The Algarve is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
These range from tourist hotspots where holidaymakers take up every inch of sand, soaking up the sun between dips in the ocean – to more secluded spots where, if you’re lucky, you could have the whole beach to yourself.
Nearly 90 have been awarded a Blue Flag in the golden coast of south Portugal. In Albufeira alone, all 25 of its shores and the Marina have received this status.
But, with more than 150 beaches to choose from, how do you decide where to go?
Here are some of the best Algarve beaches to help you decide. Some you’ll want to spend a whole day at while others you might just like to stop and see as you’re passing through.
1.Praia da Marinha
Where is it? Lagoa
Why go? This is the most famous beach in the Algarve. It’s the perfect representation of the coastline in this area and the one you’ll often see on the front of postcards. This exotic stretch of sand is regularly listed among the most beautiful beaches, not just in Europe, but the world.
Tucked away within limestone cliffs you’ll find glistening, clear water and soft, golden sand. Take the steps down to the beach but make sure you stop to admire the view before you do.
You have to check out the rock formation, it is particularly spectacular – the most recognisable one is shaped like an M.
Facilities: You won’t find many facilities here but there is a restaurant at the entrance if you’re feeling peckish and a car park, if you have driven.
2. Praia de Albandeira
Where is it? Lagoa
Why go? This beach is situated off the tourist trail – it’s one of the most secluded in the region and has been ranked among the best in Europe.
The bay is relatively small and protected by overhanging cliffs, which provide shade while you sunbathe on the golden sand and ensures that the sea is both clear and calm. Don’t forget your snorkelling equipment – the conditions here are ideal for it.
You’ll notice there is a rock that, due to years of erosion, is shaped like an arch as well as several rock pools. You’ll need to walk down the stairs to access this beach.
From the top of the cliff, as well as taking in the breathtaking view, you can walk all the way to Praia da Marinha.
Facilities: Apart from a car park and toilet, there aren’t many facilities here. So, you’ll need to make sure you pack everything you need throughout the day.
3. Praia da Falésia
Where is it? Albufeira
Why go? This golden stretch of sand, which is regularly named as one of the top beaches in Portugal, is more than three and a half miles long. It starts at Vilamoura and continues to Olhos de Água.
It’s split into two halves. The west is known as Açoteias and is famed for high red cliffs. The east is called Alfamar, the water here is shallow which is ideal if you’re travelling with children. This is where you’ll be able to have a go at paragliding, surfing and diving.
The colourful rocks and green pines provide the perfect backdrop whether you want to sit back and enjoy the view or take a walk along the shoreline.
You’ll notice this beach is incredibly clean, so it will come as no surprise to hear that it’s one of the region’s Blue Flag beaches.
Facilities: You’ll find all the facilities you need here including a restaurant, bar, toilets, shower, sunloungers, parking, lifeguards and watersports.
4. Praia do Martinhal
Where is it? East of Sagres
Why go? This Blue Flag beach is lovely to walk along and is large enough to ensure it doesn’t feel busy, even when it is. The clear water is ideal for snorkelling while the conditions make it a popular spot for surfing, windsurfing and body boarding. There is a surf school alongside the beach, where you can rent a board and wetsuit as well as take lessons, if you need them.
Facilities: There are plenty of amenities here including, a restaurant, toilet, sunloungers, parking, lifeguards and watersports.
5. Praia do Camilo
Where is it? Lagos
Why go? Before you take the 200 steps down the side of the cliff to relax on this small but beautiful Blue Flag beach, you should take a minute to savour the view. You’ll see rock formations – some of which reach 70 feet – towering high above the Atlantic Ocean.
This is another typical image of the Algarve coastline and one you may have also seen on postcards and in brochures. As you make your way down the steps you’ll be able to see how calm and clear the water is – don’t forget your goggles, there are plenty of colourful fish hiding underneath the ripples.
Once you’re down on the golden sand there are also coves and grottoes to explore.
Facilities: There aren’t many facilities here. You’ll find a toilet and restaurant but you might want to pack a picnic and plenty of water.
6. Praia da Dona Ana
Where is it? Lagos
Why go? This beach is located alongside Praia do Camilo and has been included among the most beautiful in the world.
This shore has become incredibly popular with tourists, so much so that it was enlarged in 2015 – doubling the area of sand.
The water is clear, the sand is gold and the beach is protected from the elements by the towering limestone rocks.
If you’re looking for more than a space to sunbathe, there are plenty of activities here including boat rides – which will take you into the caves, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.
If you thought the rock formations were impressive in Praia do Camilo, then these are even more so. Take in the view before you head down the wooden steps to the sand.
Facilities: There are several facilities here including a car park and restaurant.
7. Ilha de Tavira
Where is it? Tavira Island
Why go? This beautiful beach is situated on an island which forms part of Ria Formosa Natural Park. It’s the closest beach to Tavira and is often rated as the number one thing to do in the area.
It’s incredibly popular with tourists but it is wide and around seven and a half miles in length. The calm, shallow water is perfect for families although it can be very cold.
You’ll have to board a boat from Tavira which will take around 20 minutes. When you arrive you’ll walk through a pine forest to reach the beach. This is the busiest part but it is ideal to walk along and the further you go, the more likely you are to find some space for yourself.
Facilities: There are lots of facilities here including, a restaurant, toilets, showers, watersports, sunloungers and lifeguards. There is also camping here, if you fancy sleeping under the stars.
8. Ilha Deserta
Where is it? Near Faro
Why go? This beach is on an island near the capital, you’ll need to board a boat which will take around 30 minutes. It’s well worth it – this remote stretch of sand is the ideal place to truly relax and the surrounding natural beauty provides a stunning backdrop.
Ilha Deserta, which translates to ‘Deserted Island’, is the only uninhabited island near Ria Formosa.
The beach, which is often listed as the top thing to do in Faro, is just over four miles long and is the perfect spot for a day trip.
On the west side of the island you’ll find a section reserved for naturists.
Facilities: There is a restaurant on this island but little else. Make sure you pack everything you’ll need for the day.
9. Praia dos Olhos de Água
Where is it? Albufeira
Why go? On the east side of the beach you’ll find the freshwater springs that this area is famous for and has given the beach its name. Olhos de Água translates as eyes of water and these natural springs are particularly noticeable when the tide is low.
This beach is in the heart of the Algarve in a fishing town, on the east side you’ll also be able to see the colourful fishing boats bobbing on the surface of the warm waters.
Make sure you climb up to the lookout point at Miradouro da Praia where you can enjoy the view and discover a wonderful backdrop for your holiday snaps.
Facilities: You’ll find all the facilities you need here including, a restaurant, bar, toilet, shower, watersports, sunbeds, parking and lifeguards.
10. Praia da Senhora da Rocha
Where is it? Porches
Why go? This sheltered cove protects a relatively small stretch of golden sand and turquoise water.
Walk along the cliffs to enjoy the view – look west for panoramic views and cliffs that continue to Albufeira. Take the short footpath down to the beach where you can experience the thrill of a jet ski or paddle boat. You can also head through the tunnel to discover a quieter beach.
If you’re planning to tie the knot with your significant other, there is a small chapel high up on the sandstone cliffs. As you say your nuptials the deep blue ocean extends in the background as far as the eye can see – the perfect memory for your special day.
Facilities: Toilets, showers, lifeguards, and restaurants are all here for your convenience.
Top Tip: Don’t be put off spending the day on a beach that doesn’t have many amenities. This is the reason you should visit – it’s the ideal place to fully escape and relax. You might, however, want to pack a few extras, alongside the usual beach essentials, to keep you entertained such as:
- A book
- Bat and ball
- Bucket and spade
- An inflatable
- Snorkel mask
Now, you’ve heard about these beautiful beaches – why not go and see them for yourself?