EL VIAJERO

Perfect your all-over tan along Portugal’s Atlantic coastline

Spain's western neighbor has miles and miles of unspoiled beaches where nudists can enjoy the sun in privacy

A young woman and her dog on the Portuguese beach of Malhao.
A young woman and her dog on the Portuguese beach of Malhao.Barnaby Hall / Getty

There are eight beaches officially designated for nudists in Portugal but dozens more where naturism is standard procedure. You can find them in the north, but due to the climate and the quality of sand, most are within a 30km radius of Lisbon and on the Costa Vicentina, bordering the Algarve.

Numbered from north to south, these naturist beaches have been handpicked – some with restaurants and washing facilities and others deserted – and are among Portugal’s best, though it should be pointed out that the Portuguese are relaxed in general about stripping off at the seaside and nudism is widespread.

1 Surprise in Sintra

Ursa

Beauty takes precedence over comfort at this spot where some of the peaks from the Sintra mountain range emerge dramatically from the sea in sculpted formations. Though not officially nudist, it’s completely fine to strip off but you will definitely appreciate cold storage for drinks and a sun shade as there are no bars. Most spectacular at dawn and dusk, though tricky to get to in the halflight.

GPS: N 38º 47’ 25”; O 9º 29’ 33”

2 Togetherness

Bela Vista y Adiça

This is part of the magnificent Caparica beach, near Fonte da Telha where families, dogs, nudists and windsurfers rub shoulders and enjoy a beautiful stretch of sand with crashing waves in one side and beach bars on the other. The nudist area is known as Praia 19, one stop beyond the end of the tourist train line that runs from Caparica town. Get off at stop 18 and wander through the dunes and marvel at the expansive views of the Atlantic.

GPS: N 38º 36’ 11.96’’; O 9º 12’ 39.78’’

3 Mecca

Meco

With its acres of sand and crystal clear water, this has been the capital of Portuguese nudism since the 1970s, though it is equipped with fewer facilities than Caparica. Located 40 km south of Lisbon, it lies in the shadow of the Arrábida mountain range – which can be climbed with a view to watching the sunset.

GPS: N 38º 29’ 20”; O 9º 11’ 2”

4 Small and beautiful

Playa do Salto

This beach is extremely pretty and small, tucked between the towns of Sines and Milfontes on the Costa Vicentina and reached via a wooden staircase. There are no washing facilities but there is a fresh water spring that gushes from the rocks and doubles as a shower!

GPS: N 37º 51’ 37.56” ; O 8º 47’ 39.5”

5 Spectacular at low tide

Alteirinhos

An official nudist haunt near Zambujeira do Mar, this beach is also on the Costa Vicentina. It comes into its own at low tide when islands of sand emerge from the sea, studded with mussels, spandrels and rocks. A freshwater spring adds to its charms.

GPS: N 37º 31’ 35”; O 8º 47’ 7”

6 Stairway to heaven

Adegas

When the tide is high, the only way of getting to this isolated cove that lies next to Odeceixe beach is by a steep staircase. At low tide, you can wander easily from one beach to the other but Adegas’ more intimate location lends itself to naturism. Cars are left at the top, so don’t forget the sunshade – it’s a bit of a climb! And for peace of mind, there are lifeguards – though no beach bars.

GPS: N 37º 26’ 21’’ O 8º 48’ 4’’

7 Rock on

Furnas

This beach owes its name to the caves that are hidden among the surrounding cliffs. Depending on the tide, there’s a fresh water stream here or just pools of fresh water that are far warmer than the sea and wonderfully safe for children to play in. There are no washing facilities or bars.

GPS: N 37º 3’ 19”; O 8º 51’ 17”

8 Adventurers only

Afurada

You can strip off and dance a jig on this remote beach – no one is going to see you. And there is a reason for this; it is located at the bottom of a cliff and a challenge to reach. But deserted beaches like this are few and far between and should be treated like gold dust. It even has an overhang for a shaded siesta.

GPS: N 37º 6’ 11.75”; O 8º 30’ 31.56”

9 Fisherman’s paradise

Ilha Deserta o Barreta

The mouth of the Formosa River creates two peninsulas and five little islands close to the Mediterranean. But this is not just a river mouth, it’s also a wild life sanctuary with a unique selection of birds, shellfish and plants. On the Island of Barreta – also known as Desert Island because there’s no one here but one fisherman – silence, a calm sea and warm water await you as you make your way from Faro.

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GPS: N 37º 5’ 4”; O 7º 40’ 9”

10 Sail it and rail it

Ilha de Tavira

You can get to this warm water haven by ferry from Tavira, from Santa Lúzia and also from Pedras d’el Rei. There is then a small train down to the beach if you don’t fancy the walk through the pines and oleander. At the end of your journey, you will be confronted with a sea of sand. You can stop as soon as you hit it. A longer walk means less people but also no facilities.

GPS: N 36º 57’ 60”; O 7º 52’ 31”

English version by Heather Galloway.

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