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If you’re looking for an idyllic Autumn break where you will be met with balmy beach days and world-class dining sans the waiting list, you need to turn your attention to Portugal's Comporta.
While summer in the UK has been a bit of a washout, there’s still hope to catch some sunny rays if you pack your bags and escape to Comporta in September or October. This somewhat secret destination is made up of a series of tiny beachfront villages flanked by rice paddies, pristine protected beaches and miles of sparkling ocean.
Just an hour’s drive from Lisbon, in-the-know travellers flock here for the relaxed, slow-paced slice of paradise dotted with whitewashed buildings set against a backdrop of cerulean skies.
In the height of summer, the world’s elite descend on these parts in search of sun and quiet in the many private villas, champagne and grilled seafood at the renowned Sublime Comporta Beach Club or a table to dine at Cavalariça, housed in an old stables. When September rolls around, however, the crowds disappear but the balmy climes remain. Edging into October you’ll have the restaurants to yourself and the surf is also great, so a day’s at Carvalhal beach, minus the crowds, is a must.
People seem to want to draw comparisons between Comporta and Ibiza or Montauk but this special spot – complete with a bleached-wood, barefoot, blustery vibe – is unique and unlike anywhere you’ve ever been before. Here are our notes on where to stay, what to do and where to eat and drink when in Comporta.
From beach shacks to private villas and a handful of rural reserves offering minimal cabanas with fire pits, built in the middle of jaw-droppingly beautiful cork forests, there is a range of places to stay in Comporta. Our two picks are lovely rustic yet luxurious hotels.
A stunning hotel with romantic rooms and rustic cabanas, this property occupies a 17-acre patch of woodlands and wildflowers. The locally famous Sublime truly lives up to its moniker. Painstakingly curated permaculture courses and foraging experiences are all here to be explored. There’s a quietly palpable atmosphere, powered by passionate people doing seriously cool things with food.
For more information about this gorgeous hotel, read the full details about Sublime da Comporta here on Mr&Mrs Smith
Set inland in Alentejo and styled like a farm retreat with an organic restaurant, Quinta da Comporta was created by Portuguese architect-designer, Miguel Câncio Martins (Buddha-Bar in Paris), and is set in a sandy landscape with barn-like buildings – many of them former grain stores – that overlook the paddy fields.
With purposefully neutral interiors complete with reclaimed beams, rope-tied lampshades and rattan rugs, there’s a decidedly beach-house feel here. Don’t miss the glorious spa and dining at restaurant which has its own-brand Black Pig gin.
For more information about this beachy retreat, read the full details about Quinta da Comporta here on Mr&Mrs Smith
Days here are easy-going. It's an easy, breezy kind of life and the 12km of uninterrupted beach is the focus. There is a clutch of bars and restaurants along the stretch, all manner of wooden creations on stilts, clinging to the top of the dunes and the excellent seafood grills in Comparto are a must. However, make sure you make the trip to Evora, an epicurean wonderland in the heart of Alentejo, just an hour’s drive inland. Its food scene is bubbling as star chefs from Lisbon experiment with local produce. Set within original mediaeval walls, the city is so beautiful it’s literally classed as an open-air museum – all the more so when its cobbles aren’t heaving with people, puffing through the midday heat. Days should be spent gawping at Roman ruins untouched by Lisbon’s 1775 earthquake, nights holed up in rustic tabernas and sinking bottles of regional wine.