Sitting at the western tip of Europe, Portugal is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the continent – and there are so many reasons why! Perhaps it’s down to the unique charm of its famous cities including Lisbon and Porto, the incredible palaces of Sintra, or the simple yet delicious Portuguese cuisine. What attracts visitors to Portugal is different for every traveller; however, there’s one thing everyone can agree on – the beauty of the best beaches in Portugal!
With more than 800km of Atlantic coastline, there’s a wide range of beaches in Portugal to suit every travel style. Yep, you’re really spoiled for choice in Portugal. On the southern coast, you have the resorts and warm blue waters of the Algarve. Near Lisbon, you have Cascais and Setubal, while the secluded beaches of the north near Porto will suit those looking for peace and quiet. And of course, there are some top surfing destinations too.
In this post, we’ll take a look at seven of the best beaches in Portugal. We’ve included beaches from all over the country, fit for all travellers. One thing is sure; you’ll find your perfect Portuguese beach by reading on!
- When to Go to Beaches in Portugal
- Most Popular Beach in Portugal | Praia Dona Ana
- Most Beautiful Beach in Portugal | Praia de Benagil
- Best Beach in Portugal For Swimming | Praia da Marinha
- Best Beach to Experience Traditional Portuguese Culture | Portinho da Arrabida
- Quietest Beach in Portugal | Praia de Miramar
- Best Beach in Portugal for Watersports | Praia do Guincho
- Best Beach for Surfing in Portugal | Peniche
- Portugal Packing List
- Final Thoughts on the Best Beaches in Portugal
When to Go to Beaches in Portugal
Broadly speaking, the best time to visit is between spring and autumn – i.e. February to October. However, if your plan is to visit the beaches in Portugal, you may want to plan your trip from the warmer months. At the beginning of spring and the end of autumn, the temperatures are a bit lower and might be too cold for sunbathing or swimming.
Visiting in the height of summer isn’t a bad idea, but you’ll have to contend with large crowds and high temperatures. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and set your alarm early if you’re looking to get a spot on one of the busier beaches. Want good weather without the crowds? April, May, and September are awesome months to visit, and it’s best to coordinate your travels by staying in one of these epic destinations in Portugal.
Things turn on their head a little if you’re visiting Portugal’s beaches to surf. The best time to catch some waves is between September and April. This is when the swell is more powerful and consistent. Note that this period is best for experienced surfers; if you’re new to the sport, you should probably stick to a busier but safer time of year.
Most Popular Beach in Portugal | Praia Dona Ana
- Who It’s For: Anyone looking to split their time between topping up their tan and taking a gentle paddle in the Algarve’s warm waters.
- Don’t Miss: The stunning nearby rock formations of Ponta da Piedade.
If you’ve ever seen adverts for Portuguese beaches, chances are you’ve seen Praia Dona Ana. This gorgeous stretch of golden sand near Lagos is nestled between striking cliffs and bright blue water. The fact that it’s so close to Lagos is a plus, as you have plenty of places to eat and drink nearby. The only downside with this spot is that it can get very crowded in summer!
Best Airbnb: Amazing sea view apartment
This top floor apartment has incredible views of not just Praia Dona Ana, but Lagos’ other beaches too. Pick something up at the fish market and prepare it in your fully-equipped kitchen!
Best Hostel: Top City Hostel & Suites
With a rooftop pool, this hostel is the perfect base for your Lagos adventures. Come up here on a weekend or in the evening – there might just be a BBQ!
Best Hotel: Lagos Atlantic Hotel
When you’re not chilling out on Praia Dona Ana, head back to your hotel to enjoy the swimming pool, garden, and bar.
Best Sea View Apartment: Beach house with sea view terrace
Looking for something with the X factor? That’s what you’ll get with this spot! Just look at those hanging chairs overlooking Praia Dona Ana – Great if you can’t be bothered with the three-minute walk.
Take a break from the beach for delicious seafood and meat platters. Order with friends as portions are huge!
After filling your stomachs, head to a top Lagos nightspot. Before midnight, you can enjoy 2 for 1 drinks! [image credit]
Castelo dos Governadores
Learn a little about the area’s history and culture with a stop at Lagos’s magnificent fortress. [source: kkolis (Shutterstock)]
Give your core a workout with the fastest growing water sport in the world. Stand up paddleboarding tours are a chill way to see the Algarve’s caves and grottoes.
Stretch those muscles while finding your inner peace with a yoga and reiki embodiment at the beach.
Most Beautiful Beach in Portugal | Praia de Benagil
- Who It’s For: Travellers looking for peace and seclusion will love Praia de Benagil – though they may be disturbed by photographers!
- Don’t Miss: A platter of delicious seafood in the nearby fishing village of Benagil.
You won’t be able to do much sunbathing on this beach in Portugal unless you position yourself in exactly the right spot. Yep, Benagil – or more specifically, the Algar de Benagil (basically the big hole in the roof) – is what makes this such an enticing destination. Don’t forget your camera for this one; the gram is going to go wild for your otherworldly shots of this peach of a Portuguese beach!
Best Airbnb : Cozy cliffside apartment
Situated above the Praia do Benagil, you can’t get a better location than this. It’ll take you just ten minutes to get down from this cliffside apartment to the beach itself.
Best Hostel: Aloha Hostel
This hostel in nearby Portimao is right in the town’s historical centre. It’s great not only for the nearby bars and restaurants, but also for booking activities such as surf lessons and water sports.
Best Hotel: One2Seven
This modern aparthotel has fantastic views across the Arade River in Portimao. Whether you enjoy them from your room or the outdoor pool is up to you!
Best Villa: Villa Nelinha at Faro
If you’ve got the cash to splash, imagine having an al-fresco breakfast with this view. There’s space for four guests, so this would suit a small family or group of friends!
Brisa do Mar
You may as well enjoy a seafood dinner while you’re at the beach. The best restaurant nearby is Brisa do Mar. Give it a try! [image credit]
Museu de Portimão
Learn about the history of the town and its fishing and canning industry.
Fortaleza de Santa Catarina
Built to defend the mouth of the River Arade, the fort offers excellent views across the coastline.
Explore by Bike
Take some time away from the sea and focus on what’s inland. Best way to do that? On a bike tour!
Head back to the sea and test your balance. A stand up paddleboarding tour is a unique way to see the Algar de Benagil!
Concerned you’ll fall off a SUP? How about being tightly nestled into a kayak instead. You’ll be even closer to the water!
Best Beach in Portugal For Swimming | Praia da Marinha
- Who It’s For: Swimmers who don’t want to be thrown off by big waves. It’s also great for snorkelling.
- Don’t Miss: Sunset. We’d recommend getting back to the top of the cliffs for it though!
Just down the road from Praia do Benagil, you’ve got the Praia da Marinha, one of the best places to swim on the Algarve. Its calm, warm blue waters welcome even the most novice swimmers (stay close to shore if that’s you). It’s not as busy as some other best beaches in Portugal as it’s a steep climb down to get to it. It’s well worth it, though; just make sure to pack all your beach goodies and save some energy for the climb back up those golden cliffs!
Best Airbnb: Stylish apartment by Marinha Beach
This townhouse is just a 3-minute walk from Praia da Marinha. Hone your swimming skills ready for the beach in the outdoor swimming pool on-site.
Best Hostel: Rich & Poor Hostel Albufeira
This budget accommodation in Albufeira is a great base for visiting the Algarve’s beaches. It’s in the heart of the Old Town where there are some top eating and drinking spots!
Best Hotel: Pestana Viking Beach & SPA Resort
This spa resort is surprisingly affordable and will suit a couple who aren’t on a backpacking budget. Some rooms have exquisite views of the Atlantic Ocean!
Best Villa: Country Villa with Sea View
With room for 12 guests, this villa is perfect for families or groups of friends looking to commemorate a special occasion!
Seven Hanging Valleys Hiking Trail
Said to be one of the most beautiful hikes in Europe, this trail starts above Praia da Marinha and runs west to Praia da Vale Centeanes.
The Old Fashioned
Enjoy a traditional Portuguese grill at the Old Fashioned Restaurant. [image credit]
Best Beach to Experience Traditional Portuguese Culture | Portinho da Arrabida
- Who It’s For: Hikers looking to take a break from trekking on the Serra de Arrabida.
- Don’t Miss: The epic Arrabida National Park – perfect for hiking and cycling.
If you plan to travel to Lisbon, this is a must on your Portugal itinerary! While Portinho da Arrabida is just an hour south of Lisbon and a great day trip from the capital, you should spend more time here if you have the chance. Portinho da Arrabida is a white-sand beach in a national park and tops our list of the best beaches in Portugal. Many people choose to reach Portinho da Arrabida by hiking or biking through the mountains but you can drive too. Nearby are many fishing villages, where you can discover real Portuguese culture and food!
Best Airbnb: Suite com Vista Mar
This Airbnb in the national park offers chances to enjoy activities in the area. Will you take a boat trip, go snorkelling, or visit a deserted beach first?
Best Hostel: Urban House Hostel
You won’t find a hostel in Portinho da Arrabida, but nearby Setubal offers a few. This is wonderful for guests who want to spend their day at the beach whilst enjoying the city’s nightlife.
Best Hotel: Melia Setubal
This four-star hotel is excellent value and just a short walk from all the city’s attractions. After a day of hiking, head to the sauna on-site to rest those aching muscles.
Best duplex: Cliff Duplex with stunning seaview
If you ever tire of the views (which you won’t), there’s a pull-down screen that you can hook up to a projector and watch your favourite movie on.
Pick up some beers to enjoy on the beach or sit in the shade with a cocktail at this cool bar. [image credit]
Forte de Santa Maria da Arrabida
Looking to take a break from the sun? Duck into this maritime museum.
Convento de Santa Maria da Arrábida
Take a hike up to the 16th-century monastery which stands at the highest point of the Arrabida Hills.
Impress your friends and family when you get back home by cooking traditional Portuguese fare learned at this cooking class.
Take a bike ride around the Arrábida National Park and admire the dramatic scenery.
Explore Luis Saldanha Marine Park and view the Arrábida Park from below on a canoe.
Quietest Beach in Portugal | Praia de Miramar
- Who It’s For: Day trippers from Porto who are looking for some peace and quiet.
- Don’t Miss: The Capela do Senhor da Pedra. It’s impossible to miss if you’re on the beach, though!
The only beach on our list in Northern Portugal, Praia de Miramar is pretty special. Less than half an hour away from Porto Campanhã by train, you’ll feel much further away from the city and there’s no questioning why this is one of the best beaches in Portugal. You’ll often have the beach to yourself, but it does get a little busier at sunset. It’s hardly surprising though; the photos you can get of the secluded chapel are epic!
If you get tired of the beach vibes you can go hiking in Madeira Island!
Best Airbnb: Miramar Zen Room
Looking for a homestay near to Praia de Miramar? This place is exactly what you’re after. Not only will you meet a friendly host, but also his exotic Siamese cat.
Best Hostel: Rivoli Cinema Hostel Porto
Save your money and stay in this quirky cinema-themed hostel in Porto. You’ll have plenty of money left over to get your train tickets and head to the beach!
Best Hotel: Hotel Solverde Spa and Wellness Center
This five-star hotel is surprisingly affordable, and you can enjoy it’s spa and wellness centre. You’ll get a continental buffet breakfast in the morning, too!
Best Beach House: Cosy Portuguese Beach House
This small and inexpensive beach house has room for five guests, so it’s great for a family or group of friends who want to put their money towards eating out or going on adventure tours.
Enter one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops in nearby Porto. You’ll need to buy a ticket to go in, but with that, you’ll get discounts if you purchase a book.
Capela do Senhor da Pedra
This oceanfront chapel is built on rocks right in the middle of the beach. It exists on a spot that was originally a site of Pagan worship.
Solar Do Sr. da Pedra
Enjoy a meal with a view at this inexpensive beachfront restaurant.
Head a little further up the coast to get your first taste of windsurfing. Equipment and wetsuit included!
Develop your motor co-ordination and flexibility with a beginner’s class in capoeira.
Take a whistle-stop tour of Porto with a difference as you see the sights from the back of a tuk tuk!
Best Beach in Portugal for Watersports | Praia do Guincho
- Who It’s For: Day trippers from Lisbon looking to connect with Portugal’s wild coast.
- Don’t Miss: Head inland to the Sintra Cascais Natural Park for some hiking.
If you want to try out some exhilarating water sports on your trip to Portugal, Praia do Guincho is for you. Set against the backdrop of the Serra de Sintra Nature Park, the beach is exposed to the Atlantic Ocean. The windswept stretch of sand might not be great for sitting and sunbathing, but if you fancy surfing or kite surfing, book your overnight accommodation at Cascais and hit this beach!
Best Airbnb: Yaku Double Room
This double room in Cascais is an affordable place to stay for a couple or a pair of friends travelling together. It overlooks Guincho Beach and is a good base for exploring Sintra Cascais Natural Park.
Best Hostel: Nice Way Cascais & Surf Camp
Nearby Cascais is the place to stay if you want your choice of beaches – and some excellent eating and drinking spots too. This place helps you enjoy it on a budget!
Best Hotel: Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho Relais & Châteaux
Formerly a fortress, this is now a luxury pousada hotel and restaurant. If your budget doesn’t extend to staying the night, perhaps try the restaurant.
Best Tiny House: Studio Guincho
Couples will adore this tiny house! After a day in the natural park or at the beach, come home to share a bottle of wine in your very own garden.
Kitesurfing isn’t something that your standard traveller knows a lot about. However, why not give it a try with lessons from Gustykite?
Bar do Guincho
Enjoy a spot of lunch with a tasty bottle of Sagres at this resto-bar overlooking the beach.
Núcleo de Interpretação da Duna da Cresmina
A great spot to learn about the surrounding dunes while stopping for something to eat. Dogs are welcome too.
Take a small group tour from Cascais and climb the limestone cliffs by the Atlantic Ocean.
If hiking isn’t enough of a challenge for you, try this trail running activity instead. If you’re not already used to this type of exercise, do it outside of high season.
After all the water sports, climbing, and trail running, you might be tired out. Instead of staying in your hotel, head out into the forest for some meditation.
Best Beach for Surfing in Portugal | Peniche
- Who It’s For: Surfers. Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve got loads of experience, Peniche is for you.
- Don’t Miss: Berlengas Archipelago. A chain of islands 10km offshore with a colony of puffins and a fort.
Once a hard-working fishing town, Sintra has become a popular tourist destination for one reason above all else – the surf. With a plethora of surf schools and camps, it’s one of the best places in Europe to learn. Praia dos Supertubos is the best beach to head to for its tubular wave – often the focus of international events. Since the town was once a fishing village, there are some killer seafood restaurants to visit at the end of the day!
Best Airbnb: Quarto Berlenga
With this private room, you have the luxury of a balcony with a table and chairs overlooking the garden. A nice way to spend an evening!
Best Hostel: 33 Hostel
This friendly hostel is in the village of Ferrel. Not only will you enjoy Peniche’s beaches, but you’ll also have an authentic local experience.
Best Hotel: Hotel Pinhalmar
Less than a kilometre from Peniche town centre, you’ve got an outdoor pool and terrace for your pleasure. Why not rent a bike and pedal into town?
Best Beach House: NOKORI Beach House
With space for six guests, can you imagine a better place to come back to with your mates after a day of surfing? Thought not!
Xakra Beach Bar
When you want a break from the surf with a cold Superbock, you don’t even have to leave the beach. [image credit]
Portugal’s westernmost point, there’s nowhere better to watch the sunset in Peniche.
For the best seafood in town, head to this restaurant. Money no object? Try the lobster!
Never surfed before? No problem. Take a beginner’s lesson on the best waves in Peniche.
Surfed before but want a new challenge? How about SUP surfing? It’s easy once you get the hang of it!
Looking for something a little more relaxed than surfing? A sunset walk with a local photographer will show you great spots and make lasting memories.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Portugal
Shoutout from Will – The OG Broke Backpacker: Have fun on your backpacking adventure, but please do think about getting insurance – take it from someone who has racked up tens of thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before: you may well need it.
I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable.
If there’s one insurance company I trust, it’s World Nomads. To find out why I use World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Portugal Packing List
1. Security Belt with Hidden Pocket: I never hit the road without my security belt. This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off. This is hands down the best way to hide your cash.
2. Travel Water Bottle: Always travel with a water bottle – it’ll save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl geopress is a true behemoth amongst water bottles acting as a purifier AND temperature regulator – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are.
3. Microfibre Towel: It’s always worth packing a proper towel. Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
4. Headtorch: Every backpacker should have a head torch! A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must. Currently, I’m using the Petzl Actik Core rechargeable headlamp – an awesome piece of kit! Because it’s USB chargeable I never have to buy earth polluting batteries.
5.Hammock: Taking a tent backpacking is not always practical but hammocks are lightweight, cheap, strong, sexy (chicks dig hammocks) and allow you to pitch up for the night pretty much anywhere. Right now, I’m rocking an Active Roots parachute hammock – it’s light, colourful and tough.
6. Toiletry Bag: I always travel with a hanging toiletry bag as it’s a super efficient way to organise your bathroom stuff. Well worth having, whether you are hanging it from a tree whilst camping, or a hook in a wall, it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Final Thoughts on the Best Beaches in Portugal
Now that you’ve seen the awesome beaches in Portugal, it might make it a little easier to choose where to go first. If you’re looking for a day trip from Lisbon, Praia do Guincho near Cascais, or Setubal’s Portinho da Arrábida might be where you lay your towel.
Fancy a spot of surfing? Guincho is a good choice, but Peniche is even better. Fancy laying back in a beautiful spot and doing nothing? Any of the beaches on the Algarve listed above should do the job.
Be sure to take some time in Portugal to get to know its culture, too. Hilltop Moorish castles, the exciting food and drink scene, and jaw-dropping national parks across the county should be on your itinerary.
We hope that whichever Portuguese beach you choose, you enjoy your vacation. Have a great trip!
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