Where to find Portugal's finest beaches
Salute the sun on these beautiful pockets of golden sand
TRAVEL Portugal beaches
The coastline of continental Portugal is extensive, around 1,000 km (620 mi) in length. Boarded on the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean, this is a land whose history is inexorably linked to the sea.
In the 15th century, Portuguese navigators initiated an astonishing period of conquest and exploration, the so-called "Age of Discovery." New sea routes were mapped and distant lands claimed in a series of outstanding feats that made Portugal a mercantile superpower rivaled only by Spain.
Portugal is proud of its seafaring heritage. The country’s national anthem, A Portuguesa, praises its “heroes of the sea, noble people, brave and immortal nation.” The anthem also asks the Portuguese to “salute the sun”—something the people of this captivating western European nation do very well.
Portugal has more than its fair share of sunshine, and when it gets hot there's only one place to be—the beach! Portuguese beaches number some of the most highly rated in world, and the choice is vast. The Algarve can claim the country's finest stretches of sand. The region's entire coastline is characterized by dozens of beaches, anything from pocket-sized coves with picturesque scenery to vast near-deserted dunes set in the remotest corners of the destination.
But no matter where you are in Portugal, you're never too far from a beach, or praia. The Lisbon area and south to Serra da Arrábida boasts several beaches that appear more Mediterranean than Atlantic. The central and northern regions, too, surprise with their scenic collections of golden sand. And even across the volcanic Madeira and Azores archipelagos you can find beaches that beguile with hidden treasure appeal.
A year-round vacation destination, Portugal is at its busiest during the summer season. Peak periods will see the majority of beaches patrolled by lifeguards. A signal flag system denotes water safety, and beachgoers should note that while a hoisted green flag means that bathing and swimming is permitted, a yellow flag forbids swimming, although paddling is allowed. Never enter the water when a red flag is flying. On rare occasions, a checkered flag denotes that the beach is temporarily unsupervised.
Renowned for their cleanliness and eco-friendly facilities, many beaches in Portugal have been awarded Blue Flag status. In fact, the country has an impressive 352 Blue Flag beaches for 2019. If your beach is flying one of these prestigious markers, it's been recognized for its water quality and efficient environmental management.
Heading for Portugal for a vacation on the coast? Click through the gallery and salute the sun at any one of these enchanting beaches.
LIFESTYLE Animal kingdom
CELEBRITY Celebrity deaths
HEALTH Middle age