Portugal has over 800 km of coastline and there’s just about every type of beach you could wish for. Roughly half of Portugal’s western border is formed by its long Atlantic shoreline giving Portugal hundreds of kilometres of breathtaking beaches and the nearest is only a quick 45 minute drive away from Casa Azul. Whether you want untouched acres of soft sand, rocky shores crashing with waves or typical holiday beaches for families, friends, parties and gatherings, you can find it all here.
Whilst some of Portugal’s most famous beaches are in the south, here all along the west coast sleepy old towns spill down to the shoreline or sit atop steep cliffs offering some of the most picturesque places to sit, relax and take in the scenery. Of course, if you want more of a buzz then the bigger towns along the coast are the places to head for.
We at Casa Azul are sure you will easily find your own favourite quiet little spot, but if you want to go to one of the larger resorts then we particularly like these:
Figueira da Foz
Popular with Portuguese holidaymakers for over a century, Figueira da Foz continues to attract big summer crowds. For most visitors, the star attractions are Figueira’s outlandishly wide beach and a casino featuring big-name acts on summer evenings. The local sands are so vast that it takes a five-minute walk across creaky boardwalks simply to reach the sea. Out of season, the place has a lonelier charm, but come here in summer and things are upbeat, with sizzling bodies and candy-striped beach huts filling every square inch of beach.
With a warren of narrow, cobbled lanes running down to a wide, cliff-backed beach, Nazaré is a beautifully picturesque coastal resort. The sands are packed wall- to-wall with multicoloured umbrellas in July and August and the town centre is jammed with seafood restaurants, bars and local women in traditional dress near the seafront at Av da República. To get a different perspective, take the funicular railway, built in 1893, up to Promontório do Sítio, where incredible wow factor coastal views unfold from the cliffs.
Nazaré has hit the headlines in recent years for the monster world record-breaking waves off the town’s north beach which attracts surfers from around the world. If you take a trip to the Promontório do Sítio you can walk along to the headland for great views and photo opportunities of the surfers.
São Martinho do Porto
In contrast to nearby Nazaré, São Martinho do Porto is not so busy, but somewhere frequented by families to enjoy the gentle lap of the waves on the scallop shaped bay ringed by safe white sanded beaches. The bay is only connected to the sea by an opening of a few meters, hence the reason the waters are sheltered making it also ideal for sailing, windsurfing or kayaking. The beach frontage has numerous cafes, restaurants and terraces to enjoy after a relaxing day on the beach.
Popular for its long, fabulous town beach and where you can get a boat to the beautiful Ilhas Berlengas nature reserve, Peniche is spectacularly set on a headland with the sea on all sides. It remains a working port, giving it a slightly grittier, more ‘lived-in’ feel than its resort neighbours, but the walled historic centre makes for pleasant strolling and the seaside fort where Salazar’s regime detained political prisoners is a must-see for anyone interested in Portuguese history. Outdoors enthusiasts will love the beaches east of town, where lessons and rentals for every sport under the sun are available.
Sitting about 10km offshore from Peniche, Berlenga is a spectacular, rocky and remote island, with incredible twisting rock formations and gaping caverns. The clear dark-blue waters are full of shipwrecks and great for snorkelling. Linked to the island by a narrow causeway is the 17th century Forte de São João Baptista , now one of the country’s most dramatic (but barren) hostels. If you wish you can be dropped off here by your boat and then take the dramatic hike past thousands of nesting sea birds back to the main harbour, where you can swim in the cold crystal clear waters or take a leisurely meal before returning to Peniche.