Anthony Briggs, from Tuki Retreat, enjoys working in the hospitality industry and is dedicated to providing clients with the best accommodation experience available. He shares his favorite coastal towns in Portugal with us.
Most countries in Europe are quite popular destinations that tourists from all over the world love to visit. One such European country that deserves a lot more attention and should be on your bucket list is Portugal. Despite being practically adjacent to its bigger brother Spain, the number of tourists visiting Portugal isn’t as huge. For this reason, it doesn’t get that much mention from the global tourist community.
With most of its towns conveniently situated near the coastline—each is unique and beautiful in their own unique way, making Portugal a perfect country to go visit if you’re looking for some peace and quiet on your travels.
Which Coastal Towns in Portugal Should I Go To?
With so many coastal towns in Portugal to choose from, you might want to start planning which ones to include in your itinerary right away. To help you decide which towns deserve your full attention, here are some Portuguese coastal towns you shouldn’t dare miss out on:
Located east of the Algarve region, Tavira is a coastal town that attracts relatively fewer tourists. But, it makes up for it by offering you a more authentic holiday experience—the Portuguese way.
- Tavira has retained much of its ancient heritage with historic churches and buildings dating from as far back as the Moorish era.
- The name Tavira comes from the Arabic word “tabira” which means “the hidden.”
- The beaches in Tavira are also considered to be go-to destinations as most of them are unspoiled and protected by the Ria Formosa Nature Park.
- The town’s calm ambiance and slower pace are a surefire draw if you want to get the best out of your vacation compared to the rest of Algarve’s resort-filled towns.
Also located in Algarve, Carvoeiro is a relatively small fishing village with an unassuming vibe that might be a reason why even those who have already visited Portugal tend to overlook it during their entire trip. But underneath Carvoeiro’s quaint appearance lies a coastal town that would leave you asking for more.
- The name Carvoeiro is said to have come from the old word “caboiere” which means “hamlet of ”.
- Carvoeiro’s picturesque setting provides an idyllic view of the entire Algarve region.
- One beach in Carvoeiro that isn’t as fully packed with tourists no matter the time of year and yet exudes its own charm is Praia do Paraiso, which literally translates to “paradise beach.” If that name alone isn’t enough to make you want to go there instantly, nothing else will.
- A visit to the famous Benagil caves is a must when visiting Carvoeiro.
- Viana do Castelo
Located in the Lima estuary, Viana do Castelo is one of northern Portugal’s oldest coastal towns that once served as an entry point for explorers and traders from the 16th to 18th centuries.
- A landmark you should be visiting while in Viana does Castelo is the Praça da República, the town square where you can find attractions such as:
- Chafariz Fountain sculpted with ornate figures
- Igreja da Misericórdia, a three-story church with an array of Roman arches, Renaissance balconies, and interestingly carved pillars
- Paços do Concelho, the old town hall built in the early 16th century with its Gothic arches and Renaissance details
- Viana does Castelo is also home to the Navio Gil Eanes, a former medical ship from the 1950’s that used to offer assistance to the town’s bevy of cod fishermen but now serves as a floating museum.
Located in the Oeste Subregion on Portugal’s central coast, Peniche is a coastal town that generates a slightly grittier feel as it remains a working port for fishing vessels.
- The long beaches in Peniche generate a massive amount of surf breaks forming powerful waves which makes it an ideal location for water sports such as surfing and body boarding.
- You can take a ferry ride as well from the town marina to visit the Berlengas Islands—one of the world’s first ever nature reserves where flocks of seabirds find sanctuary.
Known as the “Venice of Portugal,” Aveiro is the closest you can get to riding a gondola and exploring its artificial canals without having to go all the way to Italy.
- The name Aveiro comes from the Latin term “aviation” which means “a gathering place for birds.”
- When you get tired of seeing canals left and right in Aveiro, you can take a side trip to Costa Nova where dozens of the striped, multicolored beach houses and fishing shanties serve as a welcome visual treat.
If you’re the type of tourist, who believes that money is no object at all to having the perfect European getaway, the resort town of Cascais located just west of the Portuguese capital might be the one you’re looking for.
- Cascais’ accessibility from Lisbon makes it a favored tourist destination for those who prefer to stay close to the capital.
- West of Cascais is a natural rock formation known as the Boca do Inferno which translates to “Hell’s Mouth.” Occult magician Aleister Crowley was said to have faked his own death there, but don’t let that and the sinister-sounding name of the place scare you away from the chance to explore Boca do Inferno’s breathtaking seaside cliffs.
- Cascais is also home to the Hotel Palacio Estoril, a 5-star hotel that was used to shoot parts of the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
Some tourists visiting Portugal for the first time might stick to its more well-known cities such as Lisbon and Porto, but if you prefer to take the road less traveled and is looking for an adventure, you will never forget, a journey to these coastal towns in Portugal would guarantee just that. Taking advantage of what each Portuguese coastal town has to offer would also help you appreciate Portugal’s very long history as a maritime nation while enjoying your European escapade at the same time.