Portugal has 850 kilometres of Atlantic beaches, with sunshine all year round. From the north to the south of the country, not forgetting the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores, there are many beaches displaying the blue flag, guaranteeing their generally excellent state. All of these beaches have their own particular charms and represent a diversified supply with characteristics to suit every taste.
In the north, the water is cool and can be rather rough at times. Vila Praia de Âncora and the coastal strip around Esposende form a beautiful protected area of deserted sand dunes. If you prefer a little more excitement, then head for the beaches of Viana do Castelo, Póvoa de Varzim or Espinho, where you have excellent facilities for surfing, bodyboarding, volleyball, beach football, or just doing whatever takes your fancy.
In the centre of Portugal, you will find a predominance of large expanses of sand, such as the beach at Figueira da Foz, regularly used for major sports events. In Aveiro the sea continues into the lagoon, offering the chance of windsurfing, sailing and canoeing. If you prefer walking in the sand, then you can do this down by the ocean shore or through the dunes of São Jacinto.
For surfers from all over the world, Portugal is just one huge beach. We’ll give you a few tips, but you’ll have to discover your own special favourite! Begin with the beach known as Supertubos in Peniche, where the waves are a legend in surfing circles, and then carry on to Ribeira d’Ilhas in the area round Ericeira, a beach that each year hosts one of the various stages of the world surfing championships.
In Guincho, the waves are more versatile and perfect for windsurfing. In Costa da Caparica, a 30 kilometre stretch of sand and just the right wind strength make this the ideal environment for kitesurfing.
Close to Lisbon, the whole of the coast leading to Cascais – and, in particular, the glamorous beach of Estoril, a refuge for the world’s nobility and many famous spies in the first half of the 20th century – is still very much in fashion and highly popular amongst bathers. Also exhibiting its own particular charm, captured so well by painters such as José Malhoa, is the Praia das Maçãs, which remains the preferred destination of the more traditional families.
Tróia marks the beginning of a long stretch of sandy beaches that extends all the way to Sines. In the South-West Alentejo, in the heart of the region’s Natural Park, the landscape forms a series of small inlets. Discover one for yourself, stretch out and lie down in the sun and relax.
Enjoy the extraordinary sunlight in the south. In the Algarve, the sea is warmer, so you can go straight in and spend lots of time there. The settings change along the coast. In the west, you will find small beaches framed by flame-coloured cliffs, while in the east the beaches consist of small, almost completely deserted islands next to the Ria Formosa Natural Park. There is a wide range of different activities available. Choose whatever you prefer – boat trips to visit the caves along the coast or diving into the clear sea water.
In the archipelago of Madeira, the idyllic nine-kilometre-long beach on Porto Santo invites you to stretch out lazily in the sun between occasional dips in the transparent sea. Take advantage of the gentle waves and let yourself be gently rocked from side to side in a sailing boat, or glide effortlessly over the waves as you water ski.
In the Azores, you cannot afford to miss the opportunity to take a boat ride out into the ocean to see the whales and all the great wealth that nature has to offer us there. For those who enjoy peace and quiet and direct contact with nature, there is nothing better than some holidays spent on board a sailing boat.
In the marinas and harbours along the coast, including in the Azores and Madeira, you will find some tempting offers for venturing out into the Atlantic. You will also find ideal conditions here to enjoy a welcome and comfortable stay if you prefer to enter Portugal from the sea.
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