Uncovering Comporta, Portugal’s rising star

Endless beaches, rolling waves and stripped-back luxury

Just an hour south of Lisbon, the city buzz melts away and life sinks into a slower pace. The landscape opens out into a patchwork of cork and pine forests, rice paddies and peaceful waterways. All fringed by endless beaches and rolling Atlantic waves. This is Comporta – a serene stretch of coast where you’ll find a handful of the best luxury hotels in Portugal. And where luxury means having the time and space to savour doing… not very much at all. 

Beach Bliss

Comporta’s vast coastline means you’ll have no trouble finding a stretch of sand all to yourself. Here’s some of our favourite beaches:

Praia da Comporta

Close to the region’s biggest village, you’ll have a good choice of small beach bars, a deli and a couple of restaurants within easy reach. It’s also the closest beach to Lisbon, so it can get crowded at weekends. 

Carvalhal

More remote than Praia da Comporta, Carvalhal still boasts a good seafood restaurant, and sunloungers under thatched parasols. Come here to relax or hit the waves with your board. There’s a local surf school if you want to take lessons.

Gale beach

Mango sorbet-hued sandstone cliffs, weathered into sharp pinnacles and rippling folds. Cream coloured sand, clean white surf and clear blue waters. Gale beach is as picturesque as it is peaceful. 

NATURAL WONDERS

A large part of Comporta is a protected nature reserve. Explore the Sado Estuary to spot huge nesting storks and pale pink flamingos. You might even be lucky enough to spy dolphins swimming up the estuary.

Get in touch with Cavalos na Areia to arrange private tours around Comporta. Take to the waterways among the rice paddies by kayak, or cycle among the cork trees and fragrant pine forests. This locally-loved company is best known for its horse riding experiences. There are few better ways to take in the scenery than trotting through the rice paddies, down sand dunes and across deserted beaches.

Keep your eyes peeled as you set out to discover striking contemporary takes on traditional fishing huts, transformed by a local architect into minimalist, modern hideaways. With such camera-seducing sights, it’s no wonder Comporta crops up in the pages of Vogue from time to time, as the backdrop to glossy designer campaigns.

Be prepared: Having all that water around, Comporta is also popular with mosquitoes. Wear long, loose layers, bring repellent or light up citronella candles if sitting outside in the evening.

LAID-BACK LUXURY

With its reputation as a weekend getaway for well-heeled Lisbonites, Comporta has been compared to the Hamptons. And, with leading lights of the creative world such as Christian Louboutin, Madonna and Anselm Kiefer owning villas here, it scores high for exclusivity. Yet for all that, Comporta still feels wonderfully undiscovered and down-to-earth, with only a select few, sensitively designed hotels and scattering of rustic-style restaurants.

In the region’s largest village, also called Comporta, you’ll find tiny galleries and boutiques tucked away along whitewashed streets. Drop into Casa da Cultura to browse wares produced by local craftspeople.

Then, after a day at the beach or exploring the tiny fishing villages, stroll to a waterside restaurant such as the ever-popular Sal on Prego beach, to feast on locally grown rice cooked in squid ink. Or sip a cool caipirosca on the terrace at the Museu do Arroz restaurant, followed by rice stews with monkfish and shrimp.

Where to stay: Quinta da Comporta

Cool, calm and utterly contemporary, this luxury wellness resort near Carvalhal opens summer 2018. Designed by Portuguese architect Miguel Câncio and set between rice paddies and pine forests, Quinta da Comporta is a place to truly disconnect from the everyday.