Beaches of the Beira Litoral

There's a virtually continuous stretch of good sandy beach along the entire coastal strip known as the Beira Litoral—from Praia de Leirosa in the south to Praia de Espinho in the north. One word of caution: if your only exposure to Portuguese beaches has been the Algarve's southern coast, be careful: west-coast beaches tend to have heavy surf as well as strong undertows and riptides. If you see a red or yellow flag, do not go swimming. Note, too, that the water temperature on the west coast is usually a few degrees cooler than it is on the south coast.

You have your choice of beaches here. There are fully equipped resorts, such as Figueira da Foz and Buarcos; if you prefer sand dunes and solitude, you can spread out your towel at any one of the beaches farther north. Just point your car down one of the unmarked roads between Praia de Mira and Costa Nova and head west. The beaches at Figueira da Foz, Tocha, Mira, and Furadouro (Ovar) are well suited to children; they all have lifeguards and have met the European Union standards for safety and hygiene.

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