Portugal is a beautiful country with beautiful people and a long, rich history. Suffice to say; many things make Portugal a special place; from rolling hills in interior Portugal with their quilted landscapes of vineyards and olive trees to beautiful sandy beaches to majestic and imposing Monasteries, and finally the white-walled and terra-cotta-roofed homes nestled on Portugal’s cliff-sides. However, of all the things that create the uniqueness of Portugal, there is one natural feature that stands out above the rest. Portugal has one of the most diverse, rugged, geologically unique, and mesmerizing coastlines on the planet. From the Silver Coast all the way down to the Algarve, Portugal’s coastline is unlike most European countries' coastlines. This article will take you on a photographic journey of the coast of Portugal.
It is difficult to say that one coastal area of Portugal is more spectacular than the other; however, Baleal certainly has some of the rarest geological formations of any coastal region in Portugal.
Nazaré is known as the home of the biggest waves in Europe. The topography of the ocean floor creates an incredible home for superwaves. However, huge waves are only one aspect of Nazaré’s unique coastline. The Miradouro do Suberco (Suberco Viewpoint) of Nazaré, with its homes and stores hanging perilously off overhanging cliffsides shelves create another spectacular coastal view.
Without question, the coastline of Algarve is one of the most unique coastlines in the world. Its rugged outcroppings with caves, archways over the ocean, spectacular rock portals opening to blue skies, and pristine beaches nestled in grottoes create one of the most fun and adventure-laden coastlines in Europe, if not the world.
Sometimes overshadowed by the unusual geological formations of its sister city, Baleal, Peniche’s coastline is not to be forgotten. The diverse coastal creations of Peniche are no less exceptional and create a haven for unique coastal views. This combined with some of the best surfing in the country form an exciting coastal destination.
Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point on the mainland of continental Europe, but that alone does not make it special. What makes it unique is its mesmerizing views of rugged cliffs and rock formations which jut into the ocean.
São Martinho do Porto
São Martinho do Porto is an anomaly in that its prettiest and best beach, Praia da Gralha, is its least visited. Visitors to Gralha know why. The only way down to the beach is via a precipitous and rocky road which is steep and questionable. It is not unusual to see cars drive up to the road leading to the beach, stop, back up, turn around, and leave only after viewing the beach from a distance. Still, the coastline of São Martinho is unique and creates a beautiful bay which provides a pleasant setting and protection for vacationers.
OK, so I may be cheating a little bit here. The Berlengas Archipelago is not precisely on the mainland of Portugal, but it is close enough that we will include its coastline.
Foz do Arelho
Foz do Arelho is quiet, and the locals want to keep it that way. However, its setting is one to be admired. It creates a home for the unique Lagoa de Óbidos (Obidos Lagoon) and its welcoming environment for sunbathers and windsurfers.
Other Exceptional Coastal Destinations
There are too many too beautiful coastal locations to mention and many more for me to explore. Until then, here are a few more photographs of Portugal's spectacular coastline.