I’m of the opinion that every Portugal itinerary should end with the beautiful beaches of the Algarve. This sun-soaked region on Portugal’s southern coast is just a few hours from Lisbon, but feels like a world away.
First-time visitors to the Algarve beaches should be prepared for an explosion of photo-worthy scenery. There are so many beautiful Algarve beaches to discover, along with charming villages and fantastic regional cuisine.
Praia da Marinha
Praia da Marinha has golden sand, clear water and caves begging to be discovered. If you want a guide, there are boat tours to help you explore them.
If you’re feeling more daring, embark on an expedition and swim close to them.
Thanks to it’s remote location (you can only access it by steps that go down the cliffside) crowds are kept at bay, meaning those who make the excursion are rewarded with solitude in a magnificent setting.
Praia de Benagil, Carvoeiro
The Praia de Benagil is a small beach flanked by golden cliffs.
It’s a popular destination for watersports: kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and boat excursions along the coast (including famous Benagil Cave (Algar de Benagil)). Book excursions in advance if possible to avoid long waits during the busy season.
Benagil Cave is actually just next to the beach, and is accessible by boat, kayak, or paddleboard. To get the best light for photos, visit early or late in the day. It’s possible but not recommended to swim to the cave, due to the waves and boats in the area.
You can also hike along the top of the cliffs along the sea to view the cave from above. Adventurous people can be spotted cliff jumping into the water below on the western end of the beach.
Praia de Carvoeiro
Praia de Carvoeiro is the main beach in the central Algarve town of Carvoeiro. This small crescent-shaped beach is flanked by sandstone cliffs, with views of the colorful homes and boats of the village.
There are many shops, bars, and restaurants close to the beach, and you can book excursions to see the nearby Benagil cave or rent kayaks or jet skis.
The sea is usually calm here, but it gets deep quickly, so use caution if swimming. This is another beach where some might want water shoes, since there are more shells in the sand.
A boardwalk takes you along the coast for views of the rock formations as well as sunset. Follow the boardwalk to a fortress, caves, and rock formations, which include a restaurant built into the rocks.
Praia da Barreta/ Praia da Ilha Deserta, Faro
Praia da Barreta is located on a secluded island (Ilha Deserta translates to deserted beach) and offers six miles of almost untouched sand.
The only way to reach this beach is by boat, which can be caught at Cais da Porta Nova every day, all year long.
The ride takes approximately half an hour, with the first boat leaving at 10:00 and the last departing the island at 19:00.
Praia da Falesia, Albufeira
Praia da Falesia is wide and long, making your first glimpses from above even more impressive. Its cinnamon-colored cliffs are a breathtaking contrast against the green sea below.
Falesia Beach is located between Vilamoura and Albufeira, and is easy to reach by car. There are also boutique and luxury resorts within walking distance. From the main parking lot, get to the beach down a moderately steep street, and then a long set of steps. There are loungers available to rent and even dance parties some nights on the beach.
The long Praia da Falesia includes several smaller beaches. It begins at Praia Barranco das Belharucas in Olhos de Agua and extends to the main area known as Acoteias with its iconic red cliffs. These cliffs slowly descend as you continue past Praia da Rocha Baixinha to Villamoura, which is the calmer end of the beach better for kids. There are beachside restaurants and hotels along the way past Acoteias.