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Portugal - Best Beach and Top 10 Beaches

Portugal has been blessed with a coastline of stunning and beautiful beaches, which range from vast expanses of golden sands through to small picturesque sandy coves. Along certain stretches of coastline popular resort towns have been spawned, while other regions are wild and natural, yet to be discovered by tourism.

Surprisingly many of the finest beaches of Portugal are close to major towns and easily accessible to the average tourist. This guide will detail our top 10 favourite beaches of mainland Portugal.

 

With so many outstanding beaches within Portugal, it has been incredibly challenging compiling this top 10. We limited the choice to one beach per region (as we could have just listed the entire Alentejo Coastline) and it had to be accessible by car. The following section provides an overview of each beach and explains why we've selected it to be in our top 10 Portuguese beaches. This guide did not include any beaches on Madeira or the Azores.

No.10 - Praia da Nazaré (Nazaré)

The Praia da Nazaré is the main beach of the charming resort town of Nazaré. This beach typifies the Costa de Prata coastline, with its vast golden sandy beach and huge Atlantic Ocean waves. The Praia da Nazaré was chosen for our top ten beaches, because it combines a wonderful beach, beautiful natural scenery, and a pretty resort town. Unusually for a resort town, the actual town enhances the beach, with classic Portuguese architecture, a delightful beach front promenade and an enjoyable holiday atmosphere. Nazaré makes for a fantastic destination, for any visitors seeking somewhere slightly different for a beach holiday.

the Praia da Nazaré

The Praia da Nazaré beach

No.9 - Praia do Barril (Tavira)

The Praia do Barril is set amidst the sand dunes and tranquillity of the Ilha de Tavira. The beach was once the home of a tuna fishing community, and remnants of this fishing heritage can still be found throughout the beach, including the Anchor Cemetery, where hundreds of rusting anchors have been dramatically scattered over the sand dunes.

Cemetery of Anchor

The Barril beach and the Cemetery of Anchors

Barril beach is a section of the 10km sandy coastline of the Ilha da Tavira. This region is protected by the Ria Formosa Nature Park and has a pristine setting, with virtually no tourist development. The closest major town to the Praia do Barril is Tavira and this is one of our favourite resorts of the Algarve, for a guide to Tavira, please click here.

No. 8 Praia Dona de Ana & Praia do Camilo (Lagos)

The Praia Dona de Ana and the Praia do Camilo are two small, but incredibly scenic beaches locacted just to the south of Lagos. The Western Algarve has a coastline formed of sandstone cliffs and picturesque sandy coves, and these two beaches are the finest of the region.

The Praia Dona Ana & Praia do Camilo beaches are hidden away by steep cliffs and overlook a dramatic shoreline of weathered cliffs, rock pillars and sea caves. The sea waters are calm, clean and teeming with sea life that clusters between the submerged rocks. The beaches are absolutely stunning and this is why they make our top 10 beaches of Portugal. Lagos beaches

The Dona Ana beach near Lagos

No.7 Comporta Beach, Tróia Peninsula

Comporta Beach is a favourite with the Portuguese, as it resembles the Caribbean more than Portugal. This beautiful beach is famed for its sea waters of turquoise and deep blues, and with the soft sands and serene setting, create a little slice of paradise.

The Tróia Peninsula is the discreet holiday destination for Europe’s super-rich, and there are many lavish mansions hidden throughout the region. Comporta is south of Setubal and has unfortunately almost no public transport, so a rental car is needed to travel here.

No. 6 Praia da Mareta

The extreme western Algarve is a region of towering cliffs, powerful seas and stark, wind-blasted scenery. Sagres is the largest town of the region and is surrounded by four excellent surfing beaches, ideal for confident surfers.

Praia da Mareta

The Praia da Mareta

Our favourite beach of Sagres, is the Praia da Mareta, as not only does it offer a huge beach but is within walking distance of the cafes and bars of Sagres; great for recovering after being in the punishing seas. The Praia da Mareta is slightly sheltered from the force of the Atlantic Ocean, by the barren headland on which the Fortaleza de Sagres fort is positioned. The Sagres region is a great destination for tourists who appreciate natures raw power.

No. 5 Praia Da Ilha Deserta

It is hard to believe that in the centre of the Algarve, less than 5km from the airport, is a completely deserted island, but there is, the Ilha Deserta. The Ilha Deserta feels isolated and remote, with a single restaurant and footpath as the only development on the entire island. Even at the height of the summer, there will just be a handful of visitors scattered along the 6km beach.

Praia Da Ilha Deserta

The Ilha Deserta, as the name implies, is completed deserted......

The shoreline of the Ilha Deserta includes the Cabo de Santa Maria, the most southerly point of mainland Portugal. This headland is fittingly marked by a monument constructed from driftwood and sea debris, in-keeping with the isolated atmosphere. The Ilha Deserta is only accessible by ferry, which departs from Faro.

4) Praia do Guincho (Cascais)

The Praia do Guincho is the wild surfing beach to the west of Lisbon, and lies within the Serra de Sintra Nature Park. The beach is exposed to the full power of the Atlantic Ocean, and is popular with confident surfer’s due to its massive waves and vast, uncrowded shoreline.

Praia do Guincho

The wild and rugged setting of the Praia do Guincho and the Fortaleza do Guincho (now a hotel)

Guincho is wild and untamed beach that forms part of a coastline of massive headlands, jagged rocks and exposed cliffs. The beach is backed by sand dunes and empty countryside that leads up to the hills of Sintra. Guincho beach is not for all, as there are strong tides and a near constant breeze; but if surfing, kite surfing or nature’s raw beauty are your passions, it is undoubtedly the perfect beach for you. It is difficult to imagine this unspoilt region is less than 30 minutes’ drive from central Lisbon.

3) Praia de Carvoeiro (Carvoeiro)

The Praia de Carvoeiro is completely different from all of the previous beaches in this list; being the main beach of a popular resort town, and ideal for families. Carvoeiro beach makes for the classic photo of the Algarve; surrounded by traditional houses and sandstone cliffs, while tourist relax on the sands positioned between fishing boats.

Praia de Carvoeiro portugal beach

The Praia de Carvoeiro, fishing boats, traditonal house, and golden sands!

Carvoeiro beach is popular with families as the sea waters are calm and safe, and as there are no steps to the beach it is suitable for less mobile visitors. The town of Carvoeiro is an authentic and personable holiday destination, that has a much calmer atmosphere than the large Algarve resorts, and this makes it popular with ex-pats and retirees.

Praia de Carvoeiro portugal beach
2) Praia de Almograve (Alentejo Coastline)

The Alentejo coastline offers some of Portugal’s most beautiful natural scenery, and the Praia de Almograve is the finest beach of this outstanding region.

Praia de Almograve

The Praia de Almograve

From the southern headland overlooking the beach, not a single building can be seen; this is not just a beach free from tourist development, this is a region without any human influence. Outside of the short Portuguese summer holidays, the only sound to be heard are the powerful waves crashing on the basalt rocks or the strong winds whistling past. Simply put, Praia de Almograve is the best wild and natural beach of Portugal, where nature’s raw beauty is the primary attraction.

Praia de Almograve

The Praia de Almograve is close to the village of Almograve, but the better destination to explore the region from is the town of Vila Nova de Milfontes, 5km north along the coastline. A rental car is a must to explore the Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina Natural Park and the Alentejo coastline, as there is almost no public transport.

1) Praia do Creiro (Sesimbra)

The Praia do Creiro is Portugal’s finest beach, and combines beautiful natural scenery, soft golden sands, calm sea waters and excellent tourist facilities, including delicious seafood restaurants. Arrábida National Park coastline

The stunning Serra da Arrábida National Park coastline

The Praia do Creiro is in a stunning location; positioned on the rocky coastline of the Serra da Arrábida Nature Park and overlooking the turquoise waters of the Sado Esturary. Behind the beach the Serra da Arrábida rises into steep hills covered with dense Kermes Oak forests, and from a distance the Praia do Creiro appears as a slither of gold between the dark greens of the hills and the turquoise sea waters.

The Praia do Creiro is our number one beach in Portugal because it not only offers a beautiful setting, but is also excellent for a day on the beach.It is only a 30-minute drive from central Lisbon, the calm waters are suitable for children and there are good tourist facilities. The Serra da Arrábida coastline is renowned for its freshly cooked fish, and there are two excellent fish restaurants on Praia do Creiro, making the perfect way to end a day trip to the beach.

Beaches also worth a mention……

Praia de Carcavelos, Lisbon Portugal

The Praia de Carcavelos is the largest and most popular beach close to Lisbon, and is generally where most visitors should head to for a day on the beach. Praia de Carcavelos didn’t quite make our top ten as there are more beautiful, more unique or scenic beaches in Portugal but for a simple day on the beach Carcavelos can’t be beaten.

The Praia de Carcavelos is a vast sandy beach, has waves suitable for surfing, and is popular with families as it is safe with good facilities. The beach is easily accessible from Lisbon as there is a direct train from the city centre. For a guide to the Praia de Carcavelos please click here.

Praia Carcavelos

The Praia de Carcavelos during the summer season

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