In the municipality of Ponte de Sôr, in Portugal, stands Montargil, a village known for its dam that irrigates the Sorraia river valley. As soon as we arrived, we felt the torrid heat that is so typical of the Alentejo region. Fortunately, the main tourist attraction is the dam, which is used for a wide variety of water sports, as well as for fishing.
Montargil is home to a cultural heritage of religious inspiration, modest but interesting. The Matriz Church, the Misericórdia Church and the Baroque Chapels of Santo António, São Sebastião, São Pedro and Senhor das Almas, all bear witness to the passage of time that seems to have stopped here.
This is a place to rest, with fluvial beaches of warm water framed by the green of the countryside. There are beautiful nature paths very close, in Mora and Gavião, and for these reasons it’s an ideal destination for those looking for nature and tranquility.
1. Montargil Dam: A piece of heaven
After a walk in the small village, go to the dam that will make you feel like you’re in heaven. Here you can bathe peacefully while enjoying a luxuriant landscape of green hills that take you back to a kind of lost paradise. The vacationers are several meters away from each other and the silence will help you disconnect from the world immediately.
The water of the dam is warm, so you can spend the whole day there without getting cold. It is a very pleasant place also for those with children, as well as for water sports and boat trips.
Near the dam there are several fantastic accommodation options. From the Hotel Monte Novo or the Nau, Lago Montargil & Villas, which are a reference in Montargil, with superb views over the dam and lines of palm trees that make you believe you are somewhere in a Caribbean resort. Other magnificent lodging possibilities are the Chalet do Lago, the Monte da Barragem or the Casa da Margem, but beware that in high season reservations in these places sell out very quickly so you should book in advance.
2. Foros do Mocho: Coves trimmed in blue and green
To continue in zen mode in the middle of nature, continue to Foros do Mocho, where the river beach stretches along several almost deserted coves and peace reigns, interrupted only by the some boats that navigate there from time to time.
The sensation of being immersed in warm water surrounded by nature is undescribable.
Do as I do, dive for long hours and then lie on the sand in the shade of the trees and breathe the fresh air. The trees adorn these wonderful river beaches, creating a truly different environment.
If you prefer some action try water skiing or jet skiing with the Nautical Club of Montargil, or if you want something more tranquil, venture out on a boat ride along the dam. I assure you the scenery will be worth it.
Finally, when you leave the beach, go to Retiro do Mocho for dinner. Although the restaurant itself is dimly lit and the service is very slow, the quality of the food and the Alentejo specialties are worth the visit, but I emphasize, be prepared to wait.
Try the codfish stew (açorda de bacalhau), the shark or tomato soup, and the asparagus flakes (migas de espargos), as well as the codfish fritters with bean rice, the spare ribs, or the seafood with rice.
3. Tesos Beach: Nature in its purest state
The first time we arrived at this beach, I was impressed to find a true paradise lost. Despite its strange name, the beach stretches for miles on end along which you can see less than half a dozen people.
Surrounded by a kind of forest where tourists also come to picnic, this river beach has a landscape that fills your soul. The blue surface of the water seems endless, being flanked by white sand sprinkled with plants here and there.
The trees offer a landscape framing that seems like the finishing touch of a unique painting. The beach is so unique that we spotted a shepherd with his sheep right at the edge of the dam.
What we really enjoyed on this trip is the peace of mind and the unique beauty of the landscape, combined with the warm baths in the waters of the dam that soothes the body and relaxes the mind. It is a true balm for those who need to rest, to disconnect from work, or to spend time with a loved one. Despite its lack of infrastructure, this beach is really worth the visit.
4. Gameiro Ecological Park: A walk in nature
If you choose to stay of a few days in Montargil, you should definitely visit some of the sights nearby. The landscape diversity will dazzle you.
Just 15 km away, more or less 15 minutes, you have the Gameiro Ecological Park, in the municipality of Mora, where you can walk through a wooden walkway along the Ribeira da Raia, and at the same time see the specific fauna and flora of the place, with very beautiful birds and peculiar bushes. On the other hand, besides the long walkway, you can also take a canoe trip on the river. I assure you that the scenery is really worth it.
The place also has a camping and picnic park, leisure area, river beach with café and large parasol. There’s also a park for tree climbing in the surrounding area for the practice of extreme activities. You can also visit the Environmental Interpretation Center and the Mora Fluviarium, which is very close, and will delight the younger ones, as will do the small Oceanarium.
5. Alamal’s footbridge and Belver Castle
The Alamal Footbridge in Gavião, is about 45 minutes by car from Montargil and the landscape is equally superb, especially if you decide to take the footbridge all the way to the end.
For those who like to imagine themselves in the middle of nature looking at a castle, an historical location where in former times Portugal was defended from invasion, this is the right place. Belver Castle is a fortification on top of a mountain that adorns the Tagus River, whose beauty will dazzle you.
Admission to the Belver Castle costs only 2 euros and is well worth it, as it is a standing symbol of Portuguese medieval military architecture. If you choose to go in, the view from inside the castle is truly unique. Belver is well preserved and its geographical position makes it a deeply imposing structure in the landscape.
On the Alamal footbridge, the route is easy and with several ideal points to take pictures that will give wonderful memories. After the walkway, rest at the Alamal beach, where you can also enjoy boat rides, rent canoes and paddle boards.
If you feel like having lunch on the beach, go to the Alamal restaurant, which has an original terrace and very nice snacks. This itinerary can be done in 4 or 5 days. Try it, it will be an experience that will calm your body and mind.