The long coastline of Portugal – no less than 832 kilometers long – is a combination of many rugged, beautiful, relaxing and rocky beaches. It is impossible to view all these beaches. But why not start in the Algarve, near The White House? Because the impressive cliffs, clean beaches, and charming towns immediately put you in a wonderfully relaxed holiday mood. Personally, we think the end of the day is the best time to visit the beaches. The sun is mild and the rocks are beautifully lit. You can take beautiful photos and the heat of the day is already fading. But the beaches are also worthwhile any other times. And therefore our personal top 10. So you will never be bored visiting beautiful Algarve!.
1. Praia da Marinha
Praia da Marinha beach has many times been voted the most beautiful beach in Europe. There is a small staircase that runs down via the rock walls. The beach itself is sheltered and surrounded by red rocks. It is wonderful to explore the beach on foot. There are so many beautiful special rock formations. You can also choose to admire the beach from the cliff. On the beach itself you can enjoy the sun and take a dip. This place is also known for the clearest water in all of Portugal, according to the locals. Snorkeling is therefore also a popular activity at this beach. A snack bar is open during the summer months, there are no extensive restaurant options.
The city beach in Fuzeta is nice and close to The White House. Fuzeta itself is a cozy little fishing village that has made a nice upgrade in recent years with various hip bars and restaurants. Vegetarians will really enjoy lunch or diner at restaurant Green Spirit. Please enjoy a moment on a terrace of the village square and enjoy village life. Directly ion the boulevard is a friendly family beach where you can relax. For the larger beach, hop on the ferry boat that takes you to the island of Fuzeta where an endless sandy beach stretches. In the summer the ferries go all day long, in the early and late season it is time to check the time of departure.
3. Praia de Cacela Velha
Cacela Velha is one of our personal favourites. It is a small village in the Ria Formosa nature reserve and just on the other side of Tavira, coming from The White House. This place has a long history as a strategic defence point and was part of the line of forts on the south coast of Portugal. The center still has many Moorish elements and it is a friendly, small place with a few nice restaurants and a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. The beaches are overwhelmingly empty and vast. At low tide you walk from Cacela Velha to the beaches of Fábrica. With high tide there are plenty of fishermen who will gladly bring you to the island for a small fee.
4. Praia do Barril
This beach is located on the long island of Ilha de Tavira. The nice thing about this beach is the little train that takes the visitors over the Ria Formosa, to the beach. The train leaves from the car park at Pedras del Rey. It is a nice train trip (around 10 minutes) that will put you in the holiday mood. You can also walk along the track to the beach. The beach itself is worth a visit and is popular with windsurfers. Families also like to come to this beach because of the simple and nice restaurants. The special thing about this beach is the ‘anchor cemetery’. Hundreds of anchors that the fishermen have left behind give a photogenic picture. Finally, here is one of the few places in the Algarve where you can go as a nudist. A few hundred meters to the West, there is an official naturist beach.
5. Ilha de Culatra
The ferry in Olhão brings you directly to the two most beautiful islands in the Parque Natural Ria de Formosa Natural Park. This park consists of all kinds of sandy islands. It was established to protect the habitat of the birds. The two islands closest are Armona and Culatra. Both islands are worth the day trip; beautiful beaches, nice little villages, no cars and a few wonderful restaurants. Armona even has the trendiest beach bar in Europe (according to the Guardian). After half an hour by boat you are on the larger island of Culatra, a paradise with fantastic sandy beaches surrounded by dunes.
6. Praia da Falesia
This beach is located close to the famous place Albufeira. Albufeira is a popular spot for many decades, because of the old town, the beautiful beaches and the vibrant nightlife. The long, red rocks stop the fresh wind in the early and late season, so that you can relax here for a good part of the year. It can sometimes be a bit crowded around the various stairs and parking places. But luckily the beach is more than six kilometers long, so if you take a walk on the beach you will automatically end up in a place where you can enjoy a nice and quiet afternoon. Everywhere you will find beach bars where you can eat a snack or have a drink. Our favourite location is the westernmost part of the beach at restaurant O Golfinho. Praia da Falésia is perfect for a nice walk on the beach, especially during sunrise and sunset when the red rocks glow in the sun.
7. Olhos d’Agua
From restaurant O Golfinho (see Praia da Falesia) it is a short but beautiful walk to the beach of Olhos d’Agua, literally “eyes of water”. The walk passes through a hilly stretch of forest and cliffs with breathtaking views. This beach is approximately five kilometers from Albufeira. It owes its name to the freshwater springs that are visible at low tide and form round spots in the beach where the water rises upwards. Incidentally, this bubbling water is nice and cool and easy to drink. It is a fairly narrow and small beach with a clear blue sea and a view of some typical Portuguese rocks. You can swim well in the water, but pay attention that the bottom ends here quickly. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and you will also find a few cozy beach bars and restaurants. Enjoy a nice lunch at La Cigalle, right on the beach.
8. Ilha de Faro
What do the Portuguese locals do when they have time off? They know the area best and often choose Praia de Faro (at Ilha de Faro) at the end of the afternoon. A relaxed place with a few laid back (surf) bars and restaurants, a beach that makes you feel like you are in a far-away tropical destination and not too many tourists. Praia de Faro is the only island beach in Faro with a bridge to the mainland and can therefore be reached directly by car. Many other beaches can only be reached with ferries. Praia de Faro is close to Faro airport and the exit to the beach is signposted from the airport roundabout.
9. Praia de Benagil
The small beach of Praia de Benagil is a bit of a drive from The White House (about 45 minutes) but it is very worthwhile! You can park the car alongside the road and walk down. The beach itself is not special but you can visit the many beautiful caves in the area from there. These can only be reached by swimming or by boat from the water. The most beautiful is immediately on the left, the Cathedral Cave; an impressive cave with a hole at the top through which the sunlight falls on the beach exactly. The light reflections in the cave and the view through the hole at the top to the blue sky give the cave a mystical atmosphere. From the beach you can swim around the bend to the left. But perhaps better and more comfortable is one of the many boat trips that depart directly from the beach.
10. Praia Dona Ana
The popular town of Lagos is a nice day trip from The White House. Cute narrow streets, lots of nice shops and excellent fish restaurants. Of the various beautiful beaches, Praia de Dona Ana is perhaps the best known. It is one of the most photographed beaches in the Algarve. It is sheltered between the cliffs on a sea of clear and calm water. Praia Dona Ana is embraced by (once again) beautiful rocks and green treetops. You reach the idyllic beach via a wooden staircase. From Lagos you can also take a boat trip, where you will sail along the surrounding caves. This is definitely recommended, because you will pass the more remote cliffs and hidden caves.