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Our Top 5 Portuguese Beaches

This is by no means THE definitive top 5 beaches in all of Portugal, just our favourite spots we managed to visit on our drive around the coast.

We drove through Portugal in June 2018 (this is just before the high season of July & August). While the temperatures on the west coast were between 17 to 20 degrees, the south coast was much higher, between 25 to 30 degrees. As we prefer calmer seas, turquoise waters and warmer temperatures, this naturally meant that all of our top beaches were located on Portugal's southern coast, known as the Algarves. If you're seeking waves, the wild west coast is your paradise.

So without further ado, here's our top five beaches in Portugal, heading along the Algarve coast, from the southwest corner of Portugal towards Spain.

Praia do Beliche, Sagres

A beautiful little oasis, with white sand and crisp clear water. Being so close to Portugal's most southwestern point and the full force of the Atlantic ocean, Beliche can be susceptible to wind and seriously cold sea temperatures. It was definitely 'fresh' in June; the type of cold that numbs the body but worth the quick dip to refresh given the searing heat of the sun. Nevertheless a stunning spot, worth a few hours of our time if you're passing through this area.

  • Parking: There is a parking area on the cliff just above the beach, with approx 30 or so parks.

  • Access: A steep climb down which means unfortunately quite a hike back up but the steps are in good condition.

  • Popularity: Quite popular but not packed.

  • Amenities: There is a nice local looking local restaurant/bar that had the most mouth watering barbequed Peri Peri chicken. Sun chairs available for those who wish to hire.

Praia da Figueira, Budens

The first beach you come out to is large and idyllic and perfectly beautiful to spend the day on. If your seeking a more private beach head left around or over the rocks (depending on the tide) and you'll find a beautiful isolated spot. It is apparently a nudist beach, but there was only two small families there when we visited, and this was one of the most peaceful spots along the whole coast. A good reminder to not always settle for the first spot you find, and to keep exploring - this is where the most private and beautiful beaches are :)

  • Parking: Parking area clearly sign posted 1km from the beach. DON'T continue driving like we did as the road gradually turns into a foot path...needless to say Dan was super excited about backing Gary back 400m on a dirt path to the car park.

  • Access: From the car park it's approx a 1km walk to the beach. So pack everything you need for the day (It's not a short pop back to the car if you've forgotten your sunscreen)

  • Popularity: Not busy, people were few and far between.

  • Amenities: No amenities only nature.

Camilo Beach, Lagos

While Camilo was our favourite in Lagos, really all of the beaches there are gorgeous postcard material. Turquoise waters, white sandy beaches framed by crumbling cliffs. There are also beautiful walking paths all along these cliffs that we recommend you take time to explore. The only downside is the pure number of tourists. So it's best to visit these earlier in the morning or at a time of year when it's still warm, but less touristy.

  • Parking: Parking was packed in June so get up early to secure a spot. If your based in the old town of Lagos it may be safer to walk.

  • Access: A very steep climb to the bottom...never ending stairs.

  • Popularity: Its Lagos of course its popular!! But as its one of the furthest beaches from the old town it does have less people than the beaches prior. Don't be kidding yourself in high season you'll still be packed in like sardines.

  • Amenities: There is a little pop up hire bar that sells drinks and hires out beach and water sports equipment. No bathrooms or showers.

Praia da Marinha, Lagoa

A gorgeous little spot we wish we were able to spend a bit more time at (camping is forbidden and actually enforced here, so we could only pop in for a few hours en route). Marinha is a larger beach, so even if you're put off by the large number of cars parked at the top, there's plenty of room on the beach. A common theme along these Portugal beaches is the crumbling cliff's behind them. While it's tempting to sit directly under them for a bit of shade, there are plenty of fresh rock falls and danger signs everywhere... so invest in your own parasol (the rainbow one above in the left photo only cost €7 from LIDL).

  • Parking: Plenty of parking on the cliff above but its packed, aim to get here early.

  • Access: A very steep climb up & down to the beach...needless to say I love stairs :I

  • Popularity: This beach is larger which is great as even though there were alot of people here for the day we didnt feel sandwhiched in.

  • Amenities: A fruit cart, ice cream van and beach accessories stall set up in the car park before you head down. No restaurant or bathrooms.

Praia da Vigia, Albufeira

Dan's personal favourite little beach from our entire time in Portugal, this is a private little beach, in which we were often the only people on it. Beautiful fluffy sand and sparkling blue-green water, nestled among unique rock formations - what more do you need? Only a few meters away from other larger beaches, easy free parking (including a our favourite free-camping spot of the trip). These are however tidal beaches, so easier to swim in when the tide is high (but still sweet when low).

  • Parking: Plenty of parking right above the beach.

  • Access: For once only a small walk down to the sand. You can access two beaches Arrifes and Vigia easily from this car park. The main beach Arrifes has a ramp down to the sand. Our favourite more private beach is Praia da Vigia which is the bay over accessed by foot - a walk down a mud path from the top of the car park. (So be wary if it has just rained)

  • Popularity: Arrifes is the beach the local's and tourists are coming here for so after 11am it starts to get packed. Vigia is much more private and we were only joined by a handful of other van couples.

  • Amenities: A restaurant is located on Arrifes beach that includes toilets to the public during opening hours.

Happy swimming and sunbathing,

Bidi & Dan :)


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