Portugal is known for its beautiful beaches, but with so many sandy shores to choose from, it would take weeks to discover them all. From the world-famous beaches of the Algarve to the coves of Cascais and the movie star beauty of Praia do Guincho, we’ve selected some of the finest sandy stretches to lay down your beach towel and soak up some rays. Take a look at our guide to the best beaches in Portugal next time you visit us in Lisbon.
Pick up a postcard of Portugal and you’ll probably see The Algarve. As the country’s southernmost region, it has the best weather and one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe. Whitewashed villages sit on white cliffs overlooking picturesque sandy coves and clear Mediterranean waters. When it comes to beaches, sun-seekers are inundated with options. While popular stretches like Monte Gordo and Praia de Tavira attract the most visitors, the quieter coves are arguably more charming. Praia dos Três Irmãos is a particularly well-photographed beach thanks to its natural sea-carved archways, Praia do Carvalho is known for its striking rock caves, and cliff-bound coves like Praia do Camilo and Praia de São Rafael are private paradises. Some coves are only accessible from the water, so book a boat trip to explore lesser-known spots.
If you’re a movie buff, you’ll already know Praia do Guicho from 1969 James Bond blockbuster, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In one of the pivotal scenes of the movie, the secret agent rescues Bond girl Contessa Teresa de Vicenzo from the clutches of the surf and takes down the bad guys on the sandy shore of Praia do Guicho. Relatively unchanged since filming took place, the beach is not only beautiful, but also one of the best surf spots in Europe. Located on the west coast, just a 30-minute drive from Lisbon, the beach, which is overlooked by the Fort of Guincho, is permanently breezy, which makes for great conditions for water sports such as surfing, wind surfing and kite surfing.
Just a 20-minute drive from Corinthia Hotel Lisbon is the beautiful beach town of Cascais. Home to a number of intimate sandy coves, Cascais is a great day-trip destination from the capital. Praia da Rainha is the smallest but prettiest beach in town and bears a noble history; nicknamed ‘The Queen’s Beach’, it’s named after Queen Dona Amelia of Portugal, who selected the small cove as her own private beach. Nowadays, the sandy stretch overlooking the fishing harbour is public, so head down early because its beauty hasn’t gone unnoticed. A short stroll further along the coast will take you to Praia da Conceicao, a longer beach that links up with Praia da Duquesa. Surrounded by restaurants and cafés, it’s easy to spend a whole afternoon here lapping up the sun.
If you’re willing to venture further afield, add Praia da Rocha to your list of must-see beaches in Portugal. It’s less busy than some of its neighbouring beaches, but equally beautiful. Praia da Rocha is famous for its natural rock formations and caves, which adventurous visitors can explore either by foot or boat. If you have time to make the trip, it’s well worth the 2.5-hour drive from Lisbon, especially as the town of Portimão offers plenty of restaurants, shops and bars to entertain long after the sun goes down.