Portugal’s Atlantic Coast vs. South England’s Jurassic Coast

Although you may not automatically think of England when you come to plan your next beach holiday, the South of the country has some spectacular beaches that are accompanied by quaint fishing villages and beautiful coastal paths. Trade the hot weather of Portugal in high season for the slightly cooler English coast, where you can enjoy the world-famous surf as well as the natural history of the region just as much as if you were abroad.

Portugal’s Atlantic Coast

  • Distance: 472 miles/760 kilometres
  • Driving time: Approximately 11 hours
  • Recommended holiday time: 14 days

Incorporating much of Portugal’s stunning coastline, this road trip starts in the beautiful city of Porto, and ends in Faro, in the Algarve. In total, the trip will take about 11 hours, but taking two weeks to enjoy the journey at your own pace is recommended.

Porto is an incredible city, so take a few days here to explore it properly. A port tasting in Villa Nova de Gaia, a cable car ride and a tapas meal with fado - Portuguese folk music - is a must-do here. Miramar Beach is about 20 minutes’ drive south of the city and is a great place to start your road trip. When here, visit the picturesque chapel on the beach before moving on to Aveiro.

Known as the Portuguese Venice, Aveiro is beautiful to explore on foot or by boat. Eat delicious local seafood in one of the restaurants on the canal-side, and then find your sea legs and set sail on one of the many boat tours that leave regularly from the port. Nearby, is the beautiful Praia da Barra and Costa Nova, either of which are ideal for a few nights’ stay. Walk between the two and enjoy the striped houses on the side of the beach, as well as the soft white sands as they stretch into the distance. Offshore is a bar with an amazing terrace and a beautiful view of the beach, that sells good food.

The Cascais is a beautiful seaside area with plenty to explore and do. The Boca do Inferno is a section of seaside cliffs that have a stunning open cave, and it’s considered to be the most extreme point of the European continent. Go here for a spectacular view and the perfect sunset, and the next day, try out surfing, kayaking or paddle boarding at Guincho Beach or Praia do Tamariz are the most popular beaches. Visit Taberna Clandestina Cascais for fresh Portuguese tapas and a fantastic wine selection.

Although Faro is in the Algarve, it does not have a beach of its own. If you want one last beach before going home, the Ilha de Culatra is beautiful and has a lighthouse. If not, Faro is a great city to explore. There’s a beautiful cathedral, or Se, with cloisters and 17th century tiles. A walk around the old town is a must, with the Arco de Via gateway being a good first stop. For lunch, get fresh produce from Faro market, open 8am-2pm every day.

Jurassic Coast

  • Distance: 103 miles/165 kilometres
  • Driving time: Approximately 4 hours
  • Recommended holiday time: 7 days

The Jurassic Coast is a diverse and beautiful coastal landscape that spans Dorset and East Devon. The coast is significant as it contains rocks and fossils from up to 250 million years ago. These different types of rocks have affected the geography of the area, creating an incredibly diverse landscape over time. Here, the beaches are beautiful all year round – perfect for walking.

The Jurassic Coast is England’s only natural World Heritage Site and has contributed to earth science for over 300 years, so is definitely worth a visit. Although the entirety of the Jurassic Coast can be covered in under 4 hours by car, we suggest making a week of it, and travelling out to visit landmarks day by day in order to appreciate it best. Travel between April and October to avoid harsh weather.

Bournemouth is a historic seaside resort with 7 miles of sandy beaches and Victorian architecture. Whilst here, visit Bournemouth Pier and the Bournemouth Gardens before enjoying fish and chips on the promenade.

Swanage is another Victorian seaside resort with a newly restored pier. There are beautiful beaches here with shallow and still waters, perfect for family bathing. Old Harry rocks can be seen by boat from Swanage Quay, or alternatively park at Studland and enjoy a walk along the coastal path – the walk is about 5 miles and relatively easy. Visit The Pig on The Beach, a beautiful restaurant and hotel at Studland. Everything on the menu is sourced within a 25-mile radius of the restaurant, and most is plucked fresh from their kitchen garden. Enjoy a flatbread on the terrace with a glass of wine in the summer sunshine.

This part of the country is stunningly beautiful, and nowhere more so than Lulworth Cove – an expansive white pebble beach that’s ideal for water sports or sea swimming. Nearby Lulworth Castle was built in 1608 as a hunting lodge for royalty, before it was purchased by Humphrey Weld in 1641. It has been in the Weld family ever since and was restored by English Heritage though it remains largely a ruin. Climb the tower for a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside and coast.

If you happen to be in the area in late July, check out Camp Bestival, a family festival hosted there every year with world famous live acts. Down the road at West Lulworth is the beautiful Lulworth Cove.