A beach in Algarve, Portugal
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Portugal’s beaches are stunning, so plan to spend at least two or three days on the water. Most people think summer in Portugal means the Algarve, but there are alternatives that are just as beautiful and easier to get to from Lisbon.
The oceanfront region in the south of Portugal—a short flight or (longer) train ride from Lisbon—has always been a popular vacation spot for Europeans: sun-soaked beaches and terrific food, but the nightlife can feel like Spring Break. If you go, steer clear of the backpacker-swarmed towns and choose a more secluded resort as a base for day trips. Vila Joya is at the top end, with a Michelin-starred restaurant. The Conrad Algarve or Vila Vita Parc are better choices for families.
Cascaís and Estoril
As an alternative to the Algarve, consider these neighboring beach towns, popular with Lisbon residents as weekend getaways. They’re around 45 minutes from the capital and have more sophisticated nightlife than the Algarve. In charming Cascaís, a former fishing village, we like the Farol Hotel or the Albatroz. In Estoril, which has a Monte Carlo vibe, we recommend the 1930s-era Palacio Estoril. For a resort option, Penha Longa, run by Ritz-Carlton, is up in the hills and has golf and a spa.
About 1.5 hours south of Lisbon, going towards the Algarve, is Comporta, which has been described as the Portuguese Tulum (or its José Ignacio or Ibiza or…), attracting the wealthy and stylish with its gorgeous landscape and rustic-chic villas. The Sublime Comporta is luxurious and relaxed, with a spa, restaurant and access to deserted beaches. There’s also a pair of design hotels, the spare Casas na Areia and the more activity-focused Cavalos Na Areia, both designed by Manuel Aires Mateus, who had an installation at the 2012 Venice Biennale.