When talking about the best beaches in Portugal it’s a question of how long have you got. The fact is that the country has over 250 beaches that would stand out in any tourist destination around the world. Golden sands, dramatic backdrops, inviting waters and modern facilities abound. Everyone from families to honeymooning couples can find their perfect place whether that’s a full on tourist experience or unspoiled, hidden joy. We’ve narrowed our selection down to a few of our favourites including world class destinations that simply can’t be ignored. But wherever you are in Portugal, head to the sea and the chances are you’ll discover something amazing.

The Choice Of Leaders

Praia de Moledo

At the far North of Portugal you’ll come across a beach that’s been a favourite spot of the country’s ruling elite for over a century. The famous Moledo resort offers a cooler temperature than the boiling beaches of the Algarve but still provides plenty of warmth. Expect windy conditions much of the time but with that also means some brilliant waves for water sports lovers. If you're with the family then kite flying doesn't get much more fun than this.

For those who fancy an exciting ride in a boat then visit the small rocky island just offshore where you’ll come across a fortress that was built in the 15th century and has housed nuns as well as soldiers. Above all, enjoy the sweeping stretch of sand and beautiful scenery that makes Moledo such a relaxing place to hang out for an hour or ten. The urban seafront of the village is also worth a visit where you can find places to eat and enjoy a coffee in between your time on the sands.

Family Adventure

Praia Do Carvalho

The area around Lagos in the Algarve has been blessed with an array of stunning beaches. If you want to head to one of the lesser known ones then Praia do Cavalho could be your go to destination for the experience of beauty without the big crowds. The kids will love the fact that the only way to access the beach is through a tunnel meaning it opens up like a Narnia-type land of golden beaches and sandstone cliffs. The adults will love it too.

Although relatively small, the size of the beach is compensated by the spyglass clear waters that often tempt the daring to try cliff diving for the first time - you might not be able to resist yourself. Or you can relax, sit on the beach and look around at the spectacular views of waves crashing into mysterious caves. Shade can come quite early in the evening to Cavahlo so make sure you get there early if you're planning on soaking up the sun. And don't expect a beach full of restaurants and deckchair attendants - you’ll need to bring everything required for a day out such as towels and drinks, but it's a small price to pay for such a magical experience.

The Best Of The Best?

Praia Da Dona Ana

The finest beach in the world? Well it was according to Condé Nast Traveller and TripAdvisor in different years. Dona Ana certainly comes with a big reputation but you’ll find it more than lives up to its billing. While away the hours under sandstone cliffs and amazing rock formations that make up your surroundings. Named after a nun who survived a massacre during the Great War, this beach offers all day sun and has a natural barrier to the breeze coming in from the Atlantic. It can get busy but catch it at the right moment and it can be virtually all yours.

Steep stairs are all that stand between you and the sand, and for those who don't like climbing the return journey might be off putting. Despite all this, you won’t need to travel anywhere else for food as there’s a restaurant at the back of the beach that offers an extensive menu and is an ideal place to enjoy watching people play in the beautiful sea and tourist boats pootle past on their way to explore caves. The best in the world? Maybe, but experience it for yourself and it could be your forever happy place to escape everyday life.

Premium Sunbathing

Praia Da Rocha

Are you ready for vast stretches of sand and one of Portugal’s most famous beaches? Praia da Rocha, located near Portimão, is a favourite for families, couples, locals – everyone in fact. This lively resort is ideal for those who like the buzz of a good beach holiday. Everything has been set up for your comfort from the loungers that tempt you to spend the day relaxing to the extensive range of restaurants and bars that will lure you away when you start getting hungry or thirsty. There’s also lots of shopping and an extensive nightlife for the young at heart and those who like a retail experience on their break. You’re also only 20 minutes from the local water park where the kids can be entertained for hours with slides and wave pools.

Long and golden is the best description of the beach with a snaking wooden boardwalk that means you won't have to burn your feet when looking for the perfect spot. And that perfect spot could be quite isolated if you discover one of the many coves surrounded by imposing cliffs where you can enjoy some peace amongst the holidaymaking. In short, Praia da Rocha is a great base for your holiday in Portugal and a brilliant beach to top up your tan.

Recover In Style

Praia Da Falésia

If you’re heading for the party atmosphere of Albufeira then you can rest assured that there’s a glorious beach close by that allows your party hardened body to recover during the day. Almost six miles long, Praia da Falésia can claim to be one of the biggest beaches in Portugal as well as one of the most beautiful. It has been described as the Grand Canyon when sitting on a beach due to the amazing red cliffs that shadow it along the coast. You might feel small when you look behind you, but the sense of awe is all part of the experience.

This is a beach of contrasts where you can find quiet spots as well as those alive with tourists. Near the more popular end, you’ll discover plenty of places to hire water sport equipment for your fun and games. Or simply stroll out for 50 metres through the water before it becomes deep enough to necessitate a swim. As well as the fun of the Albufeira, the tasty selection of restaurants, bars and cafes makes every day trips to the beach different. The beach is also the home of Club Med Da Balaia which overlooks the majesty from the red clifftops. That means you can enjoy your luxury experiences and family activities before heading down for the sun, sea and sand at will. This really is having your cake and eating it.

Urban Sun

Praia Da Adraga

If you’re planning a city break in Lisbon then take the time to head North to Praia da Adraga, a popular spot with tourists and locals alike. This is wild Portugal with the Atlantic Ocean creating plenty of surf in front of an imposing set of cliffs. Grottos and tunnels abound in the local seascape and there are plenty of adventures to be found amongst the rocks. In fact, Praia da Adraga is perfectly suited for couples looking for solitude or those who fancy a sense of authenticity whilst still being able to admire the undoubted beauty that seems to have been bestowed upon every beach in Portugal.

Head to the Southern end of the beach and say hello to the imposing Rock of Reason. In the old days, young men would prove their virility by trying to climb to the top, but you can satisfy yourself with a photograph on your phone. Nearby, the natural well formed in the limestone rocks is also worth a visit where a mythical monster plays a giant conch shell, at least according to the ancient Romans. Visit for yourself and you might well believe it.

Playground Of The Rich

Praia Do Anção

Just a short drive from Faro airport, Praia do Anção is a great beach for families and sporty types who enjoy playing on the sands. As you’d expect from Portugal, the beach itself is in pristine condition and has plenty of facilities for those who like to be pampered on their holiday. Praia do Anção is located close to some of the most expensive resorts in the country and parts of it are reserved for private use but there's plenty of space for the rest of us. The abundance of lifeguards will provide peace of mind if the little ones head off for a swim by themselves.

As you’d expect in such a sophisticated area, there is a collection of fabulous restaurants nearby including the Dois Passos, one of the best places to eat fish on the Algarve. One of the main things that will strike you is the large dunes that form a natural border between sand and road. Take a seat on this natural viewpoint and watch the beach athletes enjoy activities such as banana boating, volleyball, paddle boarding, and kayaking. Snorkelers can also find a lot of joy in the area with superb underwater kingdoms to explore.

For The Adventurous

Praia Do Creiro

One hour from Lisbon you’ll find one of the best beaches in the country in the shape of
Praia do Creiro in Setúbal. For romantic couples it’s an ideal backdrop with its beautiful views, crystal clear blue-green water and sand that renews itself to provide a perfect condition every morning. Those who enjoy walking will appreciate the variety of hiking trails in and around the beach and its close proximity to Arrabida National Park where you can soak in the sheer joy of Mediterranean nature. Quaint monasteries and ancient Roman ruins mean a walk can turn into a journey into the past. Take a stroll around the bay to discover the tiny village of Portinho da Arrábida.

Things can get quite busy in the summer, but if you’re a winter holidaymaker there are few better places to stretch your legs and enjoy the fresh sea air. Swimmers might want to consider alternatives as the Atlantic Ocean rarely rises above the level of cold even at the height of summer. But if you can bear the chilly water there are plenty of activities such as wakeboarding, and the sea life is plentiful for snorkelers. Restaurante Anicha-Bar and O Golfinho provide a place to dry out afterwards and enjoy fine food with an amazing view.

A Touch Of Magic

Benagil Sea Cave

Finally, let’s visit a hidden gem. Benagil Sea Cave in West Algarve is one of those secret places you need to know about beforehand because you won't simply stumble across it. Words like ‘cathedral’ and ‘pantheon’ are often used to describe this mysterious and wondrous little stretch of beach. A short swim or rentable kayak trip away from the main Benagil resort, the cave has a hole in its dome ceiling (called ‘the eye) where sunlight streams in and takes you away to a faraway land. It has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

But don't just stop to take pictures of the rocks. A lovely little sandy beach in front of the cave is a great place to spend a few hours away from the rest of civilization. However, at the height of the tourist season your stay may be curtailed because plenty more people want to view the cave’s charms. The main Banagil beach still awaits you if your objective is sunbathing rather than spelunking. If you can't face the short journey by sea then the cave can be seen from above after a walk from the beach, but the view from the floor is far more spectacular. The on foot approach does have the advantage of being close to a collection of cafes and restaurants where you can refresh your spirits.

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