With over a thousand miles of coastline and its warm, temperate Mediterranean climate, it is hardly surprising that Portugal can lay claim to some of the best beaches in Europe. The Algarve alone has over 100 beaches, but although less popular with tourists there are also outstanding beaches along the western Atlantic coast, waiting to be discovered. You may decide that one beach and one hotel is enough for you but if you really want to explore some of Portugal’s more remote beaches you should consider renting self-catering accommodation and hiring a car. Everyone who’s visited the Portuguese coast will have their opinion of the best beaches but here are five very different beaches, from different parts of the country which are guaranteed to delight.
- Praia da Adraga
This small, sheltered beach, just over 8 miles from Sintra station is a little gem which finds its way to the top of many people’s lists. Approached by a deep winding valley and surrounded by high cliffs, this tranquil beach has golden sand, amazing rock formations and spectacular sunsets. There are a car park and an excellent restaurant, for which you are advised to book.
This seaside village, a few miles south of the beautiful city of Porto, is famed for its 17TH Century chapel, the Copela do Senhora Pedra, which is spectacularly sited on a rocky headland jutting out from the beach. Not yet a tourist destination, the beach is great for swimming in the summer and great for surfing in the winter. The town is full of grand houses and mansions and has a nine-hole golf course. A regular train service connects Miramar with Porto.
- Praia do Cabedelo
Situated on the mouth of the Lima, across from the northern city of Viana do Castelo, the beach is best reached by a five-minute ferry trip. The 1km arc of fine white sand is bordered by dunes and pine forest and this windswept shoreline, with its boardwalk trails, is particularly popular with surfers. There are two campsites and nightlife can be found at the bars which look out over the sands.
- Praia da Rocha
On the western end of the Algarve, this massive beach, with sandstone cliffs, is a major tourist attraction. The clifftop promenade is a succession of cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs where you should expect to pay inflated tourist prices. For a more sedate experience head to the nearby, historic fishing port of Lagos with its ancient buildings, relaxed atmosphere and an excellent range of water sports.
- Praia do Castelo
This small Algarve beach is situated between Albufeira and Armacao de Pera. Named after a long-gone watchtower, built to protect the coast from Barbary pirates, it is now one of the less commercials of the Algarve’s beaches. Flanked by sandstone cliffs, typical of the area, this small beach, with its crystal-clear water, is great for swimming and snorkelling. There are lifeguards on hand, loungers and parasols to be hired and even a small beach restaurant.