This year beach goers will be able to enjoy 317 coastal and 35 inland beaches which have all been awarded a Blue Flag status from the Blue Flag Association of Europe (ABAE).

“18 new coastal beaches and two river beaches have been awarded. 17 are new to the Blue Flag programme and represent beaches that were mainly waiting to be designated as a beach”, explained the national coordinator of the Blue Flag programme, Catarina Gonçalves.

Of the 352 Blue Flag beaches, the Algarve region has the most with 88, despite Pintadinho beach in the Lagoa municipality failing to be awarded a flag this year.

Albufeira has meanwhile again topped the national ranking for Blue Flag beaches.

The Algarve municipality has been awarded 25 Blue Flags, which are a symbol of environmental quality.

Albufeira Town Hall this year sees all of its beaches as well as its Marina recognised with the highest environmental award for the fourth consecutive year.

The four main elements considered when awarding a Blue Flag to a beach are: the provision of educational information, the quality of the water for bathing, services and equipment on the beach and safety provisions.

All Blue Flag beaches must provide an adequate number of lifeguards, first aid equipment and a supply of drinking water.

At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have access for disabled beach goers.