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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Arrifana beach
    Filipe Varela / 123RF

    Sixteen kilometres north of Carrapateira lies the village of Aljezur, which is considerably larger than Carrapateira and probably one of the prettiest and liveliest towns on the western Algarve. From here buses run to a couple of outstanding beaches, the largest of which is Praia da Arrifana, ten kilometres to the south west.

    Arrifana village, which spreads itself over the cliffs above the beach, has been turned largely over to...

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  • Praia da Cordoama
    Michael Clarke | BY-SA

    Praia da Cordoama is one of several beaches that form a long sandy stretch along the coast just west of Vila do Bispo. Cordoama is by far the longest of these beaches but at low tide this doesn't matter as it joins together with neighbouring Castelejo and Barriga to form a huge sandy beach.

    All these beaches are part of the beautiful coastline that makes up the Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina Natural Park. As such they have not succumb to the ravages of tourism and are largely...

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  • Viana do Castelo
    Praia do Cabedelo - Viana do Castelo
    Jos Dielis | BY-SA

    The Praia do Cabedelo is located just across the mouth of the river Lima from the northern city of Viana do Castelo. Cabedelo and neighbouring Praia de Luzia Mar are some of the finest beaches in the Minho region with their fine white sand backed by low dunes and extensive pine forests. From here there are views across the river to the medieval city and the stunning Santuário de Santa Luzia, perched high above.

    Praia do Cabedelo is a great spot for relaxing and feeling at one with...

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  • Vila Nova de Milfontes
    Praia das Furnas - Vila Nova de Milfontes
    Hurtuv | BY-SA

    The beach of Praia das Furnas sits across the river Mira from Vila Nova de Milfontes. It could be considered two distinct beaches as it wraps around the coast with one side facing into the calm waters of the Mira estuary and the other into the powerful waves of the Atlantic.

    Furnas beach is something of a haven from the crowds that inundate Vila Nova de Milfontes in the summer. Although it is just a quick ferry trip across the water or 10 minute drive from the little resort town it is...

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  • Meia Praia - Lagos
    Manuelvbotelho | BY-SA

    Literally translating to 'half beach', this vast expanse of sand near the interesting old town of Lagos wraps itself around one of the biggest bays in Europe. The wide bay offers protection from rough seas, which makes this long beach of soft, white sand particularly popular with families.

    Meia Praia is dotted with snack bars and restaurants, making it an ideal choice for those of you who enjoy long, sandy walks, while the absence of rocks under...

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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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