I have been traveling my entire life, whether it be via car, train, or airplane. Amidst the madness, it’s too easy to lose sight of the purpose of your journey. Every once in a while, there is a place that grounds you as you fall irrevocably in love with its people, domain, and culture. A place that is full of magic and lights a fire within you. A place that reminds you of your purpose. For me, that place is Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal.
Milfontes is a quaint, seaside village that is located about two hours south of Lisbon. After traveling by car or bus, you will more than likely be hungry upon arrival. This is where I say that you cannot, under any circumstances, leave without eating a chocolate croissant at Mabi. I have had many a croissant in different countries (including France); none of them compare. I am still amazed that a tiny Portuguese village serves the best pastries in all of Europe. If you are not in the mood for croissants, pack a few for the road and walk over to 18 e Piques for handcrafted panini and salads that are made with locally sourced ingredients. Their honey, walnut, and goat cheese flatbread is divine!
Be prepared to eat well, to eat often, and to take your time whilst doing so. After a long day, there is nothing better than having lunch at Porto das Barcas and dinner at Tasca do Celso. Spend a few hours at Porto das Barcas with friends to enjoy family-style food and wine. Rumor has it that the restaurant serves the best chocolate mousse (I have yet to confirm this theory). Tasca do Celso is the king of traditional seafood cuisine. I am known to be a picky eater and even I couldn’t stay away from their superbly fresh seafood!
There are a wide variety of lodging options in Milfontes. Personally, I love staying at Mil Reis. The guesthouse is located in the village center and breakfast is served daily. Each room is unique, peaceful, and private. For those looking for a more upscale experience, I recommend booking a room or suite at Tres Marias. As much as Milfontes is a ghost town during tourism off-season, locals are quite active and spend most of their time outdoors. Surfing, kayaking, fishing, and hiking are popular activities. Horseback riding is available year-round. If you are lucky enough to have a car, the 25-minute drive to Monte d’Avo Equestrian in Cercal is certainly worth it. Riding through the rolling hills of the pastoral countryside was an unforgettable experience.
I instantly fell in love with everything about Milfontes when I first visited. I have a permanent, sentimental attachment to its magic. It’s where I realized that the only place you have to be right now is “in the moment.” It’s where a met several lifelong friends who fiercely motivate me to chase my dreams. It’s where I realized that life is too short to not pursue your passions. Milfontes is whimsically special. I can’t wait to return!