* Porto Santo: Madeira Island lacks beaches, but a 2-hour boat trip (or 15-min. flight) away is one of Portugal’s best. The little island of Porto Santo boasts a 10km (6 mile) stretch of golden sand stretching around a bay of still blue water with views across the mountains of Madeira on the horizon.
* Cabanas: Cabanas is a little fishing village just outside the Algarve town of Tavira. After lunching in one of the great waterfront seafood joints, hop on one of the skiffs that skim across the blue lagoon to a sandbar island flanked with over 5km (3 miles) of soft yellow sand.
* Praia da Marinha: Coves of pale sand nestled beneath honeycomb cliffs, near the resort of Carvoeiro, this is one of the most iconic Algarve beaches. In summer, you won’t have it to yourself, but its distance from the main resorts means it does not get as crowded as most along this stretch of coast. 

* Comporta: A endless curve of platinum-blond sand in a bay of sapphire blue water. It’s achingly beautiful, with the Arrábida hills in the distance. With the shabby-chic village of Comporta on the other side of the dunes, this is the most fashionable spot on the coast. Be careful you don’t bump into Madonna or Maria Sharapova as you head from the seafood desk to the water, and make sure you’re inside before mosquito time around sunset.

* Guincho: In the lee of Europe’s westernmost point at Capo da Roca, this broad expanse of sand is the most dramatic of the beaches in the Cascais-Sintra area west of Lisbon. Its exposure to Atlantic breezes whipping around the cape means that except on rare calm days, it’s better for surfers and wind sports rather than laying out on the sand. But the views are dramatic, and there are excellent restaurants along the coast road. 

* Supertubos: Portugal’s surfer beach par excellence. Although the waves here are not as big as the record-breaking rollers up the coast in Nazaré, this strand, just south of the fishing town of Peniche, is renowned for the regularity of its perfect tubular waves crashing on to the soft sand. 

* Quiaios: Look north from the Serra da Boa Viagem hills above the resort of Figueira da Foz and Quiaios beach stretches as far as you can see—an endless strip of sand backed by dunes and pine forest. There’s a small village at the southern end, and beyond that, solitude. Care can be needed with riptides; check with the lifeguard. 

* Moledo: Portugal’s northernmost beach has long been a favorite for the in-crowd from Porto. A vast sandy expanse, it curves down from the River Minho that forms the border with Spain. It is overlooked by the conical outline of Mount Santa Tecla over the frontier and a 15th-century fort on a small offshore island. As with other northern beaches, the water can be cold, the wind fresh, and the mornings shrouded in mist, but there is no denying the wild beauty of the location. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.