Costa do Sol: Sometimes called the Estoril Coast, this stretch of seafront extends 32km (20 miles) west of Lisbon. Its two major resorts are Estoril and Cascais. Once the playground of the wintering wealthy, the area now attracts throngs of tourists, mainly from northern Europe.
The Algarve: This region at the southern tip of Portugal gained its place on world tourist maps because of its string of beautiful, clean, sandy beaches. Lovely coves, caves, and grottos -- some accessible only by boat -- add to the region's allure. Albufeira and Praia da Rocha are set against a backdrop of towering rock formations; the best cove beach is at Lagos, a former Moorish town with a deepwater harbor and wide bay.
The Beiras: In central Portugal, north of Lisbon, some of the finest beaches in Europe open onto the Atlantic. Like gems in a necklace, good, sandy beaches stretch from Praia de Leirosa north to Praia de Espinho. The surf can be heavy and the undertow strong. Major resorts include Figueira da Foz and nearby Buarcos. The beaches between Praia de Mira and Costa Nova are more secluded.
Costa Verde: As the northern coastline approaches Galicia in Spain, the Atlantic waters grow colder, and even in summer they're likely to be windswept. But on certain days they're among the most dramatic in Europe. We like the wide, sandy beach at Ponte de Lima, but there are many others. Notable destinations are the resort of Espinho, south of Porto, and other beach meccas, including Póvoa do Varzim and Ofir, which have some of the best hotels, restaurants, and watersports equipment in the country.
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.