Portugal City Travel Guide: Aljezur & The Algarve
Aljezur, (pronounced alj-ezoor) is an inland village of about 6,000 people close to some fine surfing beaches on the Atlantic Coast of the Algarve.
Aljezur has a much quieter and more relaxed feel than the big resort towns on the south coast.
Aljezur was established by Berbers in the 10th century and the Islamic influence in the area can be seen in Aljezur's castle (Castelo de Aljezur) and in the place names of the surrounding area. Aljezur was retaken from the Moors in 1249 by forces commanded by the Master of the Military Order of St. James, Paio Peres Correia, a general in the army of the Portuguese king, D. Afonso III.
The river was navigable from the sea to Aljezur until medieval times with ships of up to 130 tons able to reach port here. Vestiges of the old harbour can be seen in the narrow alleys that give access to the Ribeira de Aljezur.
The main beaches near Aljezur are Praia da Arrifana, a long stretch of sand set below black cliffs, 10km south west of town. About 8km north of Praia da Arrifana is Praia do Monte Clérigo and 6km north again the spectacular Praia da Amoreira at the mouth of the Ribeira de Aljezur. Further south of Aljezur are the remote beaches of Praia da Pedra da Agulha and Praia de Vale Figueiras, reached only on dirt roads.
The 40km of coastline around Aljezur offers some of the most pristine and scenic beaches in Europe with the whole area of river estuaries, sheer cliffs and dense marshes rich in bird and animal life. The area is now part of the Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina Natural Park.
Back in town, historic sites include four museums that can be visited in half a day on a combined ticket.
These are the Aljezur Municipal Museum housed in the old blue and white Town Hall that dates from 1883 with exhibits of archaeological remains from the area around town dating back to the Neolithic period, Islamic period ceramics and ethnographic items reflecting the lifestyle of the local inhabitants. These include farming implements, brightly-painted fishing boats, fishing nets, ploughs, domestic crafts and an old horse-drawn carriage.
The Aljezur Museum of Sacred Art (Museum de Arte Sacra), adjacent to the pretty 16th century Igreja da Misericórdia, displays various religious artifacts donated by locally-born Monsignor Canon Manuel Francisco Pardal (1896-1979).
Finally, the Casa Museu Pintor José Cercas (House of José Cercas), was the former residence of the locally born painter José Cercas (1914-1992). Some of the artist's work and paintings by other Portuguese artists are on display in this small, traditional house.
The 4km PR1 AJZ historical trail takes in the museums and other points of historical interest in Aljezur with signboards in both Portuguese and English.
Aljezur is divided into old and new quarters by a small stream - the Ribeira de Aljezur - which is crossed by the road bridge next to the Mercado Municipal de Aljezur. The 1755 earthquake badly damaged the old town so a new church and surrounding new town was planned and built on the instructions of Bishop Francisco Gomes de Avelar.
The new settlement called Igreja Nova met considerable local resistance and was only completed at the end of the 19th century.
This more modern suburb is home to the Igreja Nossa Senhora da Alva (Igreja Nova). The square surrounding the church is lined with pleasant pavement cafes, guest houses, restaurants and a supermarket serving the locals as well as the foreign backpackers and surfers who flock to Aljezur's beaches in summer. Free wifi is available from the cafes.
Walking in Aljezur
Aljezur is a cross roads of both the 300km-long Via Algarviana (www.viaalgarviana.org) from Alcoutim in the west to Cabo de São Vicente in the south via Silves and Monchique and the 400km Rota Vicentina (en.rotavicentina.com) which runs south from Santiago de Cacém also to Cabo de São Vicente via Odemira, Odeceixe, Aljezur, Carrapateira and Vila do Bispo.
Aljezur Tourist Office
Aljezur Turismo is on the left hand side of the road about 250m from the bridge near the Mercado Municipal.
Aljezur Tourist Information
Rua 25 de Abril, 62
Tel: 282 998 229
There is a tourist information stand on the beach at Odeceixe and another in Rogil on Av. 16 de Junho.
Getting to Aljezur
The nearest train station is Lagos Station on the Linha do Algarve to Albufeira and Faro. From Lagos there are trains to Lisbon via Tunes. A regional train to Tunes takes about 55 minutes from Lagos. At Tunes you can connect with an Alfa Pendular express or Intercidades (Intercity) train to Sete Rios, Entrecampos and Gare do Oriente. From Tunes to Lisbon is approximately 2 and a half hours to Lisbon. Check www.cp.pt for the latest timetables and train fares.
Aljezur is on the N120 north to Odeceixe and Grândola before joining the E1 and E2 motorways to Lisbon. Heading south the N120 goes to Bensafrim and then Lagos, which is 28km from Aljezur.
There are buses from Aljezur to both Lisbon and Lagos. Tickets for both destinations can be bought at the Cafe do Mercado, where the buses pull in. There are EVA buses to Lagos via Bensafrim taking 50 minutes departing at 6.58am, 8.17am, 10.37am, 1.31pm, 4.24pm and 6.24pm. Check the EVA website for full details of fares and departure and arrival times. Local buses also run to Odeceixe (30 minutes) and Rogil (10-15 minutes).
There are presently 2 daily bus departures from Aljezur to Lisbon run by Rede Expressos arriving at Sete Rios bus station. The journey takes around 4 hours with buses departing Aljezur at 9.05am and 3.55pm arriving in Lisbon at 12.50pm and 8.35pm respectively.
Check www.rede-expressos.pt for the latest details on times and fares.
From the Airport
The nearest airport is at Faro. By car take the A2 until Bensafrim and then the N120.
Taxis line up on Largo da Liberdade close to the Mercado Municipal. For airport transfers and runs out to the beach see www.taxiluis.com (Tel: +351 91 757 4630)
There are are number of hotels, villas and guest houses in Aljezur, Igreja Nova, the nearby expat suburb of Vale da Telha and on the coast closer to Praia da Arrifana.
Some recommended places to stay include the Vicentina Hotel, which has an excellent restaurant open to non-guests and a pool, Guesthouse A Lareira, which also has a good restaurant, Carpe Vita and Casa Ladeira both in the old town and Apartamentos Apfel and Hotel Vale da Telha in Vale da Telha. Aljezur Living Hostel is close to Igreja Nova on Largo 1º de Maio and a backpacker favorite.
See here for a listing of hotels and apartments in Aljezur.
Book Hotel Accommodation in Aljezur
Aljezur is blessed with some fine eateries including the restaurants at both the Vicentina Hotel and Guesthouse A Lareira in Igreja Nova. Restaurante Pont a Pé (Tel: 282 998 104) across the river in the old town at Largo da Liberdade, 12 is both a restaurant and bar.
There are seafood restaurants on the road above the beach at Praia da Arrifana and a variety of places to eat and drink in Vale da Telha including the Restaurante Vale Da Telha in the Hotel Vale da Telha.
Aljezur is famous for its desserts and puddings made from sweet potato and even has a Sweet Potato Festival (Festival da Batata-doce) held near the end of November or beginning of December.
There are several ex-pat and local bars to choose from which all stay open late in season. The pavement cafes around Igreja Nova are popular with the younger crowd.
List your restaurant/bar/hotel/villa rental contact Advertising
Places to get online include the cafes near to the Igreja Nova.
The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
Get more weather information for Portugal