If you’re looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of popular tourist spots in Porto or Lisbon, the Portuguese beach town Melides is ideal. The secluded destination is on the Alentejo coast bordering the Atlantic Ocean, less than 150km from the country’s capital city, and loved by Princess Eugenie for its tranquillity.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll find Melides in the top spot of Portugal’s most popular destinations, the sun-soaked village is becoming more well-known.
The once-exclusive spot is now home to Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, who have been part-time residents in the idyllic village since 2022.
Filled with white-washed houses and trimmed by a sandy coastline bordering the Atlantic Ocean, the stunning spot belongs to the municipality of Grândola.
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The unassuming region is characterised by rural towns, wild Atlantic beaches and a raw landscape of vineyards, rice fields and pine forests.
While the area may be best known for its scenic neighbour Comporta it has an altogether different energy.
Interior designer James Thurstan Waterworth spent a significant period of time in the area developing the Melides Art project a few years ago. He told the Conde Nast Traveler: “Melides has a lovely humbleness to it. Everything happens at its own pace and people still operate the way they would have a hundred years ago.
“It is very pure, especially in comparison to the rest of western Europe. It’s just an hour and a quarter from Lisbon, but city life is completely stripped away.”
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One of the most unique things about this secret Portuguese spot is the variety of landscapes to enjoy.
Melides is sandwiched between the wild hills of Serra de Grândola and golden sandy beaches, including Praia de Melides.
Though it is not so undiscovered, it is yet to be packed with clubs and overrun with bars like most other coastal spots in Portugal.
In town, restaurants line the main cobblestone square, including O Melidense, known for its authentic cuisine of garlicky clams and crispy-fried whole sardines.
Until 2015 the area around idyllic Comporta was free of large hotels and paparazzi though an influx of wealthy hoteliers quickly caused the demise of its small-town charm. This is when Melides became established as the new secluded spot on the Alentejo coast.
While it is not yet a tourist hotspot, it has attracted high-profile names inlcuding Christian Louboutin. Before Princess Eugenie arrived in the Portuguese town, the French fashion designer had already forged a home along a bumpy track yo Praia a Vigia – the locals’ favourite beach.
The village itself is home to several charming spots including an off-license lined with a row of Casamigo tequilas, a company founded by George Clooney, Randy Gerber and Mike Meldman, and for which Jack Brooksbank was an ambassador.
Chic boutiques selling everything from fragrances and textiles to homeware are also just a stone’s throw away from Louboutin’s new hotel, Vermelho. But the true charm of Melides is in the empty stretches of white sand, a picturesque 18th-century church and a tiny market that complete the small town.