The best independent guide to Portugal
The best independent guide to Portugal
Portugal is famed for its beautiful beaches, and along the 1,794 km of coastline are found some of Europe’s finest beaches. These beaches are as diverse and varied as Portugal, ranging from vast expanses of golden sands through to secluded coves with picturesque scenery.
If you are seeking a country that offers beautiful beaches and a glorious climate, then Portugal is the ideal holiday destination for you.
This article compiles our favourite beaches from around the country, and provides links to further in-depth guides.
Below is an interactive map displaying the location of the best beaches and resort towns of Portugal. The best beaches are marked in yellow and the best resort towns are shown in green.
For this article, we have included beaches covering the whole of Portugal, and tried to provide a mixture of different beach styles (scenery, surfing, family-friendly or relaxing). This article only considered beaches on the mainland Portugal and does not include any beaches on Madeira or the Azores.
The following section provides an overview of each beach and explains why we've selected it to be in our top 10 Portuguese beaches.
Where is it? 12km to the west of Obidos
Suited for? Families, sunbathing, surfing, nature watching
Best words to describe it? Calm, nature, low-key, Portuguese
Why do we recommend it? The beach is positioned on the mouth of the Lagoa de Óbidos, and is one of the prettiest natural landscapes of central Portugal. This unique positioning of the beach means that one side is exposed to the might of the Atlantic Ocean, while the rear of the beach opens onto the calm waters of the lagoon. The town of Foz do Arelho, behind the beach, is a pleasant, low-key resort town, which is a favourite with Portuguese families.
Related articles: Obidos Guide
Where is it? East Algarve, 5km from Tavira
Suited for? Families, sunbathers, cultural holiday, photography
Best Words to describe it? Unspoilt, calm and history
Why we recommend it? Not only does the beach offer the soft sands and natural scenery of the eastern Algarve but it also provides a glimpse into the fishing heritage of the region. Lining the sand dunes are hundreds of rusting anchors (the Cemitério das Âncoras), a memorial to the abandoned tuna fishing community, which was based on the Praia do Barril until the 1960s.
Barril beach lies within the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, a reserve that offers some of the finest, unspoilt beaches of the Algarve.
Our Opinion: Tavira, the closest town to Praia do Barril, is a fantastic destination for a holiday.
Related articles: Praia do Barril – Tavira guide
Where is it? Western Algarve, in Sagres,
Suited for? Surfing
Best Words to describe it? Wild, powerful surfing
Why we recommend it? The extreme western Algarve is a region of towering cliffs, powerful seas and stark, wind-blasted scenery. Sagres is the largest town of this region, and contains four outstanding surfing beaches, ideal for experienced surfers. Our favourite beach in Sagres, is the Praia da Mareta, as not only does it offer a vast expanse of sand, but is also within walking distance of the cafes and bars of the town.
The Praia da Mareta is slightly sheltered from the ferocity of the Atlantic Ocean, by the barren headland on which the Fortaleza de Sagres fort is positioned.
Our Opinion: Sagres is such a wonderful location for surfing because the four beaches face slightly different directions, so no matter the conditions there is always somewhere to surf.
Related articles: Sagres guide
Where is it? 9km south of Porto
Suited for? Relaxing, sun bathing, families
Best words to describe it? Traditional and pretty
Why we recommend it? The Praia do Senhor da Pedra is the distinctive and much-photographed beach of northern Portugal. Perched on a rocky outcrop along the water’s edge is a Baroque chapel. Apart from being almost instantly recognisable, the beach is surprisingly good, while the surrounding town (Miramar) is likeable and low-key.
The Praia do Senhor da Pedra is characteristic of the Costa Verde (Green Coast), with it’s dark golden sands, black basalt rock outcrops and powerful Atlantic waves. The Costa Verde is often overlooked as a holiday destination but there are many fantastic beach towns including Espinho, Vila do Conde, Povoa de Varzim and Vila Praia de Âncora.
Our Opinion: The Praia do Senhor da Pedra is just a 20 minutes train journey from central Porto and is ideal for a beach day trip.
Related articles: Porto guide – Porto’s beaches
Where is it? Tróia Peninsula,
Suited for? Sun worshipers, relaxing
Best words to describe it? Undiscovered, pristine, refined
Why we recommend it? The Tróia Peninsula is an unbroken 15km sandy coastline, and the secret hideaway for Europe’s elite and super wealthy. This immaculate coastline extends from Comporta in the south to Tróia at the northern tip of the Peninsula, while the middle sections conceal some of the quietest beaches of Portugal.
The town of Tróia buzzes in the summer and is a blend of sophistication and designer hotels, but just a short walk leads to nearly deserted beaches.
Tip: There is a regular ferry from Setubal to Tróia, and can be easily visited as a day trip from Lisbon.
Related articles: The Tróia Peninsula
Where is it? In the town of Praia da Rocha
Suited for? Sunbathing, water sports, activities and socialising
Best words to describe it? Vast, lively and active
Why we recommend it? This is the best bustling tourist beach of Portugal. The beach is so beautiful, it somehow manages to make the towering hotels and apartments that line the cliffs look good too. The Praia da Rocha beach is always a hive of activity; there are beach sports, water sports, uber-chic beach clubs, and it even hosts festivals in the summer.
The beach is enormous, easily able to handle the many thousands of summertime tourists, while further west along the coast are secluded coves hidden between the distinctive red cliffs.
Our opinion: For a lively holiday destination in the Algarve consider, Albufeira, Lagos or Praia da Rocha.
Related articles: Praia da Rocha guide
Where is it? South of Lagos, in the western Algarve
Suited for? Families, sunbathing, relaxing
Best Words to describe it? Beautiful, tranquil and stunning
Why we recommend it? The Praia de Dona Ana is one of the most visually beautiful beaches in our list. The beach nestles between the golden cliffs of the Ponta da Piedade headland, and the soft sands are lapped by calm turquoise sea waters.
The Dona de Ana beach is frequently used by marketing campaigns to promote the Algarve, and it is one of the few beaches that is actually more beautiful in real life.
Our opinion: The Dona de Ana beach is beautiful but being within walking distance of Lagos, expect it to be crowded when you visit in the summer.
Related Articles: Lagos guide – Lagos beach guide
Where is it? 5km north of Cascais
Suited for? Surfing, hiking, nature
Best Words to describe it? Unspoilt, bracing, rugged
Why we recommend it? The Praia do Guincho is a wild, windswept, surfing beach set in the dramatic natural scenery of the Serra de Sintra Nature Park. The beach is exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean, and attracts experienced surfers due to its massive waves and vast, uncrowded shoreline. Guincho is a wild and untamed beach that forms part of a coastline of massive headlands, jagged rocks and exposed cliffs.
Our opinion: Guincho beach is not for all, as there are strong tides and a near constant breeze; but if surfing, kite surfing or rugged scenery are your passions, it is undoubtedly the perfect beach for you.
Related articles: Cascais guide – The beaches of Cascais
Where is it? 7 km south of Vila Nova De Milfontes on the Alentejo Coastline
Suited for? Admiring the scenery
Best Words to describe it? Vast, undiscovered, and unspoilt
Why we recommend it? Raging seas, windswept cliffs and pristine sands, the Praia do Almograve is for visitors who appreciate nature’s raw power and beauty. Almograve beach lies within the protected landscapes of the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, an unspoilt and virtually unknown region of Portugal. The Praia do Almograve is far from the major tourist areas in Portugal, but this coastline, centred around Vila Nova de Milfontes, is worth every effort to discover.
Opinion: For natural scenery, Almograve beach cannot be beaten, but the remote location and the blustery weather, means its appeal is very limited.
Related articles: Vila Nova de Milfontes guide
Where is it? Between Sesimbra and Setubal
Suited for? Families, sunbathing and relaxing
Best Words to describe it? Picturesque, unspoilt and beauty
Why we recommend it? The Praia do Creiro has a paradise setting, sandwiched between the lush forested hills of the Serra da Arrábida and the deep blues of the ocean. These waters are uniquely calm for the western Atlantic coastline, being sheltered by the jagged cliffs of the Serra da Arrábida.
Along with stunning scenery, the Praia do Creiro is highly recommended for a beach day; there are two decent beach restaurants, the beach is lifeguard supervised, and there are no prevailing winds.
Our Opinion: The Praia do Creiro coastline is our number one, because it not only offers a beautiful setting, but is also excellent for a day on the beach. Best of all it’s only a 30-minute drive from central Lisbon.
Related articles: The Serra da Arrábida – Sesimbra guide – Setubal guide