Best beaches in Portugal

With extensive coastline extending along the Atlantic and the more protected south-facing Algarve, Portugal is home to a wealth of golden sun-drenched beaches. From cliff-backed coves to sweeping sandy stretches, here is our selection of the best beaches in Portugal.
Praia Dona Ana, Algarve, Portugal. Photo: Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock
Praia Dona Ana, Algarve, Portugal. Photo: Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock

1. Praia de Mira, Coimbra 

An hour’s drive down the coast from the city of Porto, the broad white sands of Praia de Mira are backed by the forested nature reserve Mata Nacional das Dunas de Quiaios, marking the most southerly point of the canal system that encircles the city of Aveiro. Beach huts add a splash of colour to the exceptionally clean beach which is lined with small cafés and restaurants. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer, but on windy days when the ocean swell makes big waves, the nearby inland lagoon offers safe boating and is surrounded by shady pine trees making it ideal for picnickers.

2. Praia do Guincho, Cascais

Within easy reach of the capital, Lisbon, the resort town of Cascais retains the laid-back atmosphere of an affluent seaside suburb, offering shady gardens, a marina and pedestrianised streets paved with traditional black-and-white calçada blocks. A 10-minute drive out of town, the broad expanse of sandy Praia do Guincho on the rocky Atlantic coast, draw crowds of Lisboetas at weekends to lunch at popular seafood restaurants. Some also come to swim, but the wind can be wild and the undertow fierce, when big rollers crash onto the beach, meaning that surfers and windsurfers also love it here.

Boardwalk leading to Praia do Guincho. Photo: colorphotostock/Shutterstock

3. Comporta, Alentejo

At the foot of the elongated Tróia peninsula, in the north of the Alentejo region, lies one of the best beaches in Portugal. A bumpy track leads off the road for half a mile before you arrive at the car park, from where a boardwalk leads to the expansive swathe of soft golden sands stretching in both directions that is Praia da Comporta. Dotted with colourful umbrellas during high season, this idyllic beach is served by a pair of relaxed beach cafés, and is rarely busy even at the height of the summer.

4. Almograve, Alentejo 

For unspoilt cliffs and beaches, quiet roads and villages, head to the Alentejan coast on the Atlantic. Vila Nova de Milfontes is one of the most attractive resort towns here, with a few bars, seafood restaurants and a range of accommodation. A short drive down the coast, Almograve offers an often deserted beach and sweeping views across the basalt cliffs to the ocean. At low tide, rockpools with temporary residents including crabs and shrimps provide hours of entertainment for kids armed with buckets and nets.

Praia de Almograve, Alentejo. Photo: Ventu Photo/Shutterstock

5. Odeceixe, Algarve

On the west coast at the point where the Algarve meets the Alentejo region, the attractive laid-back village of Odeceixe sits on a hillside facing a wide river valley. In summer, a stream of holidaymakers and surfers are drawn by the charms of the superb beach, which lies west of the village in a broad sandy bay framed by rugged cliffs. One of the most sheltered along this stretch of the coast, the beach offers wonderful surfing on rolling breakers at high tide and safe swimming at low tide, as well as shallow river waters running along one side of it which are ideal for young children to play in.

6. Praia Dona Ana, Algarve 

The Algarve has Portugal’s finest choice of beaches and warmest waters, from the windswept west coast, to more sheltered spots around Lagos. One such beach is the gorgeous sandy cove framed by colourful cliffs at Praia Dona Ana, which has exceptionally clear waters dotted with craggy outcrops. To truly appreciate the scenic rock formations here and at nearby beaches, take a leisurely kayak tour of the surrounding turquoise waters.

7. Praia da Rocha, Algarve 

West of Lagos, the fishing port of Portimao is known for its pastry shops and grilled sardines. Dramatic cliffs provide a spectacular backdrop to the town’s stunning sweep of beach, Praia da Rocha. Striking rock formations tower over the azure waters and there are some incredible caves to discover. After swimming in the ocean, retire to one of the pod-like restaurants lining the boardwalk behind the sands, to savour cocktails and fresh seafood dishes while taking in the view.

Praia da Rocha at Portimao, Algarve, Portugal. Photo: Marcin Krzyzak/Shutterstock

8. Ilha de Tavira, Algarve 

A short ferry journey from the elegant town of Tavira takes you to the expansive unspoilt sands of Ilha de Tavira. This long, slender island just off the coast is lined by some of Portugal’s loveliest beaches, which are rarely overcrowded despite offering powder-soft sands lapped by blue waters. The island makes up part of the Natural Reserve of Ria Formosa, and so remains undeveloped – there’s a campsite and a few cafés but little else. Head to its most popular beach, Praia do Barril, to soak up the sun before cooling off with a dip in the ocean. 

Sunset over Tavira. Photo: Filipe.Samore/Shutterstock

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