A guide to the best beaches in Portugal
For many, a trip to Portugal is a straight throw to the Algarve, with its sprawling villa complexes, rows of sunloungers and beautiful poolside cocktail sessions.
Portugal may be a tourist hotspot that’s home to busy resorts and the cosmopolitan capital of Lisbon, but it’s also got miles of laid-back sandy spots – secret beaches to find and call your own.
Praia da Marinha, Lagos - Algarve
Close to the city of Lagos, Praia de Marinha is a cliff-fronted spot on the Atlantic Coast.
A rickety, steep set of stairs down the rocky face separates the beach from the rest of the world. At the bottom you’ll find a field of untouched sand that is just waiting for you to lay down your towel on.
Praia da Dona Ana, Lagos - Algarve
If you’re in the Algarve and are looking for another secret beach spot, try Praia da Dona Ana. This mesmerising stretch of coastline is ideal for snorkelling, sunbathing and sipping a cool beer at its chilled out beach bar.
There’s another slightly intrepid trek down a cliff face to get here, but it’s sure to be worth it once you reach the bottom.
Praia do Portinho da Arrabida - Setubal
This tranquil beach has settled itself into a cool pocket of the Portuguese coast. It can be found near Lisbon, at the cusp of the Serra da Arrabida Natural Park.
Unreachable by public transport, you’ll need both a map and a car to get there, but real explorers will take pleasure in seeking out Praia do Portinho da Arrabida. What awaits them is an abundance of white sands, pebble dashed shores and the opportunity to hire canoes and sail-boats.
Praia do Beliche, Vila do Bispo - Algarve
Beliche beach is located near Sagres, which is an area popular with families because of the relaxed atmosphere and shallow, clean shores. Beliche really takes the cake though, with the slowly shelving, paddle-friendly water and sheltered sandy bay.
However, what really sets this beach apart is the rougher side, which is a haven for local surfers. Located down the beach from the family-friendly spot, it’s a hidden gem that’s sure to get the adrenaline pumping.
Praia da Ursa - Sintra
Nestled amid the towering cliffs of Sintra is Praia da Ursa. The secluded nature of this hidden beach means that nudists flock to its shores.
If you’re heading to Praia da Ursa be sure to bring your own food and drink as there are no cafes, bars or restaurants here. It’s a long, steep walk down, but the pay off is a truly isolated beach spot where you can really let go and sink in to your surroundings.
Praia da Rainha - Cascais
Cascais has many charming bars, restaurants and old Portuguese architecture to explore, yet right in the heart of it all is the breathtaking shoreline of Praia da Rainha. You wouldn’t think that this beach could fit into the secret beach category, but the truth is that it’s sort of hidden in plain sight.
Surfers love it and visitors can chill out watching the sun go down, with a mojito or two, of course. You’ll see people stroll past while you sit and drink in the relaxed beach vibes.
Carvoeiro Beach, Lagos - Algarve
Carvoeiro is arguably one of the prettiest spots in the Algarve. It’s a whitewashed town, soaked in sunlight from dawn to dusk.
It’s a popular spot in the summer with locals, as the diving school and sail-boat hire spots attract many on their days off. However, if you’re in Portugal during off season you’ll find that this is one of the most charming and secluded beach spots in the whole country.