The best independent guide to the Algarve
The best independent guide to the Algarve
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 if you are seeking a calm and relaxed holiday, which is based 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 couples and retirees outside of the peak season.
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 trails, exciting boat tours or the thrill of the Algarve’s theme and water parks. Carvoeiro has so much to offer, and is the perfect blend of Portuguese heritage with modern holiday facilities and services.
Highlights of Carvoeiro
• The beautiful Praia de Carvoeiro beach
• A boat trip to Benagil Cave
• The scenic Sete Vales Suspensos hiking route
• The Algar Seco cliff formation and Carvoeiro boardwalk
• The social and welcoming holiday atmosphere
Highlights of the Carvoeiro region
• Day trip to Ferragudo, a traditional fishing town
• Slide and Splash the best water park of the Algarve
• The Praia da Marinha, regarded as one of the world’s finest beaches
• Zoomarine, an outstanding theme/marine park
• Day trip to the historic town of Silves
The Algar Seco rock formations are just a short walk from Carvoeiro
Carvoeiro is a great holiday destination
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 socialising with like-minded visitors.
Carvoeiro has great facilities and an enjoyable holiday atmosphere
The Carvoeiro region will appeal to outdoor types, with activities including; sea kayaking, hiking, cycle or a round of golf on the region’s famed courses. If you want beautiful natural, then there are unspoilt cliffs heading both east and west, the Praia da Marinha beach, or the Praia dos Caneiros headland.
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 like a 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 day trips), and Carvoeiro does not experience the night-time rowdiness or drunkenness of the larger resorts.
Carvoeiro does have significant tourist development, but the region does not feel as overrun as with many other locations along the Algarve.
The dramatic coastline close to Carvoeiro (the Praia de Vale Covo)
Below is an interactive map of the tourist sights and beaches in the Carvoeiro region. The town centre of Carvoeiro, where most of the bars and restaurants are found, is highlighted in yellow and is marker 8. (Note: zoom out to see all of the markers)
Sights: 1) Algar Seco caves 2) Carvoeiro Boardwalk 3) Benagil Cave 4) Slide & Splash (waterpark) 5) Zoomarine (waterpark) 6) Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos (hiking route) 7) Forte de Nossa Senhora (Fort) 8) Carvoeiro town centre (for restaurants, cafes and bars)
Beaches: 9) Praia de Carvoeiro 10) Praia do Vale de Centeanes 11) Praia dos Caneiros 12) Praia Grande 13) Praia do Carvalho 14) Praia de Benagil 15) Praia da Marinha
Day trips: 16) Ferragudo (pretty village) 17) Silves (historic town) 18) Portimão (port city)
Carvoeiro is expecting a sell-out summer season for 2024, as visitors seek holidays to safe and established destinations within Europe.
The combination of returning visitors (who know how good the Algarve is), and new tourists, means that Carvoeiro will sell out. We highly recommend that you book accommodation and flights as soon as possible, before prices increase and sell-out.
Use the map below to discover the best accommodation in Carvoeiro, if you adjust the dates to your holiday it will display current prices and availability.
Carvoeiro is ideal for families, the beach is safe and calm, while 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, the best waterpark of the Algarve, Slide and Splash, is close by, in the town of Lagoa.
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 it can get crowded 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 Praia de Carvoeiro may be small but it is beautiful
The next significant beach is 2km to the east of Carvoeiro, and is the beautiful Praia do Vale de Centeanes. The stunning setting of Centeanes is at the base of massive sandstone cliffs that tower around the golden sands and turquoise waters. Centeanes beach is a long walk from Carvoeiro but the picturesque location is worthy of the effort.
Related articles: The beaches of Carvoeiro
The Praia de Vale Centeanes beach, stunning!
Carvoeiro boasts numerous hiking routes that follow the steep hills and sheer cliffs of the coastline. One of the most famous trails is the O Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos, which navigates the cliff tops from the Praia da Centeanes beach to the Praia da Marinha, and passes the Benagil Cave.
A more leisurely route is the Carvoeiro Boardwalk, which leads from Carvoeiro town to the fascinating Algar Seco rock formations.
Related articles: The Carvoeiro Boardwalk to Algar Seco - The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos hike
Our opinion: We so highly rate the Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos, that we placed it at number 1 in our “Top 10 of the Algarve.”
Related articles: Top 10 Algarve
The Carvoeiro Boardwalk passes along the cliff tops
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 Algarve sea waters are the migratory route for dolphins heading from the warm Mediterranean to the food-rich Atlantic Ocean. There are daily sightings of dolphins in their natural environment, and they can be seen via the boat tours.
Warning: When booking a boat tour make sure it leaves from Carvoeiro. Most boat tours depart from Albufeira Marina (19km to the west) or Portimão (11km drive). Often the best idea is to book the tour directly from Carvoeiro beach, where the boats depart from.
The Benagil cave tour boats waiting on the Praia de Benagil
Benagil cave is a spectacular domed cave that has three arch openings and a vaulted holed roof. The cave walls are lined with beautiful sandstone strata, while at the base of the cave is a small beach; it is easy to see why this is the most photographed natural feature in the Algarve.
The small boat tours from Carvoeiro are able to enter the cave, and depending on the tides, are able to land on the small beach. Benagil Cave is a popular destination for kayak tours. Some people even swim from the nearby beach of Praia de Benagil, but this could never be recommended for obvious safety reasons.
Benagil Cave is an amazing natural feature, but expect lots of other tourists to be there also…
The Algarve has long hot summers, pleasant springs and autumns, and unpredictable winters that have an equal number of grey days as sunny days. The height of the summer season aligns with the school holidays of July and August.
June and September are as equally busy with holidaymakers 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 autumn and spring months provide an excellent time to discover the Algarve; the weather is bright and sunny, but without the summertime crowds.
During the winter months Carvoeiro closes down and will feel very quiet, but a small selection of restaurants and bars will remain open. In the winter it is better to visit the larger resort towns, which have a permanent population, such as Albufeira or Lagos.
Related articles: Albufeira guide – Lagos guide
From Carvoeiro there is a number of interesting day trips which include; Silves, Ferragudo and Portimão. Silves is the ancient capital of the Algarve and this glorious past is reflected by the numerous impressive historical monuments, which include the imposing castle, town walls and gothic cathedral.
Ferragudo is a traditional fishing village that overlooks the busy Portimão estuary, while to the south of Ferragudo are glorious sandy beaches.
Portimão is a largely residential city, which has a surprisingly pleasant urban centre, filled with great shopping venues and the characteristic Portuguese charm. During the summer a small ferry connects Portimão to Ferragudo.
Related articles: Carvoeiro day trips - Ferragudo day trip – Introduction to Silves – Portimão introduction
Silves is a historic Algarve town
The main airport of southern Portugal is Faro airport, and is located 64 km to the east of Carvoeiro.
There is very poor public transport from the airport to Carvoeiro, and the time-consuming journey requires three different buses. To travel from the airport to Carvoeiro, we would always recommend either pre-booking a private transfer (€50) or taking a shared minibus transfer (€25) on arriving in Portugal. A taxi hired directly from the airport will be very expensive (€85+), while demand for Uber in the summer is very high.
The most respected transfer company of the Algarve is Yellow Fish, which is routinely used by all expats and long term residents; their transfer costs €49.
The bus to Carvoeiro waiting in Faro bus station
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
(links to destination guide and open a new tabs)
Warning, please read
There have been a number of sham residential letting websites, which have appeared on the internet, with bogus or copied listings (often of real apartments). These websites look professional (with guarantees and refund policies) and the prices are significantly cheaper.
Only ever book an apartment through a trusted website (booking.com, homeaway.co.uk etc) and never pay for accommodation by bank transfer. For more details please see the TripAdvisor forum post:
(link opens new link)
Note: This type of scam is not just limited to the Algarve but is found in all major tourist destinations. The Algarve is just ripe for it, as demand for accommodation outstrips supply.
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