Wherever we travel, it’s always thrilling to find a secret spot: a cave, forest, ruins and especially a secret beach.
Secret beaches are particularly great during holiday high season when it’s hard to escape people. If privacy is something you crave, opt for beaches that are less well-known or only accessible by boat. Narrowing the search for us, the Samboat.com team has compiled a secret beach list of just this kind of escape!
Ten of the best from around the world 🙌
Secret beach top 10
Es Portixol beach, Ibiza, Spain
Surrounded by hills, this small cove is a hidden gem located in the north of Ibiza. It’s usually only frequented by fishermen of the boat huts.
Perfect for those looking for their own little private beach, Es Portitxol features amazing turquoise green waters, creating your own mini paradise. The serene cove is protected from the elements. It’s completely surrounded by hills covered in pine trees, making the hike to get there totally worth it.
Known for its sparkling white sands that gleam a shade of pink in patches thanks to the vast expanse of seashells on the shore, Palm Beach is one of the world’s most spectacular secret beaches.
The beach is only accessible by boat, meaning it acts as a quiet escape away from the hordes of tourists and with nothing but sand and sea for miles it’s important to bring a sun hat and sun cream.
Take a visit to Palm Beach as the prefect opportunity to go swimming or snorkelling in the dazzling apple-green water.
Koh Lanta, Thailand
An hour’s speedboat journey from Krabi airport, Koh Lanta is home to nine secret beaches, all surrounded by the beautiful Andaman Sea.
Head to Lek beach (also known as ‘secret beach’ to locals) for perhaps the most beautiful beach on this island. Away from tourist hotspots, this quaint spot is typically only visited by those tipped off by Thai residents, exaggerating its ‘secret’ status.
Although completely undeveloped, there is a small wooden shack beach bar named by the synonymous Lek and a spectacular view of the sunset, what more could you really need?
Featuring a distinct heart-shaped coastline, this island is also known as lover’s island and it is one of the most popular islands in the world right now.
With no man-made features or tourist facilities, there are countless secret beaches to be explored, and the best bit? Seclusion is guaranteed as the island is only accessible by boat.
With a terrain empty of commercial infrastructure, the beaches here are indeed the perfect lover’s paradise, setting the stage for an idyllic and uninterrupted getaway.
St. Peter’s Pool, Malta
With crystal clear waters offering incredible snorkelling opportunities, the sea at St. Peter’s Pool is one of Malta’s most spectacular natural swimming pools.
Okay we’re cheating a little here as it isn’t technically a beach; however it is an experience second to none.
The pool is so remote that you’ll never struggle to find a spot, no matter what time of year it is and the surrounding rocks are perfect for some secluded sunbathing.
Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico
Only a brief journey from the mainland, Flamenco beach is constantly ranked amongst various lists of the World’s best beaches.
The rolling hills in the background combined with clear waters and gorgeous white sand make this one of the most memorable beaches you’ll ever experience.
Salema, Algarve, Portugal
With dinosaur footprints embedded into the limestone, this is a palaeontologist’s haven. The half-mile-long beach boasts fantastic golden sand and seas that are perfect for swimming thanks to the strong waves and strikingly clear waters.
Seaweed is replaced by a variety of small shells on this beach, emphasising clarity. Free from tourists, this is the perfect secret beach to dig your toes into.
Praia Do Penedo, Portugal
Take a break from the big city in Lisbon and chase secret beaches around the country.
Located on the small Portuguese island of Porto Santo, this beach is covered in a layer of sugar-fine golden sand that have alleged healing attributes.
Due to its location at the furthest southern point on the island, this is arguably the quietest and most secret beach on our list but it is definitely worth the journey.
Kauapea Beach, Hawaii
You’d think tourists would flock here thanks to its breath taking beauty, however, with no public roads leading to it; Kauapea Beach is often referred to as ‘secret beach’.
Privacy is easy on this beach as it’s so vast that you often feel like you have the entire beach to yourself; however be aware that if you walk too far down you may encounter the unofficial part of the beach where clothing is considered ‘optional’.
Navagio Beach, Greece
An exposed cove surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, Navagio beach is located north of the Greek island of Zakynthos. The cove is more commonly known as ‘Smugglers cove’ as it is said to be the location of the shipwreck of an alleged smugglers ship many years ago.
Adding to its secluded status, the beach is only accessible by boat and the silvery white sand and clear waters are a must see if you’re on the island.
It’s one of the oldest cities in Europe and offers wonderful glimpses into Portugal’s layers of time and influence – needless to say we were very excited to get going on our 3 days in Lisbon adventure!
It was the Age of Discovery when Portugal ruled the world, stretching a hand (as well as culture and language) across the globe, from Brazil to China, Africa and beyond.
Set upon seven hills, imagine old-world trams bustling along narrow, cobbled streets; grand architecture, quirky stores scaling hilltops, and colourful rooftops as far as the eye can see.
We flew in for a Christmas city break and managed to cram quite a bit into our 3 days in Lisbon itinerary.
I’ve shared our discoveries below, and hopefully you’ll be inspired to book a trip soon too.
3 days in Lisbon itinerary
“Welcome to Lisbon – a roller-coaster city of seven hills, crowned by a Moorish castle and washed in an artist’s pure light. Lisbon is cinematically beautiful and historically compelling. This is a capital city of big skies and bigger vistas; of rumbling trans and Willy Wonka-like elevators; of melancholic fado song and live-to-part nightlife. Edge, charisma and postcard good looks, Lisbon has the lot!” –Kerry Christiani, Lonely Planet Lisbon Pocket Guide
Understanding the layout
In your research on travel to Lisbon, you’ll find there’s a few main areas within the city’s old ‘centre’ and along the waterfront.
These areas of interest include:
‘Old town’ Alfama, Castelo and Graça: cobbled streets and amazing views from Castelo de São Jorge, Largo das Portas do Sol and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Usually reached by tram from streets around Rossio and Baixa.
Rossio and Baixa, Lisbon’s riverfront gateway sitting below Alfama, with bustling trams, Elevador de Santa Justa and the charming Praça do Comércio to name just a few highlights.
Bairro Alto and Chiado, particularly good for dining and nightlife. These areas are along the waterfront and within easy walking distance of Rossio and Praça do Comércio – all of this is close together and easy to explore on foot.
Belém, a little further along the waterfront and overlooking the Ponte 25 de Abril (bridge); with its pastries, and historical charms like Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower on the banks of Tagus River, and Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries) celebrating travellers from the Portuguese Age of Discovery.
Here’s how we divided our time, focused on the areas outlined above:
3 days in Lisbon, day one
We stayed not far from Rossio Square (pictured below), overlooking São Jorge Castle.
This was a perfect spot for exploring a large portion of the older part of town around Rossio and Baixa on foot. Or you can easily catch a tram around here, including the famous no. 28.
Day one on your 3 days in Lisbon itinerary is best spent getting your bearings in this area.
Start early at Santa Justa lift to avoid the queues. Head up high and take a look around this beautiful city.
From here, you can also get an early start on the trams including the no. 28 which is famous for the pretty and historical route it takes; also the tourist options like the Yellow buses or trams (very good value for a 48 or 72 hour pass, if you ask us), or wander around and go shopping.
On your adventure, head for (or you’ll inevitably stumble upon) Praça do Comércio (pictured below), gateway to the lovely waterfront here.
There’s a romantic promenade along the front of the city, where you can enjoy excellent views looking back up onto the hills and Lisbon’s colourful canvas, plus out to sea where so many have taken to the waters for an adventure before you.
Fascinating history and architecture
The reason I suggest you spend a little time in these parts along and around the waterfront, is so you can get a good sense of the rich history all around you.
In its heyday these parts of town were wealthy – some of the wealthiest in the world, in fact. This was thanks to trading happening in the 16th Century in gold, spices, silks and jewels among other things. Not to mention Portugal, alongside rival Spain, ruling half the world!
Fast forward to 9.40am on 1 November 1755 though – three major earthquakes hit as Lisbon’s residents celebrated Mass for All Saints Day.
These earthquakes triggered a devastating fire and tsunami, destroying much of the city. About a third of Lisbon’s 270,000 inhabitants died.
From this tragedy emerged a hero, Sebastiao de Melo, who set about reconstructing the city from the ashes. Together with architects and engineers, he made sure the city’s new design was earthquake-proof, and developed one of the world’s first grid systems that we see implemented in so many major cities to this day.
“We must bury the dead and heal the living.”
There’s a lot I didn’t know about Portugal, and across our 3 days in Lisbon I continued to be more and more fascinated!
For instance, the country was run by a dictator, António de Oliveira Salazar, who was prime minister between 1937 and 1968.
A contemporary of Hitler, Franco and Mussolini, Salazar is remembered by some as the greatest figure in the Portugal’s history, but by others as keeping the country repressed and backwards.
Salazar was overthrown in 1974. Lisbon’s huge suspension bridge (resembles the Golden Gate in San Francisco and was built by the same company) was renamed Ponte 25 de Abril, or ‘April 25 Bridge’ (my birth date!) to mark the event.
Across the city there’s a fascinating legacy hailing from Lisbon’s Arabic roots – tiles, known as Azulejos.
These date as far back as the 13th Century, when the Moors invaded Portugal and Spain (per a contemporary map. The Moors secured their foothold in Portuguese culture between the 16th and 17th Centuries and used Azulejos to decorate plain walls of buildings. These beautiful little polished stones adorn old walls still. Thankfully not all was lost in 1755.
I was also happy to learn that St Anthony was born here (coincidentally buried in Verona, Italy, where we are visiting in April). All through childhood, my mum used to tell us to ask St Anthony for help if we lost something.
Somehow, this always did the trick. The link to St Anthony here was more sentimental for me than anything else (and I did by mum a memento to thank her for all the times her advice helped me recover missing things). The Lisbon Sardine Festival (sardines and other canned fish are a BIG industry here) celebrates St Anthony’s life and brings everyone out into the streets for a party every June.
Eating and drinking – quirky ideas for you
A couple of places that I wanted to find but that were closed over Christmas, and perhaps worth adding to your list, are the storybook-themed Fabulas and Pharmacia cafes/restaurants (in the Bairro Alto / Chiado area). Lisbon is known for offering quirky experiences to locals and visitors alike.
The TimeOut Market (Mercado da Ribeira, pictured above) is also within walking distance in Chiado – only about ten minutes walk from Praça do Comércio in fact.
It’s cool for an evening outing, with a large variety of food and drinks on offer to try. A word of warning, it’s definitely not the cheapest spot in town, although is definitely worth a visit.
3 days in Lisbon, day two
Whether you’re enjoying a self-guided tour on local transport or have taken advantage of one of the tour operators (the Yellow tour brand appears to have the upper hand in Lisbon in terms of tour options and best value), add Belém to your list for the day.
In Belém you can’t miss the romantic Coach Museum, stunning Jerónimos Monastery (pictured below) and Padrão dos Descobrimentos the inspired explorers’ monument that’s along the waterfront (in front of Jerónimos Monastery).
Wander a bit further past the monument and you’ll come across the medieval Belém Tower (pictured below) which is fascinating for its architecture alone, not to mention its prime spot by the river.
There’s a lot to do in this little area that’s about twenty minutes from the centre of town. Give yourself time to deal with any queues at the monastery and tower.
You can’t go to Lisbon and not try a Pastel de Nata (Portuguese custard tart).
They’re everywhere, sweet and delicious! Try at least one from Pastéis de Belém, where they’ve been making these according to a top-secret recipe since 1837.
The city is best experienced from up high, so to wrap up your day, find a rooftop bar for a cocktail as the sun sets. Many hotels have their own roof bar, but the Mundial Hotel in the middle of the city near Rossio Square is well known, as is the luxe Topo (although this appears to be a summer destination).
If you’re up for it, there’s one more stop to make – pop into a Ginjinha shop like Ginginha Sem Rival around Rossio Square and enjoy a shot (or two) of this delicious and inexpensive local delight. It’s a sour cherry liqueur (tastes like Port) that has been served in the city since 1890, and it’ll knock your socks off if you have too many in a row.
Tip: Before your visit, have a look at the Discover Walks website. They offer a range of free and inexpensive walking tours of Lisbon, including around Belém, so you can gather all the knowledge and inside secrets from a local!
3 days in Lisbon, day three
Today you might want to start early and catch a ride on the famous no. 28 tram.
Ride a lap and eventually get off in historical Alfama – it’s about a ten to fifteen-minute tram ride from the city centre (e.g. Rossio Square or Praça do Comércio) up into the hills.
Alfama is colourful, interesting and easy to get lost in, so give yourself time to find the best views. Trip happily along the cobbled streets, and visit the historical sites like São Jorge Castle or the Moorish Gateway, Largo das Portas do Sol that also offers postcard-perfect views.
Tip: See if you can find the quirky and cool circus school Chapito, where you can eat or have a drink. The view is excellent and you might even witness a bit of a show.
Your last night
Back in town, head towards Praça do Comércio, the old place of international trade in the Age of Discovery and home for the Royal Family. It’s often lit up to showcase a magical spectacle.
Wander along the waterfront and then back up the hill towards Bairro Alto where there’s a few fun rows of streets that boast a selection of bars, restaurants and clubs.
Be careful though – we headed out for an innocent dinner but after being lured into a bar playing cool dance music, two free shots later (courtesy a generous barman), we ended up on a bigger night than anticipated. Oh who am I kidding? It was awesome!
Where to stay
I did a lot of research trying to figure out the best area to stay in that was convenient to everything.
I settled on the stylish Lisboa Pessoa Hotel near Rossio Square, that’s nestled on a hilltop overlooking São Jorge Castle. I’d recommend the area and the hotel.
Visiting in December around Christmas time in Lisbon
It gets very busy in the summer season (May to August), and while it’s cooler in the autumn/winter months, everything is still open, and you’ll avoid the crowds.
Late December was cooler than we had anticipated. Take warm clothes.
There is sun though so that’s a bonus, but in the wind it is chilly.
Pretty much everything was open over Christmas though which was great (some places shut down for many days across the period). While you could spend so much more than 3 days in Lisbon, it’s a taster to get you ready for the next trip. That’s our thinking anyway!
As a city break at Christmas, it’s ideal. Busier even than Mallorca and definitely Ibiza – they have different things to offer at Christmastime though.
If you’ve been to Lisbon and have tips, please do share with us in the comments below. And any questions, you know where to find us.
Travelling to beautiful destinations is an inspiring activity for everybody, but if you are a content producer chasing wanderlust, there are some places that stand out.
Here’s a list of the best travel vloggers and bloggers Euro destinations, courtesy guest contributor Rebecca Brown.
The best travel vloggers and bloggers’ destinations in Europe – 7 faves
There is something to say about every new, and even old place you visit, since sometimes you see things you’ve already seen in a different way.
However, some places are better than others.
Portugal has many hot spots, and its beautiful capital is definitely one of them.
Perfectly combining the new with the old, Lisbon welcomes all kinds of creative travel vloggers and bloggers.
Nostalgic and romantic writers can find inspiration while exploring the city’s beautifully arranged streets and admiring the mesmerising landscapes from the many viewpoints strategically located throughout the city.
Foodies have the chance to indulge in memorable culinary experiences without having to empty their pockets.
There are many affordable restaurants and cooking classes a passionate blogger can enjoy while in Lisbon. Cervejaria Ramiro is one of the locals’ favourite gathering places that recently became famous among travellers as well.
Bloggers who are passionate about travelling and history can’t miss seeing Berlin, one of Germany’s most interesting and intriguing cities.
The number of museums and historical monuments is fantastic, giving history enthusiasts the thrill they are looking for.
Art, great architecture, as well as shocking stories from WWII and other crucial moments of Europe’s past are also present everywhere in Berlin.
Do you want to share stories about sunny days, splendid beaches, cocktail recipes, and mouthwatering dishes, but you are also interested in cultural and historical places?
Then, visit Mallorca.
The island is paradise for travellers who dream about being caressed by the sun, enjoying water adventures, and having real island fun.
But culture and history aficionados are also welcome in Mallorca.
Palma, the capital city, as well as the great number of castles, fortresses, and historical monuments are always a delight for curious visitors. And the Palma Cathedral is definitely an inspiration for all bloggers and Instagram users who love sharing their travels through amazing photos.
Since we are talking about islands, Croatia is worth mentioning because it has many special pieces of land where passionate bloggers can spend memorable holidays and write great posts.
Hvar and the little, beautiful Pakleni Islands amaze the eyes of all visitors with spectacular landscapes and a multitude of secluded beaches surrounded by crystal-clear waters filled with thrilled snorkelers.
Whether you are interested in romantic walks, want to indulge in some of the world’s most interesting cuisine, or dream about following the steps of famous artists, Paris is the perfect destination.
The city was an inspiration for many great minds, and just wandering around its small alleys can give you enough beauty for your articles.
But if this is not enough, enjoy an artistic adventure at the Louvre Museum, climb the famous Eiffel tour, visit the imposing Notre Dame Cathedral or get in touch with your childhood at Disneyland.
Portugal is one of the best travel vloggers and bloggers’ countries, not only thanks to its fascinating capital, Lisbon, but also because it has so much natural beauty.
The Algarve is a region that should be at the top of your list if you love writing about your adventures.
Not only will you find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world here, but the Algarve promises to amaze you with breathtaking landscapes, small, picturesque villages, and authentic cities.
Tavira is a place you shouldn’t miss if you want to catch a glimpse of the village culture, and Lagos is a great city to observe daily Portuguese life.
If nature is your cup of tea, make sure you explore the Ria Formosa National Park, and if you are interested in spending some time by yourself and admiring the surrounding beauties, check out Ponta da Piedade and Cape St Vincent.
These are just seven of the beautiful European destinations a blogger should visit, but there are many more places waiting to be explored and added to your travel posts.
About the author
Guest contributor Rebecca is an expat and translator by day, and a traveller mostly at night. She is an expert on living with jet lag – and packing in tiny suitcases. You can read more of her exploits at RoughDraft.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper: we know life's short, and we're here to encourage you to make the most of it! We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for many years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. Our hottest content topics here are pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be. Join our community of over 11,000 like-minded adventurers - find out more by signing up for the mailing list and our Facebook Group. Find us on YouTube too. NEW podcast now live: search 'Freedom and Four Paws' on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your fave podcast service provider.