Portugal Is Booming — but in This Tiny Seaside Town, Life Moves as Slowly as Ever

Porto Côvo gained prominence as a trading post for the Carthaginians. And while much history, and many populations, have shaped the coast over the years, this whitewashed fishing village retains the languid pace common to tiny, ancient places.

An increase in overseas tourism (and newfound affluence in Lisbon) has recently brought an influx of weekenders to the Alentejo, but Porto Côvo remains sleepy. No crowds throng the praças, the cobblestoned village squares. It’s easy to find yourself alone on a secluded fine-sand beach, staring out at the wild swells — where you’ll often see the growing community of surfers who have fallen in love with Porto Côvo, thanks in part to Alentejo native André Teixeira and his pioneering surf school, Costazul Surf. You can wander out of shouting distance from other humans as you walk a portion of the Rota Vicentina, 280 miles of peaceful trails running along the coast and into the interior. The path incorporates a historic pilgrimage route, with devoted travelers traversing the entire length to Cabo de São Vicente — where a lighthouse now stands on the ruins of a Franciscan monastery. Pousadas have sprung up along the way to accommodate them.