The best independent guide to the Algarve
The best independent guide to the Algarve
Praia da Luz is a small and personable resort town situated on the stunning western Algarve coastline.
Luz sits around a glorious sandy bay, and combines a wonderful climate, delicious food and a welcoming ambience, to create the perfect destination for a relaxing beach-based holiday.
Praia da Luz was originally a fishing village, being sheltered from the Atlantic’s ferocity by the towering, Rocha Negra basalt headland. Today, tourism has replaced fishing, but fortunately this transformation has not lessened the charm of Luz. The sprawling tourist developments that extend up the hills are stylish and in-keeping, while the restaurants remain family owned and specialise in delicious regional dishes.
For a holiday, Praia da Luz has a welcoming and family friendly atmosphere, and offers a surprisingly wide section of restaurants, cafes and beach bars. Luz may be quiet and peaceful, but it is only 5km to the major city of Lagos with its extensive shopping, historic centre and buzzing nightlife. This guide will provide an introduction to Praia da Luz.
Luz is charming, unassuming and conceals a wonderful beach. The town has a homely and welcoming ambience; where visitors and long-term residents spend hot summer days socialising in the beachside cafes or relaxing on the beach.
Praia da Luz is a great destination for families with young children, in part due to the calm nature of the town and safe beach, which is supervised during the summer. Luz has a wide choice of privately rented holiday homes and apartments, in the modern developments which extend up the hills behind the town.
As part of a touring holiday, Luz can be a calmer base from which to explore the western side of the Algarve. There are good public transport links to the historic city of Lagos, while there are sufficient bus services to explore westwards, towards Sagres. Luz has a popular following with retirees or long stay visitors, wishing to escape the gloom of the winter months.
Luz is not designed for people wishing a fast-paced, hectic or drink-fuelled holiday. The town is a distance from the main buzz of the Algarve; for example, Slide and Splash (best water park of the Algarve) is 30km from Luz.
The main tourist season of Praia da Luz is from June until the end of August, with August being the busiest month. The weather is suitable for spending time on the beach from May until late September.
The spring or autumn months can be a great time to visit, especially if the focus of the holiday is exploring the region. Luz closes for winter in November, but as there is a large expat community, many cafes and restaurants will remain open.
The winter months in southern Portugal are mild but have unpredictable weather with an equal number of bright days as wet days.
Praia da Luz is expecting a sell-out summer season for 2021, as more visitors seek holidays to safe and established destinations within Europe.
As with many other tourism destinations, the Algarve was severely hit by the events of 2020, but by the time you visit the difficulties of 2020 will be a distant memory.
As Praia da Luz is expecting a sell-out 2021, we strongly advise you to get your flights and accommodation as soon possible before they increase and sell out.
Use the map below to discover the best accommodation in Praia da Luz, if you adjust the dates to your holiday it will display current prices and availability.
Praia da Luz is a great destination for families with young children. The town is less hectic than many other central Algarve holiday towns (Albufeira, Praia da Rocha, Lagos) and the tourist industry of Luz is focused towards families. Children are welcomed in all cafes and restaurants, and the town does not suffer from rowdy groups searching for cheap drinks.
The small Lagos zoo is a favourite for younger children and is less than a 10minute drive from Luz. Families with teenagers may prefer to be based closer to the central Algarve region, which is nearer to the theme and water parks.
Luz is a fantastic holiday destination, but Portugal has many similar towns which you may not have considered (or even heard of!). Here are our suggestions for alternatives to Praia da Luz (a medium sized tourists town, which is close to a beautiful beach), our recommendations are:
In the Algarve – Alvor, Carvoeiro, 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), Vila do Conde and São Martinho do Porto.
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Luz has one large sandy beach that nestles between the towering Rocha Negra headland and the rocky coastline close to the Fortaleza da Luz. This beach has soft golden sands and clean sea waters, while to the rear of the beach is a selection of beach cafes and restaurants.
As the Praia da Luz is sheltered between the two headlands the sea waters are calm and safe, and suitable for children to bath in. The seawaters are calm but surprisingly cold, only reaching 20C at the height of the summer. In the summer there are numerous water-based activities, including banana boats, Ringos (€12 for 15min) or Kayaks (€10 per hour).
There is a second smaller beach, the Praia Prahina, to the west of the Fortaleza da Luz and is generally much quieter than the main beach of Praia da Luz.
Praia da Luz is not known for its surfing, with waves that are only medium sized and inconsistent, for better surfing waves head to the popular Porto de Mós beach 3km to east. Luz has a surf school and surf rental shop (Luz Surf Village), more information can be seen on their website:
The Algarve contains many outstanding coastal hiking routes, and Luz is no exception. The two popular routes head along the cliffs east towards Lagos or west to Burgau. The 7km route to Lagos passes the Porto de Mós beach and the stunning Ponta da Piedade cliff formations. For detailed footpath maps (which are open source), please see OpenStreetMap:
There is just a single water sports/activity company in Luz but luckily, they provide a wide selection of activities. There are boat tours to Sagres (€40, 2h), the Ponta da Piedade (€25, 1h30) or dolphin watching (€40, 1h30), along with kayaks and inflatables. For more information either see their hut on the beach or website:
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From Luz there are two main day trips, to Lagos and Sagres.
Lagos is a bustling and historic city with a large marina and surrounded by beautiful beaches. Lagos’ rich seafaring heritage is reflected in the numerous historic monuments, while the pedestrianised centre is a joy to wander. To the south of the city are the highly weathered cliffs of the Ponte de Piede, a series of sea arches, grottos and caves that are best explored by fishing boat.
The second recommended day trip is to Sagres, a centre for experienced surfers who come to ride the massive Atlantic swells. Sagres is a great destination if you appreciate nature’s raw power and enjoy the outdoors lifestyle; be that hiking, surfing or cycling. Sights of Sagres include the working fishing harbour, the unique fort and the Cabo de São Vicente, the bleak southwestern tip of mainland Europe.
The small resort towns of Burgau and Salema could be also combined as a day trip, or visited as part of a bike ride. With a rental car the Parque Natural do Costa Vicentina coastline could be explored, with its deserted beaches and dramatic natural scenery.
Related articles: Lagos Introduction – Sagres day trip
There are two excellent golf courses close to Luz. Boavista is an 18-hole (par 71) championship course that part way between Luz and Lagos. The Golf Santo Antonio is another par 71, 18-hole course that is set within the Parque da Floresta, it is slightly further away on the main road to Vila do Bispo. More information for both course can be found on their websites:
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Praia da Luz has a mixture of small hotels, privately let apartments and larger resort complexes, which are thankfully in keeping with the character of the tow. There is a range of excellent eating establishments in Luz, which cater for a variety of tastes and cuisines. Nightlife tends to be focused around late opening cafes, restaurants or bars.
The nearest international airport for Praia da Luz is Faro Airport, 85km to the east. Lisbon airport is not a sensible choice to reach Luz, as it is much further away (230km). Faro airport is modern and has numerous flights covering the whole of Europe, and this includes all of the low-cost airlines.
Travelling from Faro airport to Luz is either time consuming or expensive. Public transport is very poor, needing two buses and a train, and the entire journey can take up to four hours. A better choice is a private transfer from the airport (around €70), or a shared transfer (summer only and when there is demand). Luz is about the only destination in the Algarve where a rental car can be a benefit.
Related articles: Faro Airport to Luz
Yes it is, but it is unfortunate that a tragic event over ten years ago can still tarnish the town's reputation. The Algarve in general is a very safe place, and Luz is so small that nothing like that could ever happen again.
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:
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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.