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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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 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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  • Peniche
    Baleal beach

    The beach of Baleal sits at the opposite end of the wide bay, around 4km (3 miles) from the town of Peniche. The sandy beach here connects the island of Baleal to the mainland around 100 metres away. Baleal is a great, clean beach popular with families and even more so, surfers. The variety of coastline here means there are waves suitable for all levels of surfer and all weather conditions.

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  • Praia do Martinhal - Sagres
    Freebird | BY-SA

    Praia do Martinhal is a wide sandy beach just outside Sagres. It is around 2km from the town and takes about 25 minutes to walk here meaning it is usually relatively quiet. 

    The beach at Martinhal is set in the shallow and relatively sheltered east-facing Bay of Baleeira which is also home to the town's harbour. This means the water here is nearly always calmer than the Atlantic-facing beaches around Sagres' mighty headland. With a lifeguard service running during the summer months...

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  • Cascais
    Guincho beach
    Can Stock Photo Inc. / StevanZZ

    Located just around the corner from Cascais is one of the regions best known beaches. Unlike the beaches of Cascais and Estoril, Praia do Guincho faces directly into the Atlantic Ocean making it a very different place. The large stretch of golden sand is backed by dunes leading towards high cliffs in the north with not much between here and Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point in mainland Europe.

    As you can imagine Guincho is exposed to the full force of the Atlantic making it a...

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  • Adraga Beach

    Just around the corner from Praia Grande is another local favourite Praia da Adraga. This sandy little cove is backed by high cliffs with a deep valley winding down to the beach. The beach here is usually quieter than the better known beaches in the area and is mostly the preserve of locals. However, it can get quite busy at weekends when parking is at a premium.

    Adraga is a fairly wild spot being located just a few kilometres north of Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point on mainland...

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