The South of Portugal is an underrated, up and coming destination in Europe. The landscapes, culture, beaches and quaint towns are as gorgeous as what you might expect in the French Riviera for a sliver of the cost. Portugal is one of the cheapest countries in Europe and offers just as much, if not more than that of Europe’s coastal regions. What makes the southern region so unique is its incomparable beaches. Here is our list of recommended beaches in the Algarve region of Portugal.
BEACHES IN AND AROUND LAGOS
PRAIA DONA ANA
Praia Dona Ana is situated just outside of Lagos and is one of the most popular in the area. The beach, like many in this area, is situated between sandstone cliffs that stretch 160 meters long offering a few shaded areas and plenty of sun.
The water here is clean and clear, where it is situated enables a slow wave offering great snorkeling and swimming.
Towards the back of the beach, you will find a little shack for food, drinks, and bathrooms. There are more lunch options up the stairs at the west end of the beach, walk a few meters and you will find cliffside restaurant options.
You can walk to this beach from the center of Lagos in under 20 minutes, which I recommend if you are able. Parking is available but often fills up pretty quickly during peak season and on weekends.
PRAIA DA CAMILO
Praia da Camilo is our favorite beach in the Algarve and in our top 10 list of beaches from around the world. Situated just down from Praia Dona Ana, this charming beach is nestled below the tall cliffside and is perfect for endless days by the water.
The beach sits far below the cliffs and is surrounded by caves and crystal blue waters. Here, you can rent kayaks, snorkel gear or SUPs. You can also take a boat tour through the grottos alongside the coast for a different view.
There are plenty of incredible views to enjoy from the top of the cliffs on the many hiking trails if you have difficulty with stairs. There are roughly 200 stairs to access this beach so it isn’t for everyone.
At the top of the stairs, near the carpark, there is a nicer restaurant with bathrooms. Parking is better here than at Praia Dona Ana and is a little further from the center of Lagos so driving may be the route to take. It is about a 10-minute walk from Praia Dona Ana if you decide to beach hop.
PRAIA DOS PINHEIROS
Praia Dos Pinheiros is located between Praia da Camilo and Ponta da Piedade and is a more secluded and intimate beach. It is much smaller than Camilo and Dona Ana, but what it lacks in size it gains in charm.
Praia Dos Pinheiros is still walkable from the city but further out than the preceding beaches, I would recommend driving here as you can park at Praia da Camilo and walk from there.
Getting down to the beach takes a series of steps built into the sandstone, manageable but not great for those who aren’t as mobile.
PONTA DA PIEDADE
Ponta Da Piedade is more of grotto or cove than it is a beach. Nonetheless, it is one of the top-ranked destinations in the Algarve and one of the most iconic photo spots in the world.
We visited during sunrise or sunset to experience the views with little interruption of other visitors. Ponta means a point, so the area offers views of the southern seas and a little taste of the Western facing side of Portugal.
Ponta Da Piedade is most famously known for its unique boat tours through its grottos but can also be explored by land for an equally incredible view. Once you reach the bottom of the stairs there is an area to swim around and explore the caves.
BEACHES NEAR CARVOEIRO
PRAIA DE CARVOEIRO
Praia De Carvoeiro is the main beach in the charming town of Carvoeiro. It is located in the center of Carvoeiro which makes it an easily accessible beach with a lot to do, see and eat.
Near Carvoeiro, up the stairs from the east end of the beach, is the start of a gorgeous cliffside boardwalk. There are areas to cut off from and climb down into the coves. There is also the opportunity to cliff jump here.
PRAIA DE VALE CENTEANES
Praia de Vale Centeanes is another beach located in Carvoeiro and is tucked away for a more private beach experience. It is sheltered by cliffs which block from all kinds of wind, perfect for sun addicts.
There is a shallow valley on the east end of the beach that is handicap accessible, making this beach perfect for all visitors. You will find a café with snacks, drinks, and bathrooms near the beach entrance.
If you visit during sunset, stop at O Stop for a gorgeous seaside dining experience.
PRAIA DO CARVALHO
Praia do Carvalho is another tucked away beach that is just a few hundred meters away from the famous Benagil. If you are the adventure type, this is a top-notch spot for safe cliff jumping in the Algarve.
There is a staircase through a small tunnel built into the cliffs to access this beach. Like many beaches in the area, it is made for those who are mobile enough for a set of stairs.
It, of course, is similar to the other beaches throughout the Algarve, but as we visited each we found something new and exciting about each one. I highly recommend giving them all a chance if you have the time.
PRAIA DE BENAGIL
Praia de Benagil has blown up due to Instagram, as the locals say. The area is famously known for being the host of the large cave with the hole in the earth above it. The Benagil Caves are likely on the top of the list for tourists when arriving in the Algarve. Visiting these caves requires a boat, kayak or paddleboarding tour. Or if you can brave it, a swim.
Aside from the stunning caves, there is a large beach with relaxing. Of course, there is a restaurant at the entrance with restrooms and good food. Above the cliffs there are plenty of trails to explore, you just have to venture for them.
Getting here is about a 15-minute drive from Carvoeiro and parking is average. The beach sits at the bottom of a steep hill and the road drops down to it. Due to the high popularity of the area, I recommend parking at the top and walking to avoid any stress in congested traffic.
PRAIA DA MARINHA
Praia da Marinha has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and it is easy to see why once you step foot on it. It is a gorgeous strip of sand that has beautiful views above and below the cliffs.
The trend continues, a few flights of stairs gain you access to the beach and paths above are made for those who can’t take on the flight challenge.
Car parking is available at the top of the hill and restaurants are nearby if you need restroom or food.
BEACHES NEAR VILAMOURA AND FARO
PRAIA DO PENECO
Praia do Peneco offers a lot more space than most of these other secluded beach styles. With its long stretch of sand, this beach guarantees you a spot in the sand and plenty of room for activities. You have access to food and plenty of walking trails to keep you busy if the beach lying isn’t your jam.
PRAIA DE FARO
Praia de Faro is unsurprisingly the main beach in Faro and is the easiest to get to if you are visiting or staying in Faro.
It is your classic public beach but is great for an afternoon of sun and swimming. It is close to the city center so food and getting here is uncomplicated. Recommended for families and big groups.
PRAIA DE GARRAO
Praia de Garrao is situated near Vilamoura and is the main beach that serves a collection of luxury resorts in the ‘Golden Triangle’. There are sun lounges serviced by the resorts but around them, you can find patches of sand that are open to the public visitors.
I recommend this beach if you are in search of a seaside dinner with a fantastic view and good food. Some of the finest restaurants in the country sit on this beach, so it is worth a visit.
ILHA DA BARRETA
Ilha da Barreta is a gorgeous, unspoiled stretch of sand and clear water. Ilha means island, so this beach requires a ferry that costs just 10 euros for a return ticket. The locals call this Ilha Deserta meaning Deserted Island because it is untouched by development and crowds.
If you are near Faro, I recommend a visit to this beach for a quiet day away from the hustle of the Algarve and a chance for different scenery.