The coast south of Sines is undeniably pretty, with a minor road hugging the coves and high dunes to PORTO CÔVO, a former fishing village now surrounded by modern holiday villas. The small centre – just a few cobbled, whitewashed streets around the central square, Largo Marquês de Pombal – is highly attractive. It’s very crowded in August – when it turns into a sort of Lisbon-on-Sea – but for most of the year the predominant sound is the whistle of the Atlantic breeze.
Head down the main pedestrianized Rua da Vasco da Gama to reach the coast. Bear left and steps lead down to a small fishing harbour where you can catch boat trips to the nearby Ilha do Pessegueiro. Bear right for the nearest cove beach, a lovely sandy wedge below cliffs, generally sheltered even when the sea is rough elsewhere. Continue north along the coast and it is a ten-minute walk to Praia Grande, the appropriately named “Big Beach”, especially so when the tide is low; with its own café-bar, you could easily spend a day here. Clifftop paths run north and south of town providing access to other coves and beaches. Praia do Somouqueira just to the north is named after the extraordinary rock formations and is popular at low tide when temporary beaches are created.