Naturism in Portugal (part 1)

in Arts & Lifestyle · 26-07-2019 01:00:00 · 2 Comments

Mel and Awen Jones

Have you accidentally stumbled across naturists (nudists) on a beach? Have you even considered trying it out yourself? In Portugal the chances of the former are high and there are plenty of opportunities for the latter.

What is naturism?

The International Naturist Federation. (INF) defines naturism as “A way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and the environment.” While “naturism” and “nudism” are interchangeable, “nudism” is used more in North America than in Europe. A major factor with many people is the freedom to avoid wearing a soggy piece of textile (swimwear) soaked in sand and salty water and just let the sun and air get at your skin. Non-naturists are often referred to as “textiles” by naturists for this reason. Note – it has nothing to do with S-E-X!

What are our qualifications on the subject?

Although we live in the UK, we have been visiting Portugal for over two decades and have had a property in here since 2005. We also happen to be the Holiday Advisors for Portugal for British Naturism (BN for short which is the national organisation for naturism in the UK. The post involves giving free advice to members who want to know more about Portuguese naturist destinations and facilities.

Are there many naturists in Portugal?

Yes. Naturism is gaining popularity amongst the Portuguese. However, most naturists in Portugal will be visitors from abroad, with the Brits topping the league. In 2018 12.8 million people visited Portugal with about 23 percent being Brits. British Naturism estimates that 3.7 million of the 67 million Brits are naturists (5 percent). Using these figures about 163,000 UK naturists visit Portugal annually. In Europe it is estimated that there are 20 million naturists. We have personally seen a general increase in visitors to Portugal from France and Spain in recent years. The Germans and Dutch have been coming here for years. All these nationalities are keener on naturism that the Brits which all adds up to a substantial number of naturists.

Is naturism legal in Portugal?

Yes, and there are eight official beaches. However, nudity is not compulsory on any of them. These are Meco near Sesimbra, Bela Vista near Caparica south of Lisbon, Salto near Porto Covo, Adegas near Odeceixe, Alteirinhos near Zambujeira do Mar, Tavira and Ilha Deserta (also called Barreta) near Faro and Meia Praia near Lagos. However, there are over 60 other beaches which are not official but where naturism is traditionally tolerated.

What are the benefits of naturism?

Many people feel better after a dose of sunshine and fresh air. Many like the appearance of an all over tan (while sensibly avoiding sunburn). Sunshine builds up vitamin D which is very important for healthy bones. Psychologically many feel a more positive body image when they realise they are not alone in not possessing a perfect body. Some people feel it reduces their stress generally. Last but not least is the communal pleasure of enjoying social and recreational nudity in the presence of other like-minded people.

Where and how does a newbie start?

We are fully aware of the apprehension people will feel when considering going naked for the first time on a beach. It is possible to build up to it slowly by yourself. To get an idea of the feel naturism entails, try wandering about your heated house or apartment naked. If you have a secluded spot in your garden this is ideal if it’s warm outside or find yourself a secluded beach. It is possible that your holiday rental in Portugal has a secluded spot by the pool/patio then seize this opportunity.

When it comes to taking the plunge on a naturist beach be reassured that nakedness is NOT compulsory and you can just go and have a look initially and see how it goes. Try to suss out which part of the beach is used by naturists. The internet will be a very useful for this. Low holiday season and weekdays will generally have less people At a recent visit to Zavial beach near Sagres the naturists usually gather at the eastern end on the day naturists and textiles co-existed happily. One family was composed of a naked father, a topless mother and twin young daughters in swimsuits and hats exposing just the forearms and lower legs!

Some naturist beaches are off the beaten track and factors to consider are the facilities such as the availability of food, drink and toilets. You may have to carry all the stuff you need for the day. Accessibility is also a factor to consider. Are you fit enough for a long walk in the sun or a scramble down a path?

In the next article there will be some information about beaches, various accommodation types and naturist etiquette.


Many thanks José

By Mel Jones from UK on 04-08-2019 02:26

Hello and thanks for the article, but Meia Praia is not a official naturist beach and there are now 9 of them in Portugal. The other two are Adiça, Fonte da Telha, Almada and Malhão, Vila Nova de Milfontes.
To know more

By José Luís Vieira from Lisbon on 02-08-2019 08:19
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