If you’re looking for the ultimate guide to the best dog beaches in Portugal, then read ahead. We cover the rules for taking dogs on beaches, as well as public transport and the beaches we love the most. We’ve split our guide into two parts, those dog beaches in the north of Portugal and the top dog beaches near Lisbon, or central Portugal.
Whether you’re looking for a summer beach spot for you and your dog, or an off-the-beaten-track hideaway to bring out your more adventurous side, we’ve got you covered.
Rules for dog beaches in Portugal
The Portuguese coastline is stunning, and there are plenty of top beaches to visit. However, Portugal isn’t quite as progressive as other countries when it comes to accepting dogs in public spaces; generally, many beaches do not permit dogs. Our guide will help you choose those beaches where dogs are allowed.
The hard rule to follow when bringing dogs to beaches in Portugal is to avoid those that are commissioned. A commissioned beach is one with any major development on it including bars, beds, hotels or lifeguards. This rule typically applies during the bathing season which is during Spring & Summer, from April through to October. Our list of dog beaches here comes with no restrictions, so you can take your dog any time of the year.
Avoid those beaches that are commissioned. A commissioned beach is one with any major development on it.
Travelling with Dogs in Portugal
Travelling through Portugal with dogs is usually hassle-free but there are a couple of rules to follow.
Pet dogs should always be registered with a vet, and if you’re living in Portugal, that should be a local veterinarian clinic. The registration process is very straightforward and will be carried out during your first appointment. This is a worthwhile process as you’ll require antiparasitic treatment (worms/fleas) etc as part of your general pet care routine.
When travelling on public transport, dogs should always be secured, either on a leash or in a dog carrier. This is a condition of travel. Large dogs who could present a danger to the public should be muzzled on buses and trains. Plus keep them off passenger seats (even if they’re in a dog carrier).
All dogs in Portugal require a chip, which will be addressed during your first appointment with a vet. Assuming your dog is registered in the EU or UK, they should already have a chip in place. As well as being chipped they should also be up to date with their rabies vaccine and have an EU pet passport or UK / Non-EU export documents (EU approved).
TLDR: Rules for travel with dogs in Portugal
· Rabies vaccine
· Chipped and vet registered (ideally Portugal registered)
· Leashed or within a carrier case
· EU Pet Passport or UK/Non-EU export documents (EU approved)
It’s also worth noting there are a couple of banned breeds of dogs in Portugal. It goes without saying that you should avoid taking these dogs out on public beaches or on public transportation to avoid attracting unwanted attention from the authorities.
Banned dogs in Portugal: Fila Brasileiro, Argentinian Dog, Pit Bull Terrier, Rottweiler, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Tosa Inu.
Visiting dog-friendly beaches
Taking your dog to the beach can be a little daunting, particularly if you’re new to it. Here are a couple of tips to make the event more enjoyable for you and your dog.
As we alluded to earlier in this piece, many of the best dog beaches in Portugal are non-commissioned beaches. This means you should plan on bringing everything you need. Local facilities can be sparse so plan for the worst, and hope for the best!
Water: Regardless of the weather, always bring water with you. On a hot day, this is really essential as you may not be able to find water on the beach or nearby.
Shade: While you might like to top up your tan, your dog will certainly appreciate the shade of a sun umbrella or similar. Keeping your dog out of direct sunlight will help avoid them overheating; this can quickly happen on a summer day in Portugal so ensure the shade covers their whole body.
o With regards to temperature, we generally discourage taking dogs out when the heat is over 30°C
o Where the temperature is over 40°C we would strongly avoid the beach as controlling overheating, even in the shade is very difficult to achieve. Don’t forget many beaches are remote and require hikes or climbs in direct sun to gain access.
Dog food and treats: Some of the beaches we list here are a little remote, this might mean long walks, hikes or small climbs; that’s even before sea swims and sandy runs. Have some edible treats handy to help replenish energy and keep spirits high during the trip. Check out our shop for some great treat suggestions.
Hygiene bags: Keeping beaches free of dog waste is really important, and will help encourage more beaches to be dog friendly. Many beaches we list have dog bins available to dispose of dog waste but be sure to remove the mess and avoid leaving it in the sand or tucked away – These things have a way of resurfacing.
Towels. If you’re travelling by car this should go without saying, but even on public transport, we think it’s well appreciated. Try to dry your doggo off once you’ve finished at the beach, removing sand or debris. If you can, find some showers for a quick rinse-off. This helps removes any bugs that want a free ride home and removes salt from your dog’s fur & skin to keep it looking good.
Best dog-friendly beaches in Portugal
Porto / Braga (Northern Regions of Portugal)
Praia do Coral, Viana do Castelo
Also called Praia do Aquário or Coral beach. This is a great dog-designated beach located about 1 hours drive from Porto. The beach features calm waters and a wide sandy base which is protected by the Lima River bar nearby.
It’s ideal if you’re driving as there are parking and local facilities nearby. Due to the calm waters, we think this is particularly well-suited to small dogs, or nervous swimmers.
Praia da Ramalha Sul, Esposende
Probably the number one dog beach on the North Portuguese coast. It was transitioned to a dog-friendly beach by the Municipal Council of Braga in 2018 in an effort to improve animal and dog welfare.
The beach is located about a 30-minute drive from Braga or 40 minutes north of Porto. The area is split into two parts, with the left-hand (southern) portion being allocated to dogs. This is handy as the right-hand (northern) portion has numerous facilities like cafes and toilets. Try to avoid taking your dog into this space, but feel free to walk over without the dog to grab supplies as you need them.
The seas are a little rougher than Praia Coral so we think this beach is better suited to medium and large dogs or those who are good swimmers. Of course, if your dog doesn’t like the water then there is plenty of sandy areas to run around or relax on including shaded spaces.
Praia de Suave Mar, Esposende
As with Ramalha Sul, this dog beach is in the Esposende region and is therefore easily accessible from Porto and Braga (plus other northern regions in Portugal).
There are special facilities for dogs including drinking fountains as well as shops and cafes for picking up supplies. In addition, this region includes a lot of dog-friendly accommodations like Airbnb and hotels so you’re very likely to bump into other pet owners.
The seas here are a little rough; the region is popular with surfers. So bare this in mind. If you’re looking for calm seas, then Coral Beach might be your best option in the area for swimming.
Lisbon (Central Region of Portugal)
Praia Porto da Areia da Norte, Peniche
This dog beach is located about 1.5 hours from Lisbon in the Peniche region. The beach is about 100m long so there is plenty of dedicated space for dogs, away from holidaymakers. The local authority invested over 3000 EUR in 2022 on dog equipment including water and showers.
The seas here are very calm and suited to all dogs and swimming abilities.
Praia da Ursa is one of our favourite beaches in Portugal, you really should find time for it when you can.
Praia da Ursa, Sintra (Cabo De Roca)
This is one of our favourite dog beaches in Portugal but it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s located a 30-minute hike from Cabo da Roca, Europe’s most western point.
Parking at Cabo de Roca is straightforward and from there onwards it is an easy walk along the coastline towards the initial descent down to the beach. This path offers some spectacular views of the Sintra coastline and cliff faces.
The descent down to the beach is of high-moderate difficulty for both dogs and pet owners. It’s possible to do the initial walk and not descend down to the beach; this isn’t a wasted tie as the views are spectacular.
If you do descend down to the dog beach then consider that small dogs will need support at various points along the route, probably with being lifted. Due to this we recommend two people take the walk down to support carrying the dog in various places – We’ve done this with a 9kg Jack-Chi (Chihuahua, Jack Russell mix) and had no issues, he enjoyed the adventure. Larger dogs which can’t be carried can manage the rocks, but they’ll need to be agile and energetic. This is not the path for old dogs with arthritic joints or pet parents’ clumsy footing. The path is well-trodden by adventurous locals and ex-pats so you will encounter people moving in both directions to offer you reassurance.
Once you arrive at the beach, you’ll be in a beautifully secluded bay, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the cliffs of Sintra. There are zero facilities available locally so take what you need for both you and the dog, including plenty of water, sun umbrellas and a beer or two.
The route isn’t lit, so consider this if going for sunset or dusk – We don’t recommend doing the walk in the dark
Honestly, if you’ve got the stamina and the joints for the hike, then it’s a strong recommendation from us for you to go. The destination was great, but the journey was superb.
Praia da Samarra
Another beautiful dog beach on the Sintra coast. As with Praia da Ursa, this one is remote so take what you need. It’s far more accessible than the latter so if you’re feeling less adventurous but still want to be off the beaten track, head here.
Praia da Aguda
On the theme of Sintra, another beautiful dog beach. This one is tricky to access but it’s a worthwhile venture. Unlike Praia de Ursa, this one isn’t a bay but rather a long linear strip of narrow beach. Plenty of space to manoeuvre and explore.
Take everything you need and avoid bringing older dogs as access can be difficult.
Praia Pequena do Rodízio
Also located in Sintra, sheltered from the north winds and very secluded, this area is popular for bodysurfers, surfers and people who love to fish. Don’t feel like walking in the sand? Take a walk along the cliffs. This beach has natural and wild beauty to be admired.
Praia do Pescoço do Cavalo
This small beach is along the strip that leads to the beaches of Cascais. This supervised beach has many facilities to take advantage of, lay your towel along the large rocks and enjoy the view. This little area often goes unnoticed to your benefit as there is little footfall on the beach.
Praia de Alpertuche
This picturesque dog beach is about 40 minutes from Lisbon. The water is blue/green turquoise; truly beautiful. The picture really says it all; be conscious that beauty like this doesn’t go unnoticed. It will probably be busy!