Here’s our round-up of the best.
One of the most iconic and heavily photographed caves in the Algarve is located near Carvoeiro in a fishing village called Benagil. The Algar de Benagil is a main standout feature of the local beach and is only accessible by water (travel by boat is the easiest). The Praia de Benagil is much more than this singular “algar” or grotto, however, and is one of the quieter and more secluded spots due to limited parking spaces nearby; also, it is surrounded by steep cliffsides that are common in the Algarve.
Located in Lagoa, the Praia da Marinha is another striking and typical Algarve-like beach, covered in soft sand and fringed with colorful cliffsides. It is also among the least busy spots in the area, perhaps because it is only really accessible by car followed by a climb down many steps along the cliffside. Those who make the trip should bring snorkel gear in addition to tanning supplies, since the Praia da Marinha enjoys calmer waters perfect for swimming the day away.
Closer to the tourist centers is Praia da Rocha, in Portimão. Not only is the beach large and beautiful, but it’s conveniently close to hotels, cafés, restaurants, and bars. It is also considered one of the Algarve’s best resort beaches.
Nazaré in central Portugal is a top surf spot, especially for the most adventurous adrenaline-lovers. The waves are enormous, so much so that the largest wave in the world was surfed here. Nazaré should be enjoyed with caution but enjoyed nonetheless – the best time to visit is during spring and fall, while the weather is still lovely but still between tourist seasons. In addition to enjoying the coast itself, Nazaré is a great place to eat fresh seafood and immerse yourself in Portugal’s fishing culture.
Many people know Alentejo for its large fields and delicious wine, but it is also home to a few of the country’s most beautiful beaches. Located in the middle of the Costa Vicentina e Sudoeste Alentejano natural parl, it is often described as a quiet surf beach surrounded by wild countryside and an almost mysterious beauty. The only time this quiet fishing village really comes alive is in August when the area hosts one of the largest music festivals in the country. Otherwise, it’s a great place to get away from the crowds and enjoy the sights, whether of the beach itself or the surrounding natural park.
Powder white sands, sparkling blue ocean, majestic birds and frolicking dolphins only begin to describe the Troia Peninsula. Approximately 11 miles (17.7 km) long, it extends from Comporta on one end to the mouth of the Sado Estuary on the other. Its striking beauty has seen this once off-the-beaten-track spot dubbed the ‘new Algarve‘.
Just under an hour south of Lisbon is the Serra da Arrabida, a popular hiking spot that tucks away more stunning beaches along the mountainsides. Among the top choices is Portinho da Arrabida with its multi-hued water and white sands. Nearby are many quaint fishing villages, where visitors can enjoy traditional Portuguese cuisine and culture.
Praia do Guincho is one of the wilder and more rugged beaches near Lisbon, located between Cascais and the Sintra mountains. This is a popular spot for surfers of all kinds (from traditional to kite surfing) and is much loved by the locals. This isn’t one of the better beaches to reach by public transportation, since the train and bus are required from Lisbon, but it is a great spot to seek out if you’re driving with buddies and in need of waves.
The Capela do Senhor da Pedra is the beautiful solitary chapel that sits on a rocky stage and adds an extra allure to the Praia da Miramar in northern Portugal. The beach around the chapel is large, often uncrowded, and offers exceptional sunsets (especially when the chapel is included in the backdrop).
One of the best and most beautiful beaches on the islands is Praia Formosa in Santa Maria, in the Azores. The standout feature is its yellow-white sands that are cradled between the bright blue Atlantic and green rolling hills. For a true outdoorsy treat, spend a few days in this Atlantic pearl while camping nearby.