Portugal: beach holidays for everyone
Seaside resort:
Portugal
Map:

Portugal in brief

 

Visit Portugal for gorgeous beaches, excellent golf, amazing seafood, custard tarts, heritage sites, city sightseeing and lots of water sports.

Location:

South-west Europe

Nearest airport:

Lisbon, Porto and Faro

Key resorts & areas:

Algarve, Alentejo, Costa de Lisboa, Costa de Prata, Costa Verde, Azores, Madeira

Major sights & activities:

Lisbon, Porto, golf, sailing, cycling, hiking, UNESCO sites

Best time to go

May to October; July and August is the peak season

Did you know?

While Portugal’s cuisine is heavily influenced by typical Mediterranean flavours, it differs from its neighbours by preferring coriander (traditionally an Asian favourite) to all other herbs.

 

Beach holidays in Portugal

 

Portugal is a hugely popular holiday destination thanks to the variety of destinations offered by its 832 km coastline. Holidaymakers can stay in a city like Lisbon or Porto and fill their days with trips to nearby beaches, or escape to more dedicated resorts and soak up the beach atmosphere 24/7.

The country is also famed for its spectacular scenery, wide range of sports and a cuisine heavily influenced by the fresh seafood caught all along the coast each day, not to mention those Mediterranean staples of wine, bread and cheese.

Here’s a summary of the main regions of Portugal and the most popular beach destinations in each:

Algarve

Portugal’s most popular beach holiday destination, the Algarve coast - which stretches for 200 km from the south-west corner of the country to the border with Spain - is peppered with all kinds of resorts, from lively and bustling to quiet and relaxing.

  • Albufeira - Albufeira is a historic town in the central Algarve that is one of the most popular beach holiday destinations in Portugal. There are around 25 beaches along 30 km of coastline, including Meia Praia, Praio do Amado, Gale Beach and Praia do Vau.
  • Vilamoura - This luxury destination is popular with golfers and yachtsmen. There are two beaches: Praia da Marina (also known as Vilamoura Beach) and Praia da Falesia. Attractions include a casino and plenty of lively bars and clubs.
  • Quinta do Lago - This is another resort perfect for golfers thanks to the variety of courses in the area. The main beach, Praia da Quinta do Lago, is more than 3.5 km long and is part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
  • Vale do Lobo - Vale do Lobo is more family-friendly than Quinta do Lago but still has a luxury feel to it. There are three water parks nearby, as well as a 2 km golden sand beach.
  • Lagos - Located in the western Algarve, Lagos is a historic port town with some fantastic beaches. These include the 4 km Meia Praia, the Praia de Batata town beach and Praia do Dona Ana, which is sheltered by spectacular cliffs.
  • Sagres - This town’s history dates back to the Roman conquest and offers an excellent combination of culture and relaxation. The nearby beaches include Praia da Mareta, Praia da Baleeira and Praia do Belliche.
  • Faro - Faro is the capital of the Algarve region and offers a more traditional feel than other destinations along the coast thanks to its medieval districts. The main beach, Praia de Faro, is conveniently near the airport. The other beaches are on islands and can only be accessed by ferry, but offer a quieter experience.

 

Alentejo

Located north of the Algarve, Alentejo is a wilder region with some spectacularly unspoilt coastline thanks to much of it being part of a natural park. The beaches here are uncrowded outside of the peak season and are perfect for a quiet holiday.

  • Vila Nova de Milfontes - This is the main resort in Alentejo and is ideal for a family beach holiday. The old town is picturesque and perfect for strolling around, while the long sandy beach is a wonderful place to relax.
  • Zambujeira do Mar - This village packed with whitewashed buildings offers a quiet place to chill out on the Alentejo coast. The beautiful beach is flanked by protected coastline and a major summer festival is a big draw each year.
  • Odeceixe - This is a popular destination for families and surfers thanks to the spacious beach and fantastic waters ideal for swimming in.


Costa de Lisboa

The Costa de Lisboa is the stretch of coastline that includes the capital city of Lisbon. While many holidaymakers stay in Lisbon and explore the beaches on day trips, escaping further away from the city’s hustle and bustle might be appealing to some.

  • Carcavelos - This is the most popular beach thanks to its proximity to Lisbon. This 1.5 km stretch of golden sand can get busy at weekends and during the peak summer season, but it’s a good place to start for visitors new to Lisbon.
  • Tamariz - This beach in Estoril is backed by a castle owned by Monaco’s royal family. It’s family-friendly but also has a decent nightlife thanks to the nearby bars and restaurants.
  • Cascais - There are many beaches to enjoy in and around Cascais, including Praia do Guincho and Praia da Duquesa, which is especially ideal for diving. 
  • Costa da Caparica - This popular hotspot has a main beach, Praia do Centro Desportivo de Surf (CDS) and attracts families, surfers and sunbathers. 
  • Meco - This is a surfers’ paradise thanks to the sizeable waves that can be found here. Be aware that sections of the beach are for nudists.
  • Troia - This attractive beach boasts white sand and some fantastic pine forest scenery. It can only be accessed by ferry. 
  • Adraga - This is often called one of the best beaches in Portugal thanks to its high cliffs, golden sand and clear blue waters. It can be difficult to get to, but this means crowds aren’t much of an issue.

 

Costa de Prata

Also known as the Silver Coast, the Costa de Prata stretches north from Lisbon to Porto and is an attractive destination for holidaymakers seeking rugged coastline and beautiful views.

  • Figueira da Foz - This popular resort has a very wide beach and is especially ideal for surfing. The old town offers more attractions for sightseers.
  • Peniche - Peniche occupies a spectacular headland setting and some particularly good beaches to enjoy, as a walled historic district.
  • Nazare - This surfers’ town boasts a wide beach backed by cliffs and a lovely old town. The nightlife can be particularly lively, making it perfect for young sunbathers.
  • Aveiro - This elegant town is ideal for a relaxing beach holiday. The main beaches are Sao Jacinto, Costa Nova, Barra and Vagueira.

 

Costa Verde

The Green Coast of Portugal is relatively small but has a few highlights for holidaymakers. The region is lush with vegetation thanks to the rainfall that it gets, so be sure to investigate the weather forecast before booking your holiday!

  • Porto - This bustling city is the second largest in Portugal and has several beaches nearby. One highlight is Miramar to the south of the city, which is relatively uncrowded even in the summer.
  • Viana do Castelo - This seaside town has some interesting architecture and two nearby beaches, Cabedelo and Vila Praia de ncora.

 

Islands

There are yet more beach destinations on Portugal’s islands: the Azores and Madeira.

  • Azores - The island of Santa Maria has the best beaches in the Azores, including São Lourenço and Praia Formosa.
  • Madeira & Porto Santo - Madeira is best known for its fortified wine, but it also has a picturesque coastline. There aren’t many sand beaches on the main island, but neighbouring Porto Santo has the golden sand and clear blue waters you probably crave.
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