A Winter Escape to Comporta in Portugal

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Style, sunsets & storks nests

If you are looking for a winter escape with a difference, Comporta in Portugal should be high on your list

After a one hour and 20 minute drive from Lisbon, our holiday begins as we arrive at hotel Alma Lusa Comporta. Our suite is beautifully designed and decorated in Comporta Style with terrace doors that open up to an outdoor pool.


We are just in time for ‘Sunset Sessions’ with the DJ on the gorgeous rooftop bar with dappled light. Straw lamps and bunting sway in the breeze. A giant bird silhouetted on the orange horizon is a stork. Golden sun dissolves into a red hued sky. 


Hot footing it to the beach, as flip-flops plunge into deep soft sand, to the boardwalk flanked by pinheiro bravo pine trees. Pure white sea shells are scattered on the shore. Waves reflect sunlight back as bright white glitter. Sand dimples in mounds of shade and light. Raffia parasols, then a sea of rainbow brollies, opens up to an almost deserted beach.

At Ilha do Arroz for lunch of the tastiest tomato salad, delicious grilled prawns, and Padron peppers, sat at a superb corner table, with a view of the wide sandy beach and cobalt sea. The sea is chilly… well, it is the Atlantic, numbing and cooling hot skin, a contrast to the 35°C heat. The cool breeze acts like AC. Paddle boarders brave the ocean.

We walk back past vibrant green rice fields. The large quantities of water needed to grow the rice lead to mosquitoes, which attract frogs, which attract the storks that migrate from Africa to make nests built on chimneys or bell towers. 


It’s hot to shop, but the stylish outdoor market is open on weekends. The bar is buzzy, and we browse lovely merchandise – hippy-chic beachwear, kaftans, rattan hats, jewellery and artwork. Storks perch in giant nests above the tented roof.

At GOMES we dine alfresco on the lawn, the white dining room has a cork tree suspended from the ceiling, roots and all.


Wind gently caresses a cool Atlantic breeze over sun soaked skin at Carvahal beach. The hotel spa for massages is a fantastic way to reset. Relaxed and rejuvenated, walking back out, the air smells fresh and of citronella. A tiny gecko darts across the white path in the sunshine. A fragrant waft of cocoa emits from the plants. 

This evening we stroll past long low white buildings with blue trim. It’s like the Cotswolds of Portugal, but instead of green, windows are painted with the region’s signature cobalt blue – the colour of the bracing, Atlantic Ocean. Back to Ilha do Arroz for an excellent sunset dinner of grilled dourada fish. 

I leave splashy footprints on warm decking as I exit the pool. Long purple fountain grass sways in the breeze. Through the cute town to wander round the shops selling Comporta chic. We love ‘The Life Juice – Shop, eat and drink’ (that’s my motto too!). Dogs bark, cocks crow, and white peacocks strut in a little farm near interior shop Rice. An art gallery, Saatchi style, exhibits surreal modern art.


A half an hour drive to the beach at Praia de Melides, past broccoli-shaped pine pinheiro manso trees. Vida Dura, a delightful store in the cute seaside town, offers bright crockery and eclectic dinner place settings. Noemina is full of gorgeous gifts. Cats snooze in the quiet cobbled streets in the sunshine and we meander past a lovely pile of carved stone books.

A large white building appears with dark red window frames and sky-blue trim of the Hotel Vermelho. Stepping through wooden doors to gorgeous surroundings, we sit at Louboutin’s signature red table for a glass of local wine with snacks. There are cream rope-fringed parasols, a lush planted colourful garden and manicured lawns. Expensively dressed, well-heeled hotel guests make us rather regret having stumbled off the beach in Havaianas and I wish I’d put on my red shoes! A balcony has a view of the stunning grounds and a wall with quirky ceramic bird heads. The petite bar is ornate silver by Villareal goldsmiths and features an Easter canopy.

At the marina in Troia for a dolphin trip, called off due to an unusual fog resting on the horizon. You can catch a catamaran or ferry to Setubal from here. Unfazed, we head through the warm haze to the Troia sand dunes. There are Troia Roman ruins, however we’re happy to chill on the misty beach.

Dinner is at popular Comporta Café. Music plays and crochet parasols filter the setting sun over dimpled sand and a fire pit. The sun drops into the sea creating pastel stripes in the sky.

From the sublime to the beach club – we head to our booked day beds and a cocktail at Sublime Comporta beach club. We lunch on Poke bowls on our sun loungers. A huge dragonfly zooms past, threatening to take out my sublime Whispering Angel. Disco house tunes play as we drink cocktails and watch a game of beach volleyball at the Sublime bar. At ambient restaurant Almo, we indulge in a dinner of cuttlefish and black rice with local wine.


Activities include surf and stand-up paddle lessons, cycling, horse riding, boat rental, wine tasting, dolphin watching, Roman Ruins of Troia, Badoca Safari Park and Black Pig Gin theme park – or just enjoy contemplation in Comporta.

We drive back to Lisbon airport, past blackened tree trunks. The cork bark is stripped and numbered 1-9, harvested every nine years to make wine corks. Passing olive trees and vineyards as the road turns to mirror. Storks nest on electricity pylons. Fields of corn glint golden. Comporta is unspoiled nature, white sandy beaches, pine trees, sun and peace. 

For more info and to organise your trip contact Abbotts Travel on 020 8989 9445 or email [email protected]

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