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Portugal’s best beaches – Life is even better with warm sand between your toes – The South

15 April 2021

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Beautiful beach and sea view

Part 2: From Lisbon to the Algarve

Although being on the same western coast, the ocean south of Lisbon is quite different to the one in the north. Big waves can be found here as well, but the water starts getting warmer and the waves become more regular. In the Algarve the waves disappear completely with the exception of some stormy days and let swimmers instead of surfers have their way. We would love to beam ourselves to each one of these beaches at this very moment.

10. Praia do Creiro, Praia da Figueirinha – Arrábida – Setúbal

Praia do Creiro, Setubal, Portugal
Foto: Rui David Luis

We follow the road from the picturesque town of Azeitão, famous for its fabulous cheese, south through the natural park in direction of Arrábida. At the highest point an awe inspiring panorama unfolds in front of us. Just below lies the bay of the Portinho da Arrábida with its sandy beach and cristaline turquoise water suurounded by a coastline that reminds us of an uninhabited Amalfi coast. Further south we overlook the Sado estuary and an endless expanse of beaches that we will talk about further on.
You access the Praia do Creiro and the more hidden beach Praia da Figueirinha by driving along the coast from Arrábida in direction of Setúbal, a seaport town with one of the most amazing fish and vegetable markets in Portugal.
There is a little downside: the water on the Arrábida coast is especially cold.

Where to stay:in the Casal do Frade or the typical portuguese styles cottages and houses of the Quinta da Arrábida or the Arrábida Heritage. With stunning views over the sado etuary the Há mar ao Luar.

11. Ilha do Arroz, Praia do Pego, Aberta Nova – Comporta, Carvalhal, Melides – Alentejo

Ilha do Arroz Comporta

Taking either the ferry boat in Setúbal or the motorway passing the picturesque town of Alcácer do Sal you will get to one of the most beautiful and with an extent of 65 km longest beaches of Portugal.
The landscape is characterized by pine woods interloped with rice paddies that shine in an exhuberant green that contrasts with the yellow sand and darker green of the forests. This view will immediately relax you and switch you to holiday moad. Even though the beach stretches all the way from the Troia peninsula to the seaport of Sines, there are only a handful of entries from the main road that allow you to access these wonderful spots. They have names like Ilha do Arroz, Praia do Pego, Praia do Carvalhal, Aberta Nova and Praia da Guia, one nicer than the other.

Where to stay:Self-catering and authentic portugues village house BomBom. Luxuriös und in Strandnähe Quinta da Comporta Hotel or the Sublime Comporta Country Retreat & Restaurant or Herdade das Barradas da Serra

12. Praia do Brejo Largo – Vilanova de Milfontes – Costa Vicentina – Alentejo

Praia do Brejo Largo

Not too far from the quite crowded Vilanova de Milfontes, you will find an almost empty beach, characterized by its many rock formations that protrude from the sand near the water. You cannot find it by coincidence though as there are no signs and only an “insider” map of how to get there will help you find it. Sweet water seeps down the cliffs behind the beach, while on the beach the waves of the Atlantic invite you for a dive. Even in high season it is almost empty.

Where to stay: Três Marias, Herdade da Matinha

13. Praia do Cavaleiro – São Teotónio – Costa Vicentina – Alentejo

Praia do Cavaleiro

If there is a perfect place to read and relax while listening to the murmur of the sea, it is here.
It is one of the best kept secrets of the Alentjo coast. At the entrance of the village of Cavaleiro, right in front of the Café Adélia follow the dirt road with the sign Almograve. Once having reached the cliffs you need to follow the steps carved into the stone down to the beach. You have arrived at one of the few untouched beaches of Portugal. Pure nature.

Where to stay: Monte do Zambujeiro

14. Praia da Amália ou Malmequeres – Brejão – Costa Vicentina

Praia da Amalia ou Malmequeres
Foto: Arlindo Camacho

Forest view
Foto: Filipe Miguel Costa Oliveira

A small sign with a sunflower next to the road from Brejão to Azenhas do Mar will show you the entrance to the dirt road that will lead you past raspberry greenhouses to a small parking space at the end of the path. From here a small trail through dense vegetation that forms veritable tunnel s will lead you to a picture book beach. The Praia da Amália was named after its most famous visitor, the world famous fado singer Amália Rodrigues. The overhanging cliffs make the setting perfect.

Where to stay: Herdade do Touril or Casas da Lupa

15. Monte Clérigo – Costa Vicentina – Alentejo

Monte Clerigo, Alentejo

It is probably the most beautiful river beach in Portugal. Here it is up to you. Surf the ocean waves or just let yourself drift down along the riverbed when the tides change. The whole setting is surrounded by fishermen’s huts. Not entirely isolated but wonderful nonetheless, especially for children.

Where to stay: Cerca do Sul

16. Praia de Vale Figueiras – Aljezur – Costa Vicentina – Alentejo

Praia do Vale Figueira

This beach is a surfer’s paradise. A small, hidden and sandy piece of luck. Those who do not want to surf or lie lasily in the sun you can splash around in one of the many small pools of sea water that build up between the rocks at low tide. The northern part of the beach is ideal for long walks

17. Praia da Bordeira – Carrapateira – Costa Vicentina – Algarve

Praia da Bordeira

An enourmous bright and sandy beach just outside of the small town of Carrapateira is eagerly waiting to get to know you. Discover the surrounding dunes over the many boardwalks that lead from the shore up to the cliffs. Sand as much as you wish. If you are lucky, the small river that joins the sea here will form a small lake much to the delght of the children, just great.

Where to stay: Casa Fajara or Monte da Vilarinha

18. Praia da Ponta Ruiva – Vila do Bispo – Algarve

Praia da Ponta Ruiva, Algarve

Small but wow, especially for surfers. On the westernmost point of the Cabo de São Vicente you will discover one of the wildest and most beautiful beaches of the Costa Vicentina, the west coast of the Alentejo. Even as the nearby Sagres is bursting at the seams from so many tourists here all you will find is surfers and one or the other angler.

Where to stay: Aldeia da Pedralva or Memmo Baleeira

19. Praia do Barranco Martinho – Lagos – Algarve

Praia do Barranco Martinho
Foto: Dave Cattie/

To find a more or less deserted beach near the town of Lagos, a favourite destination in the Algarve is not easy, but there it is. Just a few sunbathers get lost here. It is usually divers whom you can encounter here, attracted by the magnificent underwater world along this part of the Algarve coast. Cliffs up to 30 meters high and the many small sandy beaches, most of them only accessible by boat, let us scream loudly “holidays”

Where to stay: Vila Valverde or Quinta Bonita Boutique Hotel

22. Praia do Carvalho – Carvoeiro – Algarve

Praia do Carvalho

Not too far from the quite touristy town of Carvoeiro and already feeling some urbanistic pressure, lies the Praia do Carvalho. This small and pretty beach is totally surrounded by cliffs and can only be accessed through a tunnel that has been carved through the sandstone. You immediately forget the not too far away tourists when taking your first swim in the clear water of its bay.

Beautiful beach view

21. Praia da Marinha – Benajil – Algarve

It probably is the most famous beach in the Algarve. Unknowingly you have probably come across a picture from countless advertisements. Even though, the Praia da Marinha has escaped the destiny of progress that has afflicted some other areas of the Algarve. Here the time seems to have stood still. The only small stand near the beach sells fruit instead of the omnipresent sunscreens and beach balls.
The crsital clear waters with their underwater rock formations are a paradise for divers. More than 50 species of fish and 30 invertebrates have been catalogged here. A ride in one of the small fishermen’s boats is an unforgettable experience.

Where to stay: Tapada do Gramacho or at the luxurious hotel with Michelin star kitchen Vila Joya

Praia da Marinha

22. Ilha da Barreta/Deserta – Faro – Algarve

It is the only uninhabited island within the Ria Formosa natural park and a small natural wonder. The island can only be reached by boat. The ride through the web of water channels to reach the island is worth the trip already. Near the small docking area you will still find some sunshades, but behind them there is a 9 km extension of untouched sand.

Where to stay: Casa Céu Guesthouse, Convento, Pedras Verdes Guesthouse or Casa Flôr de Sal

Ilha da Barreta/Deserta

23. Praia de Cacela Velha – Cacela Velha – Algarve

At low tide the beach of Cacela Velha can be reached by foot. You can observe all kinds of sealife, especially small crabs that flee into their holes in the wet mud. During high tide you must take one of the small boats that ferry passengers from and to the beach and offer their service at various points. There is no schedule and the boat leaves as soon as there are enough passengers on board...real holidays. Boarding is in the water, so no Gucci shoes.
On the other side a long beach with fine sand awaits us with thousands of small seashells that roll up and down along the beachbreak.

Where to stay: Casa de Cacela, beautiful and elegant Fazenda Nova, the historic Forte São Joâo da Barra and near the beach, the Quinta dos Perfumes


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