Aljezur isn’t a costal town, but that doesn’t mean you should rule it out as a holiday destination.
It’s easy to travel to fantastic nearby beaches, and the town itself is a relaxing haven with an interesting history and hilltop castle ruins.
If you are looking for a holiday destination in the countryside away from the hustle and bustle, Aljezur won’t disappoint.
Situated in a lush, green valley, Aljezur is a town of two halves set either side of a river.
The old town on the western side of the river climbs steeply and is steeped in Moorish history, while the relatively modern lower part of the town sits on the eastern bank offering amenities, such as a bank, a post office, and a good selection of bars and restaurants.
There’s an interesting story behind the development of the new town. In the 18th century, when malaria was rife, the Bishop of the Algarve wanted everyone to move to the other side of the river to escape the disease. A new settlement was built, but many refused to move and stayed put.
That’s how the new town came into existence.
Aljezur is set in the countryside about 10 km from the coast on the south west of the Algarve.
The easiest way to get to Aljezur from Faro airport is by car. The journey takes 1 hour and 10 minutes.
All of the main car hire companies have hire points in the arrivals area at Faro airport.
Alternatively, there are shuttle services from the airport, and taxis (though be aware that a taxi over this distance will be expensive).
There are buses to Lisbon and Lagos from Aljezar, and the local buses go to Odeceixe and Rogil.
Aljezur does not have a train station; the nearest station is in Lagos.
The old town
The old town is made up of a network of narrow, cobbled streets lined with whitewashed houses, creeping upwards towards the 11th century castle ruins at the top of the hill.
A visit to the castle at the top of the hill is a must. If you don’t fancy the climb, you can drive.
Follow the signs to the ‘historic centre’ and keep going until you get to the top.
There is plenty of parking at the castle. The views are worth the climb – they are absolutely amazing, and it’s the perfect spot for a picnic.
There are four museums in the old town, including Casa Museu Pintor José Cercas, displaying the works and collections of local artist José Cercas.
The Museum de Arte Sacra (Museum of Sacred Art) displays various religious artefacts.
The Museu Antoniano, housed in a 17th century chapel, is a museum devoted to St. Antony displaying, books coins and icons related to the saint. And in the old blue and white town hall, you’ll find the Aljezur Municipal Museum exhibiting archaeological remains from the local area.
The new town
While known as the ‘new’ town, it was originally developed in the 18th century.
There’s a pleasant main square where you’ll find the 18th century church, Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Alva, plenty of shops and cafés, and a supermarket.
The nearest beach, Praia de Monte Clérigo, is about 10 km away.
The drive there through the countryside is lovely, and the views as you approach the beach are spectacular.
Another beach worth visiting is Praia da Arrifana. The conditions here make it a surfer’s paradise.
This superb, sandy beach is set below high, crumbling black cliffs, which shelter a tiny fishing harbour.
It’s well worth hiring a car.
The area surrounding Aljezar is a natural park, and the nearest strip of coastline is home to some of the most pristine and scenic beaches in Europe.
Don’t expect exclusive restaurants in Aljezar.
There are however many simple cafes and eateries offering great seafood, and authentic Portuguese cuisine.
There’s also a pretty good pizzeria.
Aljezur is a popular stop off for walkers as it’s a crossover point on both the 300 km long Via Algarviana trail and the 400 km Rota Vicentina.
The surrounding countryside is glorious for those who love walking.
Nearby villages to explore
Take the time to explore some of the nearby villages.
Bordeira is less than 20 minutes’ drive south and set in the countryside just a short distance from the beach of the same name.
Near to Bordeira is Carrapateira, which has the remains of a 17th century fort on its hill.