Portugal beach holidays

Explore the golden sands of the Algarve and beyond...

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Ronnie McCluskey

Ronnie McCluskey
HomeAway travel expert

BeachYou probably don’t need too much of an excuse to choose Portugal as your next holiday destination. In fact, if this was your plan all along, chances are you already fully intended to jet off to one of the several fine coastal areas that boast some of Europe’s most spectacular beaches. Nonetheless, it can be far too easy to fall into the usual routine of idly choosing the path most readily trodden: the locations that adorn the covers of every holiday brochure in the travel agent’s. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Algarve et al, but the rest of the country has much to offer.

With a spectacular Atlantic visage, tropical climates and some truly mesmeric scenery in its armoury, Portugal should never be dismissed when browsing for that perfect beach holiday location. And with almost 600 miles of Atlantic coastline, there are plenty to choose from.


Top destinations for a beach holiday in Portugal


Portugal beach holidays: Porto Portugal beach holidays: Porto

Porto is a notable city for several reasons, not least the cultural goldmine that is the historic centre. Head for the shores, though, and you can while away the hours on some beautiful beaches; the 15km stretch of Vila Nova de Gaia a particular recommendation. This area has the highest concentration of Blue Flag beaches in the country, with a naturally diverse landscape that ranges from glistening golden sand to luscious greenery. The relatively recent addition of a wooden esplanade running the entire length of the Gaia coastline, meanwhile, renders it perfect for a sunny bike ride by the sea.

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Portugal beach holidays: Costa Verde Portugal beach holidays: Costa Verde

“Green Coast” to you and I: a name which is fairly self-explanatory when you see the region with your own eyes. The oddity of this northern terrain is that the weather can be notoriously unpredictable, a dream for the plentiful vegetation that grows here but a factor that can often leave the beaches all but deserted. This is by no means a negative though; when you catch them on a good day, the hot sands provide a respite from the overcrowded frenzy of others. Despite its craggy landscape, the beach at São Bartolomeu do Mar is perhaps the most charming of all.

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Portugal beach holidays: Lisbon Portugal beach holidays: Lisbon

Good combinations of city and beach are all too rare – Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona being two obvious standouts in an otherwise sparse list. Add Lisbon to the mix. As summer descends over this fairytale city, cries of “a praia” can be heard as locals flock along the shore to Cascais. Guincho is among the finer beaches in the resort, but for a truly awe-inspiring sight, take a brisk walk by the water along to the breathtaking Mouth of Hell. The thunderous roar of the waves crashing into the cliffs is an example of Mother Nature at her finest.

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Portugal beach holidays: Madeira Portugal beach holidays: Madeira

Although it lies closer to the coast of Morocco, Madeira is in every way a Portuguese territory. That’s Portugal’s gain, though; the island offers unique scenery all along its coast. The beaches around Porto Santo are arguably the best, even if they are a touch tourist-heavy; the sand, in addition to being a luminous golden, allegedly holds therapeutic qualities. Ribeira Brava is a little different due to its unusual black sand, but the invitingly warm water makes it ideal for swimmers. Jardim do Mar – translated as Garden by the Sea – is an aptly named picturesque plateau, boasting several beaches popular with surfers.

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Portugal beach holidays: Sagres Portugal beach holidays: Sagres

OK, so the Algarve may not be the most original holiday destination. Nonetheless, it has one or two areas that are too prominent not to mention. Sagres is one such example, a relatively small fishing port blessed with southern Portugal’s most aesthetically pleasing beaches. Praia do Beliche is a favourite, flanked by dramatic high cliffs that provide sun worshippers with just the right quantity of shade, not to mention an eye-catching backdrop for surfers congregating just offshore. Closer to the town centre is Praia Mareta, a tranquil family-orientated spot.

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Image 1 © lilivanili
Image 2 © Giorgio Violino
Image 3 © Natalia
Image 5 © Javier Habladorcito

Holiday Rentals

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Luxury manor house, Self catering fully equipped Vacation Rental

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Villa Marali - beach/shops 500m, restaurants 400m

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TWO BALCONIES, cosy and spacious, just new under final renovation

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Sea front family owned villa, glorious views, 2 min walk to beautiful beach.

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5 bed villa Vilamoura

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