The Algarve is renowned throughout Europe for its stunning beaches, from soft sand, ample facilities and a vibrant atmosphere to more secluded beaches with caves, rock pools and beautiful scenery, the Algarve has something for everybody.
Where possible we provide information to each beaches popularity, the water sports on offer, and the proximity of toilet facilities, car parking, shops and restaurants so that you can decide on its suitability for your group.
The majority of beaches are easily accessible by car from the main N125 road. In the summer, August in particular, almost nowhere is quiet, whilst in off-peak months the crowds fade away. Around the beginning and end of season, some of the restaurants and facilities in the area will also close.
Please also take note of the Portuguese flag system: a red flag means bathing is forbidden altogether, a yellow flag indicates that swimming is forbidden but sunbathing is safe, a green flag means that swimming and sunbathing are safe.
PRAIA DO ANCAO
Situated beside the Vale do Garrao beach heading towards Quinta do Lago this is a long stretch of sandy beach which is easily accessed and has good parking facilities. The beach has a couple of small restaurants. Beach umbrellas and loungers are available to hire.
To reach Ancao beach take the turning next to Pinetrees riding stables on the main N125 road.
QUINTA DO LAGO
This is an ideal place for surfers, windsurfers and spectators who like to watch their energetic feats. Conditions are perfect and there is a large tidal lake.
A long stroll is recommended along the sandy stretch of beach which is backed by dunes and fringed with pine trees. Visitors have a choice of bars and restaurants and there is a water sports centre, lifeguards and good car parking facilities.
Quinta do Lago is located off the N125 just south east of Almancil.
PRAIA DA GARRAO
Lots to enjoy on this long stretch of sandy beach. Watersports are available during the summer months or unwind at the variety of restaurants and beach bars with musical entertainment.
Take the road that leads to the Ria Park Hotel, go past the hotel (on your left) and take the first turn left. Plenty of space to park.
VALE DO LOBO BEACH
In true Caribbean style this sandy beach is lined with pinewoods and permanent wooden thatched sunshades. Visitors can enjoy feeling the waves break around their feet as they stroll the length of this extensive strand.
Water sports, lifeguards, bar/restaurants and car parking are available.
The beach is located off the N125 just south of Almancil.
PRAIA CAVALO PRETO
Also known as Praia de Almargem, the beach is in the Fonte Santa district on the road from Quarteira to Almancil.
Alongside the beach and separated by sand dunes is a small lake. There is a small bar and keen walkers can walk along to Vale do Lobo or Quarteira, depending on the tide.
Drivers should turn left at the traffic lights travelling from Almancil to Quarteira. The beach is signposted from here and is about three minutes drive through a residential area and pine trees.
PRAIA DA FALESIA
This unique beach is reached by a long drive through pinewoods followed by descending steps cut into the naturally sculpted red and cream cliffs.The red and cream cliffs make you think of raspberry ripple ice cream which can be purchased in the beach bar/restaurants.
The beach is lined with Caribbean-style thatched wooden sun umbrellas and is recommended for swimming. You can walk in either direction for as far as the eye can see.
Car parking is easy and lifeguards patrol in season.
Drivers should turn off the Albufeira to Quarteira road for Olhos de Agua and then turn left for Alfa-Mar before finally turning for Praia da Falesia. You can also reach it by heading just west of Vilamoura Marina.
PRAIA OLHOS DE AGUA
Olhos de Agua or 'Freshwater Beach' is a great family beach with good sand and swimming. The fishing village nearby has pretty houses, bars and restaurants, boat and fishing trips, good car parking and lifeguards on site in season.
To the west are a number of secluded coves to explore each with its own caves and attractive cliffs.
The village is signposted along the main Albufeira to Quarteira road (turn off at the Bull Pub). It is also signposted from Falesia.
PRAIA MARIA LUISA
Tranquility begins as you leave the Albufeira to Quarteria road towards Olhos de Agua. You then take a right along a sandy track and meet the serene Maria Luisa beach where cliffs and pines on three sides add to the peaceful atmosphere.
There is a large car park, lifeguards that patrol in season, bar/restaurants and views down towards Faro. Sun-shades and loungers are available to hire. Eastwards walkers can explore large rocky beaches.
This is a sandy beach ideal for picnics, frisbee games and sunbathing. There are also shops, restaurants and a nightclub nearby plus plenty of room for parking.
Reach Praia da Oura by driving east of Albufeira for a mile and a half. With the bullring on your right, take a right at the roundabout on the road towards Olhos de Agua. At the end of the shopping, restaurants, etc at another roundabout turn left. Shortly after, the beach is signposted on the right. The beach is a short distance from the car park.
PRAIA D’OURA GOLDEN BEACH
Noted for its golden sands, rides, windsurf hire and restaurants. Lifeguards are on site.
The western end of the beach has a bar/restaurant whilst the eastern end, over some rocks, is quieter.
Smaller beaches can be accessed along paths and over rocks with the red and cream cliffs of Falesia visible in the distance.
Reach Praia da Oura by driving east of Albufeira for a mile and a half. Take the road to Club Praia da Oura. To avoid the centre of Albufeira turn left at the crossroads on the outskirts as you approach from Ferreiras.
FORTE SAO JOAO BEACH
Forte Sao Joao is a small resort nestled between Albufeira and Praia D’Oura. The beach is a short walk from the resort centre and has beautiful golden sandy and green headland, or if you prefer to drive, there is plenty of parking available with steps and a ramp to access the beach. The water becomes deep quickly but lifeguards man the beach in high season. There is a choice of restaurants and cafes along the beach and sunbeds and parasols can also be hired - perfect for a lazy day soaking up the sun!
To locate the Forte Sao Joao beach, follow the coastal road from Albufeira to Praia D’Oura. About a mile along the road is Concha restaurant on the left, turn right here. Follow the road downhill and the beach is on the right next to Forte Sao Joao Beach Club.
PRAIA DOS AVEIROS
Situated in the Praia D’Oura area of Albufeira this tiny but perfectly formed beach with its small rock formations is excellent for scuba diving. There is a small beach bar.
The beach is situated beyond 'Kiss Disco' and is accessed by taking the first left turn before you come to the Hotel Auramar. Follow the road to the end and turn right when you see the signpost.
Parking is in a car park with a walk to the beach.
PRAIA DE SAO RAFAEL
The first pretty cove beach of note to the West of Albufeira, Sao Rafael combines sand and rock in good proportion. The beach can be accessed easily on foot from the resort centre, or by car with ample parking available, with steps leading down to the seafront.
The water does become deep quite quickly but lifeguards do man the beach in high season. Parasols and sunbeds are available to hire and there is a restaurant where you can enjoy a drink or a meal as a break from the sun!
The beach is accessible from the EN 125 just West of Albufeira.
PRAIA DA COELHA
Coelha is a pretty cove beach with dark green waters and is superb for snorkelling. Its width offers a lot of space for picnics and the rocks are good for fishing and exploring.
The peace and quiet provided here is a perfect contrast to the hustle and bustle of Albufeira which lies 3 miles to the east.
Proceed west to the top of the hill where you will come to the Dolphin roundabout. Follow the signs for Sao Rafael. Continue on the coastal road from Sao Rafael to Gale. Pass Dom Dinis restaurant on your right. Shortly after this, turn left passing the restaurant OMarinheiro. Follow the road to the car park.
There is a ten minute walk to this lovely cove beach with its beach bar serving drinks and snacks.
PRAIA DA CASTELO
One of the finest cove beaches in the Algarve, Castelo is isolated and surrounded by breathtaking rock formations. The beach is only a short walk from the resort centre or easily accessed by car, with steps and a ramp onto the sand.
The water becomes deep quickly but lifeguards do man the beach in high season. There is a good cafe which overlooks the beach out to sea and sunbeds and parasols are available for hire.
Praia do Lourenco Beach is located between the resorts of Gale and Sao Rafael, part of a succession of great beaches along this stretch of coast. The beach is small but is a sheltered cove with shallow rock formations and rock pools for exploring. There is a good restaurant overlooking the beach and a small parking area with a wooden walkway down onto the sand.
PRAIA DA GALE
Part of the huge stretch of sand East of Armacao de Pera, this beach has a lot to offer. It is distinguished by the large turtle-shaped rock at its easterly point. The beach is easily accessible on foot from the resort centre, or by car with ample parking available. Steps and a ramp lead down to the beach. The water is shallow, great for kids, with lifeguards in high season. Sunbeds, jet ski and water skiing facilities, parasols and pedaloes are all available to hire and there are numerous cafes and restaurants to choose from.
Drive from the N125 at Alcantarilha through Pera and follow signposts. It is within 4 miles of bustling Albufeira.
PRAIA DE ARMACAO DE PERA
At the Armacao de Pera resort cliffs give way to a sandy beach that stretches for miles to the east. The first stretch of beach is excellently provided for with car parking along the front, lifeguards and flags, bars, fish restaurants, sun umbrellas for hire, water sports and good roads along the coast or towards the N125.
If visitors fancy some peace and quiet they can walk along the beach or drive easterly through the village of Pera after leaving the N125 at Alcantarilha.
PRAIA DA MARINHA
This is one of the best and most surprising beaches in the area. Hidden from sight until you walk along the cliff top path, the sandy beach then stretches away from the attractive honeycomb cliffs. At the western end an opening through the cliff reveals an interesting secret cove.
Relatively quiet because of the lack of surrounding development, the beach is a long walk down a lot of steps. It is however well provided for with lifeguards, car parking, a beach bar/restaurant, windsurfing hire and boat trips during peak season.
Marinha beach is reached either by leaving the N125 at the International School east of Lagoa, or by travelling east past Benagil.
PRAIA DO BENAGIL
This small sandy cove lies beneath Benagil village, perched on the cliff tops, with colourful fishing boats and rugged landscape making for great views.
The beach opens out into a sandy stretch to the east and fishing or boating trips can be arranged.
Half way up the steps to the village is a bar/restaurant. There is car parking and during the season lifeguards are on duty.
Benagil is accessible from the N125 either from Lagoa or two miles to the east from the International School. It can also be reached on foot across the headland from Alfazina if you have visited Carvalho 'smugglers beach' from Carvoeiro.
PRAIA DO CARVALHO
Known locally as 'Smugglers Beach', Carvalho beach is a natural jewel in the Algarve coastline. Access is through one of the two natural tunnels in the cliff and down some steps.
This is definitely a beach for adventurers. Caves carved out of the cliff walls above the beach can be explored by climbing steps and going through a passageway and a small island is only a short swim off shore. The beach is also topped by a lighthouse.
A car park and toilet facilities are fairly nearby.
Carvalho is two miles east of Carvoeiro which is accessible from the N125 at Lagoa. Follow the signposts to Alfanzina – it is at the end of the Club Atlantico development.
PRAIA DE VILAMOURA
Praia de Vilamoura is the stretch of sandy beach located adjacent to the marina in the heart of this very popular resort. Very central this beach is within easy walk to the marina with its shops, bars and restaurants. Watersports are available during the summer months and whilst parking is available it does get busy. Our Villa Merlo (www.villaplus.com/villamerlo) is within walking distance of this beach.
VALE DE CENTIANES
Also known as Paradise beach, Centianes beach is set in a stunning location and is perfect for swimming. There is a bar/restaurant in a small grotto to its rear and another bar at the bottom of the steps that descend to the beach.
Although car parking is quite limited, Centianes is worth a visit for the canoe hire and the exposed, interestingly formed honeycomb rock - a natural work of art.
Reach the beach by leaving the N125 at Lagoa and driving 2 miles East after Carvoeiro.
A multi-faceted and instantly recognizable beach in the centre of Carvoeiro village. The beach is flanked by high cliffs that provide excellent shade from the afternoon sun. Intrepid explorers will love the striking rock formations of the Algar Seco as well as boat trips to nearby coves, grottoes and otherwise inaccessible beaches.
Flags and lifeguards are out in season when it can become crowded.
The beach is served by a small car park and is signposted from the N125 at Lagoa.
PRAIA DOS CANEIROS
Praia dos Caneiros is a popular beach which nestles between honey-coloured cliffs and is overlooked by the Ponta do Altar lighthouse. If visited in the winter it offers seclusion and great scenery.
Low tide opens up a smaller beach beside the lighthouse – excellent to explore and keep the kids busy.
Car parking and bar facilities are available. The beach is accessed by leaving the N125 just east of Portimao Bridge and driving two thirds of a mile past Ferragudo village.
PRAIA DE FERRAGUDO
A wide sandy beach that stretches away from the village of Ferragudo. As you follow the beach south the view changes spectacularly from riverbank to open sea as the estuary of the River Arade opens up.
Windsurfers, sailing boats and water skis can be hired from the water sports school or take advantage of the estuary for a spot of fishing.
Nearby is Portimao harbour, toilets and a beach bar/restaurant. Lifeguards are on patrol and car parking is close by. Ferragudo is also close to Praia da Rocha one of the Algarve’s most famous beaches.
Access to Ferragudo is from the N125 just east of Portimao Bridge.
PRAIA DE ALVOR
This beach is easily accessed and has good facilities and activities plus a diverse landscape.
Beach bars and restaurants are plentiful with windsurfers and sailing boats available for the energetic.
The beach is a long relaxing stretch of sand that meets gold and scarlet coloured cliffs sheltering a small cove called Tres Irmaos.
At the Lagos end of the beach at high tide visitors can only reach the next bay in a small craft – an adventurous prospect.
The beach can be reached by car directly from the N125 road east of Lagos or via Praia da Rocha.
This is an excellent sandy beach for avid joggers, walkers and swimmers as it is one of the largest in the Algarve. Take a romantic stroll at dusk or run off unwanted calories at dawn without having to double back on yourself.
The beach has sailboard rental outlets and water-skiing lessons plus many laid back restaurants and beach bars.
Leave the N125 at Odeaxere or at Lagos Bridge and follow the signs to an abundance of parking spaces.
PRAIA DONA ANA
One of the most attractive and exciting beaches in the Lagos area, Dona Ana is reached by steeply descending cliff-side steps which make you feel away from it all.
Another small adjacent bay as wide as its cliffs are high, is accessible at low tide and offers great shelter from the sun’s hot rays. Cornish holidaymakers will feel at home surrounded by this rugged landscape.
The intrepid can explore caves and grottoes on a boat trip and scuba diving and snorkelling (with your own equipment) is available. There are a number of bars and restaurants to relax at. Lifeguards are on patrol.
The beach is relatively small and gets very crowded in high season.
Follow the signs to Dona Ana as you drive west out of Lagos and park near the Hotel Golfino.
PORTO DO MOS
This sweeping bay in Lagos benefits from easy parking and several beach bars and restaurants.
Turn off the N125 on the western outskirts of Lagos.
PRAIA DA LUZ
Four miles to the west of Lagos, Praia da Luz is a thriving family resort. The long wide sandy beach flanked by dark headland cliffs is well known for its fishing, snorkelling, windsurfing, paddle boating and sailing school open June to September.
Luz has a variety of shops, restaurants, bars, nightclub and charming cobbled streets and is a paradise for those looking for plenty to do and see.
Flags and lifeguards offer safety in season. Limited parking spaces back onto the beach and toilets are located nearby.
Access Luz from the N125 at either Espiche or at a turn-off under two miles to the east of Espiche.
PRAIA DO BURGAU
This fishing village oozes character with streets winding down to a flat secluded beach. Marine blue water meets the cliffs where the whitewashed village is perched. The golden sand is ideal for sunbathing and beach games.
Gentle waves welcome swimmers and the deeper water is good for diving and snorkelling. Children can play on nearby rocks under the watchful eye of adults at the large beach bar.
Praia do Burgau can be reached from either Almadena on the N125 or along the coastal road from Praia da Luz. It is sensible to leave your car at the top of the village and walk down to this quiet haven.
PRAIA DE SALEMA
Overlooked by a colourful fishing village, Salema’s sandy beach has terrific facilities giving visitors of all ages everything they need for a day out.
Enjoy the restaurants on the beach where there is limited car parking, toilets and lifeguards all on hand. Sun-loungers can be hired in peak season.
It is a pleasant destination in the off-peak season as facilities are open yet not overcrowded.
Salema is accessed by turning off the N125, two thirds of a mile west of the town of Budens.
PRAIA DO MARTINHAL
Praia do Martinhal is a flat sandy beach to the east of Sagres harbour. Backed by sand dunes and cliffs it is ideal for exploring. The calm sea makes it suitable for bathing. Visitors can watch or participate in windsurfing.
The beach has a peaceful atmosphere and is suitable for young children, the elderly and family picnics. Bars, restaurants and a motel overlook the sea.
Praia do Martinhal is accessed by turning off the N268 eastwards, 4 ½ miles south of the town of Vila do Bispo.
PRAIA DA MARETA
This is a relaxing sandy beach to the east of Sagres Point sheltered and amply served by beach bars and restaurants. Car parking is very close to the beach and lifeguards are on patrol in season. Boats and fishing trips are available.
This is an ideal beach to have lunch when visiting Cape St Vincent about two miles away. Nearby Sagres is an historical town full of Portuguese character and a stroll to the east of the beach reveals a harbour and to the west a fort.
Praia da Mareta is accessed by turning off the N268 eastwards at Sagres Point.
PRAIA DO TONEL
Situated to the west of Sagres Point this small sandy beach nestles in a bay between interesting rocky outcrops. A beach for the playful, it benefits from rolling Atlantic waves pushed in by western winds. Take care when swimming as this is a very popular surfing beach.
The area is picturesque and is a great place to cool off on a drive to Cape St Vincent. Rock pools keep the children busy and bar/restaurants are within easy reach. Nearby Sagres is an exceptionally pretty harbour town.
There is limited car parking along a sandy track 20 yards away. Find the beach by turning off the N268, which is a continuation west of the N125. One hundred and fifty steps descend to the beach with the beach becoming visible half way down.
FISHERMAN'S BEACH, ALBUFEIRA
Accessed by either steps, a boardwalk or by escalators, Fisherman's Beach in Albufeira is ideal for all ages with shallow water and fine golden sand. Watersports facilities are available and the beach is lined with cafes and shops, with the old town of Albufeira also within easy reach on foot.