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The best independent guide to the Algarve

The Praia de São Rafael beach, Albufeira, Algarve

The Praia de São Rafael is one of the most beautiful beaches of the Albufeira region and is almost unknown by foreign tourists.

São Rafael beach boasts golden sands, turquoise sea waters and is surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Reserva Natural Caminho da Baleeira.
This is a picturesque beach, and as it is 3.5km from Albufeira, it is significantly less crowded than the main beaches of the town.
Related articles: Albufeira’s beaches

Praia de São Rafael beach

The Praia de São Rafael is a gorgeous beach

The distance is too far to walk from Albufeira, but it is only a short Taxi/Uber journey (€5-7 from the Old Town). This small travel inconvenience is worth the paradise setting for your day on the beach.

Unlike the main beaches of Albufeira, the Praia de São Rafael has submerged rocks and rocky headlands, which are great for snorkelling. As with all of the Algarve’s beaches, the seawater is surprisingly cold, so you may want a wetsuit for any extended time in the water.

Praia de São Rafael sandy beach

During the summer, the beach is supervised by lifeguards, while the headland on the western side reduces the huge waves that sometimes roll in from the Atlantic Ocean. The sheltered nature of the beach also makes it ideal for children and families.

As the Praia de São Rafael is outside of Albufeira town, the beach has a calm and relaxed atmosphere and is free from any noisy groups.

Rafael beach

Praia de São Rafael will always be much quieter than the beaches in the centre of Albufeira

On the beach is the "Restaurante Praia de São Rafael" (https://restaurantesaorafael.pt/), which provides refreshments, and toilet facilities. Slightly further up the hill is the Restaurante Praia Grande (http://praiagrandegale.pt/), which has a wonderful roof terrace.

There are two free car parks behind the beach, if you are driving to the beach. They will fill up in the summer, but there is often parking to be found on the surrounding streets. One of the unique aspects of the beach is that kayaks can be hired and launched from the beach. The cost is €15 for a single or €30 for a double per hour, and further details can be found from Albufeira Surf SUP (https://www.albufeirasurfsup.com/).

For your Kayak trip we recommend heading westwards towards the Praia da Ponta Grande (1km from Rafael beach). This route passes the Praia dos Piratas and Praia da Ponta Pequena, which can only be reached from the sea. For a longer trip there is the Praia do Castelo (2.km), but check conditions before heading off.

 

kayak hire Praia de São Rafael

The kayaks ready for hire

Extending along the top of the cliffs are a number of scenic footpaths.
Note: These footpaths are quite rough, and not really suitable for flip-flops.
To the east is the Praia dos Arrifes beach, which is equally beautiful as the Praia de São Rafael. Further to the east (2km) is the Ponta da Baleeira viewpoint, which overlooks the entrance to Albufeira harbour, Baleeira beach and the golden cliffs. This viewpoint is one of the hidden gems of Albufeira. Unfortunately, there is no coastal path to the Ponta da Baleeira and the cliff top road must be followed.

In a westerly direction is a highly weathered coastline of hidden bays, rock pillars and sea grottos. This westly direct is the more beautiful direction but the paths are very poor.

Ponta da Baleeira viewpoint Albufeira

The view over Albufeira harbour from the Ponta da Baleeira

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