Odeceixe and Praia de Odeceixe are a wonderful little village and beach pairing found right at the start of the stunning Costa Vicentina in Southern Portugal. Featuring the lazy, picturesque waters of the Ribeira de Seixe (Pebble River), this beautiful area marks the border between the Portuguese regions of the Alentejo (north) and the Algarve (south).
It is also the unofficial start (or end) of the famous Fishermen’s Trail, a wild, scenic coastal hike that runs for about 60 kilometres between Odeceixe and Porto Covo. The Fishermen’s Trail, however, is also just a portion of an even bigger, better trek, the incredible Rota Vicentina, which stretches all the way south to the Cabo Sao Vicente lighthouse, then continues east across the Algarve as far as Lagos.
We enjoyed perfect weather and great scenery for 11 dazzling days on the Rota Vicentina in early March while most of Europe was still struggling through the final days of winter. As one of the few long-distance hiking trails in Europe that is accessible all year round, the Rota Vicentina is poised to become one of the most popular coastal treks in the world. We would recommend getting there now before the crowds.
The entire region boasts amazing scenery, friendly villages and great beaches, so even if you never quite figure out how to pronounce Odeceixe correctly, not to worry, when it comes to foreigners attempting their language the Portuguese have (justifiably) low expectations.
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Part of the municipality of Aljezur in the larger Algarve region, cute, clean little Odeceixe has a great location on the south bank of the Ribeira de Seixe, just a few kilometres inland from the main beach of Praia de Odeceixe. Popular with trekkers, surfers, road trippers and the summer beach crowd, most of the year it is a quiet, sleepy place.
Interestingly, there are no bridges across the river between Odeceixe and the ocean, meaning that if you are hiking the Fishermen’s Trail you will have to walk roughly 8 kilometres inland and back just to get to the other side, to a point where you could literally throw a rock across from Praia de Odeceixe. If the tide is particularly low, or if you have a way of keeping your stuff dry while swimming across, you could theoretically take a shortcut across the river. Of course, the pleasant little village of Odeceixe is worth a visit in its own right, and is a perfect place to grab a bite or stock up on supplies at one of the grocery stores.
Praia de Odeceixe
On a gorgeous coastline filled with terrific beaches, Praia de Odeceixe Portugal stands out for its unique shape, unusual scenery and beautiful river forming a horseshoe around it. In 2012 it was named one of the “7 Wonders of Portugal” in the category “Cliff Beaches”. The beach is also part of the Vicentine Coast Natural Park. Also recognized as a premier Blue Flag beach for its environmental and safety practices, it is located right at the mouth of the Ribeira de Seixe, where steep cliffs look down at the beach from the north side of the river while on the south is a bluff with a tiny collection of houses, a few hotels, shops and restaurants.
The sunsets from up here are amazing and there is a small parking area and ramps and stairs down to the beach, where you will also find a restroom and showers. With the ocean on one side and the calmer, warmer river on the other, visitors can choose their spot based on weather, energy or mood.
Families, in particular, enjoy the shallow safety of the river, as well as small lagoons and fascinating tide pools that appear at certain times of day. In summer, there are lifeguards on duty and you can rent loungers. There is also a beach volleyball net and both surfers and body boarders flock to the area to have a go on the wilder ocean waves.
Along with surf gear, you can rent paddle boards, body boards, canoes and kayaks. And if you’re more about leisure than adrenalin, you can rent loungers, umbrellas and even get a massage.
Surf at Praia de Odeceixe
The entire southwest coast of Portugal is a surfing wonderland. With nothing to stop them between North America and Europe, the waves are steady, consistent and offer breaks suitable for both beginners (like me) and experts (like many people who aren’t me). There are three different surf schools on Praia de Odeceixe, all of which offer both Portuguese and English instruction or will also just rent out gear if you prefer to go it alone:
Beginners like Praia de Odeceixe because the safe, sandy bottom makes for a softer landing. There are both left and right breaks and even in the busiest times the waves here don’t get all that crowded. Winter (and December in particular) is the best time of year for consistent waves, as long as you aren’t turned off by the cooler temperatures (daily avg high 17C/ low 9C).
Hiking Around Odeceixe
Considering it is part of the world-renowned Rota Vicentina trail network, it’s not surprising that there is some great hiking around Odeceixe. There are outstanding viewpoints in both directions along the coast, as well as some nice inland options.
Odeceixe Loop Walk
15 km / 4-5 hrs / 200m elevation gain
Starting at the village, the Odeceixe Portugal Loop Walk roughly follows the route of the river down to the ocean and Praia de Odeceixe before turning south along the steep cliffs, with huge Atlantic waves crashing against the rocks far below, in some places bursting dramatically up through spout holes. From there, it’s back inland along an irrigation canals, passing through serene farmland on your way back to Odeceixe.
Fishermen’s Trail to Zambujeira do Mar
22 km (from beach) or 18 km (from town) / 6-7 hrs / 350m elevation gain
If you want a taste of the epic Rota Vicentina but still want to return to your comfortable Odeceixe hotel for the night, follow the Fishermen’s Trail trail north out of Odeceixe to follow the scenic north bank of the river back to the coast. From there you can walk north as far as you choose among the coastal sand dunes and impressive cliffs, before turning around and retracing your steps. Another option is to walk all the way to Zambujeira do Mar then take a bus or taxi back to Odeceixe.
Canoe the Ribeira de Seixe
Water Element rents out canoes and the river is placid enough to canoe up from the ocean to the village. In addition to oustanding scenery, the river is great for birdwatching, with many different species spotted regularly, including grey herons and great egrets.
Visit the Restored Mill
Moinho de Odeceixe in Portuguese, it is one of the only Portuguese agricultural mills still in use and open to visitors, which makes for a fun, easy break from all the water sports and hiking.
The frothing waters where the river meets the sea are a popular with local fishermen, who enjoy a lot of success pulling in mullet and sea bass. There are also some good spots further upriver past the village. For information on the best times to fish check out the Odeceixe fishing tide charts.
Bike the Backroads
While the Costa Vicentina is rugged and hilly close to the ocean, you don’t have to go far inland to find smooth, easy trails and scenic dirt roads. On bike it is possible to see a lot of the best rural scenery in the area in just a few hours.
Praia das Adegas
Located right next to Praia de Odeceixe, Praia das Adegas is not only a beautiful, protected cove, it is also one of just 6 official naturist (nudist) beaches in all of Portugal. Protected by some steep cliffs, you’ll either need to climb down a long set of stairs or wait for low tide to reach it along the water. There is no development, no facilities, falling rocks can sometimes be a problem close to the cliffs, and the surf can be pretty nasty on swimmers (especially those protected by less clothing than usual). However, all those traits help keep Praia das Adegas the quiet hideaway people love so much. Plus, it’s ideal for those dedicated to maintaining a full-body tan.
Praia da Barradinha
This tiny beach is located at the mouth of a small stream that cuts it in two. With a rocky bottom and steep, surrounding cliffs, it remains a quiet choice away from the crowds and is accessed by a wooden stairway on the northern side.
Praia da Quebrada
Found in another small cove, Quebrada is wide, sandy and surrounded by dunes and scattered rocks. Swimmers need to be careful of the strong ocean currents, but the little cluster of fishermen’s cottages make this a rather unique place to visit.
Alternatives to Odeceixe
If you are looking for a little more action, Vila Nova de Milfontes is the most popular town along this stretch of beautiful Portuguese coast, with plenty of hotels, restaurants and good nightlife. The pretty nearby village of Porto Covo is a quieter alternative, and some find Almograve’s traditional Portuguese feel particularly alluring. Aljezur has a fascinating old castle and is close to some of Portugal’s best surfing, Zambujeira do Mar has a wonderful cliff-top church and a colony of nesting storks, while Carrapateira is known as one of the top windsurfing beaches in Europe. Even if you do decide to stay in Odeceixe, these all make easy day trips.
How to Get to Odeceixe
The nearest airport is in Faro, 125 kilometres and a 1.5-hour drive away, although it is also just a 2.5-hour drive to Lisbon’s international airport where you’ll probably find more flight options.
Public transportation between smaller towns in Portugal can be difficult so if you’re not planning to hike from village to village, we highly recommend renting a car so you don’t miss out on any of the best spots. Plus, it is nice to be able to set your own schedule. We find that Discover Cars usually has the best deals in the area.
If you don’t want to rent a car you can take a Rede Expressos bus from Sete Rios station in Lisbon (3.5 hrs / €20). From Faro there are frequent buses or trains to Lagos (2 hrs / €10), then you can take an Eva or Rede Expressos bus to Odeceixe (1 hr / €10).
How far is the beach from Odeceixe?
There is no public transport to the beach so you can either walk the fairly scenic 3 kilometres as described above or take a quick 5-minute drive or taxi ride.
Praia de Odeceixe Hotels
Places near the Odeceixe beach book up quickly so it is best to reserve ahead if you are planning to visit in the high season.
Casa Dorita – We can highly recommend this hotel. It has very reasonable prices in the shoulder season and includes an excellent breakfast. There are some rooms with balconies and views over the beach and even our room had a view to the side of the beach. The staff was friendly and helpful.
Carlos’s Beach Hostel offers beachfront accommodation and a shared kitchen, lounge and BBQ area. There are both private rooms and dorms.
Where to Eat in Praia de Odeceixe
Bar da Praia – Has both indoor and outdoor seating with amazing views as it is right down on the beach. The menu has a variety of options that should suit most tastes. The best choices include guacamole, tuna tartare and the fresh daily picked main dishes. The brownies are especially good.
Restaurante-Cafe Dorita. We stayed at the hotel attached to this restaurant that specializes in fresh fish and seafood. From the deck there is spectacular view over the beach and the bay. The breakfast that was included with our room was excellent.
Where to Stay in Odeceixe
Hostel Seixe is located in Odeceixe village old town area and has both dorms and private rooms, all with shared baths. It has a rooftop terrace with free coffee and tea as well as a communal kitchen. Centrally located close to restaurants, bars and minimarkets.
Sol Mar provides accommodation with a bar, free private parking, a shared lounge and a terrace. The rooms have private bathrooms and views of the surrounding countryside. They have bicycles they lend out and a very good breakfast.
Where to Eat in Odeceixe
Pizzaria Central – We enjoyed sitting on the terrace people-watching at this restaurant on Odeceixe’s main square. It is simple but has good thin crust pizzas. Try to get an outside table.
Taberna do Gabao is a good choice if you are looking for traditional Portuguese food that uses regional ingredients.
Odeceixe is a delightful little riverside village and Praia de Odeceixe is one of the more picturesque and unique beaches among many very beautiful beaches along the extraordinary Costa Vicentina. Whether Odeceixe is a one-night stop on your long-distance trek or a longer beach or surfing stay, it will certainly be a memorable one.
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