Portugal’s best beaches from Caminha (Minho) down to Lisbon
When beautiful landscapes turn into golden sand just before they meet the waves of the Atlantic Ocean you are probably in Portugal. Long stretches of the 667 km of Portuguese continental coast are beautiful beaches. They are so diverse that it is sometimes difficult to choose which one to go to. We have selected 20 of the most beautiful from North to south; some a bit more known, some mostly undiscovered.
1. Praia de Moledo – Caminha – Minho
White sand in the midst of a nature reserve and surrounded by the Mata do Camarido forest. Althouh sometimes a bit windy, it is a beach of superlatives. With its stunning view of the Minho river estuary and Spain on the other shore, it has been a preferred spot of politicians and the “famous” of northern Portugal since the beginning of the 20th century. It also has a small island in front of it which can be reached by boat.
The amazing views and intense colours make you feel as if you were in the midst of the Atlantic. It is a must when entering Portugal from the North.
2. Praia do Rodanho – Viana do Castelo – Minho
The Praia do Rodanho, also known as Praia da Virgem, is a 2.7 km long sandy beach with beautifully preserved dunes, one of them being the highest in northern Portugal. The beach, just south of Viana do Castelo, is far from mass tourism and whilst being a beach, it also allows you to get to know some of the green sides of Portugal.
Where to stay: Quinta da Bouça d’Arques
3. Praia de São Jacinto – Aveiro – Beira Litoral
Do you want a bit more? The Praia de São Jacinto is more than 3 km long and has sand and sand and more sand, but not that many tourists. It lies on a peninsula just across the Aveiro estuary. At the southern end of the beach is the natural reserve of São Jacinto. It is a paradise for those who love flora and fauna and do not wish to miss it on their holidays.
4. Praia de Quiaios – Figueira da Foz – Beira Litoral
This bright, wide beach just north of the Cabo Mondego has a very special atmosphere. Although being quite unknown and therefore with less umbrellas, it is guarded and especially dear to surfers and sports fishermen. A wooden footbridge leads to the beach on which you will want to stay all day.
Where to stay: Villa Pedra
5. Praia da Costa Nova do Prado – Ilhavo / Aveiro – Beira Litoral
You have just left the cute town of Aveiro and are a bit shocked when driving through the not so pretty town of Ílhavo when suddenly an unexpected scenery opens in front of us. It is the Costa Nova, where endless numbers of wooden houses, brightly painted in blue and white or red and white stripes, line the streets.
They used to be fishermens warehouses and are now lovingly renovated vacation homes for their lucky owners. They are an ideal starting point to explore the peninsula with the quiet lagoon of the estuary on one side and the waves of the Altantic Ocean on the other.
6. Praia Velha – São Pedro de Moel – Beira Litoral
All roads lead to Rome but just some wooden footpaths to the Praia Velha. Just north of the amazingly preserved little coastal town of São Pedro de Moel, the Praia Velha loses itself at the horizon. Located in the midst of the “Pinhal de Leiria”, a gigantic pine tree forest that stretches along the coast of central Portugal, the Praia Velha builds a symbiosis between beach, woodlands and swamps.
Where to stay:
7. Praia da Adraga – Almoçageme – Sintra
Although just a 30 minute drive from Lisbon, the Praia da Adraga is still sort of a secret and never really crowded. You reach the beach through the picturesque town of Almoçageme and then driving down a lovely valley at which end you will find the Praia da Adraga. Squeezed in between high cliffs this wide sandy beach is a natural spectacle. You can feel the endlessness of the Atlantic Ocean right in front of you.
As the ocean can be a bit dangerous, you should follow the recommendations of the local beach guards.
8. Praia da Ursa – Cascais, Sintra – Lisbon Coast
Many have heard of this beach, but just a few have ventured there. It lies right next to most western point of continental Europe, the cabo da Roca, at the foot of its majestic cliffs.
You must go, but go prepared. Good footwear for the descent is advisable as the last 30 meters are quite steep. At the end you will arrive at an awe inspring place of great natural beauty.
9. Guincho – Cascais – Lisbon Coast
Although being one of Portugals most famous beaches just 30 minutes from the metropolis of Lisbon, with a bit of luck you might spend a morning there almost on your own. The reason is that it is not only one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal and maybe in Europe, but it is also one of the most unpredictable concerning the weather, or better the wind. The wind can blow to the delight of wind and kite surfers’ and the dismay of even the sturdiest sunbathers for days on end and then suddenly stop, turning the beach into a warm and pleasant sunbather’s paradise. Not to miss.
Where to stay: Casa Vela