The beaches of Portugal are a beautiful collection. This small country, which occupies a long narrow chunk of the Iberian Peninsula, has a western and southern coastline, both on the Atlantic Ocean. The southern coast known as The Algarve is spectacular, while the western seaboard is rugged and wild. Here’s a selection of the beaches of Portugal that might just take your fancy.
The Costa Verde – or the Green Coast, is a wonderful stretch of coastline that runs from Porto to the Spanish border and has some of the best beaches in Portugal. Guarded by forts at either end, Praia da Ancora is a wonderful mix of flat sands, boulder clumps and rock pools. The waters may belong to the Atlantic, but the beach is great for wind and board surfers, and also has stretches of calm, crystal clear waters for swimming.
Everyone associates The Algarve as the place for the best Portuguese beaches and there really are some amazing ones to pick. My personal favorite is Falesia Beach in Albufeira. It is a beautiful swathe of powder soft silver white sand unbroken by pebbles and seaweed. What really sets it off is the amazing backdrop of red cliffs to the rear, and the gorgeous sparkling azure and turquoise waters to the front. Albufeira is a busy tourist town, but Falesia Beach is rarely too crowded.
The stunning island of Madeira may be closer to Africa than Europe geographically, but it is very much Portuguese. What makes Ribeira Brava unique among the beaches of Portugal is that it is black sand. While some beaches on Madeira can experience crashing Atlantic waves, at Ribeira Brava there is a jetty that goes out a long way into the water that creates a lovely swimming area protected from huge waves.
One of the features of the beaches in Portugal, and particularly those of the Algarve, that make them different to other European beaches is the huge rock formations and cliff backdrops made from golden and red sandstone. Ponta da Piedade in Lagos is one of the best examples. The rocks have been weathered throughout the centuries to form little grottoes and sheltered areas where the sea is an amazing array of colors. Locals have names for the rock formations based on their shapes, and from the cliff top walk you get awesome views.
Aljezur is about as far north-west as you can get and still be in the region known as the Algarve. Odeceixe Beach is a real beauty that lies within the boundaries of the Vicente Coast Natural Park. The beach sits at the mouth of the River Seixe and on the northern side is sheltered by some steep cliffs. The river adds a special touch, especially for kids who can play in it and the rock pools it leaves behind at low tide. There’s also a very secluded naturist area in a shady cove to the south of the main beach.
One of the smallest beaches of Portugal on the Estoril coast, Praia de Grota is a true gem. One of the Cascais selection of gorgeous beaches, near to Cape Roca, Grota is so secluded it is a favorite among naturists who enjoy the small 50 meter patch of soft golden sand in between high rocky cliffs
Portimão is one of the most developed resort areas on The Algarve but its main beach, which sits next to the busy marina, is so huge that even during the busiest times there’s still plenty of room to find your own space without feeling crowded. Praia da Rocha is a typical tourist beach: It has sun beds and parasols, plenty of water sports, boat trips, activities day and night and is backed by a lovely esplanade lined with shops bars and restaurants.
One of my favorite things about the beaches of Portugal is that so many of them sit below towering cliffs, and from these cliff tops you get the most incredible views of the beaches and beyond. Have you been to Portugal? Do you have a favorite beach to recommend?