Gorgeous southern European nation Portugal is home to more than 600 miles of coastline, located on the Iberian Peninsula at the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean. The country's Algarve region is known as the site of some of the world's most beautiful beaches, many of which have earned the prestigious Blue Flag designation.
Apúlia is a charming Blue Flag-designated beachfront located within the municipality of Esposende, which was merged into the parish of Apúlia e Fão in 2013. The family-friendly beach is located along the far side of the Cavado River and offers ample visitor amenities, with lifeguards staffed on duty during the summer months at peak times. Historic windmills line the sand dunes that flank the shoreline's northern end, many of which have been stripped of their sails and converted into quaint overnight accommodations. Beach visitors can windsurf, kitesurf, and fish along the beach's coastline, with wooden walkways along the southern jetty area providing easy shoreline access for visitors. A concession area is offered for visitors, along with areas for sand football and volleyball games.
Baleal is a secluded small island located approximately two miles north of Portugal's Peniche region, separated from the country's mainland by a tombolo sandbar. The island's name is derived from a Portuguese word meaning "whale," a reference to the island's fishing and whaling past during migration season. Today, it serves as a popular family-friendly beachfront tourist destination, offering opportunities for some of the best water sport conditions in Europe. Gentle waves make for great surfing conditions for surfers of all ages and ability levels, with opportunities also offered for bodyboarding, diving, and fishing. Visitors can also walk along the beach's gorgeous cliff-lined scenery and view the nearby ilhota das Pombas and the ilhéu de Fora.
Comporta Beach is a charming former rice farming beachfront village that has been frequently compared to international beach hotspots such as Ibiza, St. Tropez, and Montauk, known as a favorite summer destination for world-renowned celebrities such as Madonna and Christian Louboutin. The lovely bohemian beachfront, which is named for a Portuguese word referring to gated water locks, is piled high with gorgeous golden sands, showcasing blanketed landscapes of wildflowers and beautiful historic architecture nearby. Families will love the beach's playful shoreline areas and calm waters, offering opportunities for barefoot beach strolling. Visitors can also enjoy a nearby protected botanical reserve and river estuary habitat or dine at several beach shacks and caipirinhas nearby.
Praia Comporta, 7570-789 Comporta, Portugal, Phone: +35-12-65-49-99-00
© Artur Bogacki/stock.adobe.com
Duquesa Beach is a charming family-friendly beach located near the city center of Cascais, named in honor of the Palace of the Dukes of Palmela, which overlooks the beach's shoreline. The beach is one of Cascais' most popular visitor beachfronts along with its adjoining neighbor Praia de Conceição, easily accessible via the city's train system. Both beaches combine during low tide conditions to form one large beachfront, which is separated by the Faial Chalet at high tide but can still be explored via the Estoril-Cascais coastal promenade. Excellent water and weather conditions make the beach a perfect summer tourist spot, with inflatables available for rental for young children to play on its calm waters. Plenty of visitor amenities are offered, along with sunblind and sunbed rentals for secluded beachfront relaxation.
5.Figueira da Foz
Figueira da Foz, commonly referred to as simply Figueira, is a relaxing coastal city located along the Iberian Peninsula's Atlantic Ocean coastline at the mouth of the Mondego River, approximately half an hour from the city center of Coimbra. The popular tourist area is home to several lively beachfronts, including the Blue Flag-designated Relogio Beach, which offers accessibility features for visitors with mobility concerts and a number of children's playgrounds. The three-kilometer Rainha das Praias is Portugal's longest public beachfront, offering gorgeous expanses of fine white sands and a variety of oceanfront cafes. Other popular beachfront spots include the former fishing village Buarcos, the unspoiled Murtinheira sand dune area, and the popular surfing beach Quiaios. Visitors can also enjoy a myriad of gambling, dining, and resort amenities at the region's casinos, as Figueria is a legal gambling zone.
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Ilha Deserta, which is also commonly referred to as Ilha de Barreta or Santa Maria Cape Island, is an unspoiled natural island located near Faro, named for a Portuguese phrase that translates as "deserted island." The gorgeous natural island is located within the Algarve and is accessible daily via ferry. Its public beachfront stretches for more than seven kilometers, offering opportunities for secluded swimming and sunbathing along its crystal-clear waterfront and gorgeous sand beach areas. Its secluded location makes it a much quieter beachfront option than many of the area's more heavily-touristed beachfronts. The beach is also a popular naturist beach location due to its remote location and lack of development. Though most of the island remains undeveloped, a small lighthouse and pier are available for exploration, and the O Estaminé restaurant serves up delicious fine coastal cuisine.
7.Praia de Matosinhos Beach
Praia de Matosinhos Beach is Porto's largest public beachfront areas, located approximately 15 minutes via metro from the city's center. The spacious golden sand beach is located along the northern coastline of the Douro estuary along the city's Atlantic Ocean coastline, known as a great day-trip spot from Porto. Visitors can swim, surf, and bodyboard at the beach throughout the summer season, with lifeguards staffed on duty at peak times. Atlantic Ocean currents keep the beach's waters cool and clear even during the hot summer months. Nearby in the town of Matosinhos, visitors can top at the region's famed fish market or enjoy delectable barbecue-grilled daily catches at a variety of local restaurants.
Av. Norton de Matos, 4450-208 Matosinhos, Portugal, Phone: +35-19-15-22-55-92
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Miramar is a quaint seaside village in Portugal's Vila Nova de Gaia municipality, located near the cities of Arcozelo and Gulpilhares. The charming upscale residential area is best known for its beach of the same name, which serves as an alternative to more heavily-touristed beaches in the region, offering excellent calm swimming conditions throughout the summer months and large waves for surfing in the wintertime. Large beach houses and mansions dot the beach's shoreline, home to European arts and intellectual luminaries such as David Wyn Lloyd and Marina Pikoul. Visitors can explore the Senhor da Pedra chapel, featured in Richard Tomes' film San Simon, enjoy tennis at the Sport Clube Alberto de Sousa, or hit the links at the nine-hole Clube de Golf de Miramar golf course. Charming cafes line the coastline, including the newly-opened Areal.
9.Porto Santo Beach
Porto Santo Beach is the main public beachfront of the small island of Porto Santo, located within Portugal's Madeira archipelago. The 5.5-mile beachfront stretches from Ponta de Calheta to Vila Baleira, offering mild weather conditions and inviting waters that are kept warm year-round by Gulf Stream currents. Though the beach is much less crowded with tourists than many of its mainland counterparts, it is still renowned internationally for its unique sands, which have been scientifically proven to help alleviate conditions such as rheumatism. Beachfront amenities include showers, snack bars, and natural palm sun shades, with frequent evening beach parties popping up at the area's beach bars throughout the summer months. Nearby attractions on the island include the gorgeous Capela do Espírito Santo church, showcasing paintings by acclaimed Flemish artist Van Cleve, and the Christopher Columbus House Museum, which presents exhibits on maritime history.
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10.Praia da Batata
Praia da Batata is Lagos' official town beach, located just a short walk from the city's central tourist area along the southern end of the city's Avenida dos Descobrimentos. The beach is a popular family-friendly spot due to its calm, protected waters, which see almost no waves from the nearby Atlantic Ocean due to its east-facing position and large headlands. Lifeguards are staffed on duty during the summer months, when activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding are very popular with tourists. Nearby, the 17th-century Fortaleza da Ponta da Bandeira makes for imposing scenery, while steep cliffs frame the beach's southern end. Many restaurants, bars, and shops are located within walking distance within Lagos' city center.
Praia da Batata, 8600-513 Lagos, Portugal
11.Praia da Ilha Da Culatra
Praia da Ilha Da Culatra is the main public beachfront of the gorgeous Ilha da Culatra, known as a popular day trip site for Portuguese families. The beautiful island, which is located within the Ria Formosa natural park near the city of Olhão, is home to the small villages of Culatra and Farol, where visitors can soak up unique local culture and dine on freshly-caught seafood at a variety of seaside restaurants. The beach is a popular spot for hiking due to its long stretches of shoreline, where visitors can collect seashells and observe a wide variety of marine life, including populations of dolphins. The waters surrounding the island's coastline are renowned for their clarity, making the beach an ideal spot for scuba diving and snorkeling.
12.Praia da Ilha de Faro
Praia da Ilha de Faro is a bustling beach and resort area located near the city of Faro, known for its relaxed atmosphere and abundance of seasonal recreation options. Though the beach's waters are often too cold for prolonged swimming, numerous water sports are popular with beachgoers, including surfing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. The lovely golden sand beach is a great choice for families traveling with children in tow, as its busy sections are staffed by lifeguards throughout the summer months. Visitors should note that the beachfront can become very crowded during the summer months and are advised to plan accordingly to secure beachfront parking. Excellent beachfront dining and nightlife options are offered along the shoreline, along with a variety of charming vacation rentals.
13.Praia da Tocha
Praia da Tocha is a Blue Flag-designated beach offering ideal surfing conditions, located in the small fishing village of Tocha, which has been a popular vacation spot since the late 20th century. The beach is known for its unique wooden structures called palheiros, which stand on stilts above the ocean's waters. Though the structures were originally built as fishermen's homes, many have since been turned into vacation accommodations, with modern versions offered alongside the historic originals. Many beachgoers enjoy observing the village's sustainable Arte-xávega fishing practices, watching from the shoreline as boats travel off into the surrounding waters and return with their daily hauls. The beach is also home to a shoreline library, a lively promenade, and a number of bustling cafes, including the famed Cova do Finfas, which serves up a variety of seafood specialties.
14.Praia de Caminha
Praia de Caminha is the northernmost beach in Portugal, located along the Minho River, which separates Portugal from neighboring Spain on one side and the Atlantic Ocean coastline on the other. The stunning beachfront boasts a view of the Spanish mountain of Santa Tecla, surrounded by beautiful populations of pine tree that provides shade for summertime beachgoers. Its calm river waters are popular with families, windsurfers, and boaters, while the fine white sands on its ocean side is a favorite for sunbathers. The nearby island fortress Forte de Insua, which was built in the 17th century, can be viewed from the beachfront or as part of boat trips departing from the beachfront daily.
15.Praia de Garrao
Praia de Garrao is a stunning beachfront located in Algarve that was originally developed as a major resort area in the 1960s, home today to numerous upscale restaurants, lively bars, and luxury resorts. The beach stretches between two famed resorts, the Vale do Lobo and the Quinta do Lago, with a boardwalk running the entire length of the shoreline between the hotels. Many of the beach's bars and restaurants sit right on the water, with some bars throwing nightly sundown parties as visitors watch the sun set over the coastline. Shoreline amenities include beachside massages and vendors renting water equipment such as jet skis and pedal boats. Visitors should note that while much of the beach is accessible for visitors with mobility concerns, several points along the boardwalk do not offer wheelchair ramps.
16.Praia de Medao
Praia de Medão is a Blue Flag-designated beach that is said to be one of the best beaches for surfing and bodyboarding in the world, attracting a plethora of international surf enthusiasts year-round. The beach is known for its unique waves that create tube-shaped crests called "super-tubos," sometimes reaching as tall as 10 feet in height. These excellent wave conditions have made the beach a home for many surfing and jet skiing competitions, including events held as part of the World Cup of Surfing in 2009. For non-surfers, the beach also offers sunbathing on its wide sand bars and opportunities for sport fishing, with a variety of restaurants and nightlife options offering al fresco dining and partying along the waterfront.
17.Praia de Paco de Arcos
Praia de Paco de Arcos is a lively riverfront beach located near the city of Lisbon, serving as a popular spot for local swimmers and sunbathers during the summer months. Though considered to be one public beachfront, the beach actually consists of two separate beachfront areas: a main beach, Praia De Paço De Arcos, which is sometimes called Praia Nova, and the smaller Praia Velha, which is located across a small harbor. On the busy main beach, visitors will find a beach cafe and paved promenade with full amenities that meanders back into the city center, while on Praia Velha, beachgoers can take in a view of the Lisbon skyline and the city's nearby river bridges while watching fishing boats travel in and out of the harbor.
18.Praia de Santa Eulalia
Praia de Santa Eulália is a Blue Flag-designated beach near the city of Albufeira that is a very popular summer destination for children and families, offering calm and shallow waters ideal for swimmers of all ability levels. High cliffs and lush green pine forests surround the beach, which is renowned throughout Portugal for its fine golden sands. Popular water sports at the beach include parasailing and jet skiing, with lifeguards staffed on duty for visitor protection during peak times. Beachgoers can also rent sunbeds, pedalos, and umbrellas or stroll along the beach's fully-accessible boardwalk. The five-star eco-friendly Grande Real Santa Eulália Resort borders the beach's shoreline, while numerous cafes, bars, and restaurants are offered within walking distance of the beach within the nearby city center.
19.Praia do Ancao
Praia do Ancãois a remote beach located approximately half an hour outside the city of Faro that is known throughout Europe for its sparkling clear blue waters and exceptionally clean shoreline. The beach, which has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag designation every year since 1989, offers a wide variety of recreational activities during the summer months, including volleyball, snorkeling, kayaking, banana boating, and water-skiing, with lifeguards staffed on patrol at peak times. While certain areas of the beach are private and marked off with dividers, much of the beach is publicly accessible and is equally visited by families, couples, and single adults. A number of acclaimed seafood restaurants are located near the beach, including the upscale 11 na Praia and the famed Dois Passos.
20.Praia do Carneiro
Praia do Carneiro is a riverfront beach located in Porta near the mouth of the Douro River, known for its unique historic structures along its shoreline. Despite the beach's lack of fine sands and subpar water quality, it remains a popular tourist destination for history buffs. The 16th-century Fortaleza São João da Foz, commonly referred to as Foz Castle, lies directly behind the beach's sands, constructed between 1570 and 1647 and used to defend the city and river until its relatively recent deactivation. Exhibitions are now showcased regularly at the fort, which is open to the public for exploration and houses the North Section of the National Defence Institute. Visitors can also explore the historic Farol de Felgueiras lighthouse on the beach's southern end, which is known as a prime photo opportunity spot.
Av. de Dom Carlos I 3188, Portugal
21.Praia do Carreiro do Mosteiro
Praia do Carreiro do Mosteiro is a small beach located on Berlenga Island, accessible via public ferry boat from the mainland. The island is known for its brilliant blue waters and unique red sand, which has been created by the erosion of underline granite. Its waters are considered to be an excellent spot for snorkeling, bathing, and marine life watching, with glass-bottomed boats operating tours around the island's coastline to showcase its marine species and unique sea formations. The island is also the home of the historic São João Baptista fort, constructed in the 17th century. Visitors should note that since the entire island of Berlenga is a nature preserve, it is important to stay on marked paths and designated areas so that the island's fragile ecosystem is not disturbed.
22.Praia do Molhe
Praia do Molhe is a Blue Flag-designated beach located in the city of Porto, named for the large stone jetty that runs through its waters, which serves as a popular fishing spot. Its primary 168-meter public beachfront area is one of Porto's most-photographed locations, appearing in a wide variety of postcards and tourism ad campaigns. The picturesque beach is home to some of the most iconic sites in Porto, including the 1930s-built garden promenade and archway Pérgola da Foz. A grand staircase extends from the beach's sands, connecting it directly to the Pérgola and to a boardwalk that offers a wide variety of beachfront restaurants, bars, stores, and ice cream parlors.
Av. do Brasil 749, Porto, Portugal
23.Praia dos Galapinhos
Praia dos Galapinhos is a stunning remote beach located in the Parque Natural Arrábida that was recently named as Europe's most beautiful beach by European Best Destinations. The quiet beach is known for its clear blue-green waters and sparkling white sands, serving as a popular spot for beachgoers looking for a more private beach experience than some of Portugal's livelier resort spots. Visitors should note that the beach's secluded location is a tradeoff when it comes to amenities, with very few public facilities offered for visitor use. A steep and rocky access path serves as the beach's only access point at high tide, inaccessible to those with mobility concerns. At low tide, the beach can also be accessed by climbing over rock borders at the end of neighboring beach Galapos.
24.Praia dos Ingleses
Praia dos Ingleses is a charming sandy beach located within Porto's prestigious Foz do Douro district, near the site where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The beach, which is located less than 30 minutes from Porto's city center, is known for its beautiful forested grounds and interesting rocky terrain, offering cool waters for swimming even during the languid summer months. Ample visitor amenities are offered at the beach, which is also home to several historic lighthouse facilities. A large number of cafes, restaurants, and bars line the beach's coastline, many of which stay open and remain lively nightlife spots late into the evening all week.
R. Cel. Raúl Peres, 4150-000 Porto, Portugal, Phone: +35-12-26-17-04-19
25.Praia Castelo do Queijo
Praia Castelo do Queijo is one of Portugal's most unique beaches, named in honor of its coastline Fort of São Francisco Xavier, which was originally constructed in 1661. The unique fortress is built atop a rocky area overlooking the shoreline and is popularly considered to resemble a slice of cheese with its odd architecture, earning it the nickname "the cheese castle." In fact, the beach's name translates in English to "Cheese Castle Beach." Interesting exhibits of historic weaponry are showcased at the fortress, which offers striking seaside views from its high towers. Ample shade is offered for beachgoers as a result of the beach's rocky surrounding cliffs. Visitors can easily access the beach from downtown Porto via a number of walking and biking trails.
Praça de Gonçalves Zarco 20, Porto, Portugal
25 Best Portugal Beaches
- Apulia, Photo: gadzius/stock.adobe.com
- Baleal, Photo: joyt/stock.adobe.com
- Comporta Beach, Photo: moedas1/stock.adobe.com
- Duquesa Beach, Photo: Artur Bogacki/stock.adobe.com
- Figueira da Foz, Photo: moedas1/stock.adobe.com
- Ilha Deserta, Photo: ADV Photos/stock.adobe.com
- Praia de Matosinhos Beach, Photo: avarand/stock.adobe.com
- Miramar, Photo: analuciasilva/stock.adobe.com
- Porto Santo Beach, Photo: Gbuglok/stock.adobe.com
- Praia da Batata, Photo: alister/stock.adobe.com
- Praia da Ilha Da Culatra, Photo: joserpizarro/stock.adobe.com
- Praia da Ilha de Faro, Photo: tagstiles.com/stock.adobe.com
- Praia da Tocha, Photo: Gedankenspieler/stock.adobe.com
- Praia de Caminha, Photo: moedas1/stock.adobe.com
- Praia de Garrao, Photo: tagstiles.com/stock.adobe.com
- Praia de Medao, Photo: NorthShoreSurfPhotos/stock.adobe.com
- Praia de Paco de Arcos, Photo: moedas1/stock.adobe.com
- Praia de Santa Eulalia, Photo: Carpentry/stock.adobe.com
- Praia do Ancao, Photo: tagstiles.com/stock.adobe.com
- Praia do Carneiro, Photo: Fotokon/stock.adobe.com
- Praia do Carreiro do Mosteiro, Photo: siete_vidas1/stock.adobe.com
- Praia do Molhe, Photo: anammarques/stock.adobe.com
- Praia dos Galapinhos, Photo: moedas1/stock.adobe.com
- Praia dos Ingleses, Photo: sdbower/stock.adobe.com
- Praia Castelo do Queijo, Photo: magdal3na/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: moedas1/stock.adobe.com