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A beautiful beach in Faro, the capital of southern Portugal’s famous Algarve region

A beautiful beach in Faro, the capital of southern Portugal’s famous Algarve region

I’ve visited many European beach regions, but few have captured my heart quite like in the Algarve.

With stunning cliffs, crystal clear waters, and warm weather, Portugal’s southernmost region is known as one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe – and it’s packed with amazing spots to soak up the sun and take in the views!

So, are you ready to hear about the best beaches in the Algarve? In this article, I’ll share my favourite beach recommendations, plus top tips, tours you can take, and where to stay nearby. Let’s dive in!

Rock formations beyond the beach at Praia da Rocha in the Algarve

Rock formations beyond the beach at Praia da Marinha in the Algarve

 

1. Praia da Rocha:

Let’s start with one of the most popular beaches in the Algarve: Praia da Rocha.

Did you know that Praia da Rocha translates to “Rocky Beach“? It’s a fitting name, as the beach is surrounded by unique rock formations. I always appreciate a good spot to soak up some rays, and Praia da Rocha does not disappoint.

Located in Portimão, this beach is a huge stretch of golden sand known for its stunning cliffs and has sun-loungers galore for you to snooze and sunbathe on. The turquoise waters are absolutely breathtaking, and if you like taking photos, there’s so much to capture.

You’ll have plenty of beach bars and food joints to choose from, as well as water activities like jet skiing, dolphin-watching and boat trips. Highly-rated beachfront hotels nearby are the NH Marina Portimão Hotel (fantastically rated and sustainable), AP Oriental Beach Hotel (beautifully designed and adults-only), Bela Vista Hotel & Spa and Jupiter Algarve Hotel.

 

Standing on the wooden steps of Praia Do Camilo, halfway down to the beach - Algarve Coast, Portugal

Standing on the wooden steps of Praia Do Camilo, halfway down to the beach – Algarve Coast, Portugal

2. Praia do Camilo:

Next up is Praia do Camilo, which is hands-down one of the most Instagram-worthy spots on this list – and one of my favourite beaches in the world!

This glorious beach in Lagos is known for its picturesque cliffs and turquoise waters. The beach itself is tucked away at the bottom of the cliffs and can only be accessed by a steep staircase! It’s worth the climb, though, as the beach is absolutely stunning. Note that if you require accessibility support, this might not be the best beach to visit.

At Praia do Camilo, you can spend hours daydreaming and splashing around. The water is crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling, kayaking or paddleboarding and the cliffs provide amazing photo opportunities. Plus, there’s a small restaurant on the beach where you can try some local dishes like the cataplana, which a typical Portuguese pork and seafood stew symbolic of the Algarve’s culinary traditions, derived from Arab and North African presence in the region centuries ago.

For places to stay near Praia do Camilo, check out the Cascade Wellness & Lifestyle Resort (which boasts incredible ocean views plus a spa and games room) and the Tivoli Lagos (ranked high for its sustainability and also has lush spa facilities).

3. Praia da Marinha:

If you’re a fan of natural beauty, you have to visit Praia da Marinha. Meaning “navy beach, Marinha is an iconic beach near Lagoa, and it’s regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches of the world.

CNN highlights its amazing cliffside, Lonely Planet names it the best beach in the Algarve, and it was cited as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe by the Michelin Guide.

You’ll see plenty of photos of Praia da Marinha in ads for the Algarve. In real life, the beach is even more stunning – and it’s one of the top sites to see in the area. This beach is known for its stunning cliffs and rock formations, and the water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

If you looking for some of the best places to stay near Praia da Marinha, I recommend the Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa and Vilalara Thalassa Resort (incredible ocean views and top-tier suites).

4. Praia de Benagil:

Located near Lagoa (not to be confused with Lagos), this small and picturesque beach is perfect for those who want to discover one of the most iconic natural wonders of the Algarve.

Praia de Benagil is surrounded by impressive cliffs, and the water is crystal clear, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Fun fact: this beach is home to the famous Benagil Cave, which can be accessed by boat or by swimming from the beach. The cave is one of the most popular attractions in the Algarve, and it’s easy to see why – the rock formations and the turquoise water inside the cave are simply breathtaking.

One of the most popular tours to do near Praia de Benagil is the Benagil Caves Exploration (and Dolphin Watching)! If you want to stay nearby, check out Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort – one of the best-rated hotels in the area with AMAZING views of the ocean and an absolutely killer sunset.

If you’re staying in Albufeira, some of the top tours include the Benagil Sea Caves Tour and Caves and Dolphin Watching Tour. Just make sure the departure point is near your hotel, or see if you can get picked up!

If you’re more of a doer, then why not do a kayaking experience that lets you paddle from Benagil to Marinha Beach?

5. Praia de São Rafael:

Praia de São Rafael is an incredible beach near Albufeira in the Algarve – and it’s one of the best beaches in the Algarve, in my opinion. Famous for its breathtaking rock formations, Praia de São Rafael is ranked high on TripAdvisor’s must-see attractions in Albufeira for good reason.

There’s an epic beach bar that has delicious drinks and fresh seafood – I really recommend the basil/passionfruit smoothie.

During the summer, the beach is divided into two parts. On one side, you’ll find comfy sunbeds where you can chill and relax. Onon the other side, you can bring your own parasol and find your perfect spot. You can even rent paddleboards and kayaks from the left side of the beach if you’re up for some adventure.

It can get a bit crowded during peak season, but if you explore by the rocks a bit, you can find quieter spots to unwind. There’s plenty of parking spaces here. As the day comes to a close, get ready for an incredible sunset from the cliffs.

There are some fantastic hotels near Praia de São Rafael. Vila Joya Home, Restaurant & Spa is a luxury hotel just a stone’s throw away from the beach, with a stunning outdoor pool and a spa.

If you want to be more secluded, Vale de Carros is a little further from the beach but surrounded by lush, peaceful greenery.

6. Praia de Alvor:

Another great beach in Portimão is Praia de Alvor. This long stretch of sand is perfect for a relaxing day at the beach, and it’s also a great spot for water sports like windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Fun fact: there’s a small river that flows into the sea on this beach, making it a popular spot for families with young children to play in the shallow waters.

Visitors can also enjoy some delicious local seafood at one of the beachside restaurants.

If you’re looking for a place to stay nearby, the Pestana Alvor Praia (beachfront and sustainable), Pestana Dom João II (has a golf resort and spa), and Villa Real Alvor (pool, jacuzzi and sea views) are all highly-rated options.

7. Praia do Vau:

If you’re looking for a more secluded spot, check out Praia do Vau, located between cliffs in Portimão. Located just a short distance from Praia da Rocha, this beach has golden sands, clear waters and wide open space.

Fun fact: this beach was actually used as a location for a famous Portuguese soap opera!

The water at Praia do Vau is calm and perfect for swimming and snorkelling, and the cliffs provide some stunning scenery. Visitors can also take advantage of the beachside restaurant and bar, and explore the fascinating rock formations.

Two highly-rated hotels near Praia do Vau are the RR Hotel Da Rocha and Jardim do Vau!

The incredible turquoise blue waters and golden rock formations of Praia do Camilo in the Algarve

8. Praia de Albandeira:

Located near Lagoa, this hidden gem is perfect for those who want to discover a secluded and unspoiled beach. The beach is surrounded by impressive rock formations, and the water is clear and calm, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Fun fact: this beach was used as a location for a music video by the famous Portuguese singer Mariza.

If you want to stay nearby, check out the Vale d’Oliveiras Quinta Resort & Spa.

9. Praia da Ilha de Tavira:

If you’re looking for a unique beach experience, check out Praia da Ilha de Tavira.

Located on an island in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, this beach can only be reached by a short ferry ride. The beach is surrounded by sand dunes, and the water is warm and perfect for swimming.

Fun fact: there are plenty of beachside restaurants where you can try local seafood dishes, like grilled sardines and octopus salad.

A great place to stay nearby is the Quinta do Marco Hotel.

10. Praia de Vale do Lobo:

Located in the luxury resort of Vale do Lobo, this beach is perfect for those who want to combine stunning scenery with high-end amenities. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and the water is crystal clear, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Fun fact: the resort has its own beachside restaurants where you can try some amazing Portuguese dishes, like the bacalhau à bras. Check out the nearby Ria Park Hotel & Spa.

11. Praia do Tonel:

Next we have Praia do Tonel, located in Sagres. This beach is perfect for those who want to catch some waves and try surfing. The water is a bit rougher than some of the other beaches on this list, but that’s part of what makes it so appealing to surfers.

Fun fact: Sagres is known as the “End of the World” because it’s the southwesternmost point in Europe.

If you want somewhere great to stay near Sagres, check out the Memmo Baleeira Hotel – a beachfront accommodation with indoor and outdoor pools, gorgeous Atlantic Ocean views and a Turkish spa!

12. Praia da Luz:

Another great beach in Lagos is Praia da Luz. This long, wide beach is perfect for a day of swimming and sunbathing, and it’s also a great spot for surfing. Visitors can expect plenty of beachside bars and restaurants to choose from, as well as stunning views of the sea and nearby cliffs.

Praia da Luz is actually located in a small fishing village, so you can also take a stroll through the town and try out some local seafood. Yum!

Two highly-rated hotels near Praia da Luz are the Luz Bay Hotel and the Hotel Belavista da Luz.

 

Beautiful rock formations that are commonly seen along the Algarve coast

13. Praia do Amado:

If you’re looking for a more rugged, natural beach experience, check out Praia do Amado in Aljezur. This beach is known for its rough waves and stunning cliffs, making it a popular spot for surfers and hikers.

As a sun-lover, I appreciate the wide open spaces for sunbathing and taking in the breathtaking scenery. You can also venture out to the nearby fishing village of Carrapateira and try out some local dishes, or have a drink by the water.

14. Praia do Barril:

Located in Tavira, Praia do Barril is one of the more straightforward sand beaches where you can get a sunlounger and completely unplug. You’ll have to walk across a long wooden bridge to get there, but it’s worth it. Once you arrive at the beach, you’ll see rusted anchors that were used by tuna fishermen in the past.

The beach is surrounded by the Ria Formosa Natural Park, which is home to a variety of bird species and marine life.

Praia do Barril was once the site of a tuna fishing village, which has now been transformed into a small museum where visitors can learn about the history of the area – so if you fancy learning some new things, check that out.

If you’re looking for a place to stay nearby, check out the Vila Gale Albacora.

Brunette man in blue cap and white t-shirt and black backpack crouched over the rocky edge looking down at the Algarve in Portugal at sunrise. Sandqvist Ruben 2.0 Review - Best Travel Backpack Brand

Viewpoint during a sunrise hike in Portugal’s Algarve Coast

Exploring More of Portugal

So there you have it, friend – my list of the top beaches in the Algarve.

Are you looking to explore more of the country? Check out the best places to visit in Portugal.

If you’re headed to Lisbon during your trip, check out 15 Fun, Culture-Packed Things To Do in Lisbon.

Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.

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