After five continents, 13 countries, and hundreds of cervezas, we found the world's 15 best beach towns, places where locals share their secret break, lunch comes straight from the sea, and you fantasize about staying for good. Whether you want an escape from winter's cold gloom or a hot summer break in the northern hemisphere, there's a beach town that's warm in every season.
Just 30 minutes from Lisbon, Ericeira has a lively urban edge that's rare in old-world European beach towns. Tradition rules in this beautiful 12th-century fishing village, but the town also embraces a youthful crowd of professional surfers and laid-back Continental partyers.
Narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed walls, and cobalt-blue trim surround locals flashing big smiles in front of family-owned outdoor cafes, pastelerías, and restaurants in the main plaza. The town's famous mid-19th-century philharmonic draws Lisbon socialites and fans from all over the country.
But for what makes this town unique, seek out Ericeira's beach parties, which are raw yet refined. Praia do Sul is full of tan Europeans bobbing their heads to house music; on Praia dos Pescadores, the local favorite, there's always a pickup soccer game. Grab at least one meal at the funky pizzeria on Ribeira d'Ilhas beach. It morphs into a dance club, and then spills out onto the beach around two in the morning, where the dancing continues until sunrise. And if you want to keep going after that, Lisbon is only a half hour away.
Getting There: Fly to Lisbon and drive 30 minutes north. Coxos Beach Lodge sits within the Natural Surf Reserve, a couple of minutes from town. [From $80; coxosbeachlodge.com]
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