FRESH waves splash on to untouched sand as I make my way along the sea’s edge – but my feet stay dry.

That’s because I’m riding a caramel-coloured horse — called Laranjinha (Portuguese for “little orange”) — along a slice of the longest continuous stretch of beach on the Iberian Peninsula.

The area, called Comporta, lies just over an hour’s drive south of Lisbon and runs uninterrupted for a breathtaking 40 miles.

I’m following in the, er, hooves of none other than Madonna, who also saddled up here at the Cavalos na Areia riding school.

There are a dozen of us soaking in the picturesque nature as we hack through deserted pine forests and across sand dunes to reach the sea.

In fact, this coastline off the luscious Alentejo region of Portugal has been slowly but surely garnering more attention over the past decade and a half thanks to a string of A-list visitors, who also include Monica Bellucci, George Clooney, Carla Bruni and Christian Louboutin.


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But despite murmurings it is “the new Ibiza”, it is still, for now at least, a peaceful idyll.

I’m staying in the first and only hotel in the quaint old fishermen’s village of Comporta itself.

The stylish but laid-back AlmaLusa only opened its doors in November.

I take in the serene views over its swimming pool and adjacent rice fields while sipping a glass of chilled vinho verde — green wine, which is a Portuguese delicacy — on its rooftop in the 20C April sunshine.

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If, like me, you’re relying on public transport to get around, then staying in town is ideal.

AlmaLusa is just a few minutes’ walk from some of Comporta’s top restaurants.

Museu do Arroz specialises in rice dishes and is set inside a former 1950s rice-husking mill.

Or try Cavalarica, which prides itself on cooking with local ingredients.

There’s the opportunity for a little light retail therapy at Casa da Cultura where you can find chic souvenirs.

Golden hour

To get to the beach is a 15-minute rural stroll and there are also electric bicycles for exploring further afield (they can be hired through the hotel for 30 euros per day).

For those who choose to get around by car (it’s wise to hire one at Lisbon Airport before travelling down), then you can delve further into the peace and quiet of Comporta’s 12,500-hectare nature reserve, which has benefited from very limited construction of hotels and villas over the years.

For a more affordable stay, there are plenty of rustic Airbnbs for less than £87 per night.

Going away for a special occasion? The luxurious Sublime Comporta, favoured by football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, is the wider region’s original hotel.

Cool off in its all-natural “biological” swimming pool — one of the largest in Europe — and dine on traditional Portuguese cuisine with a modern twist at the Sem Porta restaurant (where they serve their own olive oil and wine).

A ten-minute shuttle bus from Sublime will take you to their revered Sublime Comporta Beach Club, which provides the perfect buzzy ocean setting for a delicious cocktail.

Feeling restless? Right next door, on the Praia do Carvalhal beach, the Surf In Comporta school runs lessons for adults and children.

In fact, the area is one of the few in Portugal that has decent waves all year round.

Around 20 minutes back up the coast, near Comporta village, I find myself tucking into juicy garlic prawns during golden hour at beachside restaurant Ilha do Arroz.

This was a culinary highlight of the trip, along with a visit to local institution Dona Bia.

The much-loved, down-to-earth restaurant served me a tasty lunch of sea bass along with a spinach and bean rice dish on its roadside terrace.

With just a lone car passing by every now and then, it felt like the spring escape I didn’t know I needed.

I’m not surprised the famous can’t get enough.

GO: Comporta

GETTING THERE: Fly to Lisbon from multiple airports with Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air.

Return flights in June from £114pp.


STAYING THERE: Rooms at AlmaLusa Comporta from £126 per night.


Double rooms at Sublime Comporta from £197 per night.


OUT & ABOUT: A group horse ride on the beach, lasting one hour 30 minutes, costs £74 per adult.



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