Portugal offers one of the most beautiful coastal regions in Europe. There are spectacular cliffs, beautiful beaches, high cliffs and great coastal roads that are perfect for a Portugal road trip. We now present you the most beautiful highlights and the best beaches on the west coast of Portugal, so that your Portugal round trip will be simply wonderful.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Difference between Algarve and Portugal West Coast
The most popular region of Portugal is undoubtedly the Algarve in the south. Of course, there is a reason for this: the sea in the Algarve is usually calmer than on the west coast of Portugal and the beaches are really beautiful. Of course, this also leads to the fact that it gets really crowded in the Algarve in the high season (July/August). The Algarve is super touristy.
The west coast of Portugal, on the other hand, is much less touristy, but no less beautiful. Of course, there is not this extremely high density of dream beaches and steep cliffs as in the Algarve. But still there are beautiful beaches with adventurous rock formations in the turquoise blue water. And of course, there are also exciting cities that don’t have to shy away from comparison with other European coastal cities.
We now present you the most beautiful highlights and places worth seeing on Portugal’s west coast.
The Best Places in the Algarve
If you are interested in the most beautiful places and best beaches in the Algarve, then we have separate articles for you:
- Algarve Most Beautiful Places I The 6 most spectacular highlights
- Algarve Coast I The 8 most beautiful beaches & highlights
West Portugal | Top 11 Highlights (with map)
For simplicity, we’ve sorted the highlights in Portugal at the west coast from north to south.
Porto | Exciting Coastal City in the north of Portugal
Porto is the largest city in Portugal’s northwest and the old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We really liked the city and were almost more excited about it than the capital Lisbon. The highlights of Porto are all very compactly distributed and all wonderful to explore on foot.
The highlight par excellence is the beautiful old town with its cozy alleys and old (and partly dilapidated) buildings. Many richly decorated churches and other beautiful buildings adorn the old town and invite you to take an extensive stroll through the city.
The biggest sight (literally and figuratively) and also the landmark of Porto is the large arch bridge Ponte Luís I, which spans almost 400 meters over the river Duoro. The bridge has two levels, with only streetcars and pedestrians on the upper level and pedestrians and cars allowed on the lower level.
From the bridge you have a great view of the city and the river promenade below, which is also great for strolling.
Tips for your visit to Porto
Nazaré | The Surfer City
Nazaré is undoubtedly the surfing capital on the west coast of Portugal, and for some, of the world. The small town on Portugal’s west coast is world famous for its waves, up to 30 meters high, which pile up here in winter and want to be conquered by surfers. Since 2013, the best surfers in the world have gathered here and are marveled at by thousands of onlookers.
In summer, however, the place belongs entirely to the bathers, because in the summer months there are only normal high waves here. Of course, you can still learn to surf here. But also for swimming and strolling Nazare with its kilometer-long beach and the cozy alleys is very suitable. If you only want to swim and get to know the city, then 1 day is enough. If you want to do a surf course, then you should stay here for several days.
Tips for your visit
Cabo Carvoeiro near Peniche
Cabo Carvoeiro is an exciting cliff off the Peniche Peninsula and is one of the western capes of mainland Europe. A circular road leads once around the small peninsula and along the road there are various viewpoints and opportunities to stop and do some rock climbing. The small town of Peniche, which you will inevitably pass on your way to the cape, is not really worth seeing.
Praia da Ursa – West Coast of Portugal
Praia da Ursa is probably one of the most spectacular beaches on the west coast of Portugal. The descent from the gravel parking lot is adventurous enough, but what awaits you down at the beach defies description. The sand is super fine and the water of course crystal clear and turquoise blue.
On the beach and in the water are several 20-40 meter high pointed rocks, which also come in different colors. Already from above you can see the whole panorama, but down on the beach it is even more impressive.
Although the parking lot is hard to reach, the descent is very difficult and there is no service at the beach, Praia da Ursa is always very well visited.
The parking lot is located here ( Google Maps), but beware, the last stretch to the parking lot is very arduous to drive. For the narrow and steep path down to the beach you will need about 20 minutes.
Sintra | The Fairy Tale Town
Sintra is probably the most popular destination outside of Lisbon and can be reached in about half an hour by car or train from the capital. You haven’t seen a city like Sintra before, with buildings that seem to have come straight out of a storybook.
In the past, the city was the summer residence of the Portuguese royal family, because Sintra is located at an altitude of over 300 meters above sea level and is therefore always a bit cooler in summer than the often hot Lisbon.
In Sintra you can expect spectacular palaces, castles and mansions. And unfortunately also very crowded streets, because the extraordinary scenery naturally attracts many tourists. Nevertheless, the city should be part of your Portugal road trip, you will not regret it.
Tips for your visit to Sintra
Lisbon is not only the capital of Portugal, but also the most visited city in the country on the edge of Europe. And not without reason, because Lisbon is a beautiful city that is full of sights. You should definitely not skip Lisbon on your Portugal road trip, because there is just too much to see here.
Lisbon is famous for the very picturesque streetcar line 28E, the authentic neighborhoods of Alfama and Bairro Alto, and of course the numerous viewpoints from which you can marvel at the hilly city area and the passing river Tagus.
Actually, the whole old town is a huge open-air museum, because it is simply fun to stroll through the narrow and sometimes very steep streets and not to come out of the amazement.
You should stay at least 2-3 days in Lisbon to really enjoy the flair of the city.
Tips for your visit to Lisbon
Praia Amalia | The Stray Beach
Praia da Amália was for us one of the coolest beaches on the west coast and got the nickname Stork Beach. You can already guess why, because here on the pointed limestone rocks several pairs of storks are breeding.
The way to Praia da Amalia is quite adventurous, because it leads through a dense forest with ferns and creepers and we felt here almost like in Costa Rica. After you have scrambled down a small staircase, you will find yourself on a dreamlike beach with finest sand. On the pointed rocks to your right you can already see the storks with a little luck.
There is always one parent on the nest while the other one is looking for food. If one of the storks rises from the nest and flies over the beach you will notice it immediately, because a big shadow flits over the beach and we always had to look up to watch the stork flying. Simply beautiful and one of the most amazing Portugal sights!
Praia de Odeceixe
Praia de Odeceixe is a beautiful large beach on the northern Atlantic coast of Portugal and is less popular than the beaches in the south of the Algarve. But this is completely unjustified. There are only a few parking spaces here, because you have to park outside the small village of Odeceixe.
You then walk through the small town in which there are some nice restaurants and bars. Then you walk down a steep path to the beach, which is several hundred meters wide and long.
The special thing about this beach is that at high tide a river forms at the edge of the beach and frames the beach.
Praia do Amoreia
The Praia do Amoreia on the west coast of Portugal is officially still in the Algarve region and is a really wonderful beach embedded in a rough cliff scenery. The special thing about this beach is that it is located at the end of a valley through which the river Ribeira de Aljezur flows. At the left edge of the beach it flows into the sea (at least at high tide).
You can walk here for hundreds of meters over long dunes and you are guaranteed to find a secluded spot for yourself.
To the beach Praia do Amoreia there are 2 parking lots and also 2 possibilities to get there. We would recommend the approach from the south. You will have to climb a steep path down to the beach, but on the way to the parking lot you will pass a very nice cliff with several beautiful viewpoints.
- The recommended parking place (at the restaurant Taberna do Gabriel II): Google Maps
- The official parking lot on the other side of the beach: Google Maps
Praia da Arrifana
Praia da Arrifana is also located on the west coast of Portugal and is a beach that offers the surfing atmosphere typical of the Algarve. The beach is located below a small village with some restaurants and bars. The way down is unfortunately quite steep and since the parking lot is located up in the village, you have to take the steep path on foot.
The beach is really beautiful and even if you don’t want to take the way down you can watch the surfers surfing from the cliff.
Praia do Bordeira
The Bordeira beach is located in the south of the west coast of Portugal and is one of the most beautiful beaches on the coastal area of Portugal and this despite the fact that there are no spectacular rock formations or huge cliffs here. The special thing about Praia do Bordeira is the huge dune landscape that lies between the beach and the official parking lot.
You can walk for miles over the sand dunes and you are almost alone, because most of the visitors go directly to the beach. Surprisingly, larger bushes and many colorful flowers also grow here on the dunes. This made the atmosphere at Bordeiras Beach even more beautiful for us.
We found it really wonderful here and just because the Parai do Bordeira is completely different from the other Algarve beaches.
We hope you enjoyed our post about the best places to visit on the west coast of Portugal. If you are planning a road trip to the west coast of Portugal and have any questions, please leave us a comment.