18 Most Beautiful Beaches in Portugal (+Photos)

With its long, attractive Atlantic coastline and idyllic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, it is no wonder Portugal boasts so many unbelievable beaches. A massively popular holiday destination, the sun-kissed country sees untold thousands visit each summer to relax along its scenic shores.

Dotted all along the coastline are stunning beaches overlooked by craggy cliffs and towering rock formations. While some calm stretches of sand are perfect for families, others instead attract keen surfers and watersports enthusiasts.

As its waters are a bit warmer, many head down to its charming Algarve region in the south to top up their tan. Wherever you go though, you really can’t go wrong as each beach looks even more alluring than the last.

18. Portinho da Arrabida

Just outside of Setubal, around an hour’s drive south of Lisbon, is one of the seaside city’s best beaches: the picturesque Portinho da Arrabida. Protected as part of the Natural Park of the same name, its soft sands are backed by dramatic forest-clad mountains.

Bordered by calm, crystal-clear waters, the secluded beach is a great place to sunbathe and swim during the warm summer months. A couple of small bars and seafood restaurants can also be found dotted along its shores as can the ruins of an ancient Roman settlement. Only accessible via a steep, narrow road, it boasts some absolutely beautiful views and scenery.

17. Carcavelos Beach

Carcavelos Beach

In stark contrast to the peaceful Portinho da Arrabida, the busy Carcavelos Beach has loads of amenities and activities to try. Very long and wide, it lies at the mouth of the Tagus River, on the way to Cascais from Libson. As it is very popular with locals and tourists, its sunbeds, restaurants and bars do get quite packed in summer.

As there are almost always waves here, you can learn how to surf at the numerous schools lying alongside it. Many people also play football, volleyball or even tennis on the expansive beach. At its eastern end, you can spy the enormous Fort of Sao Juliao da Barra which used to protect the capital from attacks in centuries gone by.

16. Praia Dona Ana

Praia Dona Ana

Right down in the southwest corner of Portugal is the attractive Praia Dona Ana. Overlooked by towering cliffs, its stunning scenery, warm sands and turquoise waters make it one of the best beaches in the Algarve. Located just a twenty minute walk from the center of Lagos, it also has fabulous viewpoints and a tasty seafood restaurant to stop off at.

While its rock formations and sea stacks look a treat, its coarse sands usually get pretty full in summer with lots of algae also often washing up along the shore. Its spellbinding scenery and cool, hidden cave more than make up for it, however. Afterwards, make sure to hike or kayak along its incredible cliffs to the even more impressive Ponta da Piedade.

15. Praia do Porto do Seixal, Madeira

Praia do Porto do Seixal

With its black volcanic sands and breathtaking mountain vistas, the Praia do Porto do Seixal is simply a must when in Madeira. If all its lovely landscapes weren’t enough, it has a small, twinkling waterfall and natural pool to bathe in too. While the beach is increasingly popular with Instagrammers and tourist groups, there is a good reason why everyone heads here.

Set at the eastern edge of the small city, its lush green mountains wouldn’t look out of place in Jurassic Park. Aside from taking some photos, you can relax on its black sands or splash around in its rather rough waters. Restaurants and showers are available while hiking trails also weave their way towards the interior of the island from here.

14. Comporta Beach

Comporta Beach

Stretching almost endlessly along Alentejo’s coast are the clean, clear waters and sparkling white, powdery sands of Comporta Beach. Backed by rolling dunes and a little pine forest, it lies on a long, narrow spit of land in between the Atlantic and Sado Estuary. It can easily be reached from Lisbon or Setubal with plenty of parking spaces also dotted about.

As Comporta is often called ‘The Hamptons of Europe’, a number of trendy restaurants and bars border the beach. While it wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean, it never gets too busy as there is just so much sand to go around. Many people also kitesurf or windsurf here with pods of dolphins sometimes spotted offshore.

13. Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha

Renowned for all its remarkable cliffs and caves, Praia da Marinha is one of the most famous beaches in Portugal. Often used to advertise the country, its captivating scenery and views see countless thousands flock here each summer. Lying between Lagos and Albufeira, it can be visited by car or on unforgettable boat tours that include stops at Benagil Cave.

Actually not all that large, its golden sands are loomed over by lovely orange limestone cliffs with its emerald green waters only completing the pretty picture. Alongside all its sea stacks and grottos, you can also admire its iconic double-arched rock formation. As the beach and its parking lot can get quite crowded and chaotic, you’re best off visiting outside of summer.

12. Praia da Falésia

Praia da Falésia

Yet another of the Algarve region’s most idyllic beaches has to be the much quieter Praia da Falesia. Also overlooked by steep, colourful cliffs, its scenic reaches lie on the opposite side of Albufeira to Praia da Marinha. Other than ambling along enjoying all their vibrant colors and phenomenal views, you can jet ski, parasail and surf.

Extending over 6 kilometers in length, the beach is very wide and open with the red, orange and white striped cliffs running alongside it almost the whole way along. Besides sunbathing and swimming or splashing about in its shallows, there are several traditional restaurants to try out. Sunsets here are also particularly spectacular.

11. Praia de Santa Bárbara, São Miguel, Azores

Praia de Santa Bárbara

A bit harder to reach than the other beaches, Praia de Santa Bárbara lies right in the middle of the Atlantic, on the north side of Sao Miguel. Part of the isolated Azores archipelago, its dark sands made for some fantastic photos what with all the rough waves and craggy cliffs around them.

A great place to surf, it also has some quieter spots where you can swim away from the rip currents. Lifeguards patrol the beach in summertime with it being quite desolate the rest of the year. Very wild and romantic, it has showers and changing facilities to make use of with the TukaTula Beach Bar always being a good place to eat.

10. Praia da Costa Nova, Aveiro

Praia da Costa Nova

While it is perhaps most known for its cute, colorfully striped houses, Praia da Costa Nova also has some superb sand dunes and exciting surfing to enjoy. From the center of Aveiro, it only takes about fifteen minutes to drive to the beach which occupies a narrow strip of land in between its lagoon and the Atlantic.

Aside from snapping some pics and selfies in front of its brightly painted buildings, you can stroll along its boardwalk that takes you to the next beach. Its warm, soft sands are wonderful to lounge on with the rolling dunes also being fun to explore. Be careful when swimming in the sea as the currents can be very strong.

9. Praia do Guincho, Cascais

Praia do Guincho

As it lies so close to Lisbon, Cascais is one of the first places people head if they want some sun, sea and sand. One of its most famous beaches is the gorgeous Praia do Guincho which even appeared in a James Bond film. Due to its large swells, many enjoy surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing the big waves.

Set at the foot of the Sintra hills, the broad beach stretches 800 meters in length with huge dunes and cliffs also backing it. As well as all its watersports, it has some great trails to hike along. In summer, Praia do Guincho has a lively yet laidback vibe as everyone packs out its sands having a good time.

8. Praia de Odeceixe

Praia de Odeceixe

One of the west coast of Portugal’s best-kept secrets, Praia de Odeceixe is set in a stunning spot where the sizeable Ribeira de Seixe river flows into the sea. Surrounded on three sides by water, the golden beach and green-clad cliffs about it make for some fabulous photos.

Actually forming the border between the Algarve and Alentejo regions, the beach’s scenery and setting are utterly enchanting. While the surf is often a bit rough, you can always swim peacefully on its calmer riverside. The small town of Odeceixe overlooking it also has some cozy little local restaurants and cafes to stop by.

7. Praia de Tavira

Praia de Tavira

As it is located a few hundred meters off the Algarve coast, the enchanting Tavira Island and its azure waters can only be accessed by ferry. Protected as part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, it has over 11 kilometers of beautiful beaches to discover. One of the most picturesque is Praia de Tavira which is just a short walk from where the boat docks.

Bordered by calm, clear waters, its sun-kissed sands are lovely to lounge on with sunbeds and parasols also available. In the sea, you can swim and splash about or rent paddleboards and kayaks. A couple of cafes and snack bars are also by the beach, should you get hungry.

6. Praia do Baleal

Praia do Baleal

Just south of Nazare and its world-renowned waves is another excellent place to enjoy some fun watersports. At Praia do Baleal, there are some exciting swells to surf atop with other more secluded parts also being suitable for swimming. After taking a refreshing dip, you can warm up on its soft sands or grab a coffee or beer in one of its bars.

While many come to bodyboard, windsurf or kite surf, the beach itself also looks absolutely amazing. That’s because it acts as a causeway to the little rocky island of the same name with its fine sands actually facing three different directions.

5. Praia da Ursa

Praia da Ursa

Although it is quite isolated and hard to reach, the idyllic Praia da Ursa is certainly worth the effort once you get there. Boasting some of the most epic-looking rock formations in all the region, it lies at the bottom of a steep trail down a craggy cliff. Its wild reaches can be found just north of the incredible Cabo da Roca viewpoint, directly west of Sintra.

With loads of rocky outcrops rising dramatically out of the sea and large waves crashing against them, the beach creates some fantastic photo opportunities. While you can still just about swim, watch out for the tide that suddenly comes in quite quickly.

4. Praia do Camilo

Praia do Camilo

Also surrounded by rearing rock formations is the sheltered, sandy cove of Praia do Camilo, just south of Lagos. Situated on the way to Ponta da Piedade from Praia Dona Ana, it is one of the most popular beaches to visit in all of Portugal. While this can make it insanely busy in summer, there is a reason everyone heads here.

As you slowly descend the 200 wooden steps, the views of its ochre-colored cliffs and turquoise-colored waters just keep getting better and better. At the bottom, you can walk through its hand-carved tunnel, photograph its sea stacks and sunbathe if there’s any space left. If clumps of seaweed aren’t clogging the cove, you can also swim beside its rocks.

3. Praia da Nazaré

Praia da Nazaré

While Nazare is famed around the world for its fierce waves and phenomenal surfing, there are also calmer stretches of sand where you can relax, sunbathe and swim. Its main beach, Praia da Nazaré, attracts huge crowds in the summer with bodyboarders and surfers instead heading here in winter when the water is wilder.

Protected by a large, rocky headland at one end, the humongous, half-moon-shaped beach stretches away endlessly down the coast. Lining its long promenade are countless bars and restaurants which are very lively during the peak tourist season. The town still retains some of its charm, however, as colourful fishing boats still regularly depart from its harbor. From here, you can organize sightseeing cruises and take dolphin-watching trips.

2. Praia da Rocha

Praia da Rocha

Considered by many to be one of the Algarve’s best beaches, the pretty Praia da Rocha lies at the mouth of the Arade River, just outside of Portimao. Backed in many places by soaring, limestone cliffs, it also has the centuries-old Fort of Santa Catarina to see at its eastern end. With plenty of hotels and restaurants found nearby, it makes for a great holiday destination.

Other than admiring its colossal, orange-colored cliffs, you can stroll along its sands or go parasailing and jet skiing. While bodyboarding and surfing are possible in winter, the rest of the year, its large headland protects it from the Atlantic Ocean’s powerful winds and waves.

1. Benagil Cave

Benagil Cave

Just a short boat journey down the coast from Portimao is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions: the breathtaking Benagil Cave. Only accessible by water, its small beach and the gaping hole in its sandstone ceiling make for a captivating sight. An amazing natural phenomenon, it is the highlight of many people’s time exploring the Algarve.

With the bright blue sky above, sparkling waters below and oche-colored rocks all around you, the unique cave really is incredible to visit. Aside from kayaking or paddleboarding to its beach, you can also peer into its void from atop the surrounding cliffs.

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