The 7 Most Beautiful Beaches in Southern Portugal

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” –John F. Kennedy

The beach is a place where all of us love to spend time at. It is a place of pure peace, beauty and serenity – which we all need from time to time. I find myself in a need of beach (water at least) wherever I live or travel to. Us humans are extremely good in naming things, so I will introduce myself with the proper address: a thalassophile: lover of the ocean, beach, sea.

Since I’m calling Portugal my country of residence since a good year, I have traveled around and found some of the most stunning paradisiac ocean shores I have ever encountered in my life. And for such, I won’t be keeping these a secret for you no more, so I’ve listed the top 7 of the most beautiful beaches in Southern Portugal.

1. Praia do Portinho da Arrábida

My absolute favorite beach in the entire country must be Portinho da Arrábida. This beach is part of the natural park of Arrábida – which an sich is a delight for your eyes – and a dream come true for anyone who loves to do a roadtrip through lush green forests and lagoon blue waters.

Begin your road trip in Sétubal and drive towards Sesimbra at the coastal side. On your right, scenes of paradisiac beaches will flash before your eyes, so enjoy the trip and pull over in time for a pit stop at one of the beaches (and make sure to stop at Portinho for sure). I recommend paying a visit to praia da Figueirinha and Galapinhos as well, as both views from the side road, cliffs and down at the beach are the most rewarding.

How to get there: by car

2. Praia da Foz

Find this untouched piece of nature in the west coast of Sesimbra. It’s well hidden, so it requires some descending after you parked your car at the top of this gorgeous beach. You have to pass a plain of rocks to actually get to the water – but once you get there, the caves surrounding the crystal clear water make an unforgettable visit out of this small beach.

How to get there: by car

3. Praia das Bicas

What makes praia das bicas so stunning isn’t the formation of stairs leading towards it, or the great, stretched size of the untouched natural beach, nor the different levels of waves coming and going, and coming and going… it’s a combination of all three.

Don’t forget to enjoy the panoramic views of the cliffs from the parking lot before descending – having a total view of what awaits you makes this whole visit even better.

How to get there: by car

4. Praia de Melides

Praia de Melides has that summery relaxation on your holiday-kinda vibe. Instead of untouched nature, caves and rocks, this beach actually has silky soft sand, dreamy palm trees and parasols available for you. Since it’s so large, there is always plenty of space for you to find that perfect spot.

If you’re hungry, visit the beach bar right in front of the beach – they have burgers, toasts and even a swing – that last one just topped it, didn’t it?

How to get there: by car

5. Praia de Benagil

This postcard-picture-perfect beach has to be one of the most famous beaches in Portugal, if not the most famous. Benagil is most known for its cave, the Benagil cave, which you can enter with a kayak or small boat and enjoy the beautiful cave formations and the sun shining through the gap at the top of the cave.

As most Portuguese beaches, the Benagil beach is most impressive because of the returning contrast of the different warm colors of the rock formations surrounding the tropical waters. I think that’s what makes these Portuguese praias so stunning: they are not like the usual beach scene that we all know – palm tree, beach chair and a calm sea. These beaches are made out of and surrounded by unspoilt nature: forests, cliffs and lagoon blue, large waves.

How to get there: by bus (an abundance of buses drive to Benagil) or by car

6. Praia da Rainha

Praia da Rainha is one of those beaches you saw on a postcard or travel commercial, and it’s hard to blame them – this beach truly has it all. A small distance from Caparica beach, this wide stretched paradise is your ideal spot for a sunday afternoon chill – with at the background, the sound of paradisiac blue waves kissing the pale, soft sandy beach.

How to get there: by bus (schedules available on TST) or by car

7. Praia dos Três Irmãos

“The beach of the three brothers” earned its special name thanks to the three legendary rocks placed in and outside of the ocean, looking like three brother with some imagination. The fun part about this place are the different caves and rock formations you can walk through. As the proximity of the water can rise high at times, be aware when picking a spot close to the ocean. Again, do not forget to take some time to appreciate the breathtaking views from the top of this beach that reach all the way to cliffs and a transparent blue Atlantic Ocean.

I hope your first Monday of the year has gotten a little better and hopefully I’ll see you on one of these portuguese praias. Até logo!