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The best independent guide to the Algarve

Praia da Rocha and Portimão beach guide

Praia da Rocha is a lively beach resort just to the south of the much larger city of Portimão.

Both Portimão and Praia da Rocha are close to some of the Algarve’s finest beaches, with Praia da Rocha positioned on the cliffs just above one of the best beaches of the central Algarve region.

Most visitors just head to this wonderful beach, which can easily be walked (1.5km) from the historic centre of Portimão, but there are many more beautiful beaches to discover. There are hidden cove beaches near Vau, the deserted beaches east of Alvor, or the picturesque beaches south of Ferragudo.

Praia da Rocha beach

The beautiful coastline to the west of Praia da Rocha (the Praia do Amado beach)

If you are at the early stages of planning your holiday to the Portimão region, know that the beaches of the region are outstanding. The beaches offer soft golden sands, the seawaters are clean and safe, and the natural setting of the golden coloured cliffs is stunning. The Praia da Rocha coastline has some of the largest beaches of the Algarve, so even at the height of the summer season, there is plenty of space.

This article will provide a guide to the beaches within the Portimão and Praia da Rocha region, along with beach advice.
Related articles: Praia da Rocha introduction
Note: If you’re on holiday in the area to east of the Arade River, then our Carvoeiro beach guide will be more relevant to you.

The best beaches of the Portimão and Praia da Rocha region

Praia da Rocha - Praia da Rocha beach has it all; beach sports, water activities, restaurants, bars and stylish lounge bars.

Praia da Rocha beach

Praia dos Caneiros – Tranquil beach on the much quieter eastern side of the Arade River

Praia dos Caneiros beach

Praia dos Três Castelos – Idyllic beach set at the base of the tower cliffs

Praia dos Três Castelos beach

Praia da Torralta – vast swathes of empty beach leading to Alvor

Praia da Torralta beach

Beaches within the Portimão region

The interactive map below shows all of the beaches of the Portimão region (within 3km of Praia da Rocha (No.8)):

1) Praia da Torralta 2) Praia dos Três Irmãos 3) Praia do Alemão 4) Praia do Vau 5) Praia dos Careanos 6) Praia do Amado 7) Praia dos Três Castelos 8) Praia da Rocha 9) Praia da Angrinha 10) Praia Grande 11) Praia do Molhe 12) Praia dos Caneiros 13) Praia da Afurada (only accessible by boat or kayak)

Note: Between Três Irmãos (2) and Alemão (3) is a rocky headland, marked by the yellow line. There are many small but inaccessible beaches, some of these can be clambered down or kayaked to, but haven’t been includes in this guide as not easily accessible.

Beach Overview

There are three major beaches that are within walking distance of Praia da Rocha. The largest and closest to the town is the magnificent beach of Praia da Rocha. Heading west is the smaller beach of Praia dos Tres Castelos, which extends for the same distance as Praia da Rocha but is narrower and bound by higher cliffs.

beach Praia da Rocha

The massive beach of Praia da Rocha

Due to the outcrops and high cliffs the Tres Castelos beach sometimes subdivided into three separate beaches but all are identical. The third stretch of beach is the Praia do Vau and encompasses the western side of the bay. Vau beach has the lowest cliffs and is the most shelter and quietest of the beaches.

Praia da Rocha Beach

Rocha beach is simply stunning and certain visitors may not feel there is a reason to further explore the coast. The Rocha beach extends for over 1km around the resort, to the east is the old Santa Catarina fort and the mouth to the Portimão estuary while to the west is a rocky headland and viewpoint. The beach is wide and extends shallowly out into the sea, making it suitable for families while providing enough waves for body-boarding.

Praia da Rocha

The main beach of Praia da Rocha

Running along the base of the cliffs is a wooden promenade and there is slope entrance to the beach close to the fort. The seas that surround Praia da Rocha are shockingly cold, vary very little even in the hot summers the mean temperature is 13-15°C. The seas are fed from the Atlantic Ocean and not the Mediterranean giving the constant cold temperatures.

Large portions of the beach are reserved for deck chair and parasol hire which are priced from the captive tourist market (€ 10-15 depending on the season). There are snack bars and restaurants at the base of the cliff with a more extensive selection at the top and the main tourist strip. During the summer Praia da Rocha beach is lifeguard supervised.

Praia da Rocha

There are banana boat rides and jet skis to be hired while close to the castle is a giant children’s inflatable. Praia da Rocha beach is an amazing beach, large enough to accommodate all the visitors while also set along a stunning coastline – it is easy to understand why visitors often do not investigate further afield.

We have worked with Getyourguide.com over the last five years, and a selection of their best tours from Portimao and Praia da Rocha include:

Praia dos Tres Castelos beach

Praia dos Tres Castelos is the second beach of the Praia da Rocha coastline. It is bound by the headland and viewpoint to the east and the Praia do Vau in the west.

The beaches here are much narrower, without the vast expanse of sand of Rocha but offer a more idyllic and less commercial atmosphere.

The rocky headland divides the 1km coastline into multiple little beaches; the Praia dos Tres Castelos, Praia do Amado and the Praia dos Careanos (east to west). All three beaches are almost identical with beautiful strata cliffs and steep steps down to the golden sand beaches.

Praia dos Tres Castelos beach

Praia do Vau

The Praia do Vau is the most westerly of the coastline and is a very different beach from the previous two. Vau beach is situated along a flat section of land and is sheltered by a high headland. It is 2km from Praia do Vau to Praia Rocha and takes around 20 minutes. The route to Vau beach from Praia do Rocha follows the promenade and then the cliff road (M531) and is an enjoyable route which provides wonderful views over the region.

Praia do Vau beach

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