5 Algarve Beaches Not to Miss

Located in Southern Portugal, Algarve is arguably one of the most popular beach destinations in Europe. With over 160km of shoreline and over 300 days of sunshine, Algarve beaches are the mainstay of the region’s popularity.  To help narrow things down, here are 5 beaches you should consider visiting when in Algarve.

Praia da Rocha Algarve Portugal

Praia da Rocha, Portimão

Located just south of the main town of Portimão, this is probably the oldest and best know beach in the Algarve. Originally it was much shorter in width and with a lot more charm, but it still is a popular destination among beach goers.

Why Go?

This is a great place for people watching and it has easy access to lots of nightlife and entertainment in the vicinity. There are concession areas where you can hire out sun beds and shades for the day or you can opt to stay right by the water’s edge and enjoy the sea breeze.  A broad wooden boardwalk runs the length of the beach giving access to the many restaurants and bars there.

Who Goes?

Pretty much everyone.  Known internationally as one of the most impressive beaches in the Algarve, this beach can get extremely busy in the summer months due to its excellent conditions for water sports and boat-rides.  But watch out, because it can get really noisy and crowded.

Praia da Marinha, Algarve Portugal

Praia da Marinha, Lagoa

Located near Lagoa, Praia da Marinha is a small cove beach that is nestled at the base of rocky outcrops. At high tide the beach is a narrow strip of sand, but at low tide the adjacent coves become accessible.

Surrounded by honey coloured cliffs and accessed by steep steps down the sides of the cliff, the golden sands of Praia da Marinha in Benagil has two wonderfully secluded beaches.

Why go?

Praia da Marinha is not your typical beach.  It has plenty of strange rock formations to explore, caves cut in the cliffs and many rock pools with aquamarine waters harboring all sorts of marine life.  It’s not the largest, nor the most remote beach, but the steep set of steps that give access to it put off many tourists from going there. Here you can also head out to sea in a boat trip to explore the nearby caves.

Who goes?

The turquoise sea is a favorite with snorkelers, and the secluded beaches are popular with families and those seeking the privacy to relax in beautiful surroundings.  You’ll also find keen photographers who want to recreate the brochure-perfect beach photo.

Ilha da Barreta, Algarve Portugal

Ilha da Barreta, Faro

Ilha de Barreta is one of the most remote stretches of shoreline you will find in the Algarve region. This beach is the beginning of the stretch of ‘barrier islands’, separated from the main land by the Ria Formosa.  This area is full of cafés, restaurants, and choice of accommodation.

Why go?

This ten kilometers long beach is mostly surrounded by beautiful nature, like the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa.  Access to this pristine beach is through unspoiled marshland, via a labyrinth of channels. Prolific bird life, including flamingoes and terns, inhabit the dunes and lagoon. You’ll be hard pushed to find anywhere more uninhabited, yet it is only a boat ride away from Faro.

Who goes?

Nature enthusiast and bird watchers.  This area has a prolific bird life, including flamingoes and terns, inhabiting the dunes and lagoon that form part of the beach. It’s also good for people who want to get away from everything, relax, and not be surrounded by other beach goers.  Be ready to be fried, since there is no shelter and the sun is intense!

Praia da Bordeira, Algarve Portugal

Praia da Bordeira, Carrapateira

Sitting on the mouth of the Ribeira da Bordeira, this beach is noted for its rugged limestone cliffs and extensive sand dunes.  It is a change of scene from the many other beaches that surround it.

Why go?

This rugged beach features limestone cliffs and extensive sand dunes that spread inland to Carrapateira village and expand for three kilometers long along the coast.  You can also witness many of the foolhardy fishermen who teeter hundreds of meters above the ocean, on the surrounding cliffs, to hook their lunch.

Who goes?

Since it is open and exposed, this windy beach is popular among surfers, but other than that, not many people visit it, since it is more a rugged beach-going experience.

praia da dona ana, Algarve Portugal

Praia da Dona Ana, Lagos

The beautiful beach of Praia da Dona Ana is a 200 meters long beach accessible through a stairway that leads to its crystalline waters and rock formations.  It is accessible by bus, car, and even by a half hour long walk from Lagos’ center

Why Go?

A great place to relax or snorkel around the rocks. There is a bar/cafe built into the cliff face, which means you can get drinks and snacks easily and spend most of the day relaxing on the beach.

Who Goes?

This is probably the beach most frequented by tourists, and for good reason. The sand on Dona Ana is slightly thicker than in the surrounding beaches, plus the rock formations make it a beautiful destination.  Just avoid it during the high season (summer) since it is a small beach and gets packed with tourists (you wont appreciate it at its best).

There are definitely more impressive beaches to visit and enjoy while in Algarve, but these are a good place to start to get a feel of it.

Images 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 from Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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25 thoughts on “5 Algarve Beaches Not to Miss”

  1. The Algarve has a great coastline, similar to Cornwall but with sun. Praia da Dona Ana is one of the most photographed beaches in the Algarve, it’s good during spring as it’s sheltered, but as you say it gets busy in summer. I prefer the beaches further west – Salema and Burgau. Still relatively undeveloped.

  2. Norbert, these beaches and photos are superb! I’m typically a Caribbean vacation and beach person…never really thought Portugal has such beautiful beaches. I do want the water to be warm though…is it? I am fascinated by Praia de Dona Ana.

    So great to see you at the Travel Show. Stay tuned for the Cupcake Crawl! xx

    1. Hey Charu, I’m also a Caribbean beach person. For me, even in a hot summer, the European beaches are still too cold for me. But still, they are great to visit and to enjoy.

      Yayy! It was great meeting you at the Travel Show, and I’m looking forward for the Cupcake Crawl! 🙂

  3. Great choices. I absolutely love the Algarve, and despite all the tourists and development, it’s still quite easy to find a beautiful, quieter beach. Praia da Marinha, Lagoa is definitely one of my favorites.

  4. Okay, so now I know where I’d love for my next vacation to be!! Wow…these photographs are excellent! What a beautiful place. I appreciate also, the other suggestions for quieter beaches. I love the beach but don’t like all the crowds. It diminishes the possibility for peace and quiet. Don’t we all need some peace and quite some times? Well, maybe more than sometimes!
    Anyway, this looks like a superb place to be. Can you make any suggestions for five star hotels nearby. What about restaurants nearby? Do you have any favorites?

    1. Hi Lucy, I agree we need a quiet place some times and some of those beaches are perfect for that. I’m not too familiar with 5 star hotels as I travel backpacking.

  5. The views on these are breathtaking! Thank you for posting the pictures of the beaches they are lovely. How are the vacations and which one would be the best to go to?

  6. Those are beautiful beaches. Though there are many more beautiful beaches. The one I have seen in Indonesia was so gorgeous, too bad I forget what it’s name. But definitely not Bali.

  7. Algarve Portugal

    Hi Norbert,
    nice choices. I would add just the beautiful Praia Verde, near Tavira.
    It’s a calm and charming with sand beach.

    Regards,
    J

  8. Hi Norbert! Praia da Ilha Deserta is a nice, lonely beach in the south, but you need a boat to get there.

  9. Great post and beautiful photos. I arrived at Faro airport and travel to a town called Lagos. I Love Algarve.

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