Vem pra praia. That’s Portuguese for “come to the beach.” Seaside locales in Portugal took three of the five top spots on Vrbo’s list of international beach destinations, based on vacation rental demand. Why?
Portugal is known for its affordability and for some of the best waves in Europe to “hang ten.” Although the southern European country took three spots, it didn’t make number one. What’s the top destination for travelers visiting the beach? Chania, Greece.
Here are the top five hottest overseas beach destinations, according to Vrbo.
Chania is on the northwest coast of the Greek island Crete. While there are many beaches to choose from, Vrbo’s top beach pick is Nea Chora Beach. It’s a nice sandy beach near many cafes and within walking distance to many attractions.
Other than the beautiful beaches, Chania is known for the Old Venetian Harbour, a historical landmark built in the 1300s featuring a restored lighthouse, shops and restaurants.
Another big attraction is the Archaeological Museum of Chania, built inside the former Venetian Monastery of Saint Francis. Inside you can find exhibits showcasing artifacts and antiquities from the Chania region through the ages.
Chania is also home to the Nautical Museum of Crete with various models of ships, nautical instruments, paintings, historical photographs and war relics. If you love maritime history, check out Firka Fortress for great views and a look back in time.
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Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Villa Nova de Gaia sits across the River Douro from Porto and has a few popular beaches nearby. Vrbo’s top choice for beaches in Vila Nova de Gaia is Mar e Sol Beach, which is separated from the coast road by sand dunes, providing a more peaceful experience.
Vila Nova De Gaia is also home to the cellars that produce port wine. An ideal climate for ageing wine makes it the perfect place for wine tastings. A great way to explore the area is biking along the beach to discover gems like Capela do Senhor da Pedra, a small chapel situated on a rock in the middle of the beach.
Insider tip: Get the best views of Porto from Gaia at Serra de Pilar and Calcada da Serra street and car park.
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Porto is a hidden gem of beauty with secret beaches and a lively night scene located on the Iberian Peninsula. While you’ll have to explore the coast to find the top secret spots, Vrbo’s top pick for local beaches in Porto is Praia de Molhe. The beach is a bit too rocky for swimming, but you can throw down a towel and sunbathe.
The city is full of history, culture, vibrant colors and ornate buildings, from the Clerigos Church to the Livraria Lello, a historic bookstore. Porto is budget-friendly and made Vrbo’s list of top 10 vacation destinations to get the most bang for your buck.
It’s an easy drive to Douro Valley, Portugal’s most famous wine region and home to three different World Heritage Sites: Historic Centre of Oporto, Luiz I Bridge and Monastery of Serra do Pilar.
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Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a bustling and exciting city with amazing culture and history. While it’s largely an urban destination, the city is surrounded by beautiful beaches. Vrbo’s top pick for beaches in Lisbon is Costa de Caparica. It offers a long stretch of coastline, great surfing and trendy beach bars.
Top attractions in Lisbon include the National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo), St. George’s Castle (Castelo de Sao Jorge) and Toree de Belem and Monument to the Discoveries. While tiles might not seem that intriguing, Lisbon is known for its vibrant ceramic tiles, and the museum provides a look into the past of various tiles dating back to the 15th century.
Insider tip: You have to try the custard tart aka pastel de nata and listen to fado (Portuguese folk music).
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Catania is located on Sicily’s east coast at the foot of Mount Etna, an active volcano that visitors can summit for some of the best views of the coast of Italy. It’s a city filled with history, beautiful architecture and beautiful beaches. Vrbo’s top choice for best beaches in Catania is San Giovanni Li Cuti, a volcanic beach close to the city center — but if you’re willing to drive, be sure to check out Le Capannine.
The town is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Monastero dei Benedettini (Benedictine Monastery complex), which features beautiful architecture and panoramic views of the city. Other attractions include Basilica Cattedrale Sant’Agata (Cathedral of Catania, dedicated to Saint Agatha), Ursino Castle (13th century), which houses the Catania Museo Civico (Civic Museum of Catania), Piazza Del Duomo and so much more!
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For the full 2020 Vrbo Trend Report and methodology, visit: https://www.vrbo.com/l/trend-report.