Known for its picturesque coastline, Portugal is home to an array of charming coastal towns where you can stroll the shoreline, dine on succulent seafood and explore historic landmarks. Boasting beautiful beaches, these small fishing villages and towns lure you into the shoreline and offer spectacular scenery around every corner. Read on to discover our picks for the most charming coastal towns in Portugal.
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Nestled along Portugal’s beautiful Algarve coast, Tavira boasts unspoiled architecture and a rich history. Located two miles from the ocean in Portugal’s southern region, this town has been standing since the Bronze Age and is considered a walker’s paradise with its cobblestone streets that wind through leafy parks, a beautiful castle, over a romantic Roman bridge and past Gothic and Renaissance churches. Make sure to have some fun in the sun at the white sand beaches and take a dip in the clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
A beautiful coastal resort town, Cascais is an easy day trip from the capital. You’ll be lured in by the city’s charming old town, filled with patterned pavements, quaint boutiques and a mix of architectural features. The beach area is a great escape in summertime, where you’ll find a lively coast full of sunseekers. It has been a busy fishing port since medieval times when King Luis I moved his summer activities to the Palacio da Cidadela, the town’s 17th-century waterfront fortress. Spend a day at Praia do Guincho watching the windsurfers, then take a break in the leafy Parque do Marechal.
Explore the coastal town of Peniche on a day trip from Lisbon, as it’s only an hours drive north. It was an island until the 16th century and a busy fishing port since ancient times, while the walled part of town is dominated by an impressive fortress that has now been turned into a museum with fascinating artifacts. Known for its world-class beaches and waves, it is considered a hotspot for surfers with a peninsula that juts out in the Atlantic Ocean. Watch them catch waves at Praia dos Supertubos or head to the Peniche Port to watch the local fishermen bring in the catch of the day.
Nicknamed the “Venice of Portugal”, Aveiro boasts a beautiful maze of canals that wind throughout the city. Its charming streets are lined with excellent examples of Portuguese architecture, from the white-washed Mediterranean houses to the traditional “azulejo” facades. You’ll find colorful gondolas floating along the canals, while historic sites, gorgeous beaches and an excellent food scene offers plenty of captivating scenery. Make sure to visit the São Gonçalinho Chapel and the Convento de Jesus to admire architecture and artwork, while the Aveiro Cathedral features beautiful Baroque architecture.
If you’re looking for an Algarve coastal retreat without all the crowds, head to Ferragudo. You’ll be within an arm’s reach to some of the area’s best beaches while being able to enjoy the laid-back fishing village ambiance. Admire the white-washed homes and bobbing boats along the shore, then visit the historic Sao Joao de Arade, which used to be the area’s watchtower. Sit back in one of the quaint cafes and watch the daily catch being unloaded or sit on the beach and take a dip in the calm waters of the estuary.
Viana do Castelo
Sitting north of Porto, Viana do Castelo is home to medieval charms and beautiful beaches. Here you can explore one of Portugal’s oldest coastal towns, which once served as an entry point for explorers and traders since the 16th century. Start your holiday in Praca da Republica, the town square, then admire the historic churches, ornate fountains and old town hall. Stop to see Navio Gil Eanes, a former medical ship that serves as a floating museum.
Aljezur and nearby Costa Vicentina boast charming towns that offer beautiful beaches and local seafood restaurants serving up the daily catch. Instead of visiting the more tourist-packed areas of Albufeira, visit this area to enjoy sunbathing in the summer, while winter is great for surfers wanting to catch a big wave. Take a stroll to admire the traditional Portuguese infrastructure and explore its variety of historical remains, then meander through the greenery in Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina.
Azenhas do Mar
Not far from Sintra is Azenhas do Mar is a great place to escape the bustle of the city. This beautiful cliffside destination boasts a sandy beach along the Atlantic Ocean, where you can kick back and admire the sleepy fishing town and admire the spectacular vistas while you indulge in fresh seafood platters. Make sure to stop and dine at Azenhas do Mar, a local cliffside restaurant serving up beautiful views and fresh grilled fish.
Located in the Algarve, Carvoeiro is a beautiful fishing village with a laid-back ambiance that is often overlooked due to its nearby counterparts. This coastal town has a lot to offer aside from its idyllic views of the Algarve region. Said to have come from the old word “caboiere”, which means “hamlet of”, its Praia do Paraiso beach also translates to “paradise beach”. If you’re up for an adventure, head to the famous Benagil caves for a memorable day trip.
While the Arrabida Mountains are famously home to the cities of Setubal and Sesimbra, Azeitao is a charming and romantic town that is not as well-known. You can spend your time exploring palace estates and picturesque vineyards, and when you work up an appetite you can indulge in regional specialties such as Azeitao cheese. Get a dose of culture by learning about the country’s azulejo tile art, then sip local wines at the Quinta da Bacalhoa wine estate.
The capital of the Azores archipelago, Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel is considered the starting point for breaks on the volcanic islands. You’ll find a charming collection of attractions here, including the Sao Bra Fortress and iconic Portas da Cidade. Surrounded by the sea and mountainside, it is dotted with whitewashed and black basalt architecture and is common to spot horse-drawn carriages traversing the roads.