21 Best Beach Towns in Portugal: Surrender to Seaside Bliss


You’re in the right place as we are about to list the best beach towns in Portugal. Portugal is a country renowned for its coastline. From surfers to sunbathers to partygoers, with nearly 1,800 kilometers of coast, the beaches of this country are an undeniable attraction. 

I know that’s true for me. When deciding where to live, one of my criteria was to be within striking distance of water. I now have Sesimbra, Costa da Caparica, and many more world class beaches, all an easy day trip out my front door.

But there is always more to explore. Here are just twenty of the best beach towns in Portugal.

21 Best Beach Towns in Portugal

1. Cascais, for its cosmopolitan vibe and historic mansions

One of the best beach towns in Portugal is Cascais, picture Cascais beach
Cascais has everything you would ever need, one of the more upscale Portugal coastal cities.

Cascais is a lively resort town on the west coast of Lisbon, just 30 km (about 20 miles) and easily accessed by public transport.

The beaches in Cascais offer calm waters, which are easy to swim and play around in, and waves for surfing — some of the beaches make the perfect place for beginners or kids to try surfing for the first time. Praia da Rainha is a great beach to explore and a short walk from town.

Beyond the beaches, Cascais is a beautiful town with much to do and see. There are a variety of museums and art galleries, like Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães, where you can explore what was once a private summer residence of the 1st Count of Castro Guimarães. 

One of the best Portugal beach towns, Cascais also offers beautiful outdoor spaces, such as Marechal Carmona Park, where you can spot peacocks. On top of that, Cascais is known for its gastronomy and is home to various good restaurants, including some top seafood choices. 


2. Costa da Caparica, for its beaches and popular surf spots

If you’re looking for a great spot to surf in Portugal, Costa da Caparica is it. There are consistently good waves here, but they don’t often grow too large or challenging. The beach goes on and on for what seems to be an endless stretch of 15 km of coastline.

Costa can be broken down into sections. (1️⃣) First is the downtown region, in the town itself there is a great deal of holiday accommodation available, lots of spots to shop, and plenty of eating and drinking. For great, fresh fish in an unpretentious local atmosphere, check out XS Lounge Beach Bar.

Then we have the (2️⃣) area of São João de Caparica, one of the more chic areas of Costa. You’ll find Praia de São João, another great surf beach here. You’ll also find various beach bars like the famous Classico Beach Bar or the less pretentious Pé Nu Beach Club.

Finally, if you head (3️⃣) south down the Estrada Florestal and away from town, you’ll be met by kilometers of unspoiled beaches and beach bars, like the famous Irmão and Princesa. You can reach these bars by car, bus, or scooter (like Lime or Bolt).

One of the best coastal towns near Lisbon, Fonte da Telha is a great spot for an afternoon at the beach.

Love kitesurfing? Located around 10 km (6 miles) from downtown Costa da Caparica is Fonte da Telha, the perfect spot to kitesurf. After you’re done, make sure to grab a bite at Kailua Fonte da Telha — my favorite spot for lunch and drinks on the beach.


3. Nazaré, for the world-record giant waves and surfing mecca

Nazaré is known worldwide for its giant waves, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Portugal. The largest wave ever surfed in Nazaré was over 26 meters, or 86 feet high — the largest wave ever surfed anywhere in the world. 

While Nazaré always has waves, they are not always quite so big. The best time to see the waves is usually in November and December, but the big waves can also come earlier in fall or spring — check the surf report to see what to expect.

Regardless of the waves’ size, the Farol da Nazaré, or the Nazaré lighthouse, is a great spot for views across the beach and the bay and any surfers who may be out there.

Long before the surfers moved in, Nazaré was already a thriving fishing town — and it still has an active fishing community, so you can be sure to get some of the freshest seafood at one of the best restaurants in town.

🐠 Check out Rosa dos Ventos for grilled fish and catch of the day or Maria do Mar for a traditional fish stew.


4. Ericeira, for its World Surfing Reserve status and old-town charm

Another surfer’s paradise in Portugal, Ericeira is home to Europe’s only World Surf Reserve, making parts of its beaches and oceans a protected surf spot.

And while that beach provides an incredible opportunity for a consistent wave to surf, non-surfers also have plenty of options. Praia dos Pescadores has calm waters and is convenient to downtown, making it a great choice for casual bathers and waders.

Beyond the beaches, you’ll find a lovely town with cobblestone streets and whitewashed walls. Wander along the Largo das Ribas for great views off the cliff tops and down to the beaches and the sea. 

🌊🏄‍♀️ Travel tip: If you are interested in surfing, many surf schools cater to both beginners and advanced surfers. Ericeira has various beaches that are perfect for every level of surfer. But if you aren’t a surfer, don’t fret. You can hike, bike, paddle-board, or eat at one of the many of the town’s restaurants.


5. Tavira, for its historic architecture and unique island beach

Tavira, Algarve.
Tavira is known as one of the Algarve best beach towns in Portugal and one of the best beach towns in Portugal for expats.

Tucked away next to Spain and on the Gulf of Cádiz, you’ll find long stretches of sand and small, secluded beaches like Praia da Ilha de Tavira. The clear waters are calm and ever so slightly warmer than off the Atlantic coast of Portugal.

Tavira, often called The City of Churches, has an impressive 20 churches for those drawn to architectural wonders. Many of these historic landmarks date back to the 13th century and exhibit a harmonious blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles.

In addition to its historical and natural attractions, including a Roman bridge, Tavira has managed to retain its traditional charm and authenticity. If you are looking for a quiet beach vacation, Tavira is a beautiful coastal town that could be the perfect fit.

Plus, if you’re into seafood, this is also one of the best beach areas in Portugal as it has some amazing, fresh offerings on the local menu daily. Check out the classics served up right by the water at A Barquinha.

⭐️ Tavira is known as one of the best beach towns in Portugal to live in, especially for families. Many foreign families call Tavira home for various reasons, including Colégio Santiago Internacional, a private international school.


6. Lagos, for dramatic cliffs and the iconic Praia Dona Ana

Lagos is a top Portugal coast Algarve option for anyone who wants gorgeous landscapes and a big city vibe.

For a larger beach town in Portugal with a bit more to do during both the day and night, check out the Algarve’s Lagos. The beaches are incredible, with steep, rocky backdrops plunging down to bright stretches of sand. 

The main beach, Praia Dona Ana, is a beautiful sandy beach within walking distance from Lagos’s old town. The famous Algarve cliffs back the beach, and the water is gorgeous and clear. Another fabulous spot is Praia dos Estudantes, or Student’s Beach, where you’ll emerge from a rock tunnel onto a small, sandy beach tucked into the cliffside.

Make sure also to take a boat trip by the iconic natural wonder of Ponta da Piedade. These rock formations have been carved grottos, caves, and arches that jut out from the ocean, creating one of the most beautiful places.

Away from the beaches, Lagos has a fantastically cozy Old Town. The best activity might be to put away the phone and the map and just get lost. If you do that, you’ll likely stumble upon secret corners and hotspots like the fish market and the unmistakable city walls.

⭐️ Lagos is one of the coastal towns in Portugal that has a little bit of everything: great nightlife, a thriving food scene, gorgeous natural scenery, and top-notch hotels. It also is one of the best beach towns in Southern Portugal for foodies.


7. Comporta, for its celebrity-approved, tranquil sandy stretches 

Comporta is gorgeous. Located just south of Lisbon, driving to Comporta is a distance of about 120 km or 75 miles due to the Sado Estuary, which has a ferry crossing but no bridge. 

It is amazing to see an area still so wild and virtually untouched despite many A-list visitors and investors. Did you know Christian Louboutin, Monica Bellucci, and Carla Bruni have properties here? And I can see why. 

Praia da Comporta is an immense stretch of sand just outside of town. The water is calm, so it’s great for swimmers of all levels. But there is often also a good breeze, making it a great spot for kitesurfers. If you are not into water sports, you can also go horseback riding along the beach. 

One of the best Portugal beach towns near Lisbon, another great alternative activity in Comporta is to take a boat ride down the river in the Tróia peninsula and see how many local dolphins you can spot. 


8. Peniche, for surfing waves and the gateway to Berlengas islands

A gorgeous view of the Portuguese coast and Baleal village with rock and waves.

Peniche sits on a tiny peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between Lisbon and Nazaré. The small town has long, sandy coves, gorgeous surf breaks, and beautiful fishing spots. 

Check out Baleal Island, which was once an island, though it’s now connected to the mainland through the natural and rare phenomenon of a tombolo — a landform that slowly develops to connect to a land mass. On the island, you can catch stunning sunsets and watch the surfers throughout the day.

Farther out to sea is Berlengas Nature Reserve, a group of small islands with virtually unspoiled natural environments. There is a daily ferry from Peniche to Berlenga from May to October. While you can organize private transport outside of those months, you’ll want to make sure you’re ready for what may be quite a rough ride. 

Berlengas Islands Day Trip

Once you go inland from the beaches, Peniche is a very sleepy town with little going on. But one place you can visit is the Fortaleza de Peniche. Nevertheless, don’t expect big parties, but you can still grab a drink at a spot like Bar Três As — which stays open until 2 am.


9. Porto Covo, for its picturesque cove beaches and village serenity

For a quiet local vibe, Porto Covo is one of the best coastal towns Portugal has to offer.

If you’re looking for Portugal as it once was, this may be as close as you’ll get from a beach town. The whitewashed buildings, once just a sleepy fisherman’s village, make up the tranquil town – which still has plenty of fishermen. 

While you still won’t find Mediterranean water temperatures, the sea around Porto Covo is noticeably warmer than other beaches in Portugal. Porto Covo is a great space for beachgoers who want to spend most of their days in the water. One of the best beaches is Praia da Samoqueira, where natural rock pools form at low tide.


10. Vila Nova de Milfontes, for its riverside setting and historic castle views

Vila Nova de Milfontes is another of the best beach towns Portugal offers for anyone looking for a local small-town vibe.

Sitting along the Alentejo coastline, about halfway between Lisbon and Lagos, Vila Nova de Milfontes is one of the best coastal towns for families.

Its beaches have calm waters — and sitting at the mouth of the Mira River, it has sea and riverfront beaches. One of those river beaches is Praia da Franquia, which is super close to the sea, but because it is on the river, it’s the perfect spot for activities like kayaking or SUPing.

The town is tiny, with a population barely reaching past 5,000. But especially in summertime, it has plenty to offer. Check out the delicious seafood at Pátio Alentejano or grab a drink at Statera Milfontes – Cocktail Bar.

And of course check out the castle (sometimes referred to as a fort) — castle of Vila Nova de Milfontes. Built in the early 17th century the fort has been well preserved over the years and offers great views of the surrounding area. 


11. Olhão, for its bustling fresh seafood markets 

Farol Island is one of the islands that you can visit from Olhao, Portugal

Olhão sits at the southerlymost point of mainland Portugal and can trace its roots back to Moorish times. Parts of the town are made up of barrier islands that can only be reached by ferry — each ride takes 10 to 40 minutes and ensures that the island beaches stay relatively quiet and crowd-free. 

Praia da Ilha da Culatra is one of those islands, with a small town, a few permanent residents, and beautiful pristine beaches — it is also home to 🦪 oyster farms. There are no cars on the island, and generally, credit cards are not accepted, so come prepared to take your day very slowly.

With this slow pace of life and so much easy access to the sea, it’s unsurprising that Olhão is sometimes considered the Algarve’s fishing capital. So, one of the best things to do in Olhão is to visit the amazing, bustling seafood market that sells fresh catches — the Mercado de Olhao seafood market.

Olhao is the best beach town in Portugal for fresh seafood (Photo of the Mercado de Olhao)

⭐️ Fun fact: This particular mercado is the biggest in the Algarve and is rumored to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel, the mastermind behind the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty 🗽.


12. Câmara de Lobos, for its picturesque bay and historic fishing traditions

Another Portugal coastline, the Madeira coast, is incredible.

Off of Portugal’s mainland, on the south coast of the island of Madeira, just west of Funchal, is Câmara de Lobos. The town was the first to be settled on the island and is still rich with history to this day.

🐠 It’s a very active small fishing village in Portugal, and if you’re up early, head down to the docks to watch the fishermen come in with their colorful boats and catches of the day.

The specialty is scabbard — a white fish with a taste similar to, though sweeter than, haddock. If you’re curious, try a plate at Restaurante Vila Da Carne. This is also a great place to have a poncha if you dare.


13. Figueira da Foz, for its beaches and vibrant watersports culture

Figueira da Foz is also on the list of the most affordable beach towns in Portugal.

For convenient beachgoing, Figueira da Foz can’t be beat with its city beach right downtown. That beach is Buarcos Beach, which is a wide expanse of sand that easily fills up with umbrellas during peak summer sunshine.

As well as the sandy bits, there is a paved path that you can promenade along or use for cycling or rollerblading.  The area is also very popular for its array of watersports. This is a great place to pick up a surfboard, learn, or practice. There’s also great kitesurfing as well as windsurfing here

In addition to the beaches, Figueira da Foz has a lot to offer. It’s a larger city home to the oldest casino on the Iberian peninsula, Casino Figueira. You can visit for a gamble, a meal, or to take in a bit of history (recently refurbished).  


14. Ponta Delgada, for its volcanic landscapes 

Another beautiful island Portugal coast towns, Ponta Delgada is a must-visit if you are in the Azores. It is also where cruise ships dock.

Ponta Delgada is the main city of the main island of the Azores — São Miguel. As it’s a volcanic island, you’ll find a lot of dark or black sand beaches and many with larger pebbles or stones. Just outside Ponta Delgada, Milicias Beach is a great place to hang out. There’s a playground for smaller kids and spots for volleyball, football, and skating. 

Ponta Delgada has some perfect surfing waves. Amazingly, even though it’s smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the currents are such that the waters just off the coast are surprisingly temperate and pleasant to swim in.


15. Costa Nova, for its iconic candy-striped beach houses

Costa Nova is one of the most unique Portugal seaside towns in Northern Portugal

Another great spot for surfing, Costa Nova is considered one of the best beaches in Portugal (in the North). This is due to the long sand stretches and the gorgeous painted houses beside it.  

While the stretches of beach facing the ocean are gorgeous and amazing for a long walk or an opportunity to sunbathe, the waters can be rough, so if you’re not after a wave to surf, you might consider turning inland instead to the estuary where the wind and waves are calmer.

This area is also great for bird watching—some birds to look out for include herons and storks. And if you’d like, the city of Aveiro, also known as the Venice of Portugal, is 11 kilometers (around 6.8 miles) away.


16. Ferragudo, for its picture-perfect fishing village and riverside charm

Ferragudo sits at the mouth of the Arade River as it spills into the ocean and is considered one of the prettiest towns in the Algarve region, and for a good reason. Though it’s no longer the most popular spot in the Algarve, it was the first area to be developed for tourism.

That’s because it has some phenomenal beaches. Check out Praia da Rocha, an expanse of sand with jagged cliffs jutting out, punctuating the smooth beach. Or Praia da Angrinha is actually a river beach, though only a mere stone’s throw from the ocean. 

In town, you’ll find loads of eating and drinking options and a pretty decent amount of nightlife. Head to Praça Rainha Dona Leonor, the central square, to see what takes your fancy. 


17. Albufeira, for its lively nightlife and golden Algarve beaches

The Albufeira Old Town is one of the most popular tourist attractions and it’s one of the best spots to have a great time if you want to party.

Albufeira is one of the largest towns in the Algarve and has spectacular beaches backed by sheer red cliffs. One of the best places for sunbathing is Praia da Falesia, which is nearly 7 km (4miles) long.

But that isn’t the only beach in this Southern Portugal city—all along the coastline, loads of rocky outcrops, coves, and sand dunes are itching to be explored. The famous Benagil Cave and the spectacular scenery of Praia da Marinha are also not too far away.

In town, there is a lot to do. Old Town is packed with shops and cafes and is absolutely rammed come evening with vibrant, raucous nightlife. Check out Legends Bar for a real party or Casa do Cerro for something more chill. Or you can explore the narrow streets and get lost.

If you want to head out on the water, Albufeira is a great place to set off for dolphin-watching tours.

⭐️ Travel tip: Albufeira is absolutely nuts in the summer months. This small city of around 40,000 residents welcomes over 500,000 visitors in two months. It is one of the best Portugal coastal towns to visit during the shoulder seasons (May, June, September, or October).


18. Viana Do Castelo, for its historic architecture and scenic views

North of the country, Viana do Castelo offers gorgeous beaches, plenty of outdoor activities and historic sites.

Viana do Castelo is all the way up north in Portugal, just a short drive to the Spanish border. It is home to beautiful fine sand beaches, and several of the town’s beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag award, meaning they are both safe and meet high environmental standards. 

Check out Praia do Cabedelo, where kitesurfing is a favorite pastime, but just laying on the beach is just as easy and appealing. 

In the town center, there is plenty to explore. Check out the imposing Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Santuário de Santa Luzia) and the magnificent views from its rooftop.


19. Sesimbra, for its seafood and family-friendly beaches

Sesimbra is one of the best Portugal beach cities for families to travel together.

The beaches are walking from the town, like Praia da Califórnia where you can quickly pop from restaurant and bar to sand and sea.

While the town’s beaches are great, if you want to explore the area a bit you’ll find absolute gems like Ribeira do Cavalo Beach, just about three kilometers away. 

Along with beaches, Sesimbra is known for its watersports and natural beauty, thanks to its proximity to Arrabida National Park. Covering an area of over 100 square kilometers, the park is a treasure trove of biodiversity, with unique flora and fauna that can’t be found elsewhere in the region — it is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Portugal.

Its rugged limestone hills and dense Mediterranean vegetation make it a special spot for nature lovers. The park offers rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking opportunities. At the same time, its coastal location allows for kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, and coasteering adventures departing from the Sesimbra marina. 

Hungry? Sesimbra’s restaurants are reliably good for fresh seafood. Check out O Rodinhas and try the shrimp. Or sit at the more rustic Tasca Do Isaías and order whatever’s on the menu that day.


20. Odeceixe, for its dramatic cliff-lined beach and serene river setting 

Odeceixe Beach, Beach
Odeciexe is one the best beaches Portugal has to offer for anyone looking for a more local experience.

Odeceixe, located right next to the Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina natural park, has a unique geography, which gives it both river beaches, a calm sea cove, and an open ocean with great surfing waves.

This makes it a popular destination for families, surfers, paddleboarders, or those who want to relax in the sun. So if you are looking for one of the best beach towns in Portugal for families, you’ve found it.

You’ll find it all in Odeceixe Mar Beach (Praia de Odeceixe). It’s a peninsula of sand that touches the river, the horseshoe cove, and the open ocean. Low tide is a perfect time for swimming with smaller kids as the waves fall back quite a ways, and you can swim in the shallows. 

⛱️ Looking for a nudist beach? Praia das Adegas is the ideal place as it is the official nude beach by Odeceixe, Aljezur (Costa Vicentina, Algarve, Portugal). It’s the best beach in Portugal if you want to go au natural.


21. Sagres, for its dramatic cliffs and one of the world’s best sunsets

Want to watch the best sunset in Portugal? Head to Sagres.

The small town sits at Portugal’s southwest tip, jutting into the ocean. During the Middle Ages, Sagres and the nearby Cape St. Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente) were often called the End of the World because they represented the westernmost point of the known European world. 

One of the more protected beaches is Praia do Martinhal, which sits on the east side of the peninsula. The water is crystal clear and the beach is large and not often very busy. 

Beyond the sandy beaches, make sure to explore the Sagres lighthouse and fortress, both of which have amazing views in all directions.

Best Beach Towns in Portugal: FAQs

The beaches in Arabida Natural Park as some of the most stunning in Southern Portugal.

Where is the best beach town in Portugal?

The best beach town in Portugal is often considered to be Lagos, located in the Algarve region. It is renowned for its stunning coastline, historic charm, and vibrant atmosphere that caters to relaxation and adventure seekers.

Lagos offers a mix of picturesque coves, dramatic cliff landscapes, and wide sandy stretches like Meia Praia, making it a top choice for beach enthusiasts.

But in the end, the best coastal towns in Portugal really depend on your specific taste. Portugal’s coastline is 1,794 kilometers (1,115 miles) long, including the mainland, Azores, and Madeira archipelagos. So there are plenty of Portugal beach cities to explore.


What part of Portugal has the nicest beaches?

The Algarve region is home to some of the nicest beach towns in Portugal, boasting a spectacular array of beautiful beaches known for their clear waters and golden sands.

The Algarve has some of the most beautiful high cliffs and incredibly clear water.

What is the nicest beach town near Lisbon?

Cascais is the coastal town near Lisbon, often acclaimed as the nicest. It offers a charming blend of picturesque scenery, cultural heritage, and beautiful beaches, such as Praia da Ribeira.

What to do in Cascais, Portugal

Cascais is also renowned for its sophisticated marina, elegant 19th-century architecture, and lively town center with quality restaurants and shops. It is a perfect seaside escape just a short train ride from Portugal’s capital.


What is the most expensive beach town in Portugal?

Cascais is widely regarded as the most expensive beach town in Portugal. Its proximity to Lisbon, high quality of life, luxury properties, and status as a cosmopolitan retreat for the affluent contribute to its premium real estate prices and cost of living.


What is the best beach town between Porto and Lisbon?

Between Porto and Lisbon, Nazaré, Peniche, and Aveiro are some of the best beach towns.

Known as the Venice of Portugal the brightly colored boats and canals are a unique Portuguese experience.

Nazaré is famous for its gigantic waves and traditional fishing culture. Aveiro charms visitors with its canals, Art Nouveau buildings, and soft sandy beaches nearby, like Praia da Barra and Costa Nova. Both offer unique coastal experiences with beautiful scenery and rich local traditions.

Lastly, there is Peniche. Although the city doesn’t have much to do, the Island of Baleal and the connection to the Berlengas Islands make it a top choice.


Where is the warmest beach water in Portugal?

The warmest beach water in Portugal is typically found in the Algarve region, in the southernmost part of the country. The Mediterranean influences the sea temperature here, making it warmer than the waters off the west coast.

Beaches like Praia da Rocha or Praia de Albufeira often have the warmest waters, ideal for swimming and water sports.

Final Thoughts: Best Beach Towns in Portugal

You’ll find a beach whether you want to head north, south, or anywhere between. Portugal is absolutely bursting with them.

Many of these beach towns have great accommodations and ample options for eating and drinking, making all of them perfect for a day trip or a long, extended vacation. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen, but otherwise — go out and enjoy those waves and bask in that sunshine!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *