Blue Flag Beaches

Portugal features 432 Blue Flag bathing areas, but fewer river beaches due to drought

Portugal is the second country in the world with the highest number of beaches awarded with Blue Flags.

Portugal features 432 Blue Flag beaches, marinas, and eco-tourism boast this year, one more than in 2022, despite a decrease in river beaches due to drought and fires, announced the Blue Flag Europe Association.

The announcement was made at the Vasco da Gama Aquarium, in Dafundo, in the municipality of Oeiras, by the president of the Blue Flag Association of Europe, José Archer.

The dignitary added that 394 beaches will hoist the Blue Flag next season, spread over 103 municipalities, with Coruche and Montemor-o-Velho having nominated beaches for a Blue Flag for the first time.

“Regarding inland beaches, Portugal is the second country in the world with the highest number of beaches awarded with Blue Flags. We are right after France, which has another reality and dimension, and are far beyond Spain”, said José Archer, referring to the fact that 47 river beaches were awarded Blue Flags, three less than last year.

The official admitted this “reflected the efforts of communities and municipalities in the interior” regarding the commitment to the Blue Flag.

José Archer also recalled that this year there were fewer inland beaches with Blue Flags, considering the 2022 drought and fires.

“Last year, we had an extremely complicated summer in the interior, which affected some re-applications, but even so, we continue to grow just in terms of beaches and bathing areas. We are already close to 400”, he said, recalling that ten years ago this number was around 200.

Questioned why the municipality of Sintra didn’t have a beach with a Blue Flag, considering its maritime extension, José Archer said it was “a decision made by the mayors” regarding the candidacy for the award.

As for the advantages of visiting a Blue Flag beach, Archer recalled the four points necessary for obtaining the award: quality of the water and space (organisation), security and services, surveillance and people’s awareness (environmental education).

At an international level, Portugal ranks second in award-winning eco-tourism boats, counting 21, and boasting 17 marinas with Blue Flags.

The first Blue Flag on a coastal beach will be raised during an official ceremony at Praia do Mar, in Caldas da Rainha, on June 1, while the first Blue Flag at a river beach will be raised in Reconquinho, Penacova, on June 15. A flag will also be hoisted at Troia Marina, in the municipality of Grândola, on June 5.

The distinguished coastal and river beaches are distributed across the North (87, five more than last year), Centre(47, three less), Tejo (76, one less), Alentejo (39, one less), Algarve (85, minus one), Azores (44, plus two) and Madeira (16, same as last year).

The Blue Flag Programme is an education programme for sustainable development promoted in Portugal by the Blue Flag Association of Europe, the Portuguese department of the Environmental Education Foundation.