The mega resorts of the Algarve are famous for their white sands, but there are some even more amazing beaches hidden away from the packed tourist hubs.
From rugged surfing coves to idyllic hidden gems, here are the top 10 beaches in Portugal, in glorious pictures…
Discover the 10 best beaches in Portugal in 2019
1. Praia do Guincho, Cascais
Cinephiles might remember this stunning beach from its appearance in the opening scene of the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, featuring Aussie Bond George Lazenby.
Being housed in a nature reserve, the beach has changed little since 1969, although you’re unlikely to find any secret agents running about these days. You will find some excellent seafood restaurants, however, and the rolling waves and stiff breeze make this a hot spot for surfing. The nearest town is Cascais, about 5km away, which is a popular vacation spot for both Portuguese and foreign tourists.
2. Praia da Rocha, Portimao
The ‘beach of the rocks’ is a great place to hang out if you want to avoid the crowds of the Algarve. Even at peak times you should be able to find a good spot on this huge expanse of sand. A rocky headland divides the beach in two, and there are plenty of small caves to explore along the cliffs. It’s also fairly sheltered, so it makes an ideal place for sunbathing and swimming. Nearby Portimao has plenty of restaurants and bars for apres-beach relaxation.
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3. Praia da Bordeira, Algarve
Just look at the size of it. The 3km of wide sands at Praia da Bordeira are a beach walker’s paradise, and this vast stretch of sandy coastline rarely gets busy, unlike some of the more touristy beaches dotted around the Algarve. Pack your sturdiest flip flops and stroll to your heart’s content. Be warned though: there’s little in the way of amenities along the beach, so remember to bring a packed lunch. It can get a tad windy too – good for kite-surfing but not so good for sunbathing. The nearest village is Carrapateira on the Atlantic coast.
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4. Praia do Castelo, Albufeira
The striking cliffs of this tucked-away beach provide it with a sense of seclusion that can be hard to find in the Algarve at the height of summer. Praia do Castelo was once overlooked by a fort, hence the ‘castelo’ in the title, and it consists of several small beaches interspersed with rocky coves that are ripe for exploring. The beautiful beach can be found just over 6km from Albufeira, but despite its proximity to the popular tourist town it’s rarely visited, except by locals and more adventurous travellers.
5. Praia da Adraga, Sintra
This is the one for romantic sunsets. Take a stroll along the shore and sink into your loved one’s arms as you watch the orange sun plunge into the Atlantic waves, which crash against the formidable, jagged rocks offshore. Then head off to the renowned seafood restaurant tucked under the cliffs to get bladdered while eating clams. The nearest town is Almoçageme, which is around 40 km from Lisbon.
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6. Praia da Marinha, Algarve
This stunning beach, surrounded by towering cliffs and azure seas, was voted as one of the 10 best beaches in Europe by the Michelin Guide. Once you’ve tottered down the stairs from the clifftop above, you’ll find yourself in a snorkelling haven, with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore under the clear waters. Boat trips are available too, so you can investigate the many nearby caves. You can find this phenomenal beach on the Algarve coast, just east of Carvoeiro.
7. Ilha da Tavira
This beach on the island of Tavira can only be reached by a ferry from Tavira city on the mainland. The island is only 11 km long and just one across at its widest point, with most of its area being taken up by this huge beach. Naturists are welcome too, so don’t worry if you haven’t packed your swimming cossie. If you fancy staying over, there’s a camping park, but otherwise there are scarcely any buildings on the island. Those that exist are banned from being sold, and there’s a moratorium on any new construction.Find cheap hotels in Tavira
The resort town of Peniche is in a stunning location on a peninsula thrusting out into the Atlantic ocean, around 100 km north of Lisbon. The wonderfully long beach is a popular spot for surfing, and the walled town of Peniche is a great place for soaking up some of the local history. Peniche is also a fantastic jumping off point for a visit to the Berlengas archipelago, a nature reserve chock full of seabirds and other wildlife.
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9. Zambujeira do Mar, Alentejo
The seaside town of Zambujeira do Mar is situated on a rugged stretch of Atlantic coastline around 70km north of Lagos. There are numerous small beaches tucked away along the rocky cliffs, which attract surfers and backpackers alike. In August the town gets into party mode in preparation for MEO Sudoeste (Southwest Festival, 7-10 August 2019), which has previously played host to the likes of Fatboy Slim, Snoop Lion and The Vaccines.
10. Alvor Beach, Algarve
The vast Alvor beach is one of the most popular in the Algarve in the summer months, and with good reason since it offers plenty of options. Head west to Praia de Alvor for a choice of water sports like volleyball, kitesurfing and sailing – while hikes in the nearby Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve will delight nature enthusiasts (the long Alvor boardwalk is also wheelchair accessible). If you’ve opted for accommodation in the bustling resorts of Lagos or Portimão, it’s easy to get here by car or bus.
For even more Instagrammable views head east, where Alvor’s sand dunes give way to the heavenly dramatic cliffs of Praia dos Três Irmãos.
If your travel budget doesn’t stretch far enough, you’ll find some beautiful stretches of sand up and down Ireland’s coast. Here’s a list of the 10 best Irish beaches to visit in 2019.Find cheap flights to Faro Hotels in Alvor
The 10 best beaches in Portugal for 2019
|1. Praia do Guincho, Cascais|
|2. Praia da Rocha, Portimao|
|3. Praia da Bordeira, Algarve|
|4. Praia do Castelo, Albufeira|
|5. Praia da Adraga, Sintra|
|6. Praia da Marinha, Algarve|
|7. Ilha da Tavira|
|9. Zambujeira do Mar, Alentejo|
|10. Alvor Beach, Algarve|
*Updated April 2019. Information correct at the time of publication and is subject to change and/or availability.