As July begins to heat up, many in the UK are eager to get away for the summer. Daydreams stray to visions of lying on sun-soaked beaches, sipping cool drinks, and getting away from the crowds. As COVID restrictions ease, Portugal is now a favourite destination for travellers from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Want to get away to a secret Portuguese beach this summer? Keep reading!
Melides is a small coastal village only 1.5 hours south of Lisbon. In existence for over 500 years, Melides (pronounced Melidesh) was a small port before 1755 when an earthquake and tsunami caused the mouth of the river to close. The harbour was no more, and the locals adjusted their lives, beginning cork orchards, harvesting olives and catching fish.
Now, more than 500 years later, Melides is seeing a revival.
In recent years, European designers and artists have started flocking to Melides. French shoe designer Christian Louboutin has a home here, as does German artist Anselm Kiefer and Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen.
Melides is still, for the most part, a sleepy little hamlet, with a population of about 1,500 residents. It is certainly very different to its close geographical neighbour, Comporta, which is famous for its beach bars, boutiques, and vibrant buzz.
Melides has an altogether different vibe, not far off from its history as a comparative backwater. This is, of course, what is so intriguing. The relaxed and calm atmosphere is precisely what draws visitors to the village.
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Praia de Galé
Located in the Alentejo region, here lies the last unspoiled stretch of Atlantic coastline.
The best beaches in Portugal can be found here. Virtually untouched by the modern world, this is the perfect place to escape the summer heat.
The few restaurants and shops (excellent though they are) pale in comparison to the beauty of the Praia de Galé, a secret Portuguese beach that is the most extraordinary stretch of beach in Europe.
Like the best Portuguese beaches, Praia de Galé is quiet and remote, accessible only down a precarious set of stairs built into a sandstone cliff. Along the way, you pass a weathered collection of massive sandstones, reddish and over five million years old. Reaching 130 feet into the sky, these sandstones sit amidst a carpet of chorão das praias flowers.
When you reach sea level, you are surrounded by a vast stretch of beach and facing you is the massive expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.
You may find the odd fisherman, his pole stuck in the sand. A sprinkling of families will dot the pristine white sand. The sand is crusty, since so few people come here.
If you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of Lisbon or are simply searching for a laidback town to relax in and while away hot, languid days on a pristine, white beach then this secret Portuguese beach is the perfect destination for UK travellers seeking to beat the heat and escape the crowds.
The best secret Portuguese beaches aren’t just limited to Melides’ Praia de Galé, however.
With countless beaches along the Atlantic coast, there is more to uncover. You can explore the best of Portugal with Trafalgar and experience some of the best beaches in Portugal.
Portinho da Arrabida
Only 30 minutes’ drive south of Lisbon, you might want to stop off in Portinho da Arrabida on your way to Melides for a quick dip in the Atlantic Ocean. Deep in the Serra da Arrabida National Park, this little cove is flanked on three sides by forest-covered mountains. A great place for families with plenty of rock pools to explore and a selection of restaurants and cafes, Portinho da Arrabida is popular in the summer.
This thin stretch of beach lies about 5km to the northeast of Peniche. Praia Baleal offers swimming to the north and south, as well as some excellent surfing conditions. With several surfing schools along the beach, you can learn to surf in no time and take advantage of the clear blue waters.
Praia de Cavaleiro
Located on the Costa Vicentina is another secret beach that locals love. A goat track with wooden railings guides you down to the sands where dramatic rock formations astound. Protected from the Atlantic winds, Praia de Cavaleiro is connected to other beaches along the Costa Vicentina by over 400km of hiking routes. In spring, storks rest here to build their nests. Be careful not to disturb them, of course.
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Praia da Amália
Another hidden gem along the Alentejo coast, Praia da Amália is tucked between cliffs and can only be accessed down rough-hewn stairs etched into the cliff. A watercliff cascades down the cliffs in one corner of this little bay and there are plenty of rocks to explore. With no lifeguard or café, be careful in the water and pack a picnic basket.
Praia do Carvalhal
The beach of choice for those visiting Comporta, Praia do Carvalhal has plenty of practical additions including umbrellas and sun lounges to rent. Close to Lisbon and the popular resort town of Comporta, there is plenty here to entertain you even once you’ve left the sandy shores and turquoise sea.
Whether you set out from Lisbon or Porto, head south or north, explore the best beaches in Portugal this summer. Escape the crowds and relax on soft white sands, and gaze out at the massive expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Swim in the warm turquoise waters
As travel restrictions lift and UK travellers can once again explore the treasures of much-loved destinations like Portugal, Morocco, and Spain, Trafalgar has tours to guide to the best beaches in Europe as well as the best restaurants and historical locations. Make the most of cities like Barcelona and Madrid with Trafalgar.
Have you ever visited Portugal? Or, do you plan to visit in the future? Do you have a favourite secret Portuguese beach? Let us know in the comments! Visit our website to find out more about how you can travel to Portugal with Trafalgar.