Most visitors think the best beaches Portugal has are always in the Algarve. But the country's coast stretches for 1,700km and there are plenty of beautiful beaches in less touristy areas. In fact, beaches are one of the reasons Portugal is a new entry in our list of most beautiful countries in the world. But which beaches really are the best in Portugal? Here's our pick of 10 top beaches in the Algarve and beyond.
The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Portugal, your essential travel guide for Portugal.
1. Praia de Tavira, Algarve - best beaches Portugal
Praia de Tavira is on Ilha de Tavira a sandbar island which runs from Tavira towards Fuseta and is reached by a ferry from the mainland. Don't expect hotels here, but come for acres of sand and a few beachy restaurants.
You can rent pedalos, umbrellas and sun loungers on the main beach in summer, although you should factor in a few crowds in July and August. Visit off season and you'll have the deserted shores almost entirely to yourself.
Nearby Tavira is a good base for exploring this part of the Algarve and it's also home to one of 9 of the best pousadas in Portugal, if you want some tradition with your stay.
- For authentic stays: Try nearby Pousada Convento de Tavira in Tavira old town. A former convent it features a private pool within the old town walls.
- For relaxed stays: Calcada Guesthouse is British-run, spacious and has a breakfast room overlooking a little garden and a terrific terrace with views over the river.
- For budget stays: Lagoâs sits on the north side of the river and offers simply, attractive rooms clustered around a rooftop patio.
Where to stay in Tavira
What to do in Tavira
Take a tuk tuk tour of Tavira and see octopus traps on the jetty, discover Tavira's ethereal salt pans and marvel at untamed Ria Formosa.
2. Praia da Marinha and Benagil, Algarve
Discover the coast between Armação de Pêra and Centianes, the largely undeveloped stretch where you'll find lovely beaches like Praia da Marinha and Benagil as well as seasonal fish restaurants and places where you can sail to visit spectacular sea caves.
Praia da Marinha is a warren of coves and not much else, apart from a few restaurants in summer. If you want to explore a little, follow the clifftop path from Marinha to Benegal. The beach sits just below the cliffs and it's from here you can catch boat tours to see those caves.
- For seafront stays: Holiday Inn Algarve in Armacão de Pêra features a terrace overlooking the beach, a swimming pool and two restaurants and bars.
- For apartment stays: Rosamar Apartamentos offers good value, spacious apartments with sea-facing balconies and traditional Portuguese interiors.
- For family stays: Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa is set on a clifftop a minute's walk from the beach. It features good size family rooms, pools, kids playgrounds and an on-site spa.
Where to stay near Praia da Marinha
What to do in Benagil
A speed boat tour boat tour from Benegal is the best way to explore the dramatic, sculptural sea caves and quite probably spot dolphins, if you're lucky.
3. Nazaré, Ribatejo - one of the best beaches Portugal has for surfing
Nazaré is one of Portugal's top surf towns and has all the trimmings that come with that reputation. It also has a great beach with clean and expansive sands, although expect it to be busy in July and August as Portugal is one of the best places to visit in Europe.
Even in summer treat the Atlantic here with caution when it comes to swimming. Autumn and winter are the best times for surfing, waves are world class and the ones at Nazaré North Beach regularly break records in wild January and February.
- For beach stays: Hotel Mar Bravo overlooks Nazaré beach, all rooms have private balconies, but try to book one with an ocean view. The hotel restaurant is also beachfront.
- For designer stays: Hotel Praia is a 4-star design hotel close to the beach, all rooms have big balconies with sea views and the hotel features a rooftop pool and a large terrace.
- For lux stays: Quinta do Campo is a large estate hotel which offers double rooms and apartments, the grounds are extensive and contain a pool and tennis courts.
What to do in Nazaré
Discover the area beyond its iconic surfing beaches on a 4 x 4 buggy tour of Nazaré with local guides.
4. Praia de Odeceixe, Algarve - great beach for swimming
The village of Odeceixe features in our Undiscovered Portugal: best places to get off the tourist trail guide, but it comes alive in summer, attracting streams of surfers and visitors to nearby Praia de Odeceixe.
Just four kilometres west of the village, this remarkable beach is one of the most sheltered on the coast and good for swimming or surfing. From May to September you can ride a little road train from Odeceixe to Praia de Odeceixe. Alternatively, walk the pretty path to the beach, it's worth some legwork.
- For good value stays: Residencia do Parque is a friendly, backpackers' hotel in a great central location. It offers a range of en-suite rooms and the ones on the top floor come with balconies.
- For peaceful stays: Casas do Moinho is set in a natural park, close to several beaches and features an outdoor swimming pool with panoramic views.
- For budget stays: Hostel Seixe is in the heart of Odeceixe Old Town and offers double or twin rooms, dormitories and a full apartment.
Where to stay in Odeceixe
What to do in Odeceixe
To explore Praia de Odeciexe beyond the sands think about renting stand up paddle boards for a couple of hours.
5. Foz de Minho, Minho - Portugal's most northerly beach
Foz de Minho, just southwest of Caminha town, is Portugal's most northerly beach and even gives you views of Spain in the distance. It's close to the Rio Minho estuary, sheltered by pine forest and has a fortified island not far from the shore.
Choosing less travelled coasts in Portugal for a less touristy experience is just one of the inspired ideas in our 20 essential Portugal travel tips for year round trips guide.
- For resort stays: Hotel Porta do Sol is the largest resort in Caminha. It's close to Foz beaches boardwalk, all rooms have balconies and the hotel features two pools and a spa.
- For boutique stays: Design Wine & Spa is an elegant town mansion with sleek, contemporary rooms and an excellent restaurant.
- For beach stays: Casa de Esteiró was once an 18th century hunting lodge and is now a charming hotel with lovely gardens just a few hundred metres from Foz beaches.
Where to stay in Caminha
What to do in Minho
If you want to make the most of your time in this area, book a day trip from Porto to discover Minho with local guides.
Prefer to leave planning and booking to experts? Have a look at the Portugal itineraries by our local travel agents in Portugal. All Tailor Made Trips can be modified together with your local expert, and then booked for a stress-free holiday.
6. Praia da Figueira, the secret Algarve beach
If you're in any doubt as to why the Algarve is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal to visit, take a walk to Praia da Figueira. It's worth the effort, only takes 25 minutes and the countryside all the way is gorgeous.
Start at Figueira village and follow a rough looking track which winds through some ruins. From there it's a straight route to Praia da Figueira. You can't drive to the beach, so it's often completely deserted, another reward for walking.
- For family stays: Salema Beach Village is in the Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina Natural Park, 12 minutes walk from the beach. Villas are self contained and there's an outdoor pool.
- For beach stays: Tivoli Lagos is a 4-star spa hotel a short drive from Figueira beach. It features a courtyard swimming pool and access to its private Duna Beach Club from March to October.
- For lux stays: Belmar Spa & Beach Resort in Lagos overlooks Porto de Mos beach, features a large outdoor pool and a luxurious on-site spa.
Where to stay near Figueira
What to do in Figueira
Go on a guided Lagos kayak tour it's one of the best ways to get to know this part of beautiful western Algarve.
7. Comporta, Alentejo - the beach for endless sands
The Alentejo covers almost a third of Portugal so of course it's home to one of the country's best beaches. You'll find Comporta in remote northern Alentejo, a little west of historical Alcácer do Sal.
The beach is known for endless deserted sands most of the year, although its very good seafront restaurants attract a lot of savvy Lisboetas during summer. In fact Alentejo is good for food all round, take a look at our best restaurants in Portugal right now guide to see why.
- For lux stays: Pousada Castelo de Alcacer do Sal is set in a former Moorish castle just outside Alcácer do Sal. All bedrooms are freshly designed and the hotel features a spa.
- For family stays: Hotel da Barronsinha sits on the edge of the Sado Estuary Natural Reserve, rooms are simple and comfortable and there's a large outdoor swimming pool.
- For central stays: Alcácer Central Apartments is right in Alcácer do Sal and offers a choice of one bedroom apartments and studios.
Where to stay in Alcácer do Sal
What to do in Comporta
While you're in Alentejo head to Melides for horseback riding on the coast and wine tasting, it's only a 30 minute drive from Comporta.
8. Praia da Bordeira and Praia do Amado, Algarve
A quick look at the Algarve Portugal: a year round guide lets you know the region's beaches are some of Europe’s finest, and also busiest in summer. So it's worth seeking out these two sandy stars close to Carrapateira village in the more remote part of the Algarve.
Wild Praia da Bordeira is the one for spectacularly tall dunes and almost perfect peace. Or if you want a little more life, head to broad and sandy Praia do Amado and pick a spot on the beach to watch surfers doing their stuff.
- For independent stays: Monte da Vilarinha in Vicentine Coast Natural Park offers private apartments and double rooms, it also has an outdoor pool and wonderful views.
- For budget stays: Carrapateira Lodge is a 15 minute walk to the beach, rooms are basic and comfortable and guests have a shared lounge and kitchen.
- For cosy stays: Casa Lusco Fusco has fabulous mountain views, comfortable en-suite rooms and is only a short walk from Praia da Bordeira.
Where to stay in Carrapateira
What to do near Carrapateira
9. Praia Galapos, Parque Natural da Arrábida
The Parque Natural da Arrábida has been a protected area since 1976 so unsurprisingly it's home to a lot of wildlife, including polecats, buzzards and eagles. The craggy Serra da Arrábida range is here too, which adds significant drama to the coast.
Pretty, white sand coves are the thing here and Praia Galapos is the least touristy of the lot. Close to Portinho da Arrábida, you'll find the beach sheltered by pine forest and if you want to swim, it's known for calmer than usual Atlantic waters.
- For family stays: Quinta da Arrábida is in Arrábida Natural Park, each guest house is self-contained and has access to beautiful gardens and a swimming pool.
- For budget stays: YMCA Camp Alambre sits in Azeitao and features a choice of comfortable self-catering bungalows in pretty garden grounds.
- For boutique stays: Arrábida Heritage offers a range of individually designed holiday homes set in beautiful gardens with sun terraces and a large swimming pool.
Where to stay near Praia Galapos
What to do in Parque Natural da Arrábida
Meet the more elusive locals round these parts on an Arrábida dolphin watching boat tour.
10. Porto Côvo, Alentejo
The Portuguese love the unspoiled Alentejo coast with its landscape of gentle hills and sea cliffs, scatteriing of lowkey resorts and lovely, sandy coves.
Porto Côvo town is one of the best for beaches and a popular weekend escape from the city for Lisboetas. It can get busy in August, but off season there are few if any crowds here. Head north of the town for Praia Grande and don't miss Praia da Samouqueira for its stunning rock formations.
- For family stays: Hotel Porto Côvo is close to the town centre, offers modern apartments with kitchens and features a small, outdoor swimming pool.
- For budget stays: Ocean House Alentejo is in Porto Covo, close to the beach and offers a choice of double bedrooms with balconies and en-suite bathrooms.
- For beach stays: Calmaria Guesthouse is a walk from the beach and features a guest terrace and basic but comfortable rooms with private bathrooms.
Where to stay in Porto Côvo
What to do in Porto Côvo
To discover more of the Alentejo, take a day tour from Lisbon to Évora and go wine tasting in Monsaraz.
Ready for a trip to Portugal? Check out the Rough Guide to Portugal. If you travel further in Portugal read more about the best time to go and the best places to visit. For inspiration use our Portugal itineraries or speak to our local experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.
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