Beaches of Portugal

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Bordered on two of its four sides by the Atlantic, Portugal has over 800km of coastline and many lovely sandy beaches. Over such a long distance you expect to find different climates at different points and, indeed, the beaches of Portugal reflect this fact. For example, beaches in the Algarve range from peaceful and quiet places to sunbathe, such as those near Olhão, or those good for surfing such as the Praia do Tonel near Sagres. The sandiest beaches are arguably on the west coast as this is where the waves are largest. Whether you want to take part in watersports or just build a few sandcastles, there is bound to be a beach in Portugal to suit your needs.

In August the beaches can get fairly crowded no matter where you go, especially in the resort areas of the Algarve and around Lisbon. The same rule of thumb applies if you are looking for a property to buy in Portugal: those in the popular beach areas tend to be more expensive than those inland or away from the beaches of the Algarve and Lisbon. In winter, however, the beaches are almost uniformly quiet and, understandably, the facilities associated with them such as bars and watersports companies fade away with the crowds.

In the Algarve, beaches popular for watersports (and the incumbent bar scene) are around Lagos, such as the Praia da Luz and Meia Praia, or near Tavira such as the Ilha de Tavira. The Praia de Dona Ana near Lagos is set in beautiful surroundings, as is the Praia da Rocha near Portimão.

For surfing in Portugal there are more than 30 beaches that spring immediately to mind. The 600km of west facing coastline has the best waves and beaches at Ericeira, Peniche and Nazaré on the Estremadura coast north of Lisbon are very popular. The World Surfing Championships have been held at the Praia de Ribeira d’Ilhas, 3km out of Ericeira.

Whichever beach you choose in Portugal, bear in mind that the Atlantic is not as forgiving as the Mediterranean and that there is a strong undercurrent, especially on the west coast. Do not swim if you see red or yellow flags on the beach as this means it is not safe. Also, the sea is warmer on the south coast than on the west coast, so take this into account when selecting your destination.