“The Alentejo coast is magical and wild, don’t even bother with the Algarve”.
These were the parting words from a man who just Airbnb’ed his camper van to us. With his hand-drawn map we headed south from Lisbon in search of the best-hidden beaches in Portugal.
We had one goal on this 12-day trip in our new campervan, make it to Lagos and back to Lisbon.
Once we arrived in Lagos we realized it had nothing compared to the beauty of the past 8 days that we had been immersed in. We spent two hours in the town and headed back the way we had come.
We want to share some of the many beaches we discovered along the Alentejo.
1. Praia de Galapinhos
Less than 50km out of Lisbon you will find Praia de Galapinhos – an absolute beauty and recently named one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
Stumbling upon it with our hand drawn map it felt like a hidden beach. Not a person on the white sands or swimming in clear water it’s a spot of paradise on the doorstep of the city.
We set up camp and took advantage of walking trails.
2. Samoqueira Beach, Porto Côvo
Samoqueira Beach, Porto Côvo – one of the best beaches in Portugal. The hidden beach of Samoqueira is just before the town of Porto Covo.
Porto Covo is a beautiful little village where the buildings are whitewashed and the streets are cobbled.
Make sure you head into town first and visit the local bakeries. We tried the Pão de Deus, a brioche roll with a coconut topping just lightly sweetened and toasted and we also got the Laço, which is a puff pastry bow with caramel coating.
Samoqueira is like nothing we had seen before. A small stretch of rock and sand lays parallel to the beach creating an intimate cove.
The beach is also surrounded by wonderful caves that you could explore at low tide. Expect to only see a few people here, it was us and another family for the entire afternoon – one of the best-hidden beaches in Portugal.
3. Praia da Zambujeira do Mar
Praia da Zambujeira do Mar – one of the best beaches in Portugal
Zambuijeria do Mar is another charming little seaside town.
It is a huddle of whitewashed walls and terracotta roofs that are perched on edge of the cliffs. The town overlooks the local beach which was stunning, this wasn’t our hidden beach, however.
A few kilometres out of town, a beach with no name will steal your heart.
We set up the van in the empty car park with views straight down the sand into the turquoise waters. The beach was flanked by high cliffs on either side and a small cafe overlooking it all.
However, the best part of this beach was the Thai women offering hour-long massages. She was set up on the sand under a white gazebo with transparent fabric fluttering in the breeze.
This woman was a lifesaver, for our campervan cramped bodies and only charged €10 for the hour!
4. Fonte da Telha
Fonte de Telha is every campervaner’s dream.
You can park right next to the sand, with that elusive view of the beach from your bed.
Forte Tel Hau is a tiny beach community with a few restaurants scattered along the beach, built right on the sand. Perfect for a late afternoon drink on the balcony, while we watched the sun dip below the horizon.
Along the dirt road we only saw a dozen other campervans and cars parked next to the sand. It’s reminiscent of an Australian beach, golden sand as far as the eye can see.
5. Praia da Arrifana, Aljezur
Praia da Arrifana – one of the best beaches in Portugal
In the very northwest of the Algarve, we discovered Praia da Arrifana. It’s tucked away in the lovely village of Alzejur.
Alzejur is another small market town of whitewashed houses and cobbled streets.
This beautiful beach is sheltered by large orange sandstone cliffs and a popular spot for surfers. We laid on the soft white sand and watched summer swell rolling in.
6. Praia de Amado
Praia de AmadO – one of the best beaches in Portugal
Further down the coast was found Praia de Amado.
This a beautiful sweeping beach backed by dunes and edged by cliffs.
At low tide we explored the exposed rock pools and headed down the northern end of the beach. Here we discovered the most beautiful colored stones.
You can see hues ranging from pink to black, ochre and green. Later we enjoyed the view of surfers riding the endless waves while cooking our dinner from our beloved home on wheels.
7. The Secret Beach (Praia do Barranco)
Praia do Barranco Beach Portugal Hidden secret beach
Being further down south in the Algarve, we had been warned you could be asked to move or fined for camping in most areas. So we set off down some country lanes to see what beaches we could discover.
We found it, the spot of your dreams, it was similar to the spot in Leonardo Di Carpios’ “The Beach”.
This beach was perfect, a protected cove that half a dozen others had found and seemed to set up a small community.
We managed to spot dolphins from the soft white sand one morning, the only place we managed to see them. It appeared even the dolphins knew how enchanted these places were.
This beach is called Praia do Barranco or Barranco Beach, near the town of Sagres.