Though relatively small in size, Portugal offers visitors a surprisingly rich history and diverse landscape of long beaches, lush vineyards, verdant valleys, and rolling hills. While the country’s abundant cultural and historical sights merit a place in your Portugal vacation, if it’s the sun-drenched coastal areas you’re after, head to Lisbon and the Algarve for the best in beaches.
Praia do Guincho
Known to world-class surfers for its wide stretch of fine sand and massive breakers, Praia do Guincho sits near the small town of Cascais, less than an hour’s drive east of Lisbon. The sandy beach remains an ideal spot for adventurous water lovers, its favorable winds making this long stretch of the Atlantic coastline a good spot for perfecting your windsurfing or kite-surfing skills. If you need a bit of coaching before setting off on your water adventure, visit one of the surf schools offering equipment rentals and lessons for all ages and skill levels.
For a relaxing waterfront experience, add Estoril’s Tamariz Beach to your Portugal trip planner. One of the country’s most popular vacation getaways due to its proximity to Lisbon and an abundance of seaside restaurants watched over by a medieval-style castle, this beach offers fine sand and calm water. The fortress-like residence looking over the beach belongs to Monaco’s royal family, which adds to the popularity and appeal of this part of the coastline. Avoid the heavy traffic and expensive parking near the beach by catching a train from Lisbon to Estoril.
Costa de Caparica
Costa de Caparica is one of the Atlantic coastline’s seemingly never-ending beaches, attracting a range of sand and water enthusiasts. Lisbon natives flock here to ride the Atlantic waves, swim, and spend long summer days relaxing on the golden sand. Increasingly popular with foreign visitors to the country’s capital, Costa de Caparica remains one of the longest continuous beaches in Portugal, stretching for over 30 km (18 mi). You’ll find plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants nearby, but if you want to sidestep the tourist crowds and spend some time alone, explore the pine forests just to the south.
Praia dos Pescadores
To visit one of the most popular beaches in the Algarve, include Praia dos Pescadores in your Portugal itinerary. A curving stretch of golden sand lapped by gentle Atlantic waters, this “fisherman’s beach” (as its name roughly translates) blends a scenic location with easy access to Albufeira’s atmospheric old town. Just a short walk from the seaside you can explore busy streets lined with restaurants, bars, hotels, and small shops selling local souvenirs. For sweeping views of the sea and the coastline, take the escalator to the top of the cliffs that make up the natural backdrop to this vibrant beach.
Praia do Beliche
Thanks to its consistent waves, Praia do Beliche serves as one of the Algarve’s major surfing spots. Even if surfing the Atlantic doesn’t appeal to you, you can still enjoy this beach by lounging on the warm sand or touring the nearby fortress, built during the 15th century. Though the high cliffs provide the beach with good protection from the wind, the choppy water is best suited for experienced surfers. You’ll find few modern facilities near this coastal hidden gem, so bring your own equipment, food, and water.
Praia Da Rocha
Named for the rugged cliffs and rocks located near its shoreline, Praia da Rocha remains one of the region’s major kid-friendly beaches. The soft sand and blue water draw families with little children, while the proximity to good bars and clubs attracts huge crowds from nearby Portimao, one of the country’s popular sailing centers. Add a little historical interest to your day at the beach by visiting the nearby medieval fortress, offering unobstructed views of the coastline.
Portugal’s Coastal Treasures
Spend your Portugal vacation without visiting the beaches of Lisbon and the Algarve, and you’ll end up going home without experiencing the best of the country’s coastal treasures. As you explore these coastlines, try to soak up some local culture by visiting a few fishing villages–friendly places where old traditions still prevail.