Carvoeiro Intro - Beach Guide - Carvoeiro Boardwalk - Seven Valleys Hike - Day trip to Ferragudo
Carvoeiro Algarve Portugal – A tourist guide fully updated for 2018
Carvoeiro is a picturesque and traditional Portuguese resort town, which is situated along a stunning coastline of golden beaches and dramatic natural scenery. Carvoeiro is a fantastic destination for visitors who are wishing a calm and relaxed holiday, within a characterful and charming town. The peaceful and welcoming ambience of Carvoeiro makes it an ideal location for families during the summer or for retirees outside of the peak months.
The beautiful beach of Carvoeiro
The majority of tourists visit Carvoeiro purely for a relaxed beach holiday, but there is a surprising amount to see and do within the surrounding region. This includes historic towns to discover, challenging hiking trials, exciting boat tours or the thrill of the regions theme and water parks. Carvoeiro has so much to offer, and is the perfect blend of Portuguese heritage with modern holiday facilities and services. This article will provide an introduction to Carvoeiro for visitors who are considering a holiday to this wonderful region.
Highlights of Carvoeiro
Who should visit Carvoeiro?
Carvoeiro is a great holiday destination for a variety of different tourists. During the peak summer months, Carvoeiro is primarily a family holiday destination (as with the majority of the Algarve). Outside of the school holidays (May-Jul and Sep-Oct) the town is popular with couples young and old, while attracting a diverse mix of nationalities. During the low season (Oct-Apr) Carvoeiro is very quiet, but mostly caters for the more mature visitors, who come for the good weather and relaxed social ambience, where the days are spent socializing with likeminded tourists.
The Carvoeiro region will appeal to outdoor types and nature lovers, as there are multiple activities, including; sea kayaking along the coast, challenging hiking routes or cycle along the empty roads. The one group of tourists Carvoeiro is not really suited for are groups looking to party and have a drink fuelled holiday, for this head to the Strip in Albufeira or Praia da Rocha.
On initial view Carvoeiro may not seem a good destination for older children and teenagers (12-16), but during the summer the town is surprisingly good for this age range. The town is close to the major theme parks of Zoomarine and Slide and Splash (but they are expensive daytrips) and Carvoeiro does not experience the night-time roundness or drunkenness of the larger resorts.
Carvoeiro does have significant tourist development but the region does not feel as over run as with many other locations along the Algarve, and it is relatively easy to hike or cycle to remote and unspoilt areas.
The dramatic coastline close to Carvoeiro
Carvoeiro for 2018
The entire Algarve is experiencing a resurgence within the tourism industry; new businesses are opening, hotels are being refurbished and there is massive investment throughout the region. Carvoeiro is one of the more calm resort towns but it is still expecting a sell-out summer season for 2018.
If you are seriously considering a holiday to Carvoeiro or the Algarve, book your flights and accommodation as soon as possible as prices will rise, and then sell out. For a guide to the best hotels in Carvoeiro please click here.
Carvoeiro for families and young children
Carvoeiro is equally suited for families, as it has a calm, safe beach, and the town’s restaurants and hotels are welcoming of children. Carvoeiro is a favourite with families, as there is a wide selection of sensibly priced self-catering accommodation and this makes the town popular with returning visitors. For older children and teenagers but the best waterpark of the Algarve, Slide and Splash, is close by, in the town of Lagoa.
Children will love the boat tours
Alternatives to Carvoeiro
Here our suggestions for resort towns which are similar to Carvoeiro (a medium sized town, which main focus is tourism and is close to a great beach). Our recommendations are:
In the Algarve – Alvor, Praia da Luz, Olhos de Agua and Monte Gordo
Around the rest of Portugal – Sesimbra, Cascais, Nazaré, Ericeira, Espinho
Yet to be fully discovered by foreign tourists - Vila Nova de Milfontes, Costa Nova (Aveiro) and Vila do Conde, Vila Praia de Âncora
(links to destination guide and open a new tabs)
The beaches of Carvoeiro
Carvoeiro has one of the most beautiful beaches of the region, with the town opening out onto the soft golden sands that are surrounded by the steep sandstone cliffs. The beach has an idyllic setting but it is not one of the largest beaches of the Algarve and can get busy during the summer. Unlike many other Algarve resort towns Carvoeiro has no sensible alternative beach within walking distance of the town centre. The only other choice of beach in Carvoeiro is the small Praia do Paraíso (paradise beach!), which has very little sand at high tide.
The main beach of Carvoeiro
The next significant beach, 2km to the east of Carvoeiro, is the beautiful Praia do Vale de Centeanes, and is one of our favourite beaches of the region. The stunning setting of Centeanes is at the base of the massive sandstone cliffs that tower around the golden sands and turquoise waters. Centeanes is a longer walk from Carvoeiro but the picturesque location is worthy of the effort. There is a bus service that departs from Carvoeiro and connects all of the small towns along the coastline.
Carvoeiro is a hiker’s paradise
Carvoeiro is a walker’s paradise with numerous hiking routes and trails that follow the steep hills and sheer cliffs of the coastline. One of the most famous routes is the O Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos trail, which extends for 5km from the Praia da Centeanes to the Praia da Marinha. This trail follows some of the finest pristine coastline of the Algarve and provides a challenging hiking trail. A much more leisurely route is the Carvoeiro Boardwalk, which extends from Carvoeiro to the fascinating rock formations of Algar Seco.
A guide to the Carvoeiro Boardwalk
A guide to the Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos trail
The Praia da Marinha found at the end of 5.5km Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos hike
Boat tours of the coastline
One of the most popular activities while on holiday in Carvoeiro is to join one of the boat tours, as they weave through the caves, arches and large swells of the dramatic Carvoeiro coastline. The tour boats that depart from Carvoeiro tend to be much smaller, so can navigate through the highly-weathered cliffs, and this includes the outstanding Grutas de Benagil cave. The boat tours last for 1-2 hours and can be combined with dolphin watching tours and, depending on the length of the tour or novelty of the boat, prices range from 25-30 Euro.
The boat tours departing from Praia de Benagil
Benagil is the most photographed natural feature of the Algarve and is a spectacular domed cave that has three arch openings and a vaulted holed roof. The walls of this unique cave are lined with beautiful sandstone strata, while there is a small beach which together form an absolutely stunning natural feature. The small boat tours from Carvoeiro are able to enter the cave, but are not are able to land on the small beach, and this is why so many people hire kayaks and paddle out to the cave. Some people even swim from the nearby beach of Praia de Benagil but this could never be recommended for obvious safety reasons.
The exterior of Benagil cave – our tour boat was too large to go inside!
When to visit
The Algarve has long hot summers, pleasant springs and autumns, and unpredictable winters with an equal number of wet days as sunny days. The height of the summer season aligns with the school holidays and the Portuguese holidays of July and August. June and September are as equally busy with holiday makers who do not have children – if visiting during the peak season it is essential to pre-book accommodation and flights as they will sell out.
The average weather of Carvoeiro
The autumn and spring months provide an excellent time to discover the Algarve; the weather is bright and sunny, but without the summer time crowds. During the winter months Carvoeiro closes down and will feel very quiet, but a small selection of restaurants and bars will remain open. During the winter it is better to visit the larger resort towns, which have a permanent population, such as Albufeira or Lagos.
Day trips from Carvoeiro
From Carvoeiro there is a number of interesting day trips which include; Silves, Portimão or Lagos. Silves is the ancient capital of the Algarve and this glorious past is reflected by the numerous impressive historical monuments which include the castle, city walls and Se cathedral. Silves is only 14km to the north of Carvoeiro and is the best day trip, for a guide please click here.
Silves is a traditional Algarve town
Portimão was a major port and today is a large residential city that has a surprisingly pleasant urban centre, filled with great shopping venues and the characteristic Portuguese charm. Lagos is much further away, but it's also by far the most fascinating city of the western Algarve; it contains a wonderful historic centre, beautiful beaches and the stunning Ponte da Piedade cliffs. We adore Lagos and can't recommend it enough; for a full guide to this amazing city please click here.
Airport Carvoeiro and travel from
The main airport of the Algarve is Faro airport, and is 64 km to the east of Carvoeiro. Faro airport is a major international airport with flights covering the majority of Europe, and this includes all of the low-cost airlines. This means that if flights are booked far enough in-advance, there is a good chance of finding very cheap tickets to the Algarve, even in the summer.
It is always advisable to pre-book transfers from Faro airport to Carvoeiro as it is a comparatively long journey. A taxi hired directly from the airport will be very expensive (€85+) and the journey by public transport is tediously long, involving three bus journeys and poor connections.
The recommended option for onward transfer is by a private transfer, that will involve the driver waiting for you at the airport, and this is a blessing after a long flight. The most respected transfer company of the Algarve is Yellow Fish, routinely used by all expats and long term residents; their transfer costs €49 and a link to their site can be found here.
For those on a more limited budget, our recommended means of onward travel is a shared (minibus) transfer, which costs around €25. The difficulty with these companies is that tickets must be purchased from the busy (and confusing) Faro airport, and Carvoeiro will always be a later stop.