Are you planning a trip, or even a long-term holiday, in some untamed land, away from the mad crowd, far from the usual routes? Probably, the first destinations you are considering are located far away from Europe, in remote continents, maybe surrounded by exotic environments. But what if you don’t have the chance to reach them, for both financial and time-related reasons?
Even if it could sound uncanny to your ears, Europe is still a continent with a remarkable numbers of hidden corners, available for all of those voyagers determined to escape from the usual (and often conventional) touristic itineraries. Even Western Europe, the most explored and exploited area of the Old Continent, hides a few spots in which wilderness and an almost complete absence of mass tourism traces design an unique environment, no way inferior to the most renowned ones around the world, from the Caribbean to Southern Pacific Islands.
Alma da Comporta, located in the middle of Alentejo region, along the center-south coast of Portugal, is one of this corners. Situated on the southern side of Sado river’s estuary, a few kilometers away from the town of Setúbal – which is on the northern side of the same watercourse – and less than one hour and a half’s drive from Lisbon, this rural freguesia (a fraction of a Portuguese municipality), suspended between the ocean and the rice paddies behind its territory, represents the ultimate experience for those who want to get back in touch with nature and a simple lifestyle.
Surrounded by untamed landscapes and nearly uncontaminated territories, Comporta features a lot of unusual attractions, quite the opposite of those that you can find in every typical touristic settlement. So, forget locations like Ibiza, Saint-Tropez or Capri: in Comporta, the memory of early 20th Century is still alive and reverberates everywhere. From the fishermen’s villages (with their typical buildings, wooden docks and characteristic cafes) to the breath-taking beaches, featuring their unmistakable dunes, almost entirely covered with distinctive Atlantic Coast vegetation. A landscape that preserves itself from the contemporary era’s issues: Comporta and the surrounding area are, in fact, secluded within a nature reserve, where strongly intrusive human settlements are strictly forbidden.
Nevertheless, tourists’ accommodations and visitors’ supporting structures are very common in the region (as well as in the areas at its borders). Consider that, due to the proximity to Setúbal and Lisbon – two of the most important cities of Portugal, in terms of population –, Comporta is one of the most appreciated inner tourism destinations of its country. But that’s not all: the Comporta territory and the areas immediately around have been elected as an exclusive vacation spot by a restricted and forward-looking number of celebrities and members of the international aristocracy, such as Carla Bruni, Charlotte Casiraghi and Queen Rania of Jordan. An achievement that allowed Comporta to be considered “the European Hamptons”.
But don’t be deceived by those apparently exclusive status: this wild and pristine area of Portugal remains a holiday destination for everyone, suitable for every budget and with a various range of accommodations. All you have to do is accept to be drifted away from the usual itineraries and be willing to explore new landscapes and environments: after all, trying the unconventional is often the shortest way to find a hint of happiness.