The best independent guide to the Algarve
The best independent guide to the Algarve
The Algarve is the stunning coastline of southern Portugal, and is one of Europe’s premier holiday destinations due to its glorious beaches.
The Algarve coastline extends for over 210km and comprises of so many varied beaches. There are vast sandy beaches, deserted sandbar islands, picturesque cove beaches and dramatic surfing beaches. Wherever you go in the Algarve, you will never be far from an outstanding beach!
This article will detail the best beaches in the Algarve.
Related articles: Where to go in the Algarve? – Algarve top 10
There are numerous scenic beaches within the Algarve
For our guide to the best beach in the Algarve, we have included a range of beaches, which will appeal to different tourist styles. There are pristine beaches with idyllic settings, wild and rugged beaches for surfing and family-friendly beaches with great amenities.
The best beaches in the Algarve are:
16) Meia Praia 15) Praia de Carvoeiro 14) Praia da Galé 13) Praia do Burgau 12) Praia dos Caneiros 11) Praia da Falésia 10) Praia da Torralta 9) Praia de Monte Gordo 8) Praia dos Pescadores (Albufeira) 7) Praia da Ilha de Tavira 6) Praia de Dona Ana / Praia do Camilo 5) Praia do Barril 4) Praia do Beliche 3) Praia da Ilha Deserta 2) Praia da Rocha 1) Praia da Marinha
The interactive map below shows the location of the beaches:
The following section details why each of the beaches deserves to be in this article:
The Meia Praia is the vast expanse of sand that extends eastwards from Lagos. This huge beach offers kilometres of golden sands, and this is fortunate as it is the main beach of Lagos, a bustling city which is popular with tourists.
Meia Praia is referred to as half (Meia) beach as it is divided into two by the Alvor estuary, with the opposite side (the Praia de Alvor) leading to the family-friendly resort town of Alvor.
Related articles: Lagos guide
It may only be half a beach, but it stretches as far as the eye can see
The Praia de Carvoeiro is the delightful beach of Carvoeiro.
The beach is nestled between two of golden cliff headlands and is backed with traditional whitewashed houses, which now are bars and restaurants. This beach is pretty, sheltered, and ideal for families
Related articles: Carvoeiro guide
The Praia de Carvoeiro on a quiet day in April – don’t expect it to be this empty during the summer!
The Praia da Galé is the wonderful beach close to the village of Galé.
This is another massive beach, which is surprisingly quiet considering its close proximity to the major resort towns of Armação de Pêra and Albufeira.
If the main beaches of the resort towns get too hectic for you, the Praia da Galé is where to head to.
The gorgeous beach of Praia da Galé
The far western Algarve is dotted with many scenic villages, each set around a sheltered sandy beach. Our favourite is the tiny village of Burgau which overlooks the wonderful Praia do Burgau beach.
The beach is beautiful, sandy and sheltered from the strong winds of the region, while the peaceful atmosphere of Burgau is ideal if you are holidaying with young children.
Equally good are the villages and beaches of Salema and Praia da Luz.
The rugged coastline of the western Algarve and the pretty village of Burgau
The Praia dos Caneiros is a beautiful beach, positioned on the Ponta do Altar headland at the mouth of the Arade River. This beach is set within the characteristic golden cliff of the western Algarve, and overlooks a rocky islet, the Leixão das Gaivotas, 200m out to sea.
There is almost no development along the Ponta do Altar coastline, and Caneiros beach has a beautiful natural setting – unlike the over-development on the opposite side of the river.
Leading from the Praia dos Caneiros are many good coastal walks.
The Leixão das Gaivotas rocky outcrop as seen from the Praia dos Caneiros
The Praia da Falésia is the largest beach of the central Algarve region and is a wonderful location for a day on the beach. This vast beach extends for 5km between Olhos de Água and Vilamoura and is unique for its orange-coloured cliffs.
These towering cliffs have prevented any development along the coastline, and this stretch of beach is some of the most unspoilt of the central Algarve.
Close to Vilamoura the cliffs lessen, and the Praia da Falésia is the main beach of Vilamoura.
The cliffs are at their tallest close to Olhos de Água
At the opposite end of the Meia Praia is the stunning Praia da Torralta. This beach combines both a vast expanse of golden sands along with the distinctive sandstone cliffs of the central Algarve, and creates an almost perfect beach setting.
This is a beautiful beach if you are based in one of the sprawling villa complexes that surround Alvor.
Looking along the Praia da Torralta from the cliffs towards Alvor
The Praia de Monte Gordo is the finest and largest beach of the eastern Algarve. The Praia de Monte Gordo lies at the centre of an 8km continuous sandy coastline, and is backed by the modern resort town of Monte Gordo.
The seawaters of the eastern Algarve tend to be much calmer (no strong currents or large waves), as it is sheltered from the power of the Atlantic Ocean. A by-product of the calmer seas is that the beach sands tend to be softer and finer-grained than the western Algarve.
The soft sands of Monte Gordo beach
The Praia dos Pescadores is the main beach of Albufeira, and is always a lively place to hang out.
In the summer, there is always something going on, with sea inflatables, banana boat rides, and beach bars packed with tourists.
The beach itself is massive, boasting golden sands, safe seawaters, and is only a short walk to the centre of Albufeira.
Related articles: Albufeira guide
The Praia dos Pescadores with a bunch of sea silliness
The Praia de Tavira is the pristine beach on the southern side of the Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island). The island lies within the protected Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, and the beach retains its unspoilt natural appearance.
The Praia de Tavira is the main beach of Tavira, and during the summer there is a regular ferry service from the town centre. Most visitors crowd around the area closest to the beach bars and campsite, but a short stroll southward leads to deserted beaches.
Note: 1km southeast from the Praia da Ilha de Tavira is Portugal’s oldest nudist beach, the Praia do Homem Nú.
Related article: Tavira guide
Just a short walk along the coastline of Tavira Island are empty beaches
The sandstone cliffs of the Ponta da Piedade headland have been weathered away to create a coastline of beautiful cove beaches.
The Praia de Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo are two stunning beaches of this coastline, surrounded by golden cliffs and offering calm, turquoise waters.
Their setting is stunning, and these are some of the most beautiful beaches of the Algarve, but unfortunately they will be crowded in the summer as they are close to Lagos.
Related articles: The Ponta da Piedade
The Praia de Dona Ana
The Praia do Barril combines both a beautiful beach and glimpse into the former fishing heritage of the region.
The Praia do Barril was originally the site of a tuna fishing village, which was abandoned during the 1960s due to depleted fishing stocks. Today, the fishing huts have been converted into beach bars and restaurants, while the anchors used to hold the complex tuna fishing nets have been placed in the sand dunes as a permanent memorial (called the Anchor Cemetery).
Praia do Barril is a calm beach with an idyllic natural setting, which rarely gets crowded with tourists. If you are on holiday near Tavira, Barril beach has the advantage over the Praia da Ilha de Tavira, as it can be walked to from the mainland – there is even a mini-train if you don’t fancy walking the 1km.
Related article: Praia do Barril beach guide
The rusting anchors of the Anchor Cemetery
The Praia do Beliche is the best surfing beach of the far western Algarve, and this is a region with many outstanding surfing beaches!
The beach faces a westerly direction and is exposed to powerful Atlantic waves which roll on to the vast expanse of sand. Surround the beach are 40m high cliffs, and these provide shelter from the strong sea breezes that buffer the Sagres region.
Beliche beach is to the north of Sagres, a ramshackled fishing town that has an underling trendy surfing vibe. Found within the town are surf rental shops, hostels, and decent surf schools.
Note: If the swell at Beliche is not powerful enough head to the Praia do Tonel, which is in Sagres.
Related article: Sagres guide
Praia do Beliche, Sagres
The deserted island beach (Praia da Ilha Deserta) is as remote and unspoilt as the name implies.
The beach lies on the southern side of the Ilha Deserta, one of the sandbar islands within the protected Parque Natural da Ria Formosa coastline. The island is only accessible by tour boat or water-taxi, and there will only ever be a handful of visitors here, even at the peak of the season.
Along the 6km pristine beach, is the most southerly point of mainland Portugal, the Cabo de Santa Maria. The cape is marked by a driftwood sculpture, which matches the isolated ambience of the island.
Related article: Faro guide
The driftwood marker of the Cabo de Santa Maria, surrounded by deserted beaches
If you are wanting an exciting beach to visit, then the Praia da Rocha should be your choice.
This magnificent beach sits at the base of a lively beach resort, (also named Praia da Rocha), and offers everything possible of a modern resort town. There are classy lounge bars (such as NoSoloÁgua), a beach sports complex (football/volleyball), beach bars and every conceivable sea activity. The beach also regularly hosts major festivals.
Praia da Rocha is a popular holiday destination, but the tourist development has not detracted from the beautiful natural scenery. There are vivid orange cliffs, crystal clear waters, and the beach itself is over 200m wide.
Related article: Praia da Rocha guide
The massive beach at Praia da Rocha
The Praia da Marinha is the most beautiful beach in the Algarve.
The beach nestles at the base of a jagged sandstone cliff, which has been eroded into misshapen cliff formations. There are sea pillars, jutting golden rocks and a unique double sea arch, all lapped by the calm turquoise sea waters. Below the waterline the rocks are teeming with life, and the Praia da Marinha is a wonderful location for snorkelling.
The Praia da Marinha beach is stunning, and should be definitely visited during your holiday to the Algarve.
Related articles: Praia da Marinha
The crystal-clear seawaters with its numerous rock features make the Praia da Marinha fantastic for snorkelling
The double arch of the Arcos Naturais