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Portugal is gorgeous, culture-rich, and filled with sandy, sun-baked beaches. With over 600 miles of coastline, there’s an abundance of crystal-clear waters, picture perfect sunsets, and breathtaking cliffs just waiting to be explored. Similar to a fine wine, each beach offers something unique to the next. Luckily, many of the best beaches in Portugal are close to major towns and easy to find for visiting travelers. So, instead of choosing the Caribbean or Mexico for your next dreamy beach vacation, make sure you move Portugal straight to the top of your list.

Here are 5 of the best beaches in beautiful Portugal – along with all the reasons why you should hop on the next plane to see them for yourself.

1. Praia da Marinha

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Known as one of the best beaches in all of Europe, Praia da Marinha takes the spotlight for Portugal’s number one beach. This gorgeous, beach is only accessible by car and includes parking above the cliff. As you follow the clifftop path and descend down the long, rocky steps, it winds around to the gorgeous beach below. Once you reach the bottom you’ll enjoy soft sand and calm waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling! It’s very private as the only development located near Praia da Marinha is a cute, seasonal beach restaurant where you can buy meals, snacks, and drinks.

Praia da Marinha is located just twenty miles of the popular resort town of Albufeira in the Algarve region. The beach has also had its fair share of regular appearances in TV advertisements. Since it’s harder to access than most other beaches, there are typically fewer people than you’d expect for such a popular beach. Another great must-see attraction nearby is its amazing sea cave. The sea cave is as large as a cathedral, with a hole in its roof, and fishing boats can take you out to see this beautiful wonder. The crystal clear water and abundant marine life make this beach the perfect location to snorkel, relax, or explore!

2. Praia da Falesia

Source: Flickr, PortoBay Trade

Take a second and imagine the Grand Canyon sitting on top of a beach. This is just what Praia da Falesia looks like. Characterized by its lined red cliffs with green pine trees above (help to block wind in winter months), its translation literally means “Beach of Cliffs”. Falesia beach beautifully stretches more than 5 miles long from Vilamoura in the East, all the way to Olhos de Agua in the West. With so much space, you’ll have no problem finding a bit of paradise to call your own.

Praia da Falesia is ranked as one of the 25 best beaches in the world. With three huge parking lots nearby, it’s easy to drop your car and have fun in no time at all. There are also public transport and taxis available from Albufeira. It’s very clean, well maintained, has nearby hotels, and has some great seaside restaurants and bars to grab a bite to eat. From romantic walks at sunset to swimming in the turquoise waters, Praia da Falesia will not disappoint!

3. Praia do Baleal

Source: Flickr, Ines S.

Located an hour north of Lisbon lies Praia do Baleal, a magical spot filled with sea-worn rocks, secluded lagoons, and glistening seashells. The low tide and rock pools are perfect for those who love exploring! It’s a popular surfing spot too. For a little more adventure, you can head 2km north along the coast to find cliffs, ravines, and sea caverns. Peniche is a seaside city nearby filled with an assortment of bars, cafes, and restaurants filled with fresh seafood and delicacies.

Walking distance to Baleal Beach you can stay in villas or apartments at Baleal Surf Camp which is an amazing surfing experience. Another option is the 19th-century retreat, Quinta Do Juncal located 10 km inland. You can enjoy luxurious comfy beds, antique-filled rooms, and incredible views of the sea. A convenient beach van even makes trips to and from the property, leaving you with more time to relax and less time stressing.

4. Praia de Adraga

Source: Natalia Alves

You’ll want to head on over to Praia de Adraga if you enjoy out of this world sunsets. (Who doesn’t?!) The amazing combination of golden sand, orange skies, and jagged rocks just offshore, all come together to create a view you will never forget. It’s an easy day trip from Lisbon, and certainly worth the short half an hour drive. The best time to visit is during the week since it can be crowded on weekends and parking is limited. You can also easily take a bus or Uber from Cascais or Sintra. On hot days, the rocks provide excellent shade and there’s a small cove to explore at low tide.

Once you’ve soaked up all the sun and taken your sunset photos, you can get a delicious seafood meal right on the beach at Restaurante D’Adraga. Think fresh lobster, octopus, clams, and local wines. Is your mouth watering yet? Praia de Adraga is a well-known spot frequented mostly by locals, so if you’re looking for a less-touristy beach, this one is it.

5. Praia São Rafael

Source: Dan Gold

Another breathtaking beach in the Algarve area is Praia São Rafael. The shallow, crystal clear waters paired with the silky sand make Praia São Rafael one of the most popular beaches in all of Portugal. It’s close enough to the Albufeira resort town, but far enough away at the same time. If you’re driving, plan on getting there early as parking is limited. The beach is set in a bay, surrounded by gorgeous colored limestone cliffs along the coast. Some of the rocks even have unique nicknames such as “Ninho das Andorinhas” (The Swallow’s Nest), and “Ponte Pequena” (The Small Bridge).

Some fun exploration options include caves, snorkeling, and organized excursions such as paddle boarding/kayaking. During the summer months, the beach offers a lifeguard service along with restrooms and showers. Located nearby you’ll find an upscale restaurant right on the beach for refreshments, snacks, and an excellent seafood/fish menu. If you’re looking to stay close by, the São Rafael Atlantico is a five-star hotel located just 450 meters from the beach. It has two indoor swimming pools and offers great views.

The summer months of June, July, and August are ideal times to travel to these beaches for warm, sun-drenched weather. Start packing your bags, because you can’t miss the epic views and experiences at any of these luxurious Portuguese beaches!