Portugal occupies most of the western side of the Iberian Peninsula. From north to south, the country is a bit less than 600 kilometers long. From east to west, the distances are much shorter, varying from about 100 to 200 kilometers across. The northern and eastern sides of Portugal border Spain, while the southern edge of the county is a coastline that spans roughly 150 kilometers and the western edge is a coastline that spans more that 600 meters. Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal, lies on a prominent bay along the western coast of the country. Roughly one-third of Portugal is south of Lisbon, while two-thirds of the country is north of the city.
There are 48 nude beaches in Portugal listed in the five sections below. If you compare that to the number of nude beaches in neighboring Spain and do some adjustments for differences in population and share of the Iberian coastline, it would seem that nude beaches are about as common in Portugal as in Spain. However, that is not quite true. Of all the beaches listed for Spain, the vast majority are places where nudity is a firmly rooted part of the identity of the beach, even in cases where textiles always outnumber nudists. In Portugal, that is not the case. Quite a few of the country's nudist locations straddle the fence of semi-established and well-established nude beaches. In other words, you should not expect to encounter a significant number of nude bathers, or you should expect nude bathers to be widely dispersed along isolated parts of long beaches. Portugal has seven beaches that are officially designated for naturist use. Those seven beaches are: Praia do Barril and Praia da Ilha Deserta, both in the eastern Algarve; Praia das Adegas and Praia dos Alteirinhos, both near the border of the Algarve and the Alentejo; Praia do Salto along the central Alentejo; and Praia da Bela Vista and Praia do Meco, both south of Lisbon. All seven of those beaches are in the southern third of Portugal that is south of Lisbon. Most of the better established unofficial nude beaches are also in the southern third of the country. Visitors to the far north of Portugal should keep in mind that the neighboring Spanish region of Galicia
has more established and better attended nude beaches than northern Portugal, including a few than are within half an hour's drive of the border and a few more that are within an hour's drive.
The beaches below are listed in geographic order, starting at the southern border of Spain and Portugal and going west along the southern coast then north along the western coast. However, we break from going in strict geographic order in describing the nude beaches is the region of Lisbon.
|ALGARVE [ ↑ ]
The area of Portugal that draws the most sun-seeking travelers is the Algarve, which is the far southern region of the country. Measured roughly, the Algarve has about 200 kilometers of coastline. About three-quarters of the Algarve coast faces mostly south and about one-quarter faces mostly west. The principal gateway to the Algarve is the town of Faro, which is the location of an international airport (one of just three in Portugal). Faro is about 60 kilometers west of the border with Spain. Between Spain and Faro, the eastern portion of the Algarve coast is characterized by a chain of barrier islands and barrier peninsulas, and the Ria Formosa is the long riverlike lagoon that separates these offshore land masses from the mainland. The Península de Cacela forms the eastern end of the lagoon. The five islands of the Ria Formosa, from east to west, are Ilha de Cabanas, Ilha de Tavira, Ilha da Armona, Ilha da Culatra and Ilha Deserta. The Península do Ancão forms the western end of the lagoon. There is no automobile access to any of the five islands, but all of them can be reached by ferry or water taxi from the nearest mainland towns. Since there are limited access points to these islands and almost-islands, there is no shortage of sparsely attended expanses where nudity can be practiced, and there are half a dozen established nude beaches along the part of the Algarvian coast that is backed by the Ria Formosa.
Not far from Spain, the small town of Manta Rota is at the eastern end of the Ria Formosa, and Praia da Manta Rota 37.1546N, 7.5383W extends westward onto the Península de Cacela The farther reaches of the peninsula are lightly attended and ideal for nudity. However, better established nude beaches are located a bit farther west. The first island west of the Península de Cacela is Ilha de Cabanas, which is 6 to 7 kilometers long, and it has plenty of deserted expanses for discreet nudity but lacks any well-established nude beaches. However, the next island to the west, Ilha de Tavira, has two popular nude beaches. Ilha de Tavira is 11 kilometer long, and the mainland town of Tavira is a bit inland from the eastern extreme of the island. Ilha de Tavira has three developed textile beaches that are all toward the eastern half of the island. Amid those textile zones, there are two zones of nude use. One is an unofficial nude beach a bit west of the main textile area of a beach that is simply called Praia da Ilha de Tavira 37.1065N, 7.6271W since it is the island's main beach. The other is an officially designated nude beach that begins a bit west of the main textile zone of Praia do Barril 37.0811N, 7.6718W . Going west from the start of the official nude beach, nudity is possible about as far as one could care to walk since the rest of the island is undeveloped and mostly deserted. Praia da Ilha de Tavira is most quickly reached by ferry or water taxi, while Praia do Barril is most quickly accessed by crossing a footbridge over the Ria Formosa. It is the only bridge of any kind to any of the islands. Once you cross the footbridge, there is a tourist train that takes visitors to the textile part of the beach. The two nude beaches of Ilha de Tavira are the most popular nude beaches of the Ria Formosa portion of the Algarve.
The next island west of Ilha da Tavira is Ilha da Armona. It used to be about 9 kilometers long, but a storm circa 2010 cut off the easternmost part of Armona from the rest of the island. Passenger ferries from the mainland towns of Fuseta and Olhão provide service to different parts of the island. A small number of nudists visit the often-deserted stretches of the long beach of the island, Praia da Ilha da Armona 37.0357N, 7.7576W . Ilha de Cabanas, Ilha de Tavira and Ilha da Armona are all very close to the mainland, but the western two islands, lha da Culatra and Ilha Deserta, are more distant. The Ria Formosa widens considerably toward its western end near Olhão and Faro, and most of the widened area of the lagoon is filled with marshy wetlands. lha da Culatra is nearly 7 kilometers long, and is does not seem to have an established nudist presence although discreet nudity is possible along its more remote eastern end. Ilha Deserta is 8 to 9 kilometers long, and it is accessible via a 10-kilometer-long passenger ferry trip from Faro through the marshes of the Ria Formosa. A stretch of the island's beach, Praia da Ilha Deserta 36.9617N, 7.8967W , was set aside for naturists in 2011, making it the most recent of Portugal's small number of official nude beaches. The ferry landing is at the eastern extreme of Ilha Deserta, and the nude area is about half an hour's walk west from there. Attendance is rather light since it takes a bit more time, money and planning to get to Ilha Deserta compared to the other islands. Incidentally, Ilha Deserta is alternately known as Ilha da Barreta.
The Península do Ancão is a long spit of land that forms the western end of the Ria Formosa, and it is in the vicinity of Faro's airport on the western side of the city. Along this peninsula, nudity occurs on a remote part of Praia da Quinta do Lago 37.0193N, 8.0157W that is between two zones of textile use. This site is a mostly gay beach.
Going west from Faro and the Ria Formosa, the Algarvian coastline becomes more rugged, and in many areas the coastal cliffs are beautifully colored in shades of red and orange. The next major town west of Faro is Albufeira, which is along the central part of the south-facing Algarvian coast. About halfway between Faro and Albufeira, Praia do Trafal 37.0532N, 8.0733W is a segment of beach along a short undeveloped stretch of coastline in an otherwise highly developed resort area. A scattering of nudists gather toward the eastern end of the beach. A bit west of Albufeira, Praia Grande 37.0941N, 8.3407W near Armacão de Pêra is a long, sandy and undeveloped beach that extends several kilometers. There is a segment along the central part of the beach that is traditionally attended by nudists. An access road that goes to the central area of the beach makes getting to the nude area quick and easy.
Continuing west from Albufeira, a major geographic feature is the very wide mouth of the Rio Arade. The municipality of Lagoa (not to be confused with nearby Lagos) is on the east side of the river, and the popular resort town of Portimão is on the west side of the river. Praia da Afurada 37.1031N, 8.5085W is an exceptionally beautiful cove in Lagoa that is backed by a sheer reddish-orange cliff. Despite its beauty, the beach is usually deserted since access is difficult and only for the very physically fit. Nudity is common among the relatively few who have what it takes to access the beach. On the other side of the Rio Arade near Portimão, there is a stretch of the coastline where the forces of nature have created a complex mix of eroded red cliffs, natural arches, caves, sink holes and rocky masses in the sea that resemble fleets of ships. There are multiple tiny coves along this gorgeous part of the coast, and nudity is common at some of them, particularly at a cove called Praia de João de Arens 37.1162N, 8.5679W .
Lagos is the next major town west of Portimão. On the eastern outskirts of Lagos, Meia Praia 37.1197N, 8.6363W is a long, broad, sandy beach, and there is a popular zone of nude use near a golf course that is toward the eastern end of the beach. Immediately west of the town center of Lagos, the land tapers southward into a peninsula called the Ponta da Piedade. The entire peninsula, which is contained within an easily manageable area of just a few square kilometers, is a place of rare and exceptional beauty, and there are two nudist locations on the Ponta da Piedade. On the east side of the peninsula, Praia dos Pinheiros 37.0843N, 8.6672W is a tiny nudist niche amid a multitude of small coves that comprise a scenic wonderland of natural rock arches and islands of rock spires. If you prefer a more spacious nude beach, just take a one-kilometer hike to Praia do Canavial 37.0840N, 8.6790W on the west side of the peninsula. Canavial is just beyond the collection of arches and spires that most visitors come to photograph and thus tends not to get overcrowded, but it is a beautiful and worthwhile cove backed by red-orange rocks. White not an especially large beach per se, it dwarfs the other beaches of the peninsula. Some visitors opt for bare bathing.
The roughly 70 kilometers of coastline between Faro and Lagos is the most developed and touristed part of the Algarve. West of Lagos, the coastal landscape becomes more pastoral. The next major town west of Lagos is Sagres, which is near the southwestern corner of Portugal. Lagos and Sagres are about 33 kilometers apart by car, and between the two towns there are four beaches that get a certain amount of nude use. Between the villages of Burgau and Salema, Praia de Cabanas Velhas 37.0647N, 8.7928W is mostly textile, but nudity sometimes occurs on the periphery. Although it is a very beautiful beach, Cabanas Velhas seems to have the least nudist presence of the four nude beaches that are between Lagos and Sagres. A bit west of Salema, Praia da Figueira 37.0608N, 8.8397W and Praia das Furnas 37.0553N, 8.8546W are opposite ends of a 2-kilometer-long chain of coves that are off the beaten path and challenging to find, making them perfect hidden niches for nudists. There are direct routes to Figueira and Furnas, but the in-between coves are harder to reach, especially at high tide. (Be aware that there are two nude beaches in Portugal called Praia das Furnas. The other one is about 100 kilometers to the north in the Alentejo region.) A bit west of Figueira and Furnas, Praia do Zavial 37.0455N, 8.8690W is an easier-to-reach beach backed by sandstone in shades of red and yellow. Although it is not a very large, there are distinct zones of textile and nudist usage, and those who prefer to be farther removed from textiles can scramble over boulders to the tiny coves just beyond the main beach. Of the four nude beaches that are between Lagos and Sagres, Zavial is always likely to have the most nudists.
From Sagres, it is a short drive west to Cabo de São Vicente, which is the "Land's End" headland that forms the southwestern tip of Portugal. Between Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente, Praia do Beliche 37.0265N, 8.9665W is a beach with twin coves set beneath steep cliffs. The cove where the stairs land is textile, while nudity is acceptable at the other cove. However, you have to mind the tides lest you get trapped at the nudist cove when the tide comes in.
At Cabo de São Vicente, the coastline of Portugal makes a prominent bend. While all the Algarve beaches described thus far are oriented mostly toward the south, the remaining Algarve beaches are oriented mostly toward the west. The western Algarve beaches are a bit off the tourist beat compared to the southern Algarve beaches. West of Vila do Bispo, Praia da Cordoama 37.1146N, 8.9338W is just one segment of a long beach that spans several kilometers, and there are a couple of lightly attended stretches where nudity is acceptable. While nudity occurs irregularly, the beach is worth a trip just to see the breathtaking coastal mountains. Farther north near the village of Carrapateira, there is a trio of beaches that get a small degree of nude use: Murraçã, Amado and Bordeira. Praia da Murração 37.1547N, 8.9091W is a lightly attended beach where nudity is possible at one end. Hike along the clifftop and you can find even smaller beaches that are likely to be deserted. Praia do Amado 37.1623N, 8.9051W is a spacious beach known primarily as a surfing beach, and most visitors stay toward the northern end near the main point of access. The less visited southern end draws a scattering of nudists, and with a little effort you can hike over rocks to a smaller and more secluded cove. The southern end of the beach can be directly access via unpaved back roads. At Praia da Bordeira 37.2080N, 8.8944W textiles congregate at the far southern end near the point of access, but the beach is quite long, and it is lightly attended along most of that length, which makes it suitable for unsuited bathing.
Continuing north along the western Algarve, Praia de Vale Figueiras 37.2435N, 8.8721W is a remote beach that is 15 kilometers from Aljezur, the closest major town. The beach is about 4 kilometers long, and textiles gather at the access point near the middle, but otherwise the beach is likely to be nearly deserted and thus available for nude use. Farther north, Odeceixe is the northernmost town of the western Algarve coast. Praia de Odeceixe, the main town beach, is a textile beach at the mouth of the river that forms the border of the Algarve and Alentejo regions. Immediately south of Praia de Odeceixe, Praia das Adegas 37.4394N, 8.8010W is a sheltered cove that is officially signed and designated for nude use. Adegas is one of the top nude beaches in Portugal both for its beauty and popularity, and it the only beach of the western Algarve where there is likely to be a substantial crowd of nudists. There are a few smaller and harder-to-access coves just south of the official nude beach that are potentially nudist as well.
Salema Eco Camp
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PLACES TO STAY—GAY
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|ALENTEJO [ ↑ ]
The Alentejo is the region that occupies most of the southern half of Portugal, with the exception of the extreme southern tier of the country, which is the Algarve. The Alentejo has about 125 kilometers of west-facing coastline that extends from the Algarve to Lisbon. Praia da Amalia 37.4821N, 8.7943W is one of the southernmost beaches of the Alentejo, and it is just a bit north of the border with the Algarve. Praia da Amalia is a small cove that is remote and often lightly attended, and although not really a well-established nude beach, nude bathing occurs sporadically. If conditions are not favorable for nudity at Praia da Amalia when you visit, you can go to one of two nearby officially sanctioned nude beaches. To the south, there is Praia das Adegas, which is the last beach described under the previous section pertaining to the Algarve. To the north, there is Praia dos Alteirinhos 37.5175N, 8.7900W near the seaside village of Zambujeira do Mar. Alteirinhos is a popular beach that has a zone of nude use at its south end as well as at a hidden cove beyond a rocky outcropping. This is one of just a small number of beaches in Portugal to be officially designated for naturist use, having received that sanction in 2008. Alteirinhos is the most popular nude beach of the Alentejo. Several kilometers north of Alteirinhos, Praia do Tonel 37.5587N, 8.7916W is a beautiful but lightly attended beach with no signs pointing the way and a challenging access path. Tonel is sporadically attended by nudists, but it is a minor nudist location in comparison to Alteirinhos.
Praia da Amalia, Praia dos Alteirinhos and Praia do Tonel are all toward the southern end of the municipality of Odemira. Toward the northern end of Odemira, there are two more beaches the get limited nude use. Near Vila Nova de Milfontes, Praia das Furnas 37.7093N, 8.7908W is a starkly beautiful beach that has a long extension beyond the main textile area that is lightly visited. This part of the beach is sporadically attended by nudists. (Be aware that there are two beaches names Furnas that are listed in this guide. The other one is described in the previous sections, pertaining to the Algarve.) A bit farther north, Praia do Malhão 37.7966N, 8.8014W is a long beach near the village of Brunheiras. There is some nude use along the remote northern end of the beach.
The industrial port town of Sines lies about halfway along the Alentejo coastline. South of Sines, Praia do Salto 37.8604N, 8.7945W is part of a chain of especially scenic coves near the village of Porto Covo. Praia do Salto is officially designated for naturism, and it is a charming little nude beach that is easy to access, but space is limited since the beach is quite small. North of Sines, Praia do Monte Velho 38.0758N, 8.8134W near Santo André is a segment of the immense beach that extends over 60 kilometers from Sines to the Sado river estuary at Setúbal. Nudity is possible in remote areas away from the textiles at the main point of access. The village of Comporta is located close to Sado river estuary, and Praia da Comporta 38.3703N, 8.7994W is also a segment of the immense Sine-to-Setúbal beach. Nudity is acceptable south of the main access point.
Monte Naturista O Barão
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|LISBOA [ ↑ ]
The city of Lisbon (Lisboa in Portuguese) sits in the middle of the region of the same name. This region is Portugal's smallest, covering an area about two-thirds the size of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. The city of Lisbon has a number of similarities to San Francisco. They are both hilly cities situated along large bays that extend deep into the interior, and Lisbon's quaint, much-loved tram cars are reminiscent of San Francisco's cable cars. The cherry on the sundae of the comparison is the Ponte 25 de Abril ("25th of April Bridge"). This 2-kilometer-long bridge over the bay at its outlet to the Atlantic is strikingly similar to the Golden Gate Bridge, both for its design and its distinct red-orange color. Lisbon's bay is the estuary of the river Tejo, a large body of water that effectively divides the entire region into northern and southern halves. The city itself is on the northern side of the bay. Lisbon has a few very popular nude beaches that are in the part of the region that is south of the bay.
If you cross the Ponte 25 de Abril going south away from the central city of Lisbon, you will reach Lisbon's popular beach area, the Costa da Caparica. There are over a dozen beach names associated with the Costa da Caparica, but they are actually all just segments of a continuous beach. Praia da Bela Vista 38.5900N, 9.2060W is the southernmost beach of the Costa da Caparica. Bela Vista, which is 16 kilometers south of central Lisbon, has a kilometer-long stretch that has been officially signed for nude use since 1996. The southern part of the nude zone is well known as Lisbon's gay beach, and it is often referred to as Praia 19 after the number of the nearest tram stop. Just south of Bela Vista, the beach next to the seaside village of Fonte da Telha is the first beach beyond the Costa da Caparica beaches. (The distinction is somewhat artificial since there is just one long, continuous beach.) Continuing south from Fonte da Telha, the coastal development ends, and the beach continues about 5 kilometers until it is broken by the mouth of a lagoon. This undeveloped stretch of beach is called Praia da Adiça 38.5527N, 9.1882W , and it is a sparsely attended beach, especially as you go south since the only access point is in Fonte da Telha. Adiça is frequented by nude bathers although it is not signed or designated for nudity, and it draws much smaller crowds compared to Bela Vista. As the crow flies, it is just 3 kilometers from the south end of Bela Vista to the start of the unofficial nude area of Adiça, with Fonte da Telha being a textile-only zone between the two nude beaches. Continuing south, Praia do Meco 38.4764N, 9.1876W near the town of Alfarim is generally regarded as the premier nude beach of Portugal. The beach overall is about 4 kilometers long, and about half its length has been officially sanctioned for naturist use since 1995. The nude area of the beach is backed by beautiful cliffs and a coastal forest. Meco is about 35 kilometers by car from central Lisbon, so it is a bit farther afield from the city than either Bela Vista or Adiça, but it feels even farther removed than it actually is.
Lisbon has a few nudist locations in the northern part of the region, but they are all minor compared to the three nude beaches that are south of the city. About 40 kilometers from the central city of Lisbon, Praia da Ursa 38.7903N, 9.4925W is very close to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in all of Europe. Notable for its many rocky columns and spires, Ursa is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal. Most tourists who come to snap photos do so from the cliff top since the hike down to sea level requires a good bit of effort, so the beach does not draw a lot of sunbathers, nude or textile. The beach is only sporadically attended by nudists in spite of its beauty. Ursa is a short distance away from Praia da Adraga 38.8063N, 9.4841W . The two beaches are 2 kilometers apart as the crow flies but 8 kilometers apart by car. Like Ursa, Adraga is renowned for its beauty (although the scenery is not as intensely dramatic as that of Ursa). Unlike Ursa, Adraga is easy to access and draws lots of sunbathers. A small number of nudists populate the far northern end of the beach. Farther north, Praia da Vigia 38.9166N, 9.4273W is located very close to the northern border of the region of Lisbon. A beautiful and mostly deserted beach backed by steep cliffs, Praia da Vigia has a small following of nudists, but nudist attendance is sporadic.
PLACES TO STAY—GAY
The Late Birds
Bairro Alto, Lisboa
|CENTRO [ ↑ ]
The aptly name region of Centro is more or less at the center of Portugal, and the region has over 200 kilometers of west-facing coastline that extends from Lisbon to Norte, Portugal's northernmost region. Centro is characterized by very long beaches that are backed by forest preserves, and there are many deserted stretches where nudity can be practiced. However, despite having more coastline than any other region of the country, Centro does not any nude beaches that compare in popularity to those in the three regions of Portugal that are farther south. From south to north, the three coastal municipalities of Centro are Leiria, Coimbra and Aveiro.
In the southern part of Leiria, Praia da Gralha 39.5279N, 9.1293W and Praia do Salgado 39.5549N, 9.1051W are nearby beaches between the coastal towns of São Martinho do Porto and Nazaré. Both are lightly attended beaches with ample space for nude bathing. Nudists are few in number and widely dispersed. Farther north in Leiria, Praia do Vigão 39.8914N, 8.9653W and Praia do Osso da Baleia 39.9981N, 8.9161W are nearby beaches that are backed by a large forest preserve. Vigão is a sparsely attended beach that has a small following of nudists. At Osso da Baleia, textiles cluster near the access point, but a short walk in either direction takes you to deserted stretches ideal for nudity.
A bit farther north in the southern part of Coimbra, nudity takes place at Praia da Cova Gala 40.1165N, 8.8662W near Figueira da Foz. Toward the northern end of Coimbra, Praia de Mira and Praia da Tocha are very popular beach resorts that are about 14 kilometers apart as the crow flies, and both are located along a part of the coast with limited development and long expanses of forest. Praia do Palheirão 40.3851N, 8.8259W is the long and remote stretch of beach between the two resorts. The access point to Palheirão is about halfway between Praia de Mira and Praia da Tocha, and nudity is possible away from the access point.
In Aveiro, Costa Nova do Prado is a small coastal resort town known for its colorful striped houses. A bit south of the town, Praia da Costa Nova 40.5944N, 8.7577W is stretch of beach where nudists congregate. It seems to be the best established of the Centro nude beaches.
Quinta das Oliveiras
Travanca de Lagos
PLACES TO STAY—GAY
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|NORTE [ ↑ ]
Norte is the northernmost region of Portugal, and it has roughly 100 kilometers of west-facing coastline. The coastal city of Porto, which is the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, lies near the southern end of Norte. Porto has a metropolitan area of about 1.7 million, making it one of the ten largest metro areas of the Iberian Peninsula. Like neighboring Centro, Norte does not have any nude beaches that rank among the most popular nude beaches in the country, but there are a few beaches get some nude usage. About halfway between Porto and the border with Spain, Praia da Estela 41.4468N, 8.7788W is just north of the seaside town of Aguçadoura. Part of the beach is visited by nudists, and it is the best established nude beach in Norte. Farther north, Viana do Castelo is a large town located at the broad mouth of the Rio Lima. On the southern outskirts of Viana do Castelo, Praia do Rodanho 41.6590N, 8.8251W and Praia da Amorosa are neighboring segments of a continuous beach, and their access points are about 2 kilometers apart. Nudity occurs on the lightly attended stretch of beach between them. Rodanho seems to be the name more associated with the nude area of the beach. On the northern outskirts of Viana do Castelo, Praia do Paçó 41.7635N, 8.8776W is the northernmost beach in Portugal where nudity is known to take place, but proximity to two zones of textile use seems to have kept it from becoming a solidly established nude beach. Some discretion may be in order, especially on days when the nearby textile areas are crowded.