• Sunrise on the beach in Salema, Portugal


Portugal's warm and dry south coast, stretching for some 100 miles, offers warm, sandy beaches framed by jagged rocks that give way to rolling green hills dotted with orchards. If you go to the places featured in tour brochures, you'll find the region paved, packed, and pretty stressful. But a few great beach towns are still left: I like Lagos (an urban resort with a vibrant old town, a youthful surfing buzz, and dramatically scenic beaches), Tavira (a pleasant, whitewashed town with a real soul, a fun-to-explore cobbled townscape, and boats to an island-beach getaway), and most of all, the laid-back beach village of Salema — where the tourists and the fishermen sport the same stubble. It's just you, a beach with weathered fishing boats, no must-see attractions, and a few other globetrotting experts in lethargy.