The best beaches in Portugal

As melhores praias em Portugal - The best beaches in Portugal

Portugal has one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe (and even in the world!), so it’s not easy to choose the best Portuguese beaches to visit.

Not knowing where to start, I asked other travelers to talk about their favorite beaches in Portugal. They responded promptly with the best stories and images that will undoubtedly lead to a visit.

I put them here in geographic order since they’re all incredible, and none is better than the other. And, of course, I also leave mine in the middle. Go ahead, take a look!

Cabedelo (Vila Nova de Gaia): a beach that divides the river and the sea

Praia do Cabedelo - Susana Ribeiro - Viaje Comigo

I can say that it was not easy for me to choose only a beach. I have so many… but I ended up with this one always in mind. There is me, with my back to the photo, but facing what I like most: this beautiful landscape that, with a glance, covers Gaia and Porto!

All the beaches in Vila Nova de Gaia were teachers for me. I like them all, where I grew up, but this one, in Cabedelo, is very special, because that’s where the marginal and the seafront begin, which stretches over 18 kilometers.

I’m a sea girl — just like the author of this blog, Marlene —  and I feel it in me. Before moving to Porto, I lived for about 30 years in Vila Nova de Gaia, by the sea, in Lavadores, Canidelo, and so I’ll always have an umbilical connection with this place.

When I return from a trip, I always return there, to the place where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean, in a calm that neither seems to be an adjective for it: neither the river nor the sea. But, that’s where I feel (honestly) at home. It was there that I learned to swim, that I learned to do bodyboard, to respect the sea and nature in general… and to realize how small we are before its greatness. I had to get away from the sea, but it never left me.

Now, here’s this big beach waiting for us for another summer spent in our beautiful Portugal.

In addition to bathing, sea, and sun, you can also:

– visit the Douro Estuary Local Nature Reserve: a special place for those who like to watch birds (right next door);

– you can walk, stroll or run, bike, rollerblade, etc., the marginal on a cycle path that extends for many kilometers;

– go to Douro Marina: where there are coffee shops/restaurants and boat rentals for the Douro River trips.

Susana Ribeiro | Travel With Me

Nazaré: the sea for the first time

Ilustração Maria Carvão

Cristina is an illustrator and author of Maria Carvão, a project where she looks at the small (and large) things in life that she transforms into illustration.

She responded to my challenge with a magnificent illustration, of course, and the words of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen.

“As there are countless beautiful beaches in Portugal and it’s so difficult to portray them all, I chose to illustrate a beach that tells me a lot. It was where I saw the sea for the first time and where I spent many hours and days of my life: Nazaré“.

Cristina Tavares | Maria Carvão

Praia D’El Rey (Costa da Prata): away from the crowd

Praia D'El Rey - O Berço do Mundo

I don’t do a lot of beaches, much less in Portugal (although I love a walk by the sea). I’m not a fan of crowded spaces, cold water, and I don’t have the patience to spend hours toasting in the sun. It’s, therefore, a paradox to say that the first beach that comes to my mind, when talking about the subject, is Praia de Ofir, in the municipality of Esposende. It’s the closest to home and has a fantastic pine forest for picnics, so I have many memories from there, despite the water being able to make us believe that we suffer from rheumatism.

I want to recommend a beach on the Costa da Prata, near Peniche, which I visited last summer. It’s called Praia D’el Rey and is part of a tourist resort linked to golf, which is highly awarded, with a hotel and private villas. The contrast of greens with the sea creates beautiful scenery.

The name of the resort is due to the hill where D. Pedro had a castle and took his Inês, a history that’s reflected in the names of the streets of the resort. What leads me to suggest Praia D’el Rey is not classical poetry or fame — the hotel has been chosen as a training retreat for the national football team — but tranquility, since the beach is for the exclusive use of guests.

Although the water temperature is not that of the Algarve, it also doesn’t have the usual confusion of the Algarve bathing areas, making it ideal for a few days of rest with the family. Mainly because the resort has a kids’ club with lots of fun activities for them.

Ruthia Portelinha | O Berço do Mundo

São Lourenço (Ericeira): natural enclave

São Sebastião - Marlene On The Move

This is the typical example of “dying from my own poison”! When I challenge traveling friends to decide on their best beaches in Portugal, I find myself in the same dilemma of choosing among so many Portuguese paradises that have conquered me since the first hour.

But here, my heart speaks louder, and I choose my home town, Ericeira.

Yes, the bottoms are rocky, the water is cold, but Ericeira has, for me, one of the best beaches in the country! Not to mention that it’s a World Surfing Reserve and, therefore, it also has the best waves on the planet!

Ericeira is cut out by several beaches, and there are many places to spread the towel. Of all of them, my suggestion goes to São Lourenço beach.

Some say (and rightly so) that São Lourenço is not Ericeira, as it is located in the town of Ribamar. But we are talking about a few meters of separation and, as part of the world reserve, I proudly put it in the same bag.

São Lourenço beach is in a valley, cut by vegetation, cliffs, sand, and sea. There’s also a small river that flows there and has become a home for ducks and other birds.

It’s not the most suitable place for long swimming sessions, except on days when there’s no swell, but the tranquility that is lived there is worth everything else.

It has excellent beach support, sun hats, and loungers in the summer months; for longer meals, you can go up the staircase on the north side of the beach and go to the restaurant “O Golfinho.” Go at the end of the day and watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in the region.

Marlene

Guincho (Cascais): sand with an unmistakable aroma

Guincho Madalena Vidigal Entre Vinhas

I’m what is called in Cascais, a “daughter of Guincho.” I was born in a small village called Areia, very close to this beach, and I got used to the salt on my feet.

I always laugh that, now, as an adult, I see groups of children going to the beach with the school in summer. I see them go to calm beaches, calm sea, play safely in the sand and bathe in the small ripples of the water. I laugh because I always remember how different my childhood summers spent in Guincho were!

We never knew what the weather would be like down there on the beach, but nothing stopped us from going, every morning, in a bathing suit, a hat on your head, a towel in one hand and a bucket in the other and a jacket in your backpack because, in short, “you never know.”

We faced gusts, ate sand, swallowed saltwater whenever we tried to dip a toe in the sea! We got used to Guincho’s bad temper, and for that reason, we didn’t have less (we even have more) fun than other children!

But if Guincho has that untimely and unpredictable character, it’s also, for me, the most beautiful beach in the world! Whose sand has an unmistakable aroma and where the sunset is long and inspiring.

And those who know me understand when I say that it’s rare to have good weather on that beach, but when it is, it’s remembered as “one of those Guincho days” (and I already have a smile on my face just thinking about it!)

Madalena Vidigal | Entre Vinhas

Avencas (Cascais) and Samoqueira (Sines): from practical to wild

Praia da Samoqueirinha Luli Monteleone

I start with the Avencas beach in Cascais, as it is the beach I most frequent since it’s close to my home. I like it there because despite being on the Cascais coastline, it doesn’t usually get very crowded. It’s a small beach with many stones, and that doesn’t typically have many waves. It has a natural pool and a beach bar. When the tide is low, you can walk on the rocks and observe the many species that remain there, since it is considered a Zone of Biophysical Interest. Because it’s small, on high tide days, the sand space available is small… Still, it’s worth going there!

For those looking for a wilder and little-known beach, I recommend Samoqueirinha in Sines. All that part of the coast is beautiful, but this particular beach is even more charming. It’s tiny, with access made by a ladder, and the sea’s color is incredibly beautiful! It’s a wild beach, with no bar and no lifeguard. This is also a beach that practically doesn’t exist at high tide, so it’s essential to look at the tide chart before you go. It’s a place I want to go back to this summer, for sure!

Luli Monteleone | Lulimonteleone.com

Porto Côvo: beach made of memories

Porto Covo - Sónia Justo - Lovely Lisbonner

I don’t like cold water. It may seem counterintuitive to say that you don’t like cold water in an article on Portuguese beaches, but… it’s the truth! And surprisingly, my favorite beach in Portugal is not in the Algarve. Which is still the only region in Portugal where the water is a little warmer.

I even have beautiful memories of the Algarve beaches, because my mother is from there, and I’ve spent countless summers in Portimão and Ferragudo. But my favorite beach is Porto Côvo.

Also made of memories, the village of Porto Côvo is 173 km from Lisbon. It belongs to the Sines Municipality and is inserted in the Natural Park of Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina.

About 250 meters off Porto Côvo is Ilha do Pessegueiro. Immortalized in Portuguese Rui Veloso’s song. It’s possible to take guided tours of the island to get to know the Roman Ruins, the quarry, the Cisterns and balcony, the Fort of Santo Alberto do Pessegueiro, and the Local Fauna and Flora. And it’s even possible to camp on the island.

Beaches hidden by cliffs, with landscapes as far as the eye can see, is the ideal for those who like the beach and good food. Here you’ll find different types of accommodation, adapted to different budgets.

Sónia Justo | Lovely Lisbonner

Carriagem Beach (Costa Vicentina): environmental education class

Praia da Carriagem Costa Vicentina

Even though I’m not a person to hang out on a beach, the truth is that I love the coast. Smell the ocean air and feel the salt on the skin. Walk on the beach looking at the horizon, preferably in landscapes with cliffs and less easy access, such as some of the existing beaches in the Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina Natural Park.

That’s why, for me, with all the subjectivity these choices have, the answer to the challenge in this article can only be one. Carriagem beach, which I have already written as the most beautiful beach in Portugal. It is half a dozen kilometers from Rogil, a town located south of Odeceixe, practically on the divide between Alentejo and Algarve. In fact, geographically speaking, the Carriagem is already in the Algarve. Still, to me, it has always seemed like Alentejo land, a region where I spent countless summer holidays in my youth.

The beach is especially beautiful at low tide when the deep curvilinear marks carved into the rocks are bare before the visitor’s eyes. And then there is a profusion of animal life trapped in puddles and holes in the rocks, making the hours spent on the beach much more interesting. As I already wrote, Carriagem is “a free environmental education class.”

Filipe Morato GomesAlma de Viajante

Arrifana (Aljezur): cool vibe in the air

Arrifana - Catarina Leonardo - Wandering Life

Arrifana beach is probably my favorite in the whole country. It’s a beautiful beach with immense charisma, and I would venture to say that even some mysticism. To get there, we have to go to Aljezur, and then from there, we have to go another 10 kilometers down a road that allows us to guess what kind of place we are arriving at. As soon as we see the first white houses, we feel a relaxed vibe in the air, with many foreigners, surfers, and several other people who value nature and the tranquility that reigns here.

To get to the beach, you need to slowly descend a large gap, which gives us time to absorb the beauty of its surroundings. All around Arrifana beach, there are super high cliffs arranged in such a way that they originate a small bay, sheltered from winds and waves.

At the end of the day on the beach, it’s worth going to Fortaleza da Arrifana to contemplate the whole scene, the beach and surfers, the white village, and the fishing port right next door. For me, it’s the ultimate beauty of the entire Alentejo coast.

Catarina Leonardo | Wandering Life

©Maja Flipflops

It was an arduous task, and we all had so many other best beaches in Portugal to include on this list. But the challenge doesn’t stop there. Now it’s your turn!

Share in the comment box below your favorite beach and why it has won a special place in your heart.

See where are the best beaches in Portugal

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It's not just me saying this, but seven other Portuguese travelers who accepted my invitation to talk about their favorite beaches in Portugal. If you don't know them yet, it's worth discovering these places by the sea.

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