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

Villa with private pool and sea view

This superb contemporary style villa is located in the beautiful area of Caminha in an elevated position that gives outstanding views of the sea and Minho river. There are several sandy beaches within a short drive. Hi-tec in style and very well-...

Beach hotel 3 bedroom waterfront apartment with swimming pool in Funchal.

Funchal Holiday apartment located in West Funchal near Lido and Ajuda down from the Shopping Centre 'Forum Madeira' 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment, sleeps max. 6 persons, on the 7th floor with direct beach waterfront location in a resort on the s...

Beach hotel 2 bedroom waterfront apartment with swimming pool in Funchal.

Funchal, hotel apartment, 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment on the 5th floor, beach waterfront location down from the 'Forum Madeira' Shopping Centre in a resort on the sea Promenade with swimming pool and childrens pool. Two Lifts/Elevators up to t...

Beach hotel 2 bedroom waterfront apartment with swimming pool in Funchal.

Funchal Hotel apartment direct beach location waterfront resort down from 'The Forum Madeira' Shopping Centre on the beach with swimming-pool, children's- pool, bar and restaurant. 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, modern fully equipped kitchen, living roo...

Ocean View Apartment 10 Min Porto

Come to visit and enjoy Best European Destination 2012 and 2014, discovering the Heritage of Humanity, and stay in my apartment where you can hear the sound of the ocean, and see the beautiful sunset from the sofa. I´ll pick you up at the airport...

Residence very quiet, close to downtown, shopping, and activities.

Rental Faro in the South of Portugal, in the beautiful region of the Algarve, is a place where charm and nonchalant are the watchwords. Here, you are sure to spend a pleasant stay in Faro. Begin your journey to Faro by the monument must be it: the...


Very nice Villa, capacity of 8-10 people, located south of the Portugal, near Vilamoura. The swimming pool, tennis court and large garden are exclusively reserved for the tenants of the villa. This quiet place is ideal to spend a holiday w...

By the sea in the historical center @ Ericeira

2nd floor apartment in the center of the village in it's historical heart. Very quiet, with every possible comfort, panomârica terrace overlooking the sea. From the terrace you can see Sintra's palace and the westernmost point of Europecontinental...

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

This modern detached villa is conveniently located within walking distance of Lourenco beach, shops and restaurants. Gale beach is just 1.1km from the villa. On the ground floor there is a spacious living room with separate dining area and featu...

Brand new 2 bedroom apartment in Armacao De Pera

The apartment is brand new and on the 3rd floor, 2 bedrooms with a balcony and kitchen/ lounge. All rooms are fully air conditioned, both bedrooms are large with beds that transform from doubles to twins, there are built in wardrobes to both rooms...

Silver Coast Heights –Contemporary Sea View Homes - sleep 6 to 12

Three spacious, contemporary 3-bed homes next door to each other, 3 bathrooms furnished and equipped to a very high standard. The accommodation comprises: Ground Floor: Entrance, fully equipped modern kitchen, bright open plan sitting / dining ro...

Luxury 3&4 bed homes. Large condo pool. Stunning sea views. Close to beach.

This new, spacious and sunny 3-bed, 2.5 bathroom home has been furnished and equipped to a very high standard. The accommodation comprises: large open plan sitting / dinning room, fully equipped modern kitchen, master double bedroom with en suite ...

Luxury 5 Bed Villa with private pool. Beach & Golf walking distance.

Comfortably accommodating parties of 8-10 people, Casa Bougainvillea is the ideal home for a relaxing or an activity filled family holiday. A “Portuguese cottage' set in a quiet cul-de-sac yet centrally located just minutes walk from the beach, cl...

Superior Penthouse Apt. Spectacular views over Bay of Lagos and Meia Praia beach

Free Wi-Fi (broadband) in the apartment. It truly has the ideal location! Situated on the very fringe of the beautiful old fishing town of Lagos and with superb views across the ancient Moorish stone walls to the town and beach. Enjoy the sun all ...

'CASA MARIA' in Praia da Luz with beautiful sea views and shared pool.

Privately owned and very secure apartment with large all round garden with fruit trees and fabulous views to the ocean and the famous black rock. Large Shared pool (Ocean Club). All windows and patio doors have retractable security grills fitted. ...

New luxury 2 bedroom apartment in gated community near the golf course

Tourist immersed in green countryside and in a very quiet area surrounded by golf Oceanico Victoria (Portugal Masters), Oceanico Millennium and Oceanico Laguna. Condo with adults and children, easy access swimming pool, having at its disposal also...

Elegant Self Catering 2 Bedrooms (Sleeps 4) apartment in the heart of Old Town

Funchal Charming Old Town Flat An elegant two-bedroom self-catering apartment in the prime location in town, Funchal's new old hot spot - the old town (or 'Zona Velha'). Albeit in such a vibrant part of the Zona Velha, it's a very quiet apartment...

Unique Self Catering 1 Bedroom (Sleeps 4) Apartment in Lido Estrada Monumental

Funchal Charming Lido Flat An elegant one-bedroom self-catering apartment in the prime tourist location in town, with truly amazing views overlooking the sea at 180 meters (200 yards). The huge balcony, with fantastic sea views, is the place to ...

Murteiras Apartment - The Finest Private Holiday Apartment in Madeira

Murteiras Apartment is a charming and romantic atmosphere top floor apartment with character, decorated with very good taste and the constant improvement makes this apartment most welcoming. Wide sliding glass doors lead onto the large private ...

Heart of Lisbon, beautiful flat w/ terrace & garden

This charming flat is located in a renovated 19th Century building, on a quiet street in the historical centre and is ideal for a stay in Lisbon as a couple, a family or with friends. It includes a living room with a It includes a living room wit...

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