Ah, the beach.
Sun, sand, and relaxation at its finest. The place where you sit and think about never going home.
For most of us when we think of beaches, tropical locales spring to mind such as Cuba, Mexico, and the like. I may not be qualified to declare a beach “the best” but I’m about to!
To be fair, I have not been to all THAT many beach locations:
We can strike Croatia off straight away, because where we were, a “beach” was any rocky outcrop with water access. Gorgeous? Yes. Beach? No.
I declare, that in all of my travels, the winning beach is……….
Praia dos Três Castelos – Portimão, Portugal!
Praia dos Três Castelos – or “Three Castles Beach” is easily accessed by public parking at the top of the cliff. A path and wooden staircase provide breathtaking views on your way down to a beautiful beach with the softest, cleanest sand, you may ever feel. The cliffs behind the beach and the columns in the water provide amazing photo ops, but most importantly, its just a great place to sit.
Now I’m sure this beach isn’t a secret. Looking for the name of it for this post, I found that it has over 6600 Google reviews! However, when we stopped by on a warm November afternoon there was nobody else around. We found it quite by accident whilst cruising around in our rented Fiat 500. We found parking at the edge of the cliff by some walking trails and thought we would check it out.
In our short visit we watched a couple different storms roll across the bay. They were gone as quickly as they came, but it made the experience even more memorable.
2nd Place – Meia Praia – Lagos Portugal
A quick Google Maps search of Lagos will reveal an absolutely massive stretch of sand directly east. I have no doubt that it gets busy in high season, but again, November = empty. It’s actually pretty hard to imagine it packed, because there is just so. much. space. The sand is so soft, and paired with the fact that off season Lagos is sleepy, with a charming little “old town,” this beach will have you feeling like you should make a life for yourself in the Algarve, Portugal.
3rd Place – Prainha das Poças – Sagres, Portugal (The secret beach)
Come ON, with all these Portuguese beaches. It was a good trip but they can’t all be the best!”
Ah. That’s where you’re wrong. I actually visited this beach many years ago with my Mom. So it isn’t just the rose-tinted glasses of one blessed trip. It might be the sand quality, or it might be the cliffs, or the delightfully tepid temperature in November (again November) but whatever it is, best beaches hands down.
This beach is uniquely situated below the Fortaleza de Sagres “Sagres Fortress” and you can see bits of the fortress on the cliffs above as you dip your toes into the waves. This point was once considered the end of the known world, and you can understand why, as you stare out into endless ocean. This is a secretive beach, accessible only via a steep hike down, and only at low tide. Therefore it is also a very empty and quiet beach.
Getting to it is a bit trickier, because Sagres is a smaller town and a little out of the way. You could rent a car, but we took a coach from Lagos (for the fortress, not for the beach. That was a happy accident.)
That’s my top 3! Because the results were so country-ist, I will make another list of top 3 beaches from other countries.
For a more commercialized Portuguese beach experience, you could take the tourist train in Albufeira from the shopping centre to the cliffs, where you can take an outdoor escalator down to beach level. It’s a very inauthentic experience, and I enjoyed it….twice!