The famous Praia da Marinha Beach in Portugal with limestone cliffs sitting among beautiful, azure waters

Discover The 7 Best Beaches in Portugal

02 Jan 2019 By Ellie Roddy
The famous Praia da Marinha Beach in Portugal with limestone cliffs sitting among beautiful, azure waters

You know you want to go to Portugal and spend your time soaking up the sun on a picturesque beach.

The majority of the shoreline in this beautiful country is sandy and lapped by azure waters. This, coupled with the glorious climate, makes it the ideal destination to relax.

But, with more than 600 miles of coastline to choose from, you may need a little help deciding which part to visit during your holiday.

To give you some inspiration here are the very best beaches in Portugal.

1. Praia do Guincho Beach

Aerial view of Praia Grande do Guincho Beach in Portugal with shimmering waters and a golden body of sand

Where is it? In the west of Serra da Sintra National Park on the Estoril coast – about 3 miles from Cascais in Lisbon.

Why go? If you’ve watched the 1969 James Bond film ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,’ you’ll have seen this beach before as it features in the opening sequence. A visit to this part of the coastline will enable you to walk in the sandy footsteps of George Lazenby.

The Sintra Hills provide a stunning backdrop to the wild Atlantic Ocean. This dramatic scenery is protected from overdevelopment, ensuring it retains its natural beauty.

This beach is ideal for surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing and bodyboarding due to the huge waves and steady breeze. So much so that they are used for the Portuguese National Surfing and Bodyboarding Championships.

Make sure you stay here to see the sunset – it’s truly magical.

Facilities: Lifeguards, surf hire shops, showers, beach bars and restaurants

Need to know: Whether you’re a pro or a novice, you can rent everything you need for kitesurfing, bodyboarding and surfing, when you arrive at this beach. But, the water is very cold, so don’t forget a wetsuit.

Top Tip: This isn’t the best beach for sunbathing due to the wind and the lack of protection from it. Likewise, the strong currents and waves mean this shore is unsuitable for little ones. However, it’s the best spot for surfers and we recommend you see it with your own eyes.

2. Praia de Odeceixe Mar

The beautiful Praia de Odeceixe Mar Beach in Portugal with an absence of tourists

Where is it? This beach is situated on the border between the Algarve and Alentejo regions of Portugal in Aljezur.

Why go? Walk down to the beach and you’ll pass through lush greenery and the River Seixe.

This large sandy Blue Flag beach forms part of Vicentine Coast Natural Park and offers ideal conditions for surfing, particularly around the mouth of the river.

At the north end of the beach, towering cliffs shelter the coastline from the elements. There is a cove at the south side, which is a nudist beach. If you’re travelling with youngsters, you may want to stay towards the northern end.

Facilities: There is a wide range of facilities including shops, cafes and parking.

Need to know: If you’re travelling the 3 miles to the beach from Odeceixe village, there is a road train you can take.

3. Praia de Santa Barbara

The volcanic, black sands of Praia de Santa Barbara Beach in the Azores region of Portugal

Where is it? Ribeira Grande on the northern coast of São Miguel, in the Azores.

Why go? The Azores, or The Açores Islands, are an autonomous region of Portugal, described as Europe’s best-kept secret and often compared to Hawaii due to the black sand.

São Miguel is the biggest island in the volcanic archipelago and the waves on Santa Bárbara Beach are the best for surfing. They lap against the black volcanic sand on the longest part of the coastline, not only on this island but in the Azores.

This Blue Flag beach boasts warm water that reaches temperatures of 23°C in the summer.

This is one of the country’s most unique beaches and a magical setting so don’t forget your camera – it’s definitely worthy of featuring on your Instagram feed.

Facilities: Cafe, showers and a car park.

Top tip: While on this island it’s worth visiting the natural pools – not a beach as such, you’ll actually have to walk over volcanic rocks to reach them but it’s a delightful place to swim.

4. Praia do Carreiro do Mosteiro

The azure waters and fort of Praia do Carreiro do Mosteiro Beach in Portugal surrounded by boats and rocks

Where is it? On the Berlengas Islands, off the Peniche coast, north of Lisbon

Why go? This beach is the only one that you can safely access and swim off on the island. Despite its small size, it’s often described as one of the most beautiful in central Portugal.

This part of the coastline, which is surrounded by towering cliffs, gets its name from a 16th-century monastery that used to sit above the harbour and has since been converted into a restaurant.

You’ll find hiking trails in the hills where you can enjoy the dramatic scenery and look down on the São João Baptista fort which dates back to the 17th century.

The water here is incredibly cold but perfect for snorkelling with plenty of brightly coloured fish seen darting around – you may want to bring a wetsuit as well as your snorkel mask.

Facilities: There are few facilities here but you’ll find a cafe and restaurant.

Need to know: You’ll need to take a ferry to reach this archipelago – it’s only around 9 miles off the Peniche coast. The journey will take about 45 minutes and starts at Peniche harbour.

5.  Praia de Miramar

The striking Praia de Miramar in Portugal at sunset with rippled sands and a traditional chapel in the distance

Where is it? Just 6 miles south of Porto

Why go? This pretty beach is known for the 17th-century chapel that rests on the rocky headland just off the beach. Capeal do Senhor da Pedra, which translates as Lord of the Rock, is also known as ‘The Chapel of the Sea’. It dates back to 1686 and huge waves can often be seen crashing against it making it an incredibly spectacular sight.

It’s believed that a saint performed a miracle here during a full moon and pagan worship still takes place on the sand. Make sure you go inside to admire the beautiful interior too.

In the summer the water is calm making it the perfect spot for swimming but come winter, the ever-rising waves attract surfers instead.

This golden sandy stretch sits off the tourist trail, so you’ll likely find a spot to relax away from the crowds.

Facilities: There are several cafes on this beach.

Need to know: If you’re here in June, there is a festival dedicated to the chapel. This is a three-day party on the beach.

6. Praia da Falésia

A high up view of the picturesque coastline of Praia da Falésia Beach in Portugal with red cliffs in the background and rippling blue waters

Where is it? From Vilamoura to Olhos du Agua near Albufeira in the Algarve

Why go? The Algarve is home to the most beautiful beaches not only in Portugal, but in the whole of Europe. In 2018 this stretch of sand was listed in the Top 25 Beaches in the World by TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Awards.

This is one of 90 Blue Flag beaches in the Algarve, with 25 in Albufeira alone. It’s regularly named one of the best beaches in the country and you’ll quickly see why.

Colourful rocks and lush green pines provide the backdrop to this shoreline which is split in two. Towering red cliffs shelter the west side of the beach, which is known as Açoteias. The cliffs are such a prominent feature that it gives this stretch of shoreline its name, which translates as “Beach of Cliffs’.

They start to get lower as you walk down towards the east where you’ll find shallow water and the opportunity to try watersports such as paragliding.

The red cliffs and golden sand are particularly beautiful during sunrise and sunset.

Facilities: Restaurant, bar, toilets, shower, sunloungers, parking, lifeguards and watersports.

Top tip: This part of the coastline stretches for just over 3 miles, making it ideal for walking along the water’s edge. But, if you head up to the top of the cliffs you’ll find a hiking trail. Wandering along here, you can enjoy spectacular views across the beach.

7. Praia da Marinha

A view of the striking cliffs at Praia da Marinha Beach in Portugal surrounded by golden sand and azure waters

Where is it? Between Armação de Pêra and Carvoeiro in Lagoa, along the Algarve

Why go? There are more than 150 beaches in the Algarve alone, and this is arguably the most famous. This picture-perfect part of the coastline is so spectacular that it’s often used in brochures and on postcards.

If you’re impressed with the photos, just wait until you see it with your own eyes – images don’t do this place justice.

This beach has also been listed among the most beautiful in both Europe and the world – so you know it’s going to be special.

One of the many reasons this part of the coastline stands out from the rest is the unique rock formations – the most famous one is shaped like an M. During low tide you’ll be able to walk right out to see it.

Take a moment to enjoy the view when you arrive at the top of the cliffs, before walking down the stairs to the soft sand and calm sea.

Don’t forget your snorkel – there are brightly coloured fish to be seen darting beneath the surface of the clear water.

Facilities: A restaurant and car park.

Need to know: This beach can only be reached by car. There is also a bus that travels here from Lagoa but only twice a day, on weekdays.

If you’re intrigued by the Algarve beaches and know you’re going to be staying on the golden south coast to play a round of golf on the award-winning courses, then make sure you check out the complete list of ten before you travel.

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