Published on March 28th, 2015 | by Tamsin0
The river beaches of Portugal
The beaches of Portugal’s Algarve and west coast regions have a global reputation for beauty, cleanliness and sunshine, and rightly so. Their sandy expanses, relaxed atmospheres and good amenities make them perfect for beach holidays, water sports and sun bathing and tourists have flocked to their shores for decades.
However, away from the sea, sand and surfing you’ll find another type of Portuguese beach, one with a lot fewer sun loungers but just as much character. So if you want to experience another side of Portugal and enjoy a fantastic summer break, here’s a quick guide to the ins and outs of the country’s best river beaches.
Though other river beaches probably exist throughout Portugal, there’s a large concentration of fantastic river beaches, or praia fluvial, in the centre of the country.
In the hills and mountains to the north and east of the medieval city of Tomar, you’ll find dozens of wild swimming locations, each with its own unique setting and character.
As well as the large number of river beaches in the region, there are also two large lakes, offering even more opportunities for cooling off in the clear mountain waters.
Most tourist information centres in the region will be able to give you a list of the best river beaches, but if you want a bit of adventure simply drive around until you spot on of the brown and white praia fluvial signs and see where it takes you.
Why choose a river beach over the seaside?
As central Portugal is still a relatively unknown tourist destination, especially for visitors from abroad, its river beaches are wonderfully calm, quiet and uncrowded. Though some do become busier at the weekends during the summer, you can always find a quieter spot by doing a bit of exploring.
In general, river beaches are also safer than the sea as there are no strong underwater currents, no waves and most are supervised by trained lifeguards.
Also, if you like regular changes of scenery and find the sandy beaches of the southern or western coasts a little monotonous, the shear variety of the river beaches in the centre of Portugal will keep you more than happy for weeks.
Most river beaches have basic amenities with many featuring cafes, picnic tables and even BBQ areas. Plus, there are often trees coming right down to the water’s edge, you can enjoy some welcome shade during the heat of the day.
The best of the beaches
To help get you started on your river beach odyssey, here’s a quick guide to some of the best spots in the region.
Lying around 12km north east of the town of Serta, this pretty mountainside village is home to one of the most charming river beaches around.
When you reach Troviscal, simply follow the signs to the beach which lies a kilometre or two from the village centre. There you’ll find a well-stocked café, BBQ area, picnic tables and lots of shade under the olive trees that grow along the beach.
With two diving board built into the side of the river and life guards on duty, there’s plenty to keep everyone safe and happy all day.
If you head to the town of Pedrogao Grande and follow signs for Troviscais, after a couple of kilometres you’ll spot a sign for the Mosteiro praia fluvial.
Less rural that Troviscal, Mosteiro is perfect if you want to soak up the sun as the grassy area that borders the river has plenty of room for the whole family to stretch out.
With a café, toilets and even showers, Mosteiro has all the amenities you’ll need for a great day on the beach.
Praia das Rocas
Located in the town of Castanheira de Pera, this large swimming complex is the only place in central Portugal where you’ll find a few waves.
Fed directly by the Riberia de Pera, this is the place to go if you want to keep the kids entertained all day while you enjoy the sun.
Agroal River Beach
Close to the village of Agroal, just to the north of Tomar, you’ll find a great river beach in a stunning setting.
Due to a lack of signs, this one is a little harder to find, however, if you keep you eyes peeled you should be able to find your way pretty easily
With two areas for swimming – one of which is believed to have health giving properties – the beach is great for those who want to do a little exploring.
Like the other beaches in the area there are plenty of amenities, making it easy to spend a relaxing and fun day by the water.
Offering a bit of variety, a lot of natural beauty and a good alternative to the beaches of the Algarve, the river beaches of central Portugal are well worth exploring on your next trip this stunning country.