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Portugal is home to 10 million people, only one million more than New York City. It may be tiny in population, but Portugal is a giant when it comes to gorgeous and wide-open scenery, namely along its seemingly endless coast. From Braga to Lisbon to Faro, Portugal is chock-full of gorgeous beaches for visitors to explore. Not sure where to start? Here are 11 of the best beaches in Portugal, with something for every type of traveler.
Praia do Norte
Ready to see surfers take on the biggest waves in the world? Head to Praia do Norte, located to the north of Nazaré. The beach is known for its untamed coastline, including rolling dunes and lush vegetation. Though the beach is a lovely place to park an umbrella for the day, be careful when entering the water. Even when the swell is small, the water here can be rough. But, time your visit right (during the winter months), and you could see waves close to 80 feet high.
Praia do Camilo
Those looking for a more tropical feel will want to head all the way south to the town of Lagos and make their way to Praia do Camilo. Travelers have to walk down several hundred steps to reach the small inlet of sand, but the gorgeous view on the way down is worth the slow trek. At the base, visitors can spend the day on the golden sand lapped by the azure waters, all surrounded by towering cliffs that make for an excellent wind barrier.
Praia do Quinta do Lago
A little ways past Praia do Camilo is an even larger beach to spread out on, Praia do Quinta do Lago. The beach stretches on for more than two miles, backed by grassy dunes on one side and wide-open crystalline waters on the other. To get there, travelers must walk across one of the longest footbridges in Portugal, but again, the view is awe-inspiring both ways. Just make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes when you do it.
Zambujeira do Mar
Head midway down the coast between Lisbon and Lagos to explore one of the cutest communities by the sea, Zumbujera do Mar. The quaint town offers adorable shops, delicious cafes, and some of the most breathtaking cliff-top scenes in all of Portugal. At the base of town sits a large sandy beach, which can be accessed via steps or by driving down the cliff to the small parking area. If you can, time a visit for August, when the entire community comes to life for the ever-popular music festival, Festival do Sudoeste.
Praia de Cavaleiro
One more mid-coast delight is Praia de Cavaleiro. Located on the Alentejo coast, the beach is another small but mighty spot. The inlet offers warm sands accessible via a steep staircase. The beach is typically uncrowded, making the effort to get there all the more worth it. It’s also a perfect spot for a scenic drive, as the view from the top is a sight to behold.
Travelers visiting further north can spend the day at Praia Baleal, a beach located in the community of Peniche. The beach is known for its fine, white sand and calm waters, making it a great spot for families. If you’re looking to get active, this is the beach for you — it’s well known for its water sports, including windsurfing and bodyboarding.
Related: 15 Stunning White-sand Beaches Around the World
Praia da Ursa
As far as beautiful beaches go, nothing compares to Praia da Ursa. A visit here comes with bragging rights, as it is technically the westernmost beach in all of continental Europe. The beach is rather difficult to get to and requires a hike down a steep cliffside. There are also no facilities here, which means you’ll need to bring everything you need. But the effort is worth it as visitors are rewarded with unspoiled beauty and typically thin crowds.
Praia da Comporta
For an easier spot to visit, head to Praia da Comporta. The seaside community has seen a boom in visitors thanks to its Hamptons-like vibe, plentiful cafes, and high-end shops. The beach is also rather easy to access and has plenty of facilities, including restaurants and bars right on the beach, which keep visitors happy from sun up to long after sundown.
Praia de Carcavelos
Those spending time in Lisbon can escape the city with ease with a visit to Praia de Carcavelos. The beach, which is accessible via public transport, is a very popular spot in the summer months, making it a prime place for those who are looking to socialize. It’s also a stellar spot to paddle out for surfers of all abilities. Newbies can snag a lesson from a number of outfitters right on the beach.
Praia do Amado
Can’t get enough surf? Drive south to Praia do Amado, located in Aljezur. The massive beach continues on for as far as the eye can see, bordered by flowing grassy dunes and massive cliffs hugging its edges. The beach is well known for having excellent waves for everyone from beginner to pro, depending on where they paddle in. Take a lesson, or rent a board for a few days, and get to know this special little spot a bit better.
Praia Ribeira do Cavalo
Praia Ribeira do Cavalo may be one of Portugal’s best-kept seaside secrets. The absolutely ravishing beach is located under an hour’s drive from Lisbon, in the midst of Arrábida Natural Park. It’s a wild beach, which means it maintains no services (so there are no bathrooms or concessions), but its turquoise waters and soft, almost pink sands more than make up for it. Though, if you thought getting to Praia do Ursa was tough, this beach isn’t for you. Travelers cannot access the beach by car as it’s protected in the park. Instead, travelers will have to walk from nearby Sesimbra or book a boat taxi from town to get there.