5 best beaches in Algarve
The Algarve is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and is regularly voted the best beach destination in Europe. But you may be wondering what are the most beautiful beaches of the Algarve.
It would be impossible to describe all the best beaches in Algarve. So, in this list, I only included a few that are considered to be hidden gems. This selection is completely biased, so these beaches are the most picturesque and spectacular. That’s the only criteria I used.
1. Praia de Odeceixe
Classified as one of the 7 Wonders – Beaches of Portugal, the beach of Odeceixe, located at the northern end of the municipality of Aljezur, has the particularity of containing a river beach, as it is limited to the east and north by the Ribeira de Seixe, which borders natural with the Alentejo. It, therefore, has sea and river baths.
Praia de Odeceixe is thus located at the end of a valley, between towering cliffs of schist. The beach is a wide strip of sand between the sea and the stream that flows into the northern end of the sand, where several low-water lagoons are formed, suitable for calm bathing.
The stream conditions the dynamics of that beach by the energy of the floods, which in very rainy periods can affect the shape and size of this beach. At low tide, you can even walk several tens of meters. Excellent conditions for canoeing and boat trips on the stream.
To access the beach is easy by ramp and stairs. And next to it, there are several restaurants and also accommodation.
The beach has a high-quality landscape and biodiversity, and you can enjoy a landscape of rare and enormous beauty from the top of the cliffs. And it is in fact in this Natural Park, the only place in the world where it is possible to observe the storks that nest on the sea rocks.
How to get there
Leaving Aljezur and heading north on the EN120. Turn left at the entrance to the village of Baiona. This path follows the Seixe stream, leading to its mouth. The other option is, before the bridge over the Seixe stream, still on the Algarve side, turn left and follow this road to Praia de Odeceixe, where you will find organized parking.
2. Praia do Barril
Praia do Barril is considered one of the best Portuguese beaches, located in the area of Tavira, and it is actually one of the three beaches on Ilha da Tavira.
This Praia is a marvelous hidden gem, it is part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and is one of the calmest beaches on the south coast of the Algarve. Magnificent for its sandy beach, and its clean, deep blue water, and also because there are no cliffs or high dunes on the beach.
The beach is also known for its bizarre anchor cemetery with over 100 rusting anchors in the sand, arranged in rows. These anchors held the nets in place. It reminds us of what the local economy of this area was about, in a time before tourism.
Barril used to be a small fishing village until the second half of the 20th century. Built during the 1840s, the buildings found at this beach were used by fishermen during the Bluefin tuna fishing season – April to September. Nearly 80 families lived in the small village but with the change in the migration routes of the Bluefin tuna, the village became eventually abandoned. The buildings were restored and turned into bars, restaurants, a small museum and other facilities.
How to get there
The most direct way to get to the Praia do Barril is from the holiday village of Pedras d’el Rei, in Santa Luzia.To get there by car, exit the N125 near Luz de Tavira and follow the signs to Santa Luzia and Pedras d’el Rei.
Here you will find a car park (paid) but there are several places nearby to park your car for free. Then, head to the small footbridge that goes over Ria Formosa and pick your desired ride. A small train will take you to the beach. This train was originally used for hauling goods and freshly caught fish between the fishing community and the village of Pedras D’el Rei.
If you are not in the mood to go on the train, you can go on foot, the distance to the beach is around 1km.
By foot or train, the way to Praia do Barril will be full of amazement about the fauna. Along the way, a curry aroma intensifies, from a small plant that grows in the area. This is a great area for birdwatching as well, a good opportunity to observe waders and long-legged species.
When you arrived at the train station of Praia do Barril, which is the one and only stop on this ride, it is only a short walk toward the beach.
There are several facilities on Praia do Barril, including restaurants, bars and shops. Make sure to try tuna here, which once formed the center of the local economy of this area. During summer there are lifeguards supervising the beach. There are also a variety of water sports available here, including sailing, kayaking, jet skiing and stand-up paddle boards. You can rent sunbeds on this beach as well.
The best restaurant right on Praia do Barril is Museu do Atum, located right on the beach. It actually is a restaurant and museum combined. Inside, you can learn more about the history of the beach and see old pictures of the tuna fishing era. And the food is actually very good as well.
3. Praia da Armona
The Ria Formosa national park is an area of outstanding natural beauty and within it are a series of small islands with Armona Island being one of the most beautiful and home to a stunning beach.
The island is 9 kilometers in length and up to 1 kilometer wide.
On Ilha da Armona there are no cars, roads or hotels. But there is a small fishing village, a campsite, some mini-markets, cafes and restaurants that prepare delicious fish and seafood dishes, characteristic of the traditional gastronomy. There are about 50 people who live there permanently who live mainly from fishing and tourism.
The beach is very clean, consisting of fine white sand, stretching for many kilometers. The seawater is very clean and almost transparent. During low tide, you can even see several fishes in the shallow water.
A true stress-free paradise, that offers different conditions also for the practice of various water sports such as windsurfing, sailing and canoeing.
A popular island, but it is not overcrowded. It is very peaceful and is a perfect place to relax.
The beach bar is a great place to have a drink, eat ice cream and enjoy the sun. They also serve food.
The size of Ilha da Armona makes it perfect for long beach walks. and since it is part of the natural park of Ria Formosa, you will be able to see many different bird species on the island.
When you are on Armona Island, make sure to stay for the beautiful sunset as well. Just make sure you don’t miss the last boat back to the mainland.
How to get there
Ilha da Armona can only be reached by boat. You can choose between the regular ferry and a private speedboat. The journey through the Ria Formosa takes about 20 minutes from Olhão. There are several ferries every day and during high season almost every hour.
When you arrive on Armona Island, walk through the village and then take the wooden boardwalk. which brings you straight to the Atlantic side of the island, which has the best beach. This footpath is about 1,5 kilometers and the walk to the beach takes about 20 minutes.
4. Praia do Carvalho
Imagine yourself going through a tunnel and reaching the other side facing the view of a paradisiacal beach. It may seem surreal, but at Praia do Carvalho, this fantasy becomes real.
The small and hidden cove attracts fewer crowds than most beaches in Portugal, yet more than worth a visit.
Fully surrounded by tall cliffs, this small beach is famous for its soft, golden sand and clear water. The scenery gives the beach a magical and romantic feel, which has been named after a captain called Carvalho, who supposedly owned this beach back in the past, according to locals.
Praia do Carvalho is a relatively quiet beach, there are no hotels or resorts directly on the beach. This makes the beach perfect for those who want to get away from the crowded beaches of the Algarve.
The sea is shallow in the beginning and then becomes deep very quickly. Thus be very careful in the water. The tunnel has some steep and uneven steps. This makes the beach hard to reach for older people or for people in a wheelchair.
Protecting from the wind, Carvalho Beach is perfect for a swim, practice diving, and freefalling.
It is better to come prepared with everything you will need for the day, as there are no facilities on the beach. But, there are several good restaurants in the area, a 5-10 minute drive away.
How to get there
Drive on the EN125 near Lagoa and follow the signs to Carvoeiro. When you get closer, you will see signs indicating Praia do Carvalho.
You can park your car on the cliffs near the beach or at the Urbanização Clube Atlântico. Then, just follow the signs and take the long stairs in the direction of the beach. At the end of the stairs, you will reach the tunnel that gives you access to the beach.
5. Praia da Marinha
Praia da Marinha has been considered one of the 10 most beautiful European beaches and one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world. It is bordered by amazing orange-yellowish limestone cliffs with an incredible variety of rock formations, has fine golden sand and enticing crystal-clear blue water.
After taking in the panoramic views, access to the beach is via a wooden staircase that starts at the top of the cliff, next to the parking lot, and continues until finally reaching the beach. This means it is hard, if not impossible, to reach the beach by wheelchair or with a buggy.
Protect against the winds by the surrounding cliffs and with calm water, this secluded beach is perfect for those looking for tranquillity while in the Algarve.
The blue water is so transparent on the beach that it allows you to see the seabed in a perfect way. It is therefore the ideal place for snorkeling sessions to spot urchins, starfish, and seahorses, among other countless species of marine fauna and flora.
Near the beach, you can find a famous rock structure that looks like the letter M. This is called the M rock. This rock formation is one of the reasons why Praia da Marinha is unique. There is actually one part on the cliffs where the rocks and the M rock form a heart shape.
If you want to enjoy the view, there is a famous walking trail up on the cliffs near Praia, named Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos (Seven Hanging Valleys Trail). It is named that way because the walk takes you along seven beautiful valleys along the coast. It is one of the most amazing walking trails in the Algarve.
There is one restaurant on the beach, where you can get refreshing snacks and drinks.
How to get there
Marinha beach is not as crowded as some of the other beaches in the Algarve. Probably this is because the beach can only be reached by car. It is located between Armação de Pêra and Carvoeiro, very near Praia de Benagil, which is another superb beach in the area of Lagoa.
To get there, follow the N125 and exit at the International School at Lagoa. From then on you can simply follow the signs. On top of the cliff there usually is enough parking space.
If you do not have access to a car, there is a bus from Lagoa, however, this bus is not very frequent.
I hope you can find the best beaches in Algarve for you. Enjoy!
And if you want to discover the best beaches in Algarve, join my Algarve Coast tour!