Just 2km southwest from the sleepy town of Caminha lies Foz de Minho, Portugal’s northernmost beach.
Located on an idyllic wooded peninsula where the broad estuary of the Rio Minho flows into the Atlantic, here a wooden boardwalk hugs the water’s edge, leading to a sheltered river beach. Wander slightly further on for five minutes through the pines, and you’ll reach a great Atlantic beach, with a little fortified islet just offshore and Spain visible opposite.
6. Praia da Figueira, The Algarve
You’ll have to walk to get here, but it’s worth it to find this often deserted beach. The small village of Figueira, is the starting point for a rough track to Praia da Figueira, that lies below the ruins of an old fort. This is one of the least-visited beaches along this stretch of coastline, mainly due to the fact that it’s not reachable by car. The walk takes twenty to thirty minutes, with the path passing through some lovely countryside.
Tucked into a remote part of the northern Alentejo, a drive west of the historical port town of Alcácer do Sal, is one of the region’s best beaches.
Here at Comporta, deserted sands stretch as far a the eye can see – a magnificent, swathe of soft beach that is served by a couple of seasonal café-restaurants, which double as popular hangouts for wealthy Lisboetas.
Comporta © mrfotos/Shutterstock
8. Praia da Bordeira and Praia do Amado, The Algarve
The Algarve has some of Europe’s finest beaches, yet two beaches tucked into a remote corner of the region often steal the show. Near to the low-key village of Carrapateira are Praia da Bordeira and Praia do Amado. There are few more impressive European beaches than Praia da Bordeira: a spectacularly wild beach backed by giant dunes, a tiny river and crashing surf.
A couple of kilometres south of Carrapateira, there’s a further fantastic broad, sandy bay, Praia do Amado, with a couple of seasonal cafés. Backed by low hills, it’s particularly popular with surfers.
The craggy, wooded slopes of the Serra da Arrábida rise above a dramatic coastline – a region that since 1976 has been protected as the Parque Natural da Arrábida. Home to wildcats, polecats, badgers, buzzards and eagles, the area has remained more or less off the tourist map. It’s a stunningly beautiful area, dotted with cove beaches. The best beach hereabouts is Galapos, a beautifully positioned bay with calm waters, located near to the tiny harbor village of Portinho da Arrábida.
Galapos © Nuno Carraca/Shutterstock
10. Porto Côvo's beaches, Alentejo
The Portuguese love the southern Alentejo coast, an unspoilt expanse of low hills, wave-pounded cliffs, and low-key resorts clustered around idyllic sandy coves. One of the best spots is the former fishing village of Porto Côvo, which provides easy access to a number of beaches. A popular weekend retreat for Lisboetas, it becomes busy in August, but for most of the year the predominant sound is the whistle of the Atlantic breeze.
Just north of the town is the nearest beach, a sheltered sandy wedge below cliffs. Beyond this lies Praia Grande, the appropriately named “Big Beach”. Clifftop paths run north and south of town providing access to other beaches, such as Praia da Samouqueira, which is named after its extraordinary rock formations.
Discover more of Portugal with The Rough Guide to Portugal. Compare flights, find tours, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance.
Top image: Benagil Cave © Nido Huebl/Shutterstock