No matter where you are in the world right now, you’d probably rather be at the beach. And if that beach happens to be in Portugal, a nation steeped in natural beauty, history and culture, then that’s even better. The beautiful European nation has just under 1,800 kilometres of coastline, according to global statistics body World By Map, giving you a huge array of beaches to explore. So which strips of sand are best for you to lay down your towel?
Praia Dona Ana
Lagos’ Praia Dona Ana has the esteemed honour of winning the top spot in TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Beaches in Portugal list, and it’s not hard to see why so many travelers fall in love with this special spot.
Praia Dona Ana is surrounded by dramatic cliffs and rock formations, making for a visually spectacular scene no matter where you are in the area. The cliffs also double as a handy shelter from breezes. Start your beach day atop the cliffs to enjoy sweeping views of sea, sky and sand, before heading down the wooden steps to explore the caves and grottos nestled along the sand. Alternatively, throw down a towel, pull out a book and let this exquisite beach enchant you.
Miramar will charm you. Just south of Porto, the windswept beach is typically free from crowds and is considered to be a strictly guarded secret by the locals. It’s beloved for its 17th-century chapel named Capela do Senhora Pedra, which is located on rocky headland right on the beach. This beautiful building makes for truly fantastic photos and adds a touch of interest to Miramar. Head there in summer for calm swimming conditions or take your surfboard along for big waves in winter.
Praia de Bordeira
What Praia de Bordeira lacks in sunbathing conditions (it’s a tad windy) it makes up for in sheer size. Covering a whopping three kilometres of coastline, the beach is made for walking. It’s usually crowd-free, aside from locals and travelers running and strolling up and down its length, though you may see an occasional kite surfer making the most of the windy conditions. There are also plenty of sand dunes to add to the desolate feel of the beach, and there’s plenty of good fishing to be done if you can find the right spot.
Portinho da Arrabida
Portinho da Arrabida is possibly the prettiest beach in all of Portugal, if not all of Europe. While it’s picking up steam as a tourist hotspot, it’s still relatively tricky to reach so has escaped some of the overcrowding that has blighted Portugal’s other beaches. With dazzling emerald waters, pristine scuba diving conditions and bright white sand as fine as icing sugar, Portinho da Arrabida is well worth seeking out.
Ilha da Tavira
If peace, serenity and exclusivity are on your agenda, head to the island of Tavira. The beach here can only be accessed by ferry and there’s nary a hotel in sight – if you want to stay the night, it’s likely it will be in the local campground as there’s a moratorium on new construction. The beach is huge and there are spots where naturism is practiced freely, so don’t panic if you’ve forgotten your cossie!