Did you know Portugal has over 1,800 kilometers (1,118 miles) of coastline? Combine that with an average of 300 sunny days per year; it is the ideal destination for a beach vacation.
It’s one of the reasons why I decided to move to Portugal and set up shop, along with the friendly people, delicious food, and laid-back lifestyle.
The best part of Portugal? It’s the diversity of Portugal’s finest beaches. Whether you are a family seeking a safe, sandy spot for the kids, a surfer chasing thrilling waves, or someone longing for a mix of relaxation and adventure, Portugal’s coastline offers a beach for every preference.
Most travelers stick to Lisbon, but that’s boring, so let’s explore the best beaches in Portugal from top to bottom and even include the islands.
Best Portugal Beaches Near Lisbon
Lisbon is not only Portugal’s bustling capital; it’s also the heart of a diverse metropolitan area with different beaches that cater to every type of beachgoer. Whether you are looking to head north, west, or south, you’ll be able to find a beach to explore.
1. Praia de Carcavelos
One of the closest beaches to Lisbon is Praia de Carcavelos, located 20 km (12.4 mi) west of the city. It’s a favorite of both locals and tourists. It is the largest beach on the Lisbon-Estoril-Cascais coastline and is around 2km (1.2 mi) long.
Known for its soft golden sands and pristine sea waters (a Blue-flagged beach), it is also well-equipped with showers, toilets, cafes, and restaurants. For the more active, there are beach sports and water activities. It’s particularly popular among beginner surfers, thanks to its welcoming waves.
This is hands-down one of the most accessible beaches to get to from Lisbon. There is parking galore, and public transportation offers a very straightforward route.
However, its accessibility is also its downfall, making it a summer hotspot. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
My recommendation? Get there in the early evening and then head to one of the nearby beach restaurants. You can quickly shower, change, and then have dinner as you watch the sunset.
2. Praia de São João
Praia de São João is arguably one of my favorite beaches around Lisbon, but I am slightly biased. I used to live right by the beach and would spend my mornings and evenings walking along the shore.
Praia de São João is located in Costa da Caparica, around 17 km (10.6 mi) south of Lisbon. You’ll have to cross the famous April 15th bridge to get here. Once you get here, this particular beach is not in the central part of town. It’s around 1km (0.62 mi) away.
The stretch of sand is gorgeous, and it is also home to several beach bars, many of which have small set-ups on the sand. You can rent a chair or umbrella and enjoy drinks and nibbles for a fun day out on the beach. If you want a chic experience, try Classico Beach. However, for local flavors and reasonable prices, Pé Nu is my go-to.
From here, it’s a stroll to Costa’s main strip, making it a great starting point for exploration.
Getting here by public transport can be tricky; I recommend using an Uber or driving. The parking for this particular area is paid parking (not free). Be aware the bridge to Costa can get crowded on weekends, sometimes causing over an hour’s delay. A smart alternative? Take the train to Pragal and Uber from there.
☀ Fun fact: The Praia da Costa da Caparica is a 30 km (18.6 mi) uninterrupted beach that stretches from the Cova do Vapor settlement to Praia das Bicas near Sesimbra. There are multiple beaches along this stretch and many beach bars to discover.
For example, I recommend checking out Fonte da Telha if you love windsurfing.
3. Praia dos Galapinhos
Further south of Lisbon, around 50 km (31 mi), is the stunning Arrábida Natural Park, an oasis that perfectly blends nature and beach experiences.
The Arrábida Natural Park is particularly famous for its beaches, known for their white sands and crystal-clear waters. Cliffs protect these beaches from currents and winds, making many of them perfect for timid swimmers or families.
Praia dos Galapinhos stands out for its beauty and tranquility. This beach became even more famous in 2017 when European Best Destinations named it the most beautiful beach in Europe.
You’ll need to walk down a short trail to reach the beach, so wearing sturdy shoes is a must, and flip-flops might not be the best idea. Near the main beach, there’s a restaurant with restrooms.
As parking is scarce, usually on the shoulder of the road, the best way to get here is by private driver, tour, or Uber.
4. Praia da Lagoa de Albufeira-Mar
Back on the Costa da Caparica stretch of sand, almost at the end, you’ll find Praia da Lagoa de Albufeira-Mar, not to be confused with the Algarve city of Albufeira.
Located around 36km (22 mi) south of Lisbon, this is a hidden gem, mainly visited by those in the know – usually the Portuguese locals.
What sets Lagoa de Albufeira apart is its unique geography. At this beach, a freshwater lagoon meets the saltwater of the Atlantic, creating two distinct environments. On one side is the sea with its waves and currents; on the other, calm lagoon waters.
You can do everything and anything here – kitesurf, windsurf, SUP, or just relax under the beautiful Portuguese sun. There is also one restaurant if you feel peckish.
🐾 Looking for a dog-friendly beach? This is the perfect one.
5. Praia da Adraga
Praia da Adraga, in the Sintra-Cascais National Park, stands out as one of the most striking beaches in the region. It mixes a large sandy area and rugged, natural beauty characterized by impressive rock formations.
At the beach’s south end is a notable arch, a natural wonder created by erosion. The north end is marked by large black boulders sculpted by the elements over time.
Accessible mainly by car or a private driver, Praia da Adraga offers a more secluded experience, especially if you are looking to escape the crowds during high season.
Beach Portugal Beaches in Alentejo
As we head further south, we enter the Alentejo region, known for its rustic charm and natural beauty. Alentejo is renowned for its rolling hills, vast cork oak forests, and traditional whitewashed villages.
Most people tend to skip Alentejo as they head down to the Algarve, but this is the perfect region if you are looking to explore a more authentic side of Portugal.
6. Praia da Comporta
In the Troia Peninsula lies Praia da Comporta, a striking beach with more than 19 km (12 mi) of white sands and turquoise waters, all the while being framed by the hills of the Arrábida Natural Park in the background.
Beyond its natural beauty, the beach is practical for visitors, featuring several bars and cafés. It is also a popular spot for adventure sports like kitesurfing and windsurfing. For a truly unique experience, you can also go horseback riding on the beach.
Just beyond the dunes lies the quaint town of Comporta, known for its blend of high-end eco-resorts and traditional village huts. It is seen as the Hamptons of Lisbon. Celebrities like Madonna, Sharon Stone, and Richard Branson have raved about Comporta, and Christain Louboutin even opened a hotel in the nearby town of Melindes.
7. Praia de Zambujeira do Mar
Surrounded by imposing cliffs, the sandy beach of Zambujeira do Mar is both beautiful and accessible, with steps and a paved slope accommodating various needs, including on-duty lifeguards during the high season.
This clean and peaceful beach, nestled in one of the best spots along the Alentejo coastline, is also a favorite with surfers – although non-surfers can enjoy it as well.
The beach is in the picturesque town of Zambujeira do Mar, which overlooks the coast from a cliff top. The city is small but has all the basic amenities, including several restaurants.
This village is also within the Costa Vicentina and Sudoeste Alentejano Nature Park, a stunning national park with rocky coastlines, beautiful beaches, and various hiking trails.
Best Portugal Beaches in the Algarve
The Algarve is my favorite region in all of Portugal. But why is the Algarve famous? First, there are the incredible limestone cliffs that drop into the Atlantic. Then there is the beautiful year-round weather, the fantastic seafood, the diverse attractions, and, of course, the beautiful beaches. Once you come here, you’ll be hooked, too.
8. Praia de Odeceixe
Praia de Odeceixe is in the Aljezur municipality and part of the Costa Vicentina Natural Park. It is on the region’s western edge, next to the border between Alentejo and the Algarve.
The beach is known for its horseshoe shape, framed by the Ribeira de Seixe river. Here, the river merges with the ocean, making it another popular spot for surfers. Although families also enjoy the vast sandy area.
The best part? It’s one of the less popular Algarve beach spots, perfect if you are looking to avoid the tourist crowds.
It’s an unspoiled area perfect for nature lovers. At low tide, small lagoons and rock pools are available. Praia de Odeceixe also has amenities, including restaurants, lifeguards, and water sports rentals.
9. Praia Da Falésia
Praia da Falésia is one of the Algarve’s most renowned beaches, and for good reason. Extending over 6 km (3.73 miles), the beach is famous for its stunning red and orange cliffs with pine trees on top.
These gorgeous cliffs provide the perfect backdrop to the soft sandy beach and the beautiful blue-green waters of the Algarve. The beach is so stunning that it was added to TripAdvisor’s 2023 list of the Top 25 Beaches in the World, ranking sixth and making it the only Portuguese beach on the list.
Regarding accessibility, the beach can be visited year-round and is especially beautiful at sunrise and sunset. It can get crowded during the summer, and parking spaces are limited, so make sure to come early, especially during the high season.
This is an all-rounder type of beach as it is an excellent choice for every kind of traveler, including families. It offers a gently sloping shoreline and calm waters, perfect for smaller children.
The beach is also home to amenities like sunbeds, umbrella rentals, a nearby restaurant, showers, and lifeguards (during the summer). It is also quite close to the Algarve towns of Albufeira and Vilamoura.
10. Praia Da Coelha
Praia da Coelha is a typical Algarve beach, home to the region’s iconic rugged cliffs, sparkling blue waters, and fine, soft sands.
The beach is a local favorite. It tends to be quieter on weekdays but can fill up quickly on weekends. The reason for its popularity? The sand is delightful, and the shoreline is relatively shallow, although the ocean floor drops farther offshore.
Praia da Coelha offers various amenities, including parking, showers, toilets, lifeguards, beach loungers, and a café/restaurant with a varied menu.
The downside is that you’ll have to park a little farther away and walk 10-15 minutes to the beach. And the beach is relatively small, too – it is only 150 meters long, so that’s why it fills up fast.
11. Praia de Dona Ana
Another classic Algarve beach, Praia da Dona Ana, is a cove that can be found between sandstone cliffs just east of the famous Ponta da Piedade in Lagos.
This beach has consistently been voted one of the best in the Algarve, primarily because of its clear waters, fine sand, and stunning sandstone formations.
Calm waters, perfect for families, are home to amenities like a large parking lot, toilets, showers, sunbed rental, a lifeguard service, and restaurants.
The beach is also relatively easy to get to on foot, as it is only a short 20-minute walk from the town of Lagos. There are also multiple public transport options to take you, as well as taxis or Uber. One thing to note is that you’ll need to walk down two staircases to access the beach from the carpark.
12. Praia de Benagil
The best beaches in Portugal list isn’t complete without a mention of arguably one of the country’s most famous beaches (and caves): Benagil.
This natural wonder, known as the Benagil Sea Cave, has a unique dome-like structure with an opening at the top that allows sunlight to stream in and illuminate the sandy interior. It is only accessible by water.
Benagil Beach is a picturesque spot with golden sands and clear blue waters, perfect for sunbathing and swimming. The area around Benagil also offers coastal walks, with views of the Algarve’s rugged cliffs and the vast ocean.
Something to note is that authorities have temporarily closed access to the cave for certain watercraft, including canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. You can’t swim to the cave, either.
You can still take a boat tour into the cave. However, getting off the boat inside the cave is no longer permitted.
☀ Fun fact: If you come to Benagil, stop at the gorgeous Marina Beach, only 3 km (1.86 mi) away. Marinha Beach is famous for its breathtaking natural arches and clear turquoise waters, nestled between striking limestone cliffs, making it one of the Algarve’s most picturesque beaches.
Best Portugal Beaches in Northern Portugal
We went south. Now, it’s time to go north. Although many people visit Porto, there are many things to see and beaches to laze around on. However, be aware that the further you go up, the colder the waters are – this is the Atlantic Ocean, after all.
13. Baleal, Peniche
Are you looking for a surfing beach? Baleal is the perfect spot. Located just 3 km (1.9 mi) from Peniche, this island is quite peculiar. Although technically an island, it is still connected to the mainland by a tombolo.
Its excellent weather and surf conditions, along with the famous Rip Curl Pro Portugal World Championship held annually in October, make it a prime destination for surf enthusiasts. The area’s diverse surf breaks also make it a great spot for every type of surfer.
Beyond the beach, this little town also has a great vibe with its nightlife and activities, particularly during the summer. My recommendation? Book a nice at the Salty Pelican and take a surf class (or two) before watching the sunset on their rooftop patio.
☀ Fun fact: The word baleal comes from the Portuguese word baleia, which means whale. In the Middle Ages, whale meat was cut up in this location, thus giving it its name.
14. Matosinhos Beach
If you want a beach near a major city, head to Matosinhos Beach. The beach is located just 8km (5 mi) northwest of Porto and is accessible by public transport, including the metro.
The Matosinhos Sul Metro Station on the Porto Metro’s Blue Line (Line A) is conveniently located near the beach – making Matosinhos the perfect day trip from Porto.
The beach is big and is excellent for sunbathing and beach sports, with people often playing beach volleyball on the sand’s edge. It is also home to a promenade lined with various restaurants and cafes.
Matosinhos Beach is also a Blue Flag beach, which means it is known for its water quality and safety. During windy days, it is a popular spot for surfers and kite surfers.
15. Praia do Norte
Praia do Norte, adjacent to the small, picturesque town of Nazaré, is famous for its colossal waves.
This beach is globally recognized as a mecca for big-wave surfing. It became famous in the surfing community when Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara set a world record there in 2011 by riding a 78-foot (23.8 meters) wave.
The waves are at their biggest around October-November each year. Around this time, people head to Nazare to catch a glimpse of surfers trying to ride some of the world’s biggest waves.
While it’s obvious that few people swim at Praia do Norte, if you fancy a swim, head to the adjacent Praia do Nazaré.
16. Praia de Esmoriz
Esmoriz Beach in Portugal is a charming destination for tourists seeking a blend of relaxation and adventure. This beach, located 45 minutes south of Porto, is roughly two kilometres long and is known for its beautiful golden sand.
One of the key attractions of Esmoriz is its natural setting. The beach is next to a protected nature reserve, which is great for bird watching and exploring local flora and fauna. The area is also rich in cultural heritage, with a strong fishing tradition visible in the local community.
For families, Esmoriz offers a safe and spacious beach environment. The town of Esmoriz itself is welcoming, providing a taste of authentic Portuguese coastal life. The proximity to Porto also makes it a convenient spot for tourists looking to explore more of northern Portugal.
It’s also the perfect spot for surf lessons in Portugal. Local Rui Guimarães runs Surfer’s Camp, one street from the beach. Not is Rui one of the best surf instructors we have ever had, but he also shares history of the area and customizes his lessons to every client.
Best Portugal Beaches in the Islands
Portugal is also home to two archipelagos: Madeira and the Azores. Madeira is situated in the North Atlantic Ocean (near Morocco) and is famous for its stunning cliffs, pools, beaches, and natural beauty. It’s the perfect vacation spot for anyone looking for both adventure and relaxation.
The Azores, located further west in the Atlantic, consist of nine volcanic islands. These islands are a paradise for nature lovers, offering everything from green rolling hills to geothermal springs and whale watching. Want to lose yourself in nature? Then the Azores is your best bet.
17. Praia de Santa Bárbara, São Miguel
Let’s start with the Azores, specifically the island of São Miguel, nicknamed the Green Island or Ilha Verde in Portuguese. It is the largest island in the archipelago and has the largest population of all nine.
One of the most famous beaches is Praia de Santa Bárbara, known for its stretch of soft, black volcanic sand. The beach is also known for its great surfing conditions, making it a popular spot for surfers of all levels. Another perk is that it is one of the longest sandy beaches in the Azores.
It’s a little tricky to find on Google Maps, so double-check the map before you head out. It lies outside of Ribeira Grande near Ribeira Seca.
18. Calheta, Madeira
If you didn’t know, many of the beaches in Madeira are rocky. The island is only home to two natural sand beaches; the rest are artificial, including Calheta.
But hear me out. Of all the beaches I visited in Madeira, Calheta was my favorite. First, this little town is known as one of the sunniest spots in Madeira. Its location on the island’s southwest coast allows it to enjoy more hours of sunshine compared to other areas.
☀ So it could be raining in Funchal, but it will be sunny in Calheta.
The artificial golden sand beach was imported from Morocco and offers a softer touch. The shoreline is also shallow, perfect for families, and designed with protective sea walls that help maintain the artificial sand and provide shelter from the waves of the Atlantic.
Other amenities include restaurants, a marina, a grocery store, lifeguards on duty, showers, and even a hotel on the beach’s edge.
19. Seixal, Madeira
Last but certainly not least, I had to end with one of the most famous beaches of Madeira: Seixal. This is one of the two natural sand beaches on the island.
The beach is famous for its volcanic black sand, and the view of the mountains that frame the beach is an unforgettable experience. Impressive cliffs surround the beach, with clear, calm waters ideal for swimming.
Amenities include public toilets and a restaurant.
Be aware that this is a popular tourist spot and can be filled with tourists. Parking can be crazy, as people tend to park on the side of the road, transforming two lanes into one. If you are a nervous driver, I recommend booking a trip here or parking at the top and making your way down.
Final Thoughts: Best Portugal Beaches
Hopefully, this list gave you a small taste of the diverse beach offerings that await you in Portugal. From the big waves at Nazaré to the sunny sands of Calheta, there’s a perfect beach for everyone.
Portugal’s coast, including the beautiful islands of Madeira and the Azores, offers exciting adventures and peaceful spots to relax. Try surfing at Baleal, exploring the famous Benagil cave, or enjoying the black sand at Seixal.
Each beach is a new adventure waiting for you. So, pack your bags and prepare to make incredible memories on Portugal’s stunning beaches. It’s time for fun in the sun.
Yvonne is a Canadian who has lived in Portugal (at least part-time) since 2020. She owns a small house in rural Portugal and loves to write about the beauty of Portuguese travel on her blog, nowinportugal.com. You can also follow her on TikTok @yvonneivanescu.