With around 1700 kilometres of coastline it’s hardly surprising that Portugal has more than its fair share of amazing beaches. Although most visitors to the country will head straight to the justly famous beaches of the Algarve, the Atlantic coastline also has plenty of beaches well worth discovering, in and out of season. With so much variety on offer it seems a shame to spend your entire vacation in one hotel, on one beach, so why not consider booking rental accommodation in different parts of the country so that you can explore the rich cultural diversity that Portugal has to offer. Portugal has an extensive and inexpensive public transport system, but if you want to get to some of those magical, out of the way beaches, then you really should consider hiring a car. Anyone who has explored the coast of this country will have their favourite beaches and no two people will agree, but here’s a sample of Portugal’s beaches which you can be sure, won’t disappoint.
Praia da Marinha, Algarve
We have to start with this one because it’s probably the most famous beach in Portugal and it’s rated by the Michelin Guide as one of the ten most beautiful beaches in Europe. Enjoy the stunning coastal views from the top of the honeycomb cliffs and then take the steps down to the beach, where you’ll find a small restaurant. You might be a little underwhelmed at first but walk around the big rock and you’ll understand just why this beach is so famous. The beach is sheltered, the sand is soft, and the clear water is perfect for snorkelling. Head east along the cliff tops and you’ll reach the small fishing village of Benagil, famous for its spectacular sea cave. The cave can only be reached by sea, so book yourself one of the numerous boat trips which run from the beach at Benagil or nearby villages.
Praia de Tavira, Algarve
This beach is situated on the 10 Kilometre sand bar, the Ilha de Tavira, which lies 3 Kilometres offshore from Tavira and is accessed by the half-hourly ferries which run from the town. The golden sand and turquoise waters have been protected from major tourist development as a result of being within the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa.
Praia de Odeceixe
Sited at the mouth of the river Seixe, on the border of the Algarve and Alentejo region, this large, sandy beach, is popular with surfers. The approach to the beach, from the village which lies 4 kilometres away, is through a gloriously lush valley. In summer, a road train runs back and forth along the route.
Midway up the Atlantic coast, this once sleepy fishing village is now a major tourist attraction, its broad, sandy beach lined with enticing fish restaurants.
Praia de Caminha/Foz do Minho
Right at the most north-westerly point of the Portuguese mainland, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the beach lies at the mouth of the Minho river. You can choose from the fine sand and rough open seas of the main beach or the coarser sand and calmer water of the river.