Four River Beaches to Visit in Portugal

Alix M Campbell

Senior Contributor

Azure as far as the eye can see - Portugal is known for its beautiful and rugged coastline with sandy beaches nestled in between rocks, waves rolling into shore accompanied by chilly winds. Summer is busy at popular holiday destinations in Portugal, like the Algarve but if you’re looking for an alternative to the coast, you could discover Portugal’s lesser-known interior and cool off in a ‘fluvial’, one of the many river beaches of the country.

Foz D’Égua River Beach

A picturesque setting with arched stone bridges and mills, this river beach is found four kilometres from the village of Piódão in the centrally located mountains of the Serra do Açor.

A perfect spot to combine a hike with a refreshing dip, you can stroll down from the village of Piódão, sitting on a hilltop, to this secluded spot where two streams meet. Two shist granite bridges frame this river beach nestled between lush vegetation.

After a day frolicking around the cooling waters of Foz D’Égua, you could make your way into the village to look at the traditional dark stone houses made of schist with blue doors and window frames, and the stunning white and blue church of the village.

From Lisbon you can reach Piódão in 3.5 hours by car, and Porto is less than a 2.5 hours’ drive away.

Meimoa River Beach

This is a quiet spot located in a forested region close to the Serra da Malcata, a 16,000 hectare-large nature reserve on the border between Spain and Portugal in the municipality of Penamacor. The nature reserve is home of the Iberian lynx. The most common tree species are black oak and maritime pine, among others.

It’s a heavily forested area, which gives this river beach a very private atmosphere, where you can enjoy nature peacefully while cooling off in the refreshing waters. A floating pool is set in the Meimoa stream making it perfectly safe for your family to swim and relax at this ‘fluvial’.

With a set of bungalows close-by you could even opt to stay for a few days watching birds and listening to the sounds of nature. If you fancy some activities, you could explore this area during a hike or rent a boat or a kayak to float around the river.

You can reach Meimoa by car in just over three hours. If you come from Porto, it will take you around 2.45 hours to get there.

Caneiro de Côja River Beach

This river beach is located at the village of Côja, where a waterfall separates the different sections of the river Alva, which also passes under a centennial bridge. A sandy area gives this swimming spot a real holiday vibe.

The weir built in the middle creates two nice swimming areas at the top and the bottom, with the bottom banks made up of sand for bathers to lounge right next to the water. The upper part can also be used for swimming and cooling off as well as e canoeing, petal boating or sport fishing.

Leaf trees flank the area surrounding the Caneiro de Côja river beach for some much-appreciated shade during the hot summer months. On the right bank of the Alva river an old mill has been restored, now housing a restaurant and bar with a terrace. Another terraced bar can be found on the opposite side of the river that opens during bathing season. A camping park can be found nearby.

In 2.45 hours, you can reach the village of Côja and its river beach by car from Lisbon. If you’re travelling from Porto, you can calculate around 1.45 hours before you can cool off.

Monsaraz River Beach

Monsaraz River Beach is found in the Alentejo region near the Alqueva dam offering beautiful views of this vast area. This artificially created inland swimming spot offers excellent amenities for visitors like grassy and sandy areas, a children’s playground, a small café, and a picnic area. The floating pool is ideal for swimming in a safe environment.

This river beach has also been declared ‘most accessible’ in 2017 allowing people with reduced mobility to enjoy these facilities without any hindrances.

When you’ve cooled off properly, you can make your way up the hill to walk around the medieval village of Monsaraz, which offers incredible views over the area, especially from the 14th century castle of Monsaraz. Picturesque white houses line up along cobble stone streets and restaurants invite you to sit down and rest with a traditional dish and a glass of wine of the region.

Monsaraz is reachable from Lisbon by car in just over two hours, and it’s a drive of four hours and 20 minutes from Porto.

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