BEACHES OF THE WESTERN ALGARVE
The West Algarve Beach Guide
The Algarve is blessed with over 100 wonderful beaches. From picture-postcard coves (ideal for families) to the wild west coast, renowned for world-class surfing. In 2020, the Algarve was voted the 'Best Beach Destination' in the World Travel Awards for the 7th time.
Praia da Luz
Praia de Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Luz, (‘Beach of the Church of our Lady of Light’) – far too much for many tourists (and some locals) and shortened to Praia da Luz.
This is a very safe beach with gently shelving sands. It is long, beautiful and perfect for sunbathing and water sports. It has been awarded the ‘European blue flag’ indicating cleanliness, health, safety and accessibility.
At the far end of the beach, you will find the infamous ‘Black Rock’ which was formed approximately 150 million years ago by lava from volcanoes in the Monchique mountains 20 km away.
Praia da Luz can be busy in the height of summer, but a short walk along the beach towards ‘black rock’ and you will have the beach much to yourself. There are excellent beachside restaurants and two well-equipped water sport centres offering scuba diving, boat trips and other activities.
Prainha da Luz
A small sandy cove tucked under the western side of the Fort (Forteleza Restaurant). At high tide, much of the beach is covered, but it is possible to sit on the rocks and remains a tranquil option compared to the main beach.
Prainha is also popular for snorkelling and diving due to the clarity of the water. The small fishing boats still go out from this beach and return with their catch at dawn.
Praia do Camilo
The view over the beach of Camilo is one of the most photographed sights of the Algarve so taking a camera is a must. The fish restaurant at the top of the cliffs is excellent but take note that the 100 or so steps down to the beach maybe too much for some and they will content themselves with the wonderful view which in itself is worth the visit.
The beach itself is glorious and has a quaint little beach bar decorated with walls of shells. There are caves that link through to other coves which are easily accessible at low tide. Be careful of the rising tide or you may have to swim back.
Praia Dona Ana
Praia Dona Ana is among the 50 best beaches in the world, according to Conde Nast Traveller. A picture postcard beach near Lagos by the original Golfinho Hotel. A very pretty beach with two main coves and caves through to other coves which you can reach at low tide.
There are steps down to this beach. It faces east and is flanked by north and south cliffs that shelter it from westerly winds.
The largest and longest Lagos beach is surprisingly called Meia Praia (‘half beach’) as the beach splits into Praia dos Três Irmãos via an estuary and lagoons. This beach curves around the Bay of Lagos from where the great explorers set sail in the fifteenth Century. It can be reached by foot over the drawbridge at the entrance to the Marina, by a little boat across the river next to the car park at the centre of Lagos or by car around the back of the Marina. From the railway station, follow the track to the beach or take the lane to Palmares Golf course stopping anywhere on the way.
This is a very long, wide beach with miles of sand dunes and, apart from the few hundred metres close to Lagos, is never crowded. Within a few minutes walk you can find a deserted stretch of beach even in summer. There are half a dozen excellent beach bars/restaurants spread out along the beach. Very useful for those who walk its length and require refreshment on the way. There are a couple of fairly well equipped water-sports centres. This beach has easy access and you can park close to one of the beach restaurants or car parks scattered along the length of the beach.
Praia da Batata
Praia da Batata (potato beach). The closest beach to the town centre, by the little fort at the entrance to the harbour. A few steps down and you are on the sand.
Walking along the cliff path you will find several small sandy coves:
Praia dos Estudantes (students beach)
Praia do Vale dos Homens (mens beach)
Praia do Pinhao (pine beach)
Praia da Balança (balance beach)
Burgau is on the edge of the Costa Vicentina Natural Park. The old village has narrow and steep cobbled lanes down to the beach which it is not advisable to drive down. Park at the top and walk down. The fisherman still repair their nets on the slipway and there is a thriving fishing fleet of small colourful boats.
The beach is flanked by cliffs but apart from the steep hill there are no steps so access is good. There are excellent beach bars. It is good for snorkelling and scuba diving.
Praia de Porto de Mós
A few years ago this small bay was isolated between Lagos and Luz but in recent years Lagos has grown and this beach is now very much on the Western outskirts of the town. Like Meia Praia, this is a great beach for easy access and a large car park right next to the beach.
Flanked by tall cliffs that usually give shade and shelter. There are several excellent restaurants. This is a great favourite.
Praia do Canavial
This used to be the nudist beach and is very secluded with quite testing access. The new Cascade Hotel is built on the cliff tops above, so no longer offers the same levels of privacy.
An unspoilt beach with a large development nearby (owned by the Vigia Group who run Parque da Floresta Golf Resort). The Vigia group now run the excellent restaurant but this is a natural, wholesome beach with no other buildings in sight. It is attractively flanked by cliffs and rolling hills.
Boca do Rio
Follow the road on from Burgau and dramatic scenery awaits you! As you enter the Costa Vicentina Natural Park, wind your way around the valley that leads to Boco do Rio beach set in a wild unspoilt natural setting with not a villa in site. This is the unspoilt Algarve. Easy parking close to the beach. You can also find the beach by turning right off the EN125 at Budens or on the back road out of Salema.
There is a French man-of-war lying on the seabed about 300 metres offshore for the scuba divers and snorkellers to explore.
Praia do Martinhal
Martinhal is an alluring sandy beach and well worth a stop if you are on the way to Sagres. Located in the Bay of Baleeira, this secluded stretch is especially good for windsurfing. Look for the signpost on your left shortly before Sagres. There are a couple of beach restaurants.
Praia do Zavial
Follow the EN125 past Budens and turn right at Raposeira. As you leave the village fork right for Zavial and follow the road for several kms to the coast. From Ingrina there is short coastal road to Ingrina. Popular with surfers this beach stands at the mouth of a stream in open unspoilt countryside with a good beach bar/restaurant.
A rocky spur marks the end of the golden sandy beach. At the eastern end there are dramatic furnas – overhanging cliffs, caves and grottos created by the erosion of the rocks from the sea. Parking is near the beach. The beach is supervised during the main season.
Praia da Ingrina
Follow the EN125 past Budens and turn right at Raposeira. As you leave the village fork left for Ingrina and follow the road for several km to the coast. From Ingrina there is short coastal road to Zavial. It is worth taking in the ‘megalithic’ monuments in this region.
An idyllic shell-shaped beach in a natural, unspoilt setting with a basic beach bar/ restaurant. The beach is supervised during the season and is good for diving.
Praia das Furnas
A very peaceful beach approached by a track about 2 km from Figueira off the EN125. Its name comes from the local description of the overhanging cliffs and grottos created by erosion from the sea. It lies to the east of Ingrina and Zavial.
There is parking but no supervision, beach bar or toilets on this isolated beach. Wild scrubland goes right down to the beach.
Salema is located within the Costa Vicentina natural park. There are cliffs at either end of the sandy bay. It is said that the erosion of the sea has revealed fossilised footprints of huge dinosaurs. This beach is popular for scuba diving, snorkelling and windsurfers.
Still very much a fishing village, Salema has colourful boats pulled up on the sands and fishermen repairing their nets and octopus pots by day. Rise early in the morning to buy fresh fish as the boats come in with their catches of sardines, bream, mackerel, sea bass, octopus and other fish.
Praia do Amado
Conde Nast Traveller has rated Amado as one of the best 50 beaches in the world, along with 3 other Portuguese beaches. Take the EN 125 to Vila do Bispo and take the first right to Aljezur on the N268 for approx 13 km past the wind turbines. As you approach the village of Carrapateira there is a small sign with binoculars that reads ‘Praia’. Follow track over a narrow bridge for 1.8 km to the beach.
The surfers favourite. You can hire a wet suit and surf board including a two hour lesson for approx 35 euros. There are at least three surf schools to choose from.
Praia da Bordeira
This beach is on the Algarve’s west coast and can be reached by following the coastal track from Amado or, more directly, by entering the small village of Carrapateira. As you leave the village watch out for a sign that reads “Praia”. Bordeira is a vast, sandy beach with many sand dunes and is virtually deserted out of the season apart from the odd kite surfer.
Spectacular scenery. If you drive slowly and follow the dirt coastal track back west you will come back to Amado. This is a highly recommended drive if you wish to take in the breathtaking beauty of completely unspoilt natural coastline. From Amado, follow the road on and you return to the main road just before the village. Turn right back to Vila do Bispo.
Praia da Cordoama
Praia da Cordoama stretches gloriously for almost two kilometres and offers marvellous views of the giant west coast rollers. Not surprisingly, it is popular with the surfer scene and tends to attract a younger crowd. When the sea spray drifts along the beach, it has almost mystical quality, especially against the dark cliffs that fringe the beach.
There is an informal restaurant. If you are passing in the evening, ensure you head to the nearby miradouro (viewpoint) to watch the spectacular sunsets.
Praia de Monte Clerigo
A rural sandy beach located at the foot of the cliffs, with beach homes snugly built into the hillside. This magnificent beach has been awarded a blue flag’.
Praia da Arrifana
One of the few beaches on the west coast with a village. The beach is at the bottom of a steep winding road with little or no parking so you might have to turn back, park at the top and walk down. You will be well rewarded. This is a very special place with magnificent views.
Praia do Castelejo
Enter the village of Vila do Bispo taking the left road into the village and follow the signs. Located to the north west of the village on the western coast, this small beach is ideal for safe swimming and is very different to the beaches on the southern coastline. Good parking and restaurant.
Praia do Beliche
Look out for a car park on the cliff top about 4 km out of Sagres on the road to the Cabo St Vincent lighthouse. You have to climb down a cliff path to get to this secluded beach.
Praia do Tonel
Tonel lies on the far side of the Sagres headland from Mareta and is exposed to westerly winds and Atlantic breakers. Strong currents.
Praia da Mareta
Situated in front of Sagres, Mareta is sheltered from the winds that can be very strong on this most westerly point of Europe.