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Beaches, Algarve

Sit back on your sun lounger, apply your sun cream and let the world pass you by at one of The Algarve’s many beautiful beaches. In fact, the Algarve’s beaches are one of the key attractions for travellers venturing over to this idyllic destination. Expect white sandy beaches, rocky coves and tranquil turquoise waters, as well as mesmerising sunsets as the day draws to an end.

Meia Praia

The Meia Praia beach is a beautiful, four-kilometre stretch of golden sand, located in the Lagos region of the Algarve, which runs from Lagos on the western side to the Odiáxere River mouth on the eastern side.

The beach is bordered by wide, grassed sandbanks that open onto quiet roads from which there are several access points onto the beach. Because of its length, you will have no trouble finding a space, even at the height of the tourist season and there are sunbeds and umbrellas to hire and plenty of snack bars and restaurants for when you need some refreshment.

There are various sports on offer including paragliding, sailing, tennis and volleyball and because of the lack of rocks in the sea, this is a very popular destination for kite and windsurfers.

From the beach, you can see the historic town of Lagos to the east and on a clear day, you can even see as far as Sabres. To the west, you can see Alvor, Praia da Rocha and Onto Carvoeiro. A beautiful beach to take a leisurely stroll.

Praia da Amoreira

Praia da Amoreira is a beach located in the village of Aljezur, within the Vicentine Coast Natural Park. The beach has beautiful, fine, golden sand, is backed and sheltered by sand dunes and is reached via the wooden steps down the cliff side, located at the carpark. Because the sea can be quite rough at times, this beach is hugely popular with surfers and bodyboarders but there are also lovely rock pools for children to explore and play in.

When the tide is out, a shallow lagoon is left on the beach, making this an ideal and safe place for families with young children. There is a café and toilets at the base of the cliff, and lifeguards are in attendance during the summer months.

A particular point of interest at the northern tip of the beach is the black rock formation, which resembles the image of a giant lying down.

Praia da Falésia

Praia da Falésia beach is more than six kilometres long, stretching from Vilamoura in the west to Olhos do Agua in the east. This beautiful long, expanse of golden sands is surrounded by red and white cliffs, contrasting with green pines, making this one of the most unforgettable beaches in the Algarve.

The eastern side of the beach is called Alfamar and the cliffs are lower here than on the western side. The waters are very shallow, making it a favourite for families with small children, and can get quite busy during the summer months. However, due to its size, you can always find a nice quiet spot to set up your sunbed and umbrella and relax away from the hustle and bustle. On this part of Praia da Falésia beach, there are all sorts of water sports to try, including paragliding, diving and a surfing school. You can also find excellent beach restaurants and bars here.

In the evening, Praia da Falésia is an ideal place to take a leisurely walk along the beach, and is particularly beautiful at sunset.

Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha is a quaint sandy beach, surrounded by cliffs and pit caves, and is known for its rustic beauty. The wonderfully clear waters splash against the ochre limestone cliffs and the stunning rock formations. To the right of the beach is a famous rock structure, likening to the letter ‘M’, which is actually called the ‘M rock’. This rock formation can be seen from the scenic cliffside or during low tide, where you can walk along the beach to reach it.

The beach is accessed via a set of steps, which lead down the cliff, being a favourite with locals and tourists alike. At the end of the stairs, there is a restaurant and a small area of sand. To get to the main beach, you will need to walk further around past a huge rock.

If you’re an avid walker, instead of taking the stairs on the left of the beach, you can go right and follow the walking trail which lasts for several kilometres, providing amazing views over the nearby cliffs.

Praia de Alvor

Praia de Alvor beach, located in a former fishing village is now a popular, cheerful tourist destination with many surrounding bars and restaurants, alongside a lovely church and an interesting castle. Alvor has two beaches: Praia de Alvor and Praia dos Tres Irmaos, which are only separated by rocks.

Praia de Alvor has fine white sand with clear, transparent waters, being popular in the summer months but not to worry; you can usually find a nice quiet area to reside in. The beach is backed by sand dunes and the Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve, which can be accessed via the Alvor boardwalk; making it a perfect beach for nature lovers.

The boardwalk is an interesting pathway to follow, whether walking or cycling and is suitable for wheelchair use. Behind the beach, there is a beautiful lagoon, great for water sports, including kayaking, jet skiing, kitesurfing and windsurfing.

Praia de Odeceixe

The Praia de Odeceixe beach – part of the Vicentine Coast Natural Park, is situated on the two sides of the Seixe river which borders with the Alentejo region, thus offering both river and sea waters. Odeceixe Beach is a large sandy beach, especially popular with surfers and has a Blue Flag award. So, there are plenty of facilities here, including a variety of beachside shops and cafes.

What makes Praia de Odeceixe beach special is that on the riverside, it is more of a bay with no waves. Therefore, if you have young children or are not a particularly good swimmer, then this is the perfect spot for you. The other side is the ocean, with giant waves, prime surfing spots and soft golden sands.

This area is also good for fishing; there are many lovely walking tracks to explore. If you want to sit and watch the sunset at the end of the day, there is a small bar/cafe up on the cliff, which is a great place to sit with a glass of wine or a beer and just take in the view.

Praia do Barril

The Praia do Barril is one of the best beaches in eastern Algarve, with soft golden sands and beautifully clear, calm waters, making it a favourite for families with young children. The region is protected by the Ria Formosa nature park, a haven for small saltwater aquatic life and migratory birds. Therefore, tourist development has been limited and so the idyllic coastline remains pristine and unspoilt. As a Blue Flag award beach, Praia do Barril has plenty of facilities and is lifeguard patrolled during the summer season. At the far western end of the beach is an officially designated nudist zone.

The beach was once the location of a small tuna fishing community and the former fishermen’s huts have been sympathetically converted into cafes, restaurants and shops. Of special interest is the Cemitério das Âncoras (Cemetery of Anchors/Anchor Graveyard), where hundreds of huge, rusting anchors are embedded like a sculpture in the sand dunes and act as a memorial to the tuna fishing industry. There is also a small museum within the restaurant, displaying interesting photos relating to the history of this area.

Praia do Camilo

Praia do Camilo is made up of two small beaches that are connected through a hand-dug, cave-hole tunnel, found on the left-hand side of the beach. Access to the beach is via 200 wooden steps, which wind their way down the orange-coloured cliffs. These cliffs provide shelter from ocean winds, making the beach a real suntrap. The sea is a lovely azure blue colour, very clear and calm and is ideal for swimming and snorkelling. However, the waters can be a little chilly, as its waters come from the Atlantic Ocean, not the warmer Mediterranean.

Praia do Camilo is extremely popular and as it is only small, it can get very crowded, so it is best to arrive early to ensure a space. One restaurant sits on the top of the cliffs, but there are few other facilities near the beach. Not to worry, simply bring your own sunbeds, parasols, food and drinks along when heading over here. For those with limited mobility, this beach is best avoided as there is no access for disabled people.

Praia do Martinhal

Praia do Martinhal is a wide sandy beach, approximately two kilometres from Sagres. This beach is located within the fairly sheltered east-facing Bay of Baleeira, which is also home to the town’s harbour. Praia do Martinhal is bordered by sand dunes, providing shelter from the windy breezes, often found along this section of the coastline.

Image source: Flickr. Copyright Freebird

There are cafes on the beach, perfect for when you want a drink or a bite to eat, and there are also sun loungers and parasols for hire. The beach is not usually too busy, being a favourite with families since the sand is ideal for building sandcastles. The windy conditions also make it an ideal venue for windsurfers and there is a lifeguard service during the summer months.

If you tire of lazing in the sun, there are boat trips from Sagres harbour to the Martinhal Islet, just a few hundred metres off the coast, with beautiful clear waters making it an ideal place for diving and snorkelling.

Praia Verde

Praia Verde beach – also known as ‘Green Beach’, is located on the eastern side of the Algarve and is only a 10-minute drive to the Spanish border. It is a stunningly beautiful beach with a wide, flat expanse of fine white sands, surrounded by a forest of green trees and bushes.

The calm, clear waters are warmer than at some other resorts in the Algarve as it is nearer to the Mediterranean Sea. During low tide, there are small pockets of water in the sand, where children can safely play. Access to the beach is either via a long wooden stairway or a steep path down through the green forest; the main entrance to the beach is then on the left-hand side.

Praia Verde attracts many visitors, including locals and tourists coming across the border from Spain. What’s great about Praia Verde is its size; it’s quaint, meaning it never gets too crowded and you can always find a nice quiet space. There is a beach bar-cafe, as well as sunbeds and umbrellas to hire. The beach also has a lifeguard presence during the main holiday season.