aljezur.
These parts are separated by the Ribeira de Aljezur river. There is a bridge connecting both sides of the town.
Administratively, the municipality of Aljezur can be divided in the following civil parishes: