The best independent guide to the Algarve
The best independent guide to the Algarve
Armação de Pêra is a modern resort town that is situated on the most beautiful stretch of the Algarve coastline.
The town lies on a gorgeous beach of soft sands and turquoise sea waters, and this magnificent beach extends for over 4km to the east. To the west of Armação de Pêra are golden limestone cliffs, and these highly weathered cliffs conceal picturesque cove beaches. This spectacular western coastline includes the Praia da Marinha beach, which is regarded as the most beautiful beach in Portugal.
If your holiday is purely beach focused, then you have found the best beach destination in Armação de Pêra.
The beautiful setting of Armação de Pêra has attracted tourists since the 1970s, and unfortunately, the ugly tourist development that is often is associated. Bland apartments line the pretty beachfront, while massive towers soar above the town, trying to provide their residents with sea views. As quoting a tour guide “Armação de Pêra is the [visual] blight along Portugal’s best coastline”.
The tourist development has not completely engulfed the entire town, and there are still remnants of its past. This includes the Santo António fort, the Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes church and the decorative 1920s beach front villas. Historically, Armação de Pêra was a fishing town, and today the fishing fleet still launches its boats from the beach.
For a holiday, Armação de Pêra is surprisingly good; there is a wide selection of restaurants and bars, there is a delightful beachfront, and the town has a relaxed holiday ambience. Armação de Pêra lies in the heart of the central Algarve, and it is only a short journey to water parks, theme parks and the crazy nightlife of Albufeira.
Praia de Armação de Pêra – The beautiful sandy beach that extends along Armação de Pêra, and where the town’s fishermen launch their fishing boats.
Praia da Marinha – One of Portugal’s finest beaches; soft sands and calm turquoise waters hidden at the base of golden cliffs. At the western headland a double sea arch which has been carved into the cliffs, and is one of the Algarve’s most photographed natural features. (Guide to the Praia da Marinha)
The beach pretty beach front - The clifftop beachfront of Armação de Pêra is delightful, and is lined with historic buildings, excellent restaurants and viewpoints over the wonderful coastline.
For a beach holiday to the touristy central Algarve region, then Armação de Pêra is a very good choice.
The town is often overlooked by tourist literature, in favour of the larger resort towns (Albufeira, Vilamoura or Praia da Rocha) or the destinations with more Portuguese character (such as Lagos, Tavira or Faro). Armação de Pêra may be rarely mentioned, but there is a lot to recommend it for a holiday.
Armação de Pêra has a calm and relaxed ambience. This is ideal if you are a family with younger children or an older traveller, who does not want the hecticness of a large resort town. The beaches are excellent; there are no strong currents or waves, and they are lifeguard-supervised during the summer, making them safe for children.
The fishing area on the Armação de Pêra beach
The town provides exceptional value for money. Dining out and socialising are of similar prices to the rest of Portugal, and is significantly cheaper than the overinflated tourist prices charged in the larger resort towns. This is in part due to the large number of Portuguese who take their holidays to Armação de Pêra, and would not pay tourist prices during their holidays.
Armação de Pêra may be calm, but it lies at the heart of the Algarve and is close to the tourist-buzz of the region. There is the outstanding theme park of Zoomarine (6km away), the insane waterslides of Slide & Splash (12km away) and the large shopping complex of Algarve Shopping (8km), all just a short taxi (or Uber) ride away.
There are many enjoyable boat tours from Armação de Pêra, and they often include the visiting the stunning Benagil cave (example boat tour here). If you wish a night of excessive partying, then the crazy nightlife of Albufeira is only 10km away.
Armação de Pêra has the advantage of being close to the thrill of the central Algarve, but without the problems of being directly in it (over-drinking, riotous groups and general insanity).
If you wish for a cultural holiday or to experience authentic Portugal, there are many enjoyable day trips. These include the fortified town of Silves, the pretty fishing village of Ferragudo and the historic city of Faro.
Below is an interactive map of the sights of Armação de Pêra and the surrounding region. (Note: zoom out to see all of the markers)
Sights 1) Armação de Pêra fort 2) Navegantes church 3) Chalé dos Caldas 4) Antigo Casino (art gallery) 5) Foz da Ribeira de Alcantarilha (salt marshes) 6) Salgados lagoon 7) Nossa Senhora da Rocha fort
Beaches: 8) Praia do Vale do Olival 9) Praia de Armação de Pêra 10) Praia dos Pescadores 11) Praia dos Salgados 12) Praia da Marinha 13) Praia Nova 14) Praia de Nossa Senhora da Rocha 15) Praia da Cova Redonda 16) Praia dos Tremoços
Day trips: 17) Slide & Splash (waterpark) 18) Zoomarine (theme park) 19) Silves 20) Ferragudo 21) Albufeira 22) The Strip (nightlife) 23) Algarve Shopping
The Forte de Santo António was constructed in 1667 to defend the mouth of the Alcantarilha River. Inside is a little chapel dedicated to Saint Anthony
Armação de Pêra is not a common destination for a day trip, and the town only has a few tourist sights. Most visitors here either come for the beaches or for the selection of restaurants and bars, when based in the surrounding region.
For a day trip, you could wander along the clifftop promenade, view the fishing boats on the beach and see the Forte de Santo António. This all could be seen within 90 minutes of sightseeing.
With a car, you could visit the little fort of Nossa Senhora da Rocha (GPS: 37.09690, -8.38681), which stands atop a headland overlooking two beautiful beaches.
Sadly, there is no clifftop path from Armação de Pêra to the Praia da Marinha, as much of the cliffs are privately owned, and there is even a private beach (the Praia dos Tremoços). Starting from Marinha beach is the Sete Vales Suspensos hiking route, which follows the dramatic coastline and is the best walking route of the Algarve.
The Igreja Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes church was constructed in the 1960
Armação de Pêra has hot, dry summers, pleasant springs and autumns, and winters that are mild but possibly wet.
During the peak season, the town will be at its most crowded, and the intense sun makes any sightseeing or activities very demanding. Outside of the summer holidays, Armação de Pêra is popular with older tourists, and September is actually the busiest month. Late spring is always the best season for sightseeing and exploring the Algarve region.
The weather is suitable for spending time on the beach from May until mid-October.
In winter, Armação de Pêra will feel very quiet, and the weather is not warm enough for going to the beach. If you are planning a holiday in the winter, it is best to head to the larger resort towns such as Albufeira or Lagos, which have a year-round population.
Armação de Pêra is expecting a sell-out summer season for 2023.
This is due to the increased number of tourists who wish to take holidays to safe and established destinations within Europe. The combination of Portuguese holidaymakers, returning visitors (who know how good the Algarve is), and new tourists, means the Algarve will sell out. We highly recommend that you book accommodation and flights as soon as possible, before prices increase and sell-out.
The map below shows the best hotels and rental rooms in Armação de Pêra; if you adjust the dates to your holiday, it will display current prices and availability.
Armação de Pêra is best described as a mid-size resort town, situated on a beautiful beach and has a decent selection of restaurants, bars and accommodation.
Similar resort towns to Armação de Pêra within the central Algarve are: Alvor, Quarteira, Carvoeiro and Olhos de Água.
At the far eastern Algarve is Monte Gordo and to the western Algarve is Praia da Luz. A similar town close to Lisbon is Cascais. All of these towns will provide you an enjoyable summer holiday.
Armação de Pêra has and outstanding sandy coastline. The beaches of Armação de Pêra tend to be the calmest of the central Algarve, as they are sheltered by the cliffs of the Benagil headland.
The main beach of Armação de Pêra is a single stretch of sand that extends from Armação de Pêra to Galé 4km to the east. This 4km beach is divided into three sections by the Alcantarilha river and Salgados Lagoon. Sadly, there is no bridge across the Alcantarilha river, and this is far as you can walk from Armação de Pêra.
The Praia dos Salgados, with Armação de Pêra in the distance
In Armação de Pêra, the Praia dos Pescadores (fishermen’s beach) is at the eastern side of the town, and this is one of the only locations in the Algarve where fishing boats are still launched from the beach.
The Praia do Vale do Olival is at the far western end Armação de Pêra. This is the widest section of beach and great for a day trip, as there is a large car park close by.
Within the limestone cliffs to the west of Armação de Pêra there are many scenic beaches (the Praia Nova, Praia de Nossa Senhora da Rocha, Praia da Cova Redonda), but car parking is always an issue in the summer.
The Praia da Marinha is a stunning beach 4.5km from Armação de Pêra, and a full guide can be read here.
The Praia do Vale do Olival
Armação de Pêra could be classed as a budget destination, as the prices for eating out and socialising are significantly lower than many of the other resort towns of the Algarve. These lower prices are in part due to the popularity of Armação de Pêra with Portuguese tourists, who demand similar prices to their hometowns.
Armação de Pêra is often overlooked by tour operators, who favour Albufeira or Portimão, and most guidebooks do not even mention it. This semi-anonymity can work to the advantage of savvy tourists, especially when trying to secure accommodation close to the summer season.
Armação de Pêra will often be one of the last towns to sell out, and the large number of residential apartments means there are a lot of holiday rentals. Outside of the summer season, Armação de Pêra provides excellent value for accommodation, as hotels try to compete with the more well-known beach resorts.
The Jardim do Minigolf, before being a pleasant park that looks over the beach, was a minigolf course - and hence the name
The main airport of southern Portugal is Faro Airport, and this is located 37km to the east of Armação de Pêra.
Public transport is very poor from the airport, and there is no real public transport from the airport to Armação de Pêra. (The journey is possible but needs three different buses and is not suitable for the majority of visitors).
Taxi journeys from the airport are very expensive (€90+), and there can be very high demand for Uber at peak times. Generally, most visitors to Armação de Pêra either pre-book a transfer (€45-50) or get a sharded transfer from the airport (€22).