This Coastal Town Steers Clear Of Large Crowds And Is One Of Portugal's Most Beautiful

There is certainly no shortage of stunning beach towns and villages in Portugal. The country may be small but, thanks to its location on the Iberian Peninsula and the Atlantic Ocean, it boasts some of the best coastal towns in Europe.

For example, the small town of Nazaré is a popular day trip from Lisbon for surfers and observers alike who want to check out its famous waves, which can reach up to 80 feet. There's also Cascais, a posh beach town outside Lisbon that looks like it's straight out of a postcard.

And that's to say nothing of Algarve. Located in the southernmost area of Portugal, the region is known for its beaches and resorts — and in the hot summer months, tourists and locals alike flock to the ocean to soak up the rays and cool off in the Atlantic Ocean. We have only one complaint about Algarve: it can get seriously crowded if you head to the most popular spots, such as Albufeira and Praia da Luz.

Luckily, there's a hidden gem that has all the charm and beauty of the most famous Algarve beaches minus the crowds. Ferragudo, with a population of less than 2,000 as of 2021, has managed to fly under the radar despite being one of the best vacation spots you'll find in Portugal.

Enjoy beach time and water sports

The biggest draw of Ferragudo is, of course, the beaches and water activities. Praia Grande, which translates to "Big Beach," lives up to its name. This expansive beach is the perfect place to sunbathe with a good book, or to try your hand at nautical activities like surfing and windsurfing. 

"Praia Grande has sand for all tastes: more and less alternative terraces, palm trees and also almost deserted sand! You can swim to more distant beaches, mainly frequented by sailors anchored in the bay created by the jetties," wrote one reviewer on TripAdvisor. "What a light! What peace! How easy it is to fall in love with this little village!"

Many other reviewers noted that the tranquil waters make it the ideal beach to bring small children. There are also plenty of beachside restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch with a view of the ocean.

You can also book a boat trip to explore the coastline further. There are a wide variety of boat tours available so, depending on your preference, you can visit the famous Benagil Caves, take a wildlife watching trip, be taken to a snorkeling destination, or combine boating and kayaking. Another perk of Ferragudo is that, in addition to the ocean, it sits at the mouth of the Arade River. Many visitors enjoy partaking in water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding on the calm waters of the Arade River and there are plenty of local companies that offer rentals and guidance.

Explore the historic village

It may be difficult to tear yourself away from the ocean, but you won't regret it, because the village of Ferragudo has much to offer. Because it's less touristy than other areas of Algarve, we've observed that it's managed to retain more of its traditional Portuguese charm.

Ferragudo is home to historical landmarks, including the São João do Arade Castle. Built in the 16th century, the castle is located on a hill that overlooks the Arade River, so you get a stunning panoramic view of the area including the Atlantic Ocean.

Visitors also recommend spending time in the Ferragudo Town Center, which is full of colorful houses and winding cobblestone streets. The locals are known for being friendly, and there are frequent events and gatherings in the town center, so it's the best way to get an authentic experience of what life is like in Ferragudo.

And don't miss the sunset views. They're gorgeous on Praia Grande, but you can also catch beautiful sunset scenes from the village square or the Arade Riverfront. When the sun goes down, be sure to indulge in traditional Portuguese cuisine (the seafood in Algarve is unrivaled) and a glass of wine.