Most people who visit Portugal are looking to spend quality time sunbathing in the beautiful beaches our country has to offer. But there are also several incredible beaches inland that are worth a visit!
Known as "praias fluviais", river beaches in Portugal vary a lot from north to south, in terms of landscape, accessibility and amenities. However, all river beaches offer a unique opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and recharge your batteries surrounded by nature!
In comparison to coastal beaches, river beaches offer several advantages, with something to offer for all tastes and lifestyles:
If you like peace and quiet, many river beaches are usually less crowded than coastal beaches, especially the ones that are further inland and lesser-known. Some hidden gems will allow you to bathe in the most amazing paradise-like places!
Depending on the location, river waters can also be warmer than sea waters, especially if they are shallow and drenched in direct sunlight.
There are no crashing waves in "praias fluviais" and in some cases, the current is quite calm! If you like to swim freely and without worries, especially if you have small children, river beaches are ideal for this! Some river beaches also have family-friendly facilities such as playgrounds or water inflatables.
The sand in river beaches is usually thicker and doesn’t find its way everywhere. Unlike the sand you find on coastal beaches, river sands are way easier to deal with.
In most river beaches, the water is crystal clear and there is no seaweed.
You can escape the wind. This is a high point if you're close to parts of Portugal where the shore tends to be windy. Most river beaches are sheltered from the wind that sometimes "ruins" beach days, especially in northern Portugal.
River beaches are also a wonderful option for anyone who enjoys nature and wants to bathe surrounded by a beautiful green landscape.
Where to find Portugal's best river beaches
There are over 100 river beaches in Portugal, so there is plenty to choose from! The best part is that all of them offer you the tranquillity and fresh air you are looking for.
Amongst the many options available, here are some of the most famous river beaches in Portugal, as well as some lesser-known hidden gems you should also visit:
Lomba River Beach is located on the left bank of the Douro river, near the town of Lomba. It has an extensive sandy beach, plenty of green areas and very clean waters that are perfect for swimming. This is one of the most well-known river beaches in the North of Portugal.
Olhos de Água, Alcanena
Located in Alcacena, Santarém, this beach is very appealing to kids and grown-ups alike. Besides the beach itself, you can find a pleasant leisure area, a children’s playground and even a camping site nearby.
Azenhas, Vilar de Mouros
Located on the banks of the Coura river and surrounded by lush green vegetation, Azenhas river beach is a true Minho oasis, where there are several support and surveillance infrastructures during the bathing season. This is a perfect spot if you want to escape the beaches of the Minho coast on those windy and foggy days.
If there's one thing the Gerês mountain range is known for, it is its amazing river beaches and breathtaking landscape! Alqueirão is one of the most beautiful you’ll find in this region. Unlike most river beaches in the Gerês, you can easily access this one. Besides taking a refreshing dive, it is also possible to enjoy several water sports or walk along the riverbank.
Lago Azul, Ferreira do Zêzere
The waters of this fabulous river beach in Ferreira do Zêzere are crystal clear. Here, you will find two fantastic floating pools, a marina, one of the "cable parks" of Wakeboard Portugal and the landscape is truly breathtaking. If you are looking for a paradisiacal place to relax in Portugal or to enjoy water sports, you can be sure that Lago Azul will not disappoint.
Agroal is not only one of the best river beaches in Portugal, but also one of the most photogenic. It is located in the municipality of Ourém, next to the largest spring of the Nabão river. This place also offers you a pool near the beach, where water with therapeutic properties is believed to benefit the digestive system and skin.
Foz d'Égua, Piódão
Foz d'Égua, although small in size, is one of Portugal's most iconic river beaches! Located on a breathtakingly beautiful hillside of the Serra do Açor, here you will find a children's pool made of river water, grassed areas and changing rooms. The river beach is surrounded by beautiful stone houses that are typical of the nearby village of Piódão.
Tapada Grande, Mértola
Located nearby the castle village of Mértola, in the interior of Alentejo Portugal, this river beach has picnic tables, sun parasols, changing rooms, a playground and a sandy beach. In the summer months, it is watched over by a lifeguard and there are boats and canoes that can be rented. The river beach also has an amphitheatre, where occasional concerts and open-air cinema sessions are held.
Praia das Rocas, Castanheira de Pêra
Although this river beach is not as natural as others in Central Portugal, it offers several features that make it a favourite amongst families! Namely an artificial wave pool (the largest in Portugal!), as well as several leisure areas. Rocas river beach was built on a lake almost a kilometre long, where you will find changing rooms with showers, cafés, tropical palm trees and lifeguards watching over the area. This river beach is open from June to September with entrance fees starting at 7 euros, depending on age and the time of year.
Located in the heart of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, Loriga is probably one of Portugal's most beautiful river beaches! Its stream is set in an ancient glacial valley, surrounded by several pedestrian paths for you to explore the area. It was awarded as a Gold Beach by Quercus and was one of the finalists of the 7 Wonders - Portugal Beaches in the category of River Beaches.
Fragas de São Simão, Figueiró dos Vinhos
Fragas de São Simão is another river beach of unparalleled beauty, and one of the many river beaches that are part of "Aldeias de Xisto", a chain of traditional Portuguese villages with houses made of schist. Located between two giant rock cliffs, you can reach this beautiful spot by taking the wooden walkways that start at the traditional village of Casal de São Simão. The water of the Ribeira de Alge, which flows into the Zêzere river, is so clear that you can see the small stones at the bottom! Around the river and surrounding mountains, there is an abundance of laurel and cork trees that envelops us in a beautiful natural setting.
As you can see, there is plenty to discover in Portugal's amazing river beaches! Why not include a few of them in your next visit to Portugal or weekend getaway?