The Alentejo - Gazetteer


Vila Nova de Milfontes

The beaches are its main attraction, although lately the clear waters of river Mira and its beautiful estuary became another place looked after by tourists.

Vila Nova de Milfontes looks back to more than 500 years old history and very important days as a trade base for the shipping traffic between Odemira and Lisbon. In the middle of the 19th century iron-ore has been exported with big sailing- and steam ships. The still existing quay of Milfontes has been a landing place for the incoming and outgoing ships till the mouth of the river silted and nowadays only fishing- and sport-boats can pass. An imposing castle protected the mouth of the river and sits still on the riverbank, ivy-clad and offering an incomparable view to the Atlantic and the river flowing into it.

Another reason to visit Vila Nova de Milfontes is its fantastic gastronomy. The "alentejano" bread, sausages, salami and sheep cheese at the table are sufficient to arouse one's appetite. The fish, the seafood and especially percehes, are usually fresh, hunting meat, fish-stew, stews, panadas, are brilliantly cooked.

Facts - Sights - Seaside - History - Art (Portuguese) - Pictures - Panorama


Region: Alentejo Map
Sub-region: Alentejo Litoral
District: Beja
Concelho: Odemira
Area: 75,90 km²
Inhabitants (2001): 4 258
Patron Saint: Nossa Senhora da Graça
Junta de Freguesia de Vila Nova de Milfontes Largo do Rossio 7645-310 Vila Nova de Milfontes
    Onclick pic to enlarge


  • In Vila Nova de Milfontes a religious procession in river Mira in honour of "Nossa Senhora das Graças" and in Almograve another festivity in honour of "Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes" are some of the important religious festivities. The traditional "alentejano" chant and the unique sound of the "campaniça's" guitars grant to these festivities the traditional atmosphere.
  • If one pretends to learn about traditional rituals and habits in Vila Nova de Milfontes, there are several event to visit: the annual market in May, "Feira de Maio", the Wholly Saint Bath in the morning of June 24th, St. John's Day, and the festivities, celebrated on the 15th of August, in honour of "Nossa Senhora da Graça", with a water procession to which many yachts and small boats join.
  • lgreja Matriz (Mother-Church)
  • The chapels of S. Sebastião and Santo António da Cela
  • The "Forte da Boca do Rio", one fortress built in the seventieth century during the Filipe's dynasty, which is known today, as the castle.
  • Near the river, a small fishing harbour maintains alive the most traditional activity of Milfontes. From here it is possible to cross the river by boat and accept the challenge to ascend the river Mira until Odemira.


For swimming you go to the river-beaches or to the other side of the river, reachable in summer by a little ferry-boat or by car over the bridge.

There are several beaches near the Village being the most popular:

  • Malhão
  • Furnas
  • Aivados
  • Ribeira da Azenha
  • Foz


For centuries the mouth of the river Mira was used by sailors as a shelter against storms. It was already known by the Celts, Phoenicians, Greek, Carthaginians and, of course, Romans and Arabs. In the 13th century, it was already sufficiently important to be recognized by king Afonso III. However, it was abandonned in the second half of the 15th century after an attack by Algerian pirates. The king D. joão II founded this small town in 1486, for economic and defensive purposes, near the river's mouth. It was king Manuel who decided to repopulate the important fortress on the coast. The new town was named Vila Nova de Mil Fontes («New Town of a Thousand Springs») in 1512, and awarded many priviledges to attract settlers. In the administrative reorganization of 1855, it lost the title of town, and only retrieved it in 1988. Two of the most important moments of the history of Milfontes are recalled at the square named Largo Brito Pais. The fortress (now an hotel) was built during the reign of John IV, to defend the river from attacks. The monument to aviators recalls that it was from the neighnouring fields that Brito Pais, Sarmento de Beires and Manuel Gouveia took off, in 1924, on their dangerous flight to Macau.... (more info about history in Portuguese)

Alentejo > Travel guide > Beja > Odemira > Vila Nova de Milfontes



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