15 Best Popular Beaches in Portugal

Popular Beaches in Portugal

Portugal’s history is filled with stories of its maritime power.
Portuguese explorers competed with the British, Dutch, and Spanish across the world’s oceans from the 15th century onwards.
Portugal has two distinct coastlines, one facing west to the Atlantic and one facing south to the Mediterranean.

The influence of the sea features in Portuguese cuisine, with salt cod and sardines the country’s national dish.
There is no doubt about the quality of Portugal’s beaches.
Temperatures on the Atlantic Coast may not be as high as those on the Mediterranean, but when it comes to the best beaches in Portugal, they are among those on both stretches of coast.

Atlantic Coast

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

The northern coastline of Porto is one of the beaches, dunes, and coves.
The best of the beach is only 800 meters long and takes its name from the 18th-century fort that now lies in ruins.

The beach is rarely busy, even in the height of summer, and families will have a blast.
There are shallow pools built at low tide which make great paddle pools for children.
Kids can enjoy the ruins safely too.

No drinks are available on-site, so it’s best to take your picnic.

  1. Dunas de São Jacinto, Aveiro, Porto

These dunes are located between the Atlantic and the Sierra da Freita, Arestal, and Caramulo.
This is a great protected protected area for birdwatchers, with attractive gannets and ospreys.

Those who enjoy the natural environment will not be disappointed.
The white sand stretches for about eight kilometers and a few others will spoil your efforts to relax.
There are no cafes, nor are there lifeguards on patrol.
Boardwalks have been installed to make it easier to reach the beach, but otherwise, there is limited infrastructure, or anything currently planned.

  1. Praia da Miramar, Arcozelo

There is a beautiful little chapel standing alone on a rock in Praia da Miramar.
Crowds of any size are rare, even at the height of summer.
You might even have the beach to yourself on a mid-week summer’s day.
You may find a strong breeze on your visit, with little shelter, but the beautiful sand more than compensates.
If you use your imagination and capture the chapel – Cadela do Senhor da Pedra – in silhouette at sunset, you will have an image to be proud of in your album.
There are shops, cafes, and restaurants in Miramar itself.

  1. Praia do Baleal, Peniche, Lisbon

This four-kilometer stretch of sand curves across the Peniche Peninsula north of Lisbon.
This is a great spot at low tide when rock pools are left with crabs and shells hidden among the seaweed.
A little to the north, you can explore caves and ravines if you get tired of just lying on the beach sunbathing.
You’ll find a variety of cafes and restaurants, with the advantage of any menu being seafood.
The waters are relatively calm for swimming in this stretch of Atlantic Coast but the area is also popular with surfers.

  1. Praia da Adraga, Sintra-Cascais, Lisbon

This area just above Lisbon holds a lot for history lovers.
However, there is also a beautiful beach, Praia da Adraga.
The bay is in the shape of an elephant’s trunk, with rocks that provide shade on a sunny day.
Surfers use this water but the beach is rarely busy.
As the tide goes down, it’s great fun to explore the little caves that become open.
A local restaurant serving lovely fresh seafood is located just off the beach.
There is a clifftop walking trail that stretches five kilometers to the western end of mainland Europe.

  1. Praia do Guincho, Lisbon

If you are looking for a rocky beach near Lisbon, this is it.
Praia do Guincho is located between Sintra and the resorts of Cascais.
It’s the first choice for surfers in the area, and with limited public transport, it’s never really busy.
The wind means that kitesurfers get as much fun as there is on a surfboard.
If you just want to hang out with friends and enjoy the beach, you’ve found the right place.
You may need to have a car to get there.
It’s quite open, with only a small dune behind, so there are better places for families to choose.
Facilities include showers, a bar, and a restaurant.

  1. Portinho da Arrabida, Sierra da Arrabida

Once you’re south of Lisbon, you’ll reach a beautiful coastal region with mountains behind.
This beautiful white sandy beach is close to fishing villages, where traditional Portuguese cuisine is readily available.
The entire region is a nature park and is considered one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.
Its landscapes are impressive and wildlife is rare worldwide.
The beach itself is just one of several on the short coastline.
The lack of good public transport favors those who are prepared to venture away from the crowds.

  1. Praia da Amália, Brejo, Alentejo

Portugal’s wild Atlantic coast continues as you head south.
Alentejo is famous for its historic ruins, of Moorish origin, and its beautiful coves and beaches – this is certainly one of them.
There is a waterfall that falls onto the beach, providing a hot shower on a hot day.
The beach is named after the famous Fado singer, Amalia Rodriques, and is accessed using the old smuggling routes and the ones that fishermen have used later.
Be sure to try the delicious fresh fish while you’re here.

  1. Praia Zambujeira do Mar, Alentejo

This beach is in the heart of the Costa Vicentina e Sudoeste Alentejano Natural Park.
Visitors often divide their time between the beach and the nature park.
The beach is surrounded by cliffs, from which the views are spectacular.
You can surf in the morning in the strong waves that break into the beach and then walk in the afternoon.
However, this is not the place for novice surfers.
It’s rarely busy, although there is a big music festival in August – the Sudoeste Rock Festival.

Mediterranean Beach

  1. Praia da Santa, Salema, Western Algarve

The beaches of the Algarve are nothing short of impressive, with Praia da Santa a prime example of this.
A short walk west of Salema, you will find the cove and beautiful sands of Praia da Santa.
There’s something for everyone in the area, where dinosaur tracks in the rock are evidence they walked these lands 125 million years ago.
There are more modern reminders that the Moors were here centuries ago.
The coast is quite wild, although the waters of the Mediterranean are less fierce than those of the Atlantic Ocean.

  1. Praia da Senhora da Rocha, Western Algarve

If you head east to Portimão, you will find this beautiful beach.
On the first Sunday in August, the Madonna procession descends from the chapel to the sand.
Sheer cliffs – which look orange at sunset – surround this sheltered beach, accessed via a tunnel.
The sand is full of clamshells and the beach slopes steeply into the sea.
During high season, there is a lifeguard present.
There are some small cafes close by if you need a drink.

  1. Sao Rafael Beach, Albufeira, Algarve

Sao Rafael is a small sandy beach, where lifeguards are present in summer.
Surrounded by cliffs.
Albufeira is located in the heart of Portugal’s most popular tourist area and there are plenty of water sports available.
The waves are ideal for surfing and kayaks or paddleboards can be rented if you prefer something less energetic.
Many cafes and restaurants are serving Portuguese specialties.
A seafood restaurant is found right on the beach – you must try the sardines.

  1. Praia da Marinha, Lagos, Algarve

Praia da Marinha is the best beach in another popular Algarve resort, Lagos.
The soft white sand is in front of the cliff.
It wasn’t very busy, maybe due to the lack of public transportation.
You have to walk down the cliff stairs after parking the car.
If you enjoy snorkeling, you will enjoy the waters of this Lagos coast.
This is a great place to swim or just sunbathe.
The steps mean it’s not a beach for families with small children.

  1. Praia do Barril, Ilha da Tavira, Eastern Algarve

This dune beach is on an island within Ria Formosa Natural Park, about a 40-minute drive from Faro Airport.
The dunes form a barrier between the marshes and the sea.
Stroll through the swamps to an 11-kilometer stretch of beautiful beach.
Busy at times, but plenty of space.
This restaurant on the west side of the island attracts a lot of people, but its size is like a beach so you can avoid the crowds.
The water is relatively calm, so Praia do Barril is an ideal place to relax.

  1. Praia de Cacela Velha, Eastern Algarve

Cacela Velha is to the east of 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 quite a journey.
If you want a place with cafes, lifeguards, and restrooms, this isn’t for you – it attracts a select audience.
Kids will love it; at low tide, there is a small pond that may contain crabs and fish.