Blessed with over 1,000 miles of picturesque coastline, Portugal is home to an array of charming seaside towns. It’s a veritable paradise for lovers of sand, sea, and sun. The good news is that most of the country’s towns are located near the coastline, which ranges from Porto in the north, through Lisbon, and all the way down to the balmy region of the Algarve. But what are the best beach towns in Portugal?
From charming fishing villages to buzzy regional capitals with traffic-filled streets and wild nightlife offerings, there’s a whole medley of places to pick from. Some are a ticket to spectacular scenery and blazing sunsets on the Atlantic, others boast historic landmarks that date back centuries, while others champion succulent seafood and gold-sand beaches.
This guide to the best beach towns in Portugal has got you covered. It runs through nine of the most enticing spots to consider while planning a holiday to the salt-washed end of the Iberian Peninsula. It’s got choices in the north of the country, where the lush green hills that border Galicia roll into a wild ocean, along with choices in the south, the place for classic R&R trips of endless sun and glassy waves. Let’s begin…
Located about a 40-minute drive from Lisbon, Cascais is a lovely beach resort town well known for its architectural features, cobblestone streets, and a dramatic coastline dotted with magnificent rock formations. This off-the-beaten-track destination is an ideal place to stay for travelers who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of Lisbon.
Explore the charming old town dotted with quaint boutiques, cute cafes, and family-owned restaurants that offer fresh seafood delicacies. We recommend Flecha Azul for grilled meat dishes, fish, and seafood. Stop by Palacio da Cidadela, the town’s 17th-century waterfront fortress. Culture vultures can visit cool museums like Casas das Historias Paula Rego and the Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum. If you wish to enjoy nature, go for a stroll in Marechal Carmona Park. Foodies can look forward to visiting Casa da Guia.
However, the main reason why most tourists come to Cascais are the fabulous beaches. Pay a visit to Praia dos Pescadores, Praia da Rainha, or Praia da Duquesa and enjoy swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. How to get to Cascais from Lisbon? You can catch a train from Cais do Sodre train station. There is also the option of taking a taxi from Lisbon to Cascais, but it’s a bit on the expensive side (€80).
Welcome to Tavira, a beautiful coastal town nestled along the country’s picturesque Algarve coast. Unlike many of the resort-filled towns in this region, Tavira attracts relatively fewer tourists and has more of a laid-back vibe. Life here is slow-paced, which allows you have a more authentic holiday experience.
Explore the beautiful cobblestone streets, admire the beauty of white-stone buildings with Moorish-influenced architecture, and see popular attractions such as the Roman Bridge and a medieval castle. This seaside town has retained much of its ancient heritage. You will have an opportunity to see many buildings and churches that date back to the Moorish era.
Once you get tired from exploring all the historical landmarks, make your way to the town’s unspoiled beaches such as Praia do Barril and Praia da Ilha de Tavira.
Located in the Oeste Subregion, Peniche is one of the best beach towns in Portugal for surfing. Once a busy fishing port, this tourist hub is known for its world-class beaches, beautiful marina, and a bunch of historical attractions – an impressive fortress, Fortaleza de Peniche, is nowadays a museum of history fitted with fascinating artifacts from centuries gone by.
But it’s the waves that most come for. The long beaches in Peniche face in different directions, meaning they pick up swells when other places are totally flat. Praia dos Supertubos is one of the most iconic, what with its barreling shore break that hollows out like a pipe. Then there’s Baleal, the beginner area, which has mellower waves over a sandy bottom. or Praia de Dunas.
Once you’re done hitting the sets on the beaches, you can head into Peniche town. It’s a maze of cobbled alleys and little squares surrounded by half-ruined fortress walls. There are wonderful seafood places there – our fav is probably casual A Sardinha, with its plastic chairs under a verandah – along with some cool surfer bars that get pumping after dark.
The little town of Odeceixe spills down the pine-dressed hills of the Southwest Alentejo and Vincentine Coast. It’s right at the northern end of Algarve, just before you hop across the border into central Portugal. But you can still feel the rusticity and Mediterranean vibes of the southern region – just look at those chipped whitewashed cottages, the red-tiled roofs, and the smells of sardines grilling in the taverns.
Odeceixe is just a few clicks down the river valley from the mini village of Odeceixe Mar Beach. That’s a little-known surf spot with some frothy but powerful waves, along with a handful of charming B&Bs that gaze out over the golden sand.
One tip: Those who like to sunbathe au natural are in luck here, because Adegas Beach is the place to do it in this corner of the Algarve. You can access that on the clifftop paths just south of Odeceixe Mar.
Azenhas do Mar
If you wish to get away from it all, we recommend spending a few days in the sleepy fishing town of Azenhas do Mar. Located close to Sintra, this beautiful Cliffside destination offers jaw-to-the-floor vistas and delicious seafood.
You won’t find many attractions here. Instead, you will have all the time in the world to enjoy the magnificent views, sample fresh seafood platters, and visit a sandy beach along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s one of those places where life is unhurried and time seems to stand still.
One of the must-stop places is the local cliffside dining establishments, also called Azenhas do Mar. The restaurant offers fresh fish and seafood and beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean. Do you wish to know more about the local cuisine? Check out “Portuguese Food Culture: 9 Popular Dishes You Must Try”.
Wish to experience the region of Algarve without all the crowds? Spend your vacation days in Ferragudo, a small fishing village with whitewashed buildings, narrow streets, quaint cafes and seafood restaurants.
Some of the must-see landmarks here include Fort of São João de Arade (former watchtower) and Homenagem às Tripulações Salva-Vidas de Ferragudo.
Ferragudo is minutes away from some of the most amazing beaches in the region. However, instead of spending your days in a resort full of tourists, you will be staying in a small fishing village well-known for its laid-back atmosphere. Praia da Angrinha and Praia da Infanta are without a doubt the most beautiful beaches you will find near Ferragudo.
No list of the best beach towns in Portugal would be complete without mentioning Ponta Delgada. The capital of the Azores archipelago is one of the most picturesque destinations in Portugal. Surrounded by the mountainside and the sea, this seaside city is packed with a charming collection of attractions.
See the Sao Bra Fortress and the main city square lined with cozy cafes and restaurants that offer fish and seafood delicacies. You can also check out the fabulous Portas da Cidade, 18th-century gates with ornate archways.
Although there are no beaches in Ponta Delgada, travelers won’t have to drive far to find a beautiful beach. Visit the charming town of Sao Roque where you will find swimming areas and small beaches. Pay a visit to the tiny volcanic sand beach that faces Miradouro Do Ilheu. Protected from the wind, this beach offers excellent conditions for swimming.
The charming west Algarvan village of Aljezur is one of the countries’ best-kept secrets. This coastal village remains largely unspoiled by endless tourist crowds and is mostly frequented by locals. Aljezur is also a popular surfing destination.
If you wish to avoid the more crowded places in the Algarve such as Albufeira, make sure to spend a few days in Aljezur. The rustic appearance of Aljezur is what makes it so special and unique. Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, a natural park is a great place to visit for nature lovers. You will also find a variety of historical remains.
The beaches in Aljezur are spectacular in every way. Spend a day at Praia de Monte Clérigo, Praia do Medo da Fonte Santa, and Praia da Arrifana. Keep in mind that due to the strong winds, sometimes it is impossible to swim in the area.
A relatively small village in Algarve, Carvoeiro is a great coastal destination that offers a laid-back ambiance. Don’t expect to find many attractions here. However, if you are looking for a quiet place that is close to some of the best beaches in all of Portugal, you’ve definitely come to the right place.
Climb to the higher points of the village and you will have an opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views of the entire region. Travelers looking for adrenaline-packed adventures can visit Benagil Caves.
Spend your summer vacation days at Praia de Carvoeiro, one of the most popular beaches in the region. If you wish to visit a less crowded beach, we recommend going to Praia do Paraiso. The name of the beach translates to “paradise beach”! How to get from Faro to Carvoeiro? Hop on a bus from Faro to Lagoa for just €6. Then, take the bus that goes from Lagoa to Carvoeiro.
The best beach towns in Portugal – a conclusion
There are loads of awesome beach towns in Portugal to visit this year. Starting with the sun-kissed villages of the southern Algarve, where Tavira offers Roman history and Albufeira pumps with nightlife, you can then move north through the surf villages of the western Algarve and up to the chicer resort escapes nearer to Lisbon. The northern part of Portugal has its own unique beach getaways, with generally less busy sands and more local vibes.