When it comes to European beach destinations, one might not immediately think of Portugal. But actually, Portuguese beaches rank right up there on lists of some of the best beaches in Europe. And there’s quite a lot of coastline to choose from…over 1700 kilometers of coastline in fact. Of course there are plenty of golden, sun-baked beaches in Portugal. But you’ll also find the sweeping, secluded sea cliffs and coves as well. So where should you go if you’re looking for the ideal Portuguese beach destination? Here’s a look at some of the top beaches Portugal has to offer…
Portugal’s most popular beaches are found in its southernmost province: Algarve. It’s got quite a variety of coastal options from sandy islands to scalloped bays and imposing but beautiful sea cliffs. Lisbon area beaches offer a wide variety of options as well and are definitely the go to locations for city-dwellers looking for a break and party-goers looking for a little excitement outside of the city. For a more secluded experience, there’s the Alentejo coast, where you’ll find plenty of sweeping, untouched coastline, tranquil lagoons, and plenty of options to meet your beach-going needs.
Praia de Tavira – Algarve
The Algarve coastline is the most well-known in Portugal, so it’s no surprise that there may be quite a few beaches from this area to make it atop most of Portugal’s top beaches lists. And Tavira beach is a great choice for those looking for one of the quieter beaches in the Algarve area.
Praia Tavira is located near the Spanish border of Andalusia and the town itself has plenty of distinct Moorish influences. The beach, however, is located on Ilha Tavira, which is a long sandbar. Here you’ll find plenty of soft, sun-soaked sand, umbrellas and pedalos for rent, and a few scattered restaurants. It’s going to be a busy place in the high summer season. But if you’re there during the off season, you’ll find the beach will be pretty quiet and all the more enjoyable.
Praia da Caparica – Costa de Lisboa (Lisbon Coast)
To the south of Lisbon you’ll find Praia da Caparica. The Caparica Coast has around thirty kilometers of lovely sandy beaches and calm waters. It’s ideal for swimming and sun-bathing and is a popular beach destination for Lisbon city-dwellers…especially during the hot summer months. The town of Caparica is a sleepy fishing village where you’ll find brightly colored sardine boats and an open-carriage railway that links up to nearby beaches.
Galapos – Parque Natural da Arrabida
Those looking for a more off the beaten path beach experience will want to consider this beautiful coastline. Galapos is part of the protected Parque Natural da Arrabida and is fairly off of the tourist radar. The area is dotted with cove beaches, the best one being Galapos, with its calm bay waters. And the small harbor village of Portinho da Arrabida nearby offers a local charm you won’t find along the more touristy beaches around Lisbon.
Porto Covo Beaches – Alentejo
The southern coast of Alentejo is a favorite of both locals and tourists. There’s plenty of beautiful, untouched coastline here as well as idyllic sandy coves, sand dunes, and rugged cliffs. But travelers will also find great beach spots here too. Porto Covo is one of the best places to check out. Porto Corvo was a fishing village, but is now a popular beach retreat destination. North of Porto Covo, you’ll find Priai Grande or Big Beach, as it’s known in English. It’s a fun beach to explore. And Praia da Samouqueira offers some pretty cool rock formations to check out while you’re in the area exploring various beaches.
Santo Andre – Alentejo
Another Alentejo location makes the list with the beach at Santo Andre. This beach is located on a large, tranquil lagoon separated from the nearby Atlantic Ocean by a strip of sand. It’s definitely a popular beach destination due to its calm waters and ideal swimming and sun-bathing opportunities.
Cascais and Estoril – (Costa de Lisboa) Lisbon Coast
Costa de Lisboa or the Lisbon Coast is a hotspot for city-dwellers to go to for escaping the heat of the city on the weekends. So most beaches are busier then…especially during the summer months. The beach town of Estoril is known for its upscale bars and restaurants as well as ritzy hotels and many casinos. The area also has five beaches, where you’ll find plenty of bar and restaurant options. The waters along these beaches are calmer than most of the waters along Portugal’s main coastline since the beaches are south-facing. About a twenty minute walk from Estoril, you’ll find Cascais. Here you’ll find several popular beaches. Praia de Ribeira and Praia Rainha are popular among families while Praia Guincho is where you’ll find one of the best windsurfing areas in the country.
Adraga and Baleal – Costa de Prata (Prata Coast)
Between the Porto and Lisbon coasts, you’ll find the Prata coast. This area is known as the “silver coast” because of its white sandy beaches. Swimmers, sun-bathers, and water sport enthusiasts flock to this area for entertainment and relaxation. Adraga beach sits between two prominent hills. You can access by a steep, winding hill road. This area sees pretty big waves and is popular with surfers. Surfing enthusiasts will also want to check out the nearby Peniche fishing port area for some great surfing waters as well. Further east is where you’ll want to go for calmer waters. That’s where you’ll find Baleal beach. It has plenty of smooth, untouched sands and ideal swimming conditions.
Praia da Marinha and Benagil – Algarve
Between Armacao de Pera and Centianes lies a stretch of coastline fit for the adventurous traveler. That’s because here you find a series of cool cove beaches. And the great thing is that many of these beaches remain untouched and undeveloped. Praia da Marinha is definitely one of those beaches to check out. Its cliff-backed series of coves are perfect for exploring. And as far as development goes, there’s a seasonal beach restaurant and not much else. If you follow the cliff-top path, you’ll wind your way around to the next bay, Benagil. There’s a small seaside village here with a beach set beneath its imposing cliffs. If you’re feeling up to it, you can venture out on a fishing boat to see a huge sea cave.
Of course these are just a few of the many beach destinations you can find in Portugal. Anywhere you go along the coast, you’re bound to come across a new and interesting find along the Portuguese coastline. So it’s always a fun idea to take a few days to go out along the coast and explore. It’s a great way to discover Portugal’s Atlantic coast while taking advantage of the beautiful, idyllic beaches the country has to offer!