With 352 beaches awarded with the European blue flag for their high quality, it’s not hard to find a great beach in Portugal. The vast majority of them is safe and clean. But if you truly want to find the best beaches in Portugal you have to stay away from major tourist destinations.
Types of beaches in Portugal
Portugal has beaches for all kinds of people, surfers, fishers, naturalists, anti socials, etc. You name it!
It all comes down to what you are looking for. So we decided to talk to a local surfer and addicted to beaches to find out which ones are the best kept secrets.
It’s important to understand that a great beach to a surfer is different from a great beach to a swimmer.
We divided this article by regions in order to make it easier to find beaches in the region you’re interested.
Algarve is king when it comes to beaches in Portugal
Having many of the best beaches in Europe, Algarve is the most popular destination in Portugal. With warmer water, low wind and the occasional visit from dolphins, everyone loves the region.
If what you are looking for a place to relax under the sun and bathe in clear waters, Algarve is the region for you. There are lots of options here. Being a region highly dependent on tourism it’s also the one with more fun activities available.
Let’s “dive” into it.
The armona island sits in the Ria Formosa National park and has great natural beauty. The park contains a few small islands with crystal clear and warm water.
How to get there? You can get there by taxi boat or ferry from the Olhão marina.
Great for: family trips, sunbathing and swimming
Suggestions: Rent a villa in this island to enjoy the peacefulness of Ria Formosa
praia da ilha de tavira
This beach is mostly used by naturists. The beach in the Tavira island is known to be one of the 5 official naturist beaches in Portugal where you can enjoy the sun and swim naked.
There is a great camping park in the area and it’s not unusual to see chameleons and other kinds of wild life.
How to get there? You need to take a ferry from Cais das quatro águas or find a taxi boat.
Great for: Naturists, campers
Suggestions: Stay at the camping park and enjoy the proximity with nature
praia da fuseta
The fuseta beach is in the fuseta island, which separates the Ria Formosa from the Ocean. This beautiful island has an amazing water quality.
Sometimes the sea gets agitated making it awesome for surfing and skimming.
How to get there: On foot during the low tide or by boat.
Great for: families, surfers
praia da marinha
The marinha beach is considered one of the top 10 beaches in Europe and it’s easy to see why.
It’s located between Carvoeiro and Armação de Pêra, an area of huge cliffs and golden sand.
Despite being an awesome beach not many people visit it because of the number of stairs to go down there.
Great for: snorkeling lovers, hikers
Suggestions: avoid the warmest part of the day when climbing those huge stairs. Go early in the morning and spend lunch time in the picnic park nearby.
praia de vale do lobo
Vale do lobo is considered the “rich zone” in Algarve. Many celebrities choose it for their usual vacation spot.
The beach has a few famous restaurants like Maria’s, Julia and Sandbanks, all of them offering a luxurious experience at the beach.
It’s close to the Vilamoura marina and to aquashow. If you’re driving you have to pay for parking in the area but most visitors stay in the local hotels and resorts and in that case there is no need for a car.
Great for: families and romantic trips.
praia da falésia
This is probably the most well known beach in Algarve. Thousands of tourists visit this beach every year and the area is famous for it’s parties.
Every Thursday afternoon during the summer there is a sunset party and it’s a great way for celebrating summer!
Great for: families, bachelor parties
praia do vale de centeanes
The vale de Centeanes beach is surrounded by a huge cliff that penetrates the ocean. The sand is golden and the water is so clear that one can see the ocean’s floor from the beach.
Great for: families, snorkeling
praia dos alemães
This is another famous beach in the Albufeira area. The beach is large and great for playing sports with friends
Great for: families
praia da rocha
One of the biggest beaches in the Portimão area, Praia da Rocha is one of the most popular in algarve.
The reason is because it suits everyone! You can relax, sunbathe, swim, snorkel, surf, fish, enjoy the nightlife, you name it!
If you’re visiting Algarve but are not sure about what you want, Praia da Rocha is a solution.
This beach is at the center of Algarve, between Carvoeiro and Ferragudo and it’s know for it’s calm waters.
If you are afraid of waves or you have children who love spending all day in a warm “pool” this is the place for you.
Great for: families
praia do ancão
The Ancão beach is huge and great for people who want to stay away from other people. A good option in these “Covid-19 times”.
Great for: families
This is the biggest beach in the Lagos area. The residents love it because even in the summer it’s not crowded with tourists.
It’s great for people with disabilities because it’s super easy to park and walk to the beach.
The beach has restaurants and bars, water sports, lots of space and it’s next to a big city and you are likely to find great deals both in hotels and airbnbs.
Great for: families, water sports lovers, retirees
praia do camilo
Surrounded by cliffs, this is one of the most beautiful beaches in Algarve.
You can find caves and hidden beaches nearby which makes it great for explorers and snorkeling
Great for: hiking, snorkeling, exploring, swimming
praia dona Ana
The Dona Ana beach is in the Lagos region. And like most Lagos beaches it’s of an immense beauty.
The weird cliffs and rocks make the area an inspiration for painters and photographers. This is what comes to mind when they think about Portugal beaches.
If you are looking for beauty this is a great place to start.
Great for: families, photographers, snorkelers, hikers, campers
Beaches in Alentejo
The Alentejo region is a paradise. It’s very hot and the water is cristal clear. It’s also not popular among tourists so it’s great for those seeking peace and quiet.
Being outside Algarve it’s also much cheaper. If you are looking for a beach in Portugal in a low cost and peaceful area, Alentejo has many options.
praia da arrifana
Not everyone is looking for sunbathing and sandcastle building but this beach is also good for both. This beach however is famous among surfers.
Located in the western part of Algarve, in this beach you can feel the strength of the Ocean which makes it not great for swimming but awesome for surfing.
This beach is worth visiting year round because it sits in a National Park and the wildlife and plants around it are beautiful.
Great for: surfers and campers
Suggestions: Take a surfing lesson and you’ll have a fun day.
praia de odeceixe
In 2012 this beach was considered one of the 7 most beautiful in Portugal and it’s easy to understand why.
One can swim both in the river and the ocean and the lack of human constructions in the area makes it a small paradise barely touched by humans.
Great for: families, fishing, camping, surfing
praia da amoreira
This is also an extremely beautiful beach and great for surfing.
It’s not ideal for swimming because the water here tends to be more agitated.
Great for: surfing, photography, camping
Suggestions: Enjoy a surfing class or camp right in the beach!
praia do monte clérigo
This white sand beach is great for a lazy afternoon sunbathing and watching the surfers from afar.
The area is surrounded by a particular kind of vegetation which makes is very beautiful.
Great for: surfers, campers, families, romantic sunsets
praia da bordeira
This is another beautiful beach and great for surfing and camping. It’s great for body boarding.
praia da zambujeira do mar
This is probably the most famous beach in Alentejo. Sits right next to the Zambujeira village, also known as the white village because of it’s architectural style.
This village is awesome for adventure travelers, hikers and campers.
The small village of Porto Covo and the small beaches around it are one of the best kept secrets in Portugal. Most tourists never heard of this village and the beaches are often empty or visited only by locals
azenha do mar
The small beaches around the village of Azenha do mar are not ideal for sunbathing because they are mostly rock and gravel sand.
They are great however for fishing or watching the local fisherman on their daily quest for one of the best fish in the Portuguese coast.
praia da nossa senhora
This beach near the Zambujeira village is almost always empty and is great for those seeking privacy and peace.
praia do tonel
Safe from the wind and with warmer water, this beach is great for families and children.
praia da amália
Part rock part sand, this beach forms natural pools where children love to play.
This is another great beach near Zambujeira for families with small children.
praia do carvalhal
This beach is great for family trips. Has a lot of parking space in the area and is not very popular.
praia grande de almograve
This is one of the most popular beaches in Alentejo because in the low tide there are lots of rocks where to play and have fun.
It’s a great beach for snorkeling and for children.
praia da franquia
This is a river beach near The village of Vila Nova de Milfontes. It’s great for swimming and having fun with kayaks that can be rented on site.
praia das furnas
Sitting on the other side of the river there’s the Furnas beach. This beach is part river part ocean and is a very popular beach.
praia da ilha do pessegueiro
This is a small beach a few kilometers from Porto Covo. It’s not very popular so it’s great for those seeking silence. In the summers you can get a lift from local fishermen to the island and have a lot of fun.
praia de brejão largo
This is a large beach between Almograve and Vila nova de Milfontes. It’s quite unpopular because you have to leave the car in one of those villages and walk a lot to reach the beach.
The walk in itself is a great experience and if you’re up to it you won’t regret it.
praia da pedra do patacho
This is another rocky and sand gravel beach in Alentejo.
It’s not great for swimming or sunbathing but if you enjoy surfing or fishing you’ll love it.
praia da ponta do carreiro manso
This beach has two areas, one with lots of people and one with almost no one. Hey, people are lazy and don’t like to walk in the sand!
praia de são torpes
This is the most popular beach near Porto Covo. There’s a bar at the beach during summer and the beach is suitable for everyone but is used mostly for surfing and kite-surfing.
praia dos machados
This beach is almost always empty because it’s not easy to get there because of the cliffs but if you like hiking through the mountains you’ll love it.
Best beaches in Lisbon
Lisbon is the Portuguese capital. Home of great food and great nightlife. If you are visiting Lisbon and love beaches you may have to drive 30 minutes to an hour to find good beaches. But the good news is that there are quite a few of them!
Praia da Figueirinha
This beach sit in the middle of the Arrábida Natural Park so it’s a very protected place.
The water is peaceful which makes it ideal for families and small children.
Praia de carcavelos
This is the biggest and most famous beach on the south margin of the Tejo river.
During winter it’s great for surfing but during summer the water is more quiet which makes it great for families.
Since 1950 this beach is know for the first swim of the year. On the 1st of January people flock to this beach for a cold swim. Fun but painful 😉
Praia de São Pedro do Estoril
Many say this is the most beautiful beach in Estoril. The water tends to be quieter here but there’s lots of rocks there so be careful.
Praia da Cresmina
This beach is a bit windy which makes it great for water sports.
It’s known for the surrounding seafood restaurants that attract the locals all year round.
Praia da ribeira d’ilhas
Near Ericeira, this beach is popular among surfers and it has been the stage for the surfing world championship.
Praia do Meco
This was the first beach in the Lisbon region to have an area for naturists. If you are staying in the capital and want to swim naked, this is the right spot.
There aren’t many naturist beaches in Portugal and this is the most popular.
Best beaches in the Porto region
The northern region is colder but many argue that the beaches are more beautiful.
You can find beaches for sunbathing and swimming but the north is more appropriate for other activities such as surfing and fishing.
Praia da Aguda
This is one of the most popular beaches in Gaia, just a few kilometers south from Porto.
This beach and the surrounding ones are great for families and almost every beach has a bar in the sand which makes them popular for drinks at sunset.
Praia do aterro
The Aterro beach is in Leça, a small town a few kilometers north from Porto famous for the luxurious condos in the area.
This is a very large beach that is host to a music festival in the summer.
The area is popular among surfers and has a lot of restaurants known for having “the best fish in the world”.
The azul (blue) beach is named after the deep blue ocean that bathes it. The water is cold in this area and it’s often windy making it great for water sports.
Praia do Castelo do Queijo
This is where the Douro river meets the ocean. The surrounding area, right at the center of Porto, has beaches for all kinds of people.
Some are great for surfing, some are great for families. If you are staying in Porto and don’t wnat to drive out of the city you can find whatever you need in this area.
It’s a bit crowded though…
Praia da granja
I saved the best for last. This is my favorite beach and it’s in south Gaia, almost in Espinho. This is what comes to my mind when i think Portugal beaches.
Since this is not a tourist area it’s often quiet and great for enjoying sunsets in one of the beach bars around the area.
There’s plenty of parking space and great restaurants in the area.
We hope you enjoy the Portuguese beaches as much as we do.
Portugal is safe, cheap and has an amazing weather. If you haven’t visited this beautiful country give it a try.
You will probably fall in love with it.