The Best Beaches in Portugal

With around 600 miles of coast, much of which is sandy beach, Portugal is a beach-goer's paradise. Add Portugal's excellent climate and you can see why portugal rates as one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe

Portugal's beaches vary widely in both appearance and the range of activities they offer. From the weird and wonderful rock formations of the Algarve's coves to the exposed, windswept expanse of Guincho near Cascais all are endowed with an unquestionable natural beauty.

Unlike other countries in Southern Europe, whose coasts face into the calm waters of the Mediterranean, Portugal faces the full force of the Atlantic Ocean. As a result they provide some of the best surf and surfing in Europe.

Portugal also scores well with its Blue Flag beaches - there are 18 in total most of which are in the vicinity of Lisbon. These beaches are rated not only on their excellent water quality, but on the facilities available and therefore make excellent family beaches.

Without doubt, Portugal is home to some of the best beaches in the world.

Portugal Top Rated Beaches

  • Praia Dona Ana - Lagos
    Jose Manuel

    Praia da Dona Ana is often cited as the best beach on the Algarve, in fact it was even described as the 'best beach in the World' by magazine Condé Nast Traveller. That's quite a lot to live up to! Dona Ana beach is the classic Algarve cove; nestled between the sandstone cliffs on the eastern side of Ponta da Piedade, it is sheltered from the breeze but catches all the day's sun. This section of coast is sometimes referred to as the Costa d'Ouro (Golden coast) on account of the yellow/red...

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  • Praia de São Rafael

    The crystal clear, shallow waters and silky soft golden sand make Praia de São Rafael one of the most popular beaches in the Albufeira area. The beach is just far enough away from the resort town to not be overrun, but close enough to be within easy reach (2 km to be precise).

    Set in a pretty bay, flanked by tall ochre coloured limestone cliffs São Rafael is reminiscent of many of the beaches along this stretch of Algarve coast. The beach is home to an array of wonderful rock...

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  • Praia do Camilo - Lagos

    Along with neighbouring Praia Dona Ana, the beach of Camilo is Lagos' (if not one of the Algarve's) iconic beach. Whilst Dona Ana may have the slight edge when it comes to outlandish, cohre rock formations and grottoes, Praia do Camilo shares the same golden sand and crystal clear, azure waters.

    To reach the beach involves negotiating the 200 wooden steps which wind their way down the orange cliffs. These same cliffs offer shelter from the ocean winds making Praia do Camilo a...

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  • Zambujeira do Mar
    Zambujeira do Mar beach
    Rui Santos

    The sleepy seaside village of Zambujeira do Mar is set within the Costa Vicentina and Sudoeste Alentejano Nature Park towards the southern end of the Alentejo coast. A huddle of whitewashed walls and terracotta roofs overlook this fantastic beach from the cliff top. 

    This is a good-sized sandy beach with a Blue Flag award so you can be assured that there are plenty of facilities, clean bathing water and a seasonal lifeguard service. Zambujeira is also a good surf spot and attracts...

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  • Vila Nova de Milfontes
    Vila Nova de Milfontes
    Ben Jeayes

    Praia da Franquia is one of Vila Nova de Milfontes main beaches. Tucked away from the coast on the northern bank of the River Mira, this is probably the most sheltered beach in the area. This makes it a great family beach, as do all the facilities such as a lifeguard service and beach cafe / bar etc. Praia da Franquia also benefits from being located close to the town.

    Given its sheltered aspect water sports such as windsurfing and canoeing are particularly popular here. 

    ...

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  • Sesimbra Setúbal
    Praia dos Galapinhos

    Set in the Parque Natural Arrábida near Setúbal, the idyllic Praia de Galapinhos is one of the regions most stunning beaches. The crescent of golden-white sand, backed by the densely forested hills of the Serra da Arrabida, is lapped by crystal-clear azure waters. It is little wonder this beach was awarded 'most beautiful beach in Europe' by the European Best Destinations organization.

    Whilst the beach is a little slice of paradise getting down to it is a different matter....

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  • Vila Nova de Milfontes
    Almograve beach

    Set about 10 km to the south of Vila Nova de Milfontes is the low-key, little resort of Almograve. The coast around here is fairly rugged with high cliffs and rocky basalt outcrops jutting out into the might of the Atlantic.

    The beach at Almograve is one of a number of beaches in the area but is by far the biggest and best known. At low tide a wide crescent of golden sand is revealed which is almost separated by a set of rocks towards the middle of the beach. As the tide comes in the...

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  • Portimão
    Praia da Rocha

    Consisting of nearly two kilometres of sand punctuated by jagged rock formations rising from the sea and backed by steep limestone cliffs, Praia da Rocha was one of the first places in the Algarve to be developed for tourism. As a result it is not the prettiest of towns. Purpose-built multi-storey apartment blocks dominate the cliffs behind the beach while discos, casinos, bars and restaurants line the main street, the Avenida Tomas Cabreira...

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  • Costa da Caparica beach

    Caparica itself is a lively if not particularly pretty town whose overwhelming popularity with holidaying locals from Lisbon and the surrounding area rests largely on the access she offers to some ten kilometres of sandy beach.

    The beach, known as Costa da Caparica, is backed by acacia and eucalyptus trees and home to a string of campsites, packed out during the summer months.

    The first five kilometres of...

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  • Praia do Barril anchors
    123RF / Armando Frazão

    Huge, quiet sandy beach located just west of Tavira. It's a bit of a walk to Praia do Barril from the town but fortunately there is a small train running from Pedras d’El Rei. Barril is a Blue Flag beach so there are plenty of facilities, including seasonal lifeguards. At the far end of the there is an official nudist beach.

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  • Sesimbra Beach

    This curving, turquoise bay just 40km south of Lisbon is home to a long, sandy beach that splits in two at high tide to form a strand each side of an intriguing waterfront fort.

    Jetskis and ketches play off-shore while droves of Lisbon residents flock to taste the marine delights on offer at scores of beachfront restaurants, each with its own charcoal grill.

    The town of Sesimbra, nestling in the foothills of the Serra da...

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  • Praia do Norte, Nazare

    Many years ago the little fishing town of Nazaré started to grow as a popular holiday resort. Whilst not known to many outside of Portugal the resort has grown some might say to its own detriment. In the summer the main beach in front of the town can be absolutely heaving. However, over recent years it is not the town beach that has become internationally famous but the long stretch of virtually empty coast to the north of the towering headland of Sitio.

    Praia do Norte is a 1.5 Km...

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  • Arrabida Beach - Sesimbra
    José Manuel

    A short drive east of Setubal down tiny winding roads will bring you to one of the most stunning beaches in Portugal - Portinho da Arrabida. This former tiny fishing village is now attracting increasing numbers of foreign visitors each year, but its isolation from public transport have so far protected this sheltered cove from serious overcrowding. Crystal clear waters, reaching 17 degrees in high summer, make this an excellent spot for fishing and...

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  • Praia dos Pescadores - Albufeira
    iStockPhoto

    Praia dos Pescadores (Fisherman's beach) is situated right in front of Albufeira's old town. It is one of the resort's main beaches along with neighbouring Praia do Túnel and as such can get pretty busy in the summer months. Of course there are advantages; it is easily accessible from the Old Town - there is even an escalator down to beach level from the cliffs behind.

    The name of the beach comes from it once being where the town's fishermen would launch their boats from. There are...

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  • Ribeira d

    Set in a valley between high cliffs, just to the north of Ericeira is the beach of Ribeira d'Ilhas. A lovely sandy beach complete with river and lots of interesting nooks and crannies, there's plenty here for the kids to do.

    What Ribeira d'Ilhas is best known for though is the surf. Having hosted numerous rounds of the WQL surfing World Tour championships there is no doubts this is a world class break. There are actually better waves in the Ericeira area but most are harder to get too...

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