Portugal’s Best Kept Secret
You’ve been to the beaches of the Algarve and you’re probably planning a trip to Lisbon if you haven’t already been, but have you heard of Comporta? Maybe not unless you’re a bit of a serial destination stalker/CN Traveller subscriber like me. This place has been on my wannabe hit-list for a while now, ever since reading the kind of pretentious article I’m an absolute sucker for about how Comporta is like Ibiza thirty years ago. Sign me up, I screamed. I just could never quite seem to find the right chunk of time to go give summers inevitably fill up with weddings and plans with friends. However I recently had a shoot to do (more on that soon) and was racking my brains for where I wanted to explore in Europe that would make for a great story and shoot location. Enter Comporta, the tiny little village and strip of sand-dune lined beaches just over an hour south of Lisbon.
This is one of those places I’m actually kind of hesitant to write about because selfishly I want it to remain a bit of a secret to all those aside from the savvy Portuguese holiday home owners who have bought a bolthole in this little slice of European summer heaven. Surrounded by rice paddies, pine forests and little else, Comporta is petite in size but packs a punch when it comes to ticking every box when it comes to a chilled summer holiday. The village itself is minute, reminding me of a white-washed version of the little welsh village where I spent summers as a child, with just a single one way through fare road. A fruit and vegetable truck in the square serves as the local co-op and there are just a handful of cool coffee shops, juice places and boutiques filled with designer kaftans, swimming trunks and baskets. Old men sit around smoking and catching up with a coffee in the shade, while chic weekenders from Lisbon roll in in old topless jeeps before heading to the beach. The signature white houses bordered with yellow and blue make me happy at just the sight of them and make sure you look up and spy the crazy big birds (essentially prehistoric monsters) nesting on the top of everything they can get their feathers on. Leading up to the village, the coastline is dotted with long, sprawling beaches each with its own beach restaurant or bar and my favourite, a long, meandering boardwalk down to the sand. Our favourite was the Sal beach restaurant, where the fish is the freshest, the wait staff are super cool and friendly and the eclectic interiors and beachside deck with striped awnings make it the ideal setting for lingering over a cold bottle of wine.
We stayed at Sublime Comporta, a serene, modern gathering of contemporary rooms and villas amidst the forest and one of the only boutique hotels in the area. The interiors, mood and setting of the place were amazing but be prepared for slightly confused service despite a crazy number of staff seemingly everywhere. However they are very helpful when it comes to recommending lunches, dinners and outings, and booking all said things for you which I always really appreciate as no one wants to spent a trip glued to your phone trying to reserve things. Once you get to grips with the less than descriptive menu, the locally-sourced food is delicious too and unlike so often on holiday, you can eat super healthily here with loads of veggies and grains. It’s a short drive from the beach but that really doesn’t matter and there’s very, very few homes in Comporta right on the beach. You definitely need a car here to explore the area and get just about anywhere but take it from me, the driving and parking situations are very easy and the drive from Lisbon airport was completely pain free too so nothing to stress about if you’re not super confident about hiring cars abroad. I actually really enjoyed driving around the various beaches and getting to explore as much as possible.
We were shooting pretty much non-stop for the three days we were there but still managed to get a good lie of the land of Comporta, so much so I started gazing in at real estate windows a little too eagerly and hatching a plan to buy a plot of land out there and start building my dream house. Ok it might not happen tomorrow, but it’s always good to have goals right?
Our amazing villa at Sublime Comporta complete with private pool and endless bleached wood.
Red floral skirt | Faithfull the brand
White top | St Agni
Lace-up leather sandals | Loq
Basket | Bohemia
Green floral dress | Faithfull the brand
Hat | Lack of Colour
Spotty dress | Realisation Par (Pop-up in London soon!)
White broderie anglaise shirt | Ba&sh Paris
Shell earring | Rue Belle
All necklaces/bracelets | Lucy Williams X Missoma
Yellow floral swimsuit | Faithfull the brand
Striped high-neck dress | Asceno
Black swimsuit | Vilshenko
Hoop earrings | Theodora Warre
Red sunglasses | Pared
Necklaces | Lucy Williams X Missoma
Yellow sunglasses | Indy Eyewear
Leopard skirt | Realisation Par
Trainers | Alexa Chung X Superga
Yellow string bag | Mango
T-shirt | Redone
Jeans | Vintage Levis
White crop top | Sir the Label
Chunky cotton string bag | Alienina
Ph. by myself and Frances Davison