15 Best Beaches in Portugal

Portugal’s history is full of stories of its maritime prowess.

From the 15th century, Portuguese explorers competed with English, Dutch and Spanish in the world’s oceans.

Portugal has two distinct coastlines, one westward into the Atlantic Ocean and one southward into the Mediterranean Sea.

The sea’s influence on Portuguese cuisine, salt cod and sardines are the country’s national dishes.

There is no doubt about the quality of Portuguese beaches.

The Atlantic coast may not be as hot as the Mediterranean, but when it comes to the best beaches in Portugal, they include those on both coasts.

atlantic coast

1. Praia Forte do Paço, Viana do Castelo, Porto

Praia Forte Do Paço

The coastline north of Porto is one of beaches, dunes and coves.

The best beach is only 800 meters long and takes its name from an 18th-century fortress that is now in ruins.

Even in the middle of summer, the beach is rarely busy and families will have a great time.

There are wading pools created at low tide, providing a great paddling pool for young people.

Children can also safely enjoy the ruins.

There are no refreshments on site, so it’s best to have a picnic yourself.

2. Dunas de São Jacinto, Aveiro, Porto

Dunas de São Jacinto, Aveiro

These dunes are located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Sierra da Freita, Aretal and Caramulo.

This is a great sanctuary for bird watchers, with gannets and ospreys being the highlights.

Those who enjoy unspoiled natural surroundings will not be disappointed.

The white sandy beach stretches for about eight kilometers, and few will spoil your attempts to relax.

There are no cafes and no lifeguards patrolling.

A boardwalk has been installed to allow easier access to the beach, but beyond that, the infrastructure is limited and there are no plans at the moment.

3. Praia da Miramar, Arcozelo

Playa da Miramar, Arcozero

In Praia da Miramar, there is a lovely chapel standing alone on the rock.

Even in the middle of summer, crowds of any size are rare.

You can even have exclusive access to the beach mid-week in summer.

During your visit, you may find that the breeze is blowing and there is little shelter, but the beautiful sandy beaches more than make up for it.

If you use your imagination and capture the silhouette of the chapel – Cadela do Senhor da Pedra – as the sun goes down, you’ll have a photo in your photo album to be proud of.

Miramar itself has shops, cafes and restaurants.

4. Praia do Baleal in Peniche, Lisbon

Barrier Beach

The four-kilometre stretch of sand winds its way through the Peniche Peninsula, north of Lisbon.

This is a great spot at low tide, when rock pools leave crabs and shells hidden in seaweed.

If you’re tired of lying on the beach and sunbathing, a little further north, you can explore caves and canyons.

You’ll find cafes and restaurants where the highlight of any menu is seafood.

The waters for swimming on this stretch of Atlantic coast are relatively calm, but the area is also popular with surfers.

5. Praia da Adraga in Sintra-Cascais, Lisbon

Praia da Adraga, Sintra-Cascais

This area above Lisbon is very important for history buffs.

However, there is also a lovely beach, Praia da Adraga.

The bay is trunk-shaped, with rocks providing shade on sunny days.

Surfers use these waters, but the beaches are rarely crowded.

When the tide goes out, it’s fun to explore the little caverns exposed.

A local restaurant serving delicious fresh seafood is located by the beach.

There is a cliff walk that stretches for 5 kilometers to the westernmost point of continental Europe.

6. Praia do Guincho, Lisbon

Lisbon Praia do Guincho

If you’re looking for a rugged beach near Lisbon, this is it.

Praia do Guincho is located between Sintra and the resorts of Cascais.

It’s the top choice for surfers in the area, and with limited public transportation, it’s never really busy.

Wind means kitesurfers are just as fun as surfers on board.

If you just want to hang out with friends and enjoy the beach, you’ve found the right place.

However, you may need a car to get there.

It’s fairly exposed, with only small dunes in the back, so there are better places for families to choose.

Facilities include showers, bar and restaurant.

7. Portinho da Arrabida, Sierra da Arrabida

Portinho da Arrábida

Once you are south of Lisbon, you will reach a beautiful beach area with mountains in the background.

This beautiful white sand beach is close to the fishing village where traditional Portuguese food is served.

This whole area is a natural park and is considered one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.

The landscape is impressive and full of rare wildlife.

The beach itself is just one of several in a short stretch of coastline.

The lack of good public transport favors those who are prepared to make an effort to stay away from the crowds.

8. Praia da Amália, Brejão, Alentejo

praia da amalia

Portugal’s wild Atlantic coast continues as you head south.

The Alentejo is known for its historical sites dating back to the Moors, stunning coves and beaches – this is certainly one of them.

There are waterfalls down to the beach which provide a great shower on a hot day.

The beach, named after the famous Fado singer Amalia Rodriques, is accessible via the old smuggler’s trail and the trail subsequently used by fishermen.

Be sure to try the delicious fresh fish while you are here.

9. Praia Zambujeira do Mar, Alentejo

Playa Zambougirardomar

This beach is located in the heart of the Costa Vicentina e Sudoeste Alentejano Natural Park.

Tourists often spend time between the beaches and natural parks.

The beach is surrounded by cliffs from which there are spectacular views.

You can surf the powerful waves that hit the beach in the morning and then trek in the afternoon.

However, it is not suitable for novice surfers.

Although there is a huge music festival in August, the Sudoeste Rock Festival, few people are busy here.

mediterranean coast

10. Praia da Santa, Salema, Western Algarve

Salema beach, Algarve, Portugal

The beaches of the Algarve are equally impressive, Praia da Santa being a good example.

A short walk west of Salema you will find the coves and beautiful sandy beaches of Praia da Santa.

There is something for everyone in the area, and the dinosaur footprints on the stone are evidence that they walked the land 125 million years ago.

There are more modern reminders that the Moors were here centuries ago.

Although the Mediterranean waters are not as ferocious as the Atlantic waters, this beach is pretty wild.

11. Praia da Senhora da Rocha, Western Algarve

Praia da Senhora da Rocha

If you travel east of Portimao you will find this beautiful beach.

On the first Sunday in August, the Madonna’s procession descends from the chapel to the beach.

Sheer cliffs – orange as the sun sets – surround this sheltered beach, accessible via tunnels.

The sand is covered with scallop shells, and the beach slopes steeply towards the sea.

During peak season, lifeguards are present.

If you need refreshments, there are many small cafes nearby.

12. San Rafael Beach, Albufeira, Algarve

San Rafael Beach, Albufeira

Sao Rafael is a small sandy beach with lifeguards present in summer.

It is surrounded by cliffs.

Albufeira is located in the heart of Portugal’s most popular tourist area, with plenty of water sports to choose from.

The waves are great for surfing, and if you prefer something less energetic, you can rent kayaks or paddleboards.

There are many cafés and restaurants serving typical Portuguese cuisine.

There is a seafood restaurant right on the beach – you must try the sardines.

13. Praia da Marinha, Lagos, Algarve

Lagos Playa da Marinha

Praia da Marinha is the best beach in Lagos, another popular resort in the Algarve.

Soft white sands sit in front of cliffs.

It didn’t get particularly busy, perhaps due to the lack of public transport.

After parking, you have to walk down the cliff steps.

If you like snorkeling, you will enjoy the waters of this Lagos beach.

This is a great place to swim or sunbathe.

These steps mean it’s not really a beach for families with young children.

14. Praia do Barril, Ilha da Tavira, East Algarve

Praia do Barril, Ilha da Tavira

This beach with dunes is located on an island within the Ria Formosa Natural Park, about a 40-minute drive from Faro Airport.

The dunes form a barrier between the swamp and the ocean.

Walk through the marshes to a stunning 11km long beach.

It’s busy at times, but there’s plenty of space.

Restaurants on the west side of the island attract people, but the size of the beach avoids any crowds.

The water is relatively calm, so Praia do Barril is an ideal place to relax.

15. Praia de Cacela Velha, East Algarve

Playa de Caserabella

Cacela Velha is located in the eastern part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, next to a large lagoon.

The best way to get to the beach is by boat, but a day trip to the beach is still a worthwhile exercise.

You can walk, but it’s a pretty long walk.

If you want a place with cafes, lifeguards and toilets, this is not for you – it appeals to a certain audience.

The kids will love it; at low tide, there are small pools that may have crabs and fish.

There may be no one else around to guarantee you enough space.

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