Portugal’s Cleanest Beaches

Portugal is very highly ranked on the list of Europe’s top beach destinations with 432 of the country’s beaches and marinas currently flying the coveted Blue Flag for cleanliness and quality.

The Algarve emerged as Portugal’s cleanest seawater and sand destination with no less than 91 clean beaches and marinas throughout the region. The north of Portugal also impressed the judges with 90 blue flags, while the Tagus region (which includes the capital, Lisbon) was awarded 83.

Portugal’s other top tourist regions were similarly awarded with a record number of Blue Flags for 2023, comprising Central Portugal (48), Azores (53), Alentejo (41) and Madeira (26).

The Blue Flag label is an international symbol of quality and is one of the best-known environmental symbols worldwide. It has been awarded since 1987 to beaches and marinas meeting the strict requirements of the programme.

In order to receive a Blue Flag, a beach doesn’t only have to have an excellent quality of bathing water, it must also comply with a further thirty-two criteria concerning cleanliness, environmental management and organization, environmental education and information, visitor safety and services, as well as protection of nature, the coast and the coastal area.

The programme is run by the Copenhagen-based Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) which has over 100 member organisations in 81 different countries. Tour operators and travel agencies also take the programme into consideration when recommending holidays to their clients.

Blue Flag is a world-renowned eco label trusted by millions around the globe with the mission of promoting sustainability in the tourism sector through environmental education, environmental protection and other sustainable development practices.

Thanks to Blue Flag and its partnerships, more than 4,500 beaches, marinas and eco-tourism boats are contributing to the sustainable development goals, along with campaigns against disparity, inequality, unemployment, health threats, depletion of natural resources, environmental threats, pollution and general environmental degradation.

The best beaches in Portugal

With hundreds of kilometres of golden, sandy coastline, Portugal is a very popular beach destination that attracts large numbers of annual visitors from all over the world, who flock to the country’s top seaside resorts.

Many of the beaches are outstanding even by global standards, such as the island Porto Santo located in the Atlantic Ocean close to Madeira. Other beaches of particular note are Figueira da Foz (one of the largest in Portugal) and Portinho da Arrábida (indicated on the Google map below), which was considered the best in the whole country by the Portuguese people themselves during the nationwide 7 Natural Wonders vote.

The long list of other uniquely attractive beaches in Portugal includes Monte Gordo (close to the border town of Vila Real de Santo António), Espinho (to the south of Porto, Portugal’s second city), Guincho Beach in Cascais, Nazaré (the world’s big wave capital) and the magnificent Costa da Caparica (pictured above), which stretches for almost 30 kilometres south of the capital, Lisbon.

The full list of Portugal’s Blue Flags for clean beaches and marinas (region by region) is available at www.abae.pt.

Need more sightseeing ideas for your next visit? Listen to the Portugal Travel Show, the podcast for people planning a trip to sunny Portugal…

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