Located along the southern coast of Portugal, the Algarve boasts some of the most stunning beaches in Europe. From hidden coves and grottoes to long stretches of shoreline, each of these gems offers a unique experience that will leave you in awe of the natural beauty of this part of Portugal. Join us as we unveil the best beaches in Algarve.
About this Guide
In this guide, we start off with a list of 10 best beaches in Algarve. These are the best of the best and not to be missed on a first visit to Portugal.
Next is a second list of beaches, still very worthwhile to visit, but only if you have plenty of time in the Algarve (5 days or longer). A few of these beaches are jaw-dropping, but getting here can be a little tricky, so they didn’t make it onto our top 10 list.
We visited many more beaches in the Algarve than what are listed in this guide. Each beach in the Algarve is stunning, but let’s face it, some are more beautiful than others, and some can be challenging to get to (think remote gravel roads followed by hikes on dusty trails out to the beach). So, to avoid giving you a massively long list of beaches, we narrowed it down to what you see in this guide.
So, grab your sunscreen, pack your beach bag, and get ready to explore the best beaches the Algarve has to offer.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: In Portuguese, praia is the word for beach. For clarification, we list both the Portuguese and English names for each beach.
Table of Contents
10 Best Beaches in Algarve
In no particular order, here is a list of the 10 best beaches in Algarve, Portugal. At the end of this list you can see all of them on a map.
1. Praia da Marinha (aka Marinha Beach)
Let’s start with one of the top beaches in Algarve, Praia da Marinha.
This beauty is one of the most picturesque, with its golden sands and backdrop of sea pillars and arches. It has also earned quite a few accolades, with the Michelin Guide naming it one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe and CNN calling it one of the 20 most beautiful beaches in world.
Praia da Marinha is one of the endpoints of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, a 5.7 km (3.5 mile) walk along the dramatic coastline in this region.
Praia da Marinha | Best Beaches in Algarve
How to Visit Praia da Marinha
Parking: There is a large parking lot next to Praia da Marinha. Get here no later than 9 am to get a parking space (earlier in July and August). At this parking lot are food trucks, a bathroom, and a bus stop.
Viewpoint: If you simply want a view of the beach, walk out onto the wide terrace, where you get an elevated view of Marinha Beach.
Getting to Marinha Beach: To descend to Marinha Beach, from the terrace while looking towards the sea, follow the path on the left. This path will split and at the split go to the right and down the steps.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: At the trail split for Marinha Beach, if you go left, you will walk a trail that leads to viewpoints of Praia do Pau and Praia da Malhada do Baraço, two absolutely stunning beaches.
Praia do Pau, this viewpoint is about a 10 minute walk from Marinha Beach | Best Beaches in Algarve
Praia da Malhada do Baraço; this viewpoint is a short walk past Praia do Pau
2. Praia do Camilo (Camilo Beach)
Camilo Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve. However, it’s small size and popularity also makes it one of the most crowded.
Camilo Beach is located just south of Lagos and just a short walk from Praia Dona Ana, mentioned next.
The steps leading down to Camilo Beach | Best Beaches in Algarve
Praia do Camilo in October
To get here, you can either park in the lot next to the beach or walk the boardwalk trails that run from Praia Dona Ana to Ponta da Piedade. Then it is a descent down 227 wooden steps to get to the beach.
On Camilo Beach, there is a beach bar and a sea arch that is a very popular photography spot. Take the tunnel through the cliffs and you’ll pop out on another similar beach surrounded by rock walls.
If you walk through the tunnel, you will pop out onto this section of the beach.
Our visit was in October, the shoulder season, but even so this beach was very busy (one of the busiest we saw in the Algarve). Later in the week, our boat captain from Lagos told us that this beach is wall to wall people and beach blankets in the summer months.
Camilo Beach, photo taken during a boat tour of Ponta da Piedade | Best Beaches in Algarve
How to Visit Praia do Camilo
Parking: The closest parking lot is next to the beach, on Estrada da Ponta da Piedade. To get down to the beach, you will walk down a long series of wooden steps (Tim counted 227). You can also park at Praia Dona Ana and walk the boardwalk trails to the beach (about 0.8 km/0.5 miles one-way) but you’ll still have to take the stairs to the beach.
Viewpoint: One of the best viewpoints is from the very top of the stairs. You can also get a very nice view of Praia do Camilo on a boat tour of Ponta da Piedade.
3. Praia Dona Ana (Dona Ana Beach)
This beach, located within walking distance of Praia do Camilo, is another stunning beach. This wide beach and its backdrop of golden cliffs and sea pillars is a great place to put on your list if you will be staying in Lagos or have plans to visit Ponta da Piedade.
Dona Ana Beach | Best Beaches in Algarve
Dona Ana Beach | Best Beaches in Algarve
View of Dona Ana Beach and the coastline from the Ponta da Piedade trail.
How to Visit Praia Dona Ana
Parking: There is a large car park next to the beach, called Parking Dona Ana on Google Maps. There are bathrooms here as well as several small beach shops and cafes.
Viewpoint: Next to the parking lot is a small terrace with a great aerial view over Praia Dona Ana. You can also get very nice views of this beach on the boardwalk trail that runs from Praia Dona Ana to Ponta da Piedade.
Keep Exploring: From Praia Dona Ana, walk the boardwalk trails to Praia do Camilo and Ponta da Piedade (5 km/3.1 miles out-and-back, about 1.5 to 2.5 hours) or walk the trails on the north side of Praia Dona Ana to Praia do Pinhão, Estudantes Beach, and into Lagos.
INTERESTING FACT: There are not any private beaches in Portugal, all beaches are public access.
4. Praia dos Três Irmãos (Three Brothers Beach)
Like many of the best Algarve beaches, Praia dos Três Irmãos makes the list for its rocky pillars, sea arches, and caves. This is one of our favorite beaches in the Algarve since it ticks all the boxes: dramatic sea pillars and cliffs, lots of parking, several restaurants, and many more amenities.
Praia dos Três Irmãos gets its name for the three sea stacks (the three brothers) which sit on this beach.
Praia dos Três Irmãos (photo taken from the cliff trail above the beach…Miradoura da Prainha)
It sits at the eastern end of Praia de Alvor. Where Praia de Alvor meets Praia dos Três Irmãos, there are lounger and umbrella rentals, a restaurant, and places where you can rent jet skis and paddleboats with slides, making this a great family friendly beach. Since it is a large beach, there’s also more room to spread out.
On the east end of the beach, there are rock formations that are fun to explore. If you pass through the rocky tunnels, you’ll enter another neighboring beach, Praia da Prainha. Here there are even more formations and caves to explore.
Beach cave on Praia da Prainha
Praia da Prainha | Best Beaches in Algarve
But don’t stop there, from Praia da Prainha you can walk through a short tunnel and come out onto Praia do Ferta, which is another small but lovely beach. This beach is surrounded by cliffs on three sides making it feel like a cozy cove.
The view from Praia do Ferta | Best Beaches in Algarve
For an aerial view over the beach, take the steps from Praia da Prainha onto the cliffs that overlook the beach.
How to Visit Praia dos Três Irmãos
Parking: ‘Parking Praia dos Três Irmãos’ (as labeled on Google Maps). This is a large parking lot. Parking is free.
Amenities: Bathrooms, multiple restaurants, jet ski and paddle boat rentals, umbrella and sun lounger rentals
Viewpoint: For a view over Praia dos Três Irmãos and Praia da Prainha, walk up the stairs at Praia da Prainha and follow the trails for aerial views of the beaches. You can return using those same steps or take the elevator to Caniço restaurant.
5. Praia de São Rafael (São Rafael Beach)
Not far from Albufeira sits two lovely beaches, Praia de São Rafael and Praia dos Arrifes, mentioned next.
Praia de São Rafael is a medium-sized beach that is framed by rocky cliffs and a few small sea arches. The cliffs here aren’t quite as high as at other beaches on this list, but since the beach sits in a sheltered cove, it makes a picturesque spot to spend the day, especially for families.
For rent are sun loungers and umbrellas as well as sea kayaks. There is also a restaurant right on the beach.
Praia de São Rafael | Best Beaches in Algarve
Praia de São Rafael | Best Beaches in Algarve
How to Visit Praia de São Rafael
Parking: Park at ‘Estacionamento Praia de São Rafael’. It is a medium sized lot and from here it is an easy, downhill walk out to the beach.
Explore Farther: On the west side of the beach, you can hike in the trails that run along the cliffs for views of the shoreline. From the parking lot, there is a boardwalk trail that leads up and over the cliffs towards Praia dos Arrifes, mentioned next.
6. Praia dos Arrifes (Arrifes Beach)
Praia dos Arrifes sits next to Praia de São Rafael. This is a much smaller beach and is surrounded by sea stacks of all sizes. This sheltered cove is a great spot to go snorkeling.
For rent are a few sun loungers and umbrellas. A café with a deck overlooks the beach.
Praia dos Arrifes | Best Beaches in Algarve
How to Visit Praia dos Arrifes
Parking: There is a small parking lot next to the beach that is free. Or, park at ‘Estacionamento Praia de São Rafael’ and follow the boardwalk and trails to the beach (a 10 minute walk).
Don’t Miss: The trails that run along the peninsula that divides Praia dos Arrifes from Praia de São Rafael. This is a fun spot to explore with lots of great viewpoints of both beaches, plus tiny Praia da Vigia.
7. Praia da Falésia (Falesia Beach)
This beach’s backdrop of distinctive red and white cliffs makes it one of the most unique Algarve beaches.
Praia da Falésia is a long strip of sand located near Albufeira. It’s one of the most popular beaches in the Algarve, because of its stunning appearance, amenities, and swimming and surfing conditions.
There is a small snack shop just before you descend the 77 steps down to the beach. You can rent sun loungers and umbrellas and even surf boards. There is also a surf school if you are interested in taking lessons.
Praia da Falésia | Best Beaches in Algarve
How to Visit Praia da Falésia
Parking: The best place to park is at the lot on Beco da Falésia Mar, but parking is extremely limited, so you might have better luck finding parking at ‘Parque de estacionamento da Falésia’ located on Rua da Falesia or at the larger lot ‘Parque de estacionamento’ located on R. Infante Dom Henrique (lot and street names as labeled on Google Maps).
Viewpoint: For an elevated view of the beach, park on Beco da Falesia Mar and at the top of this street, there are trails that lead up onto the cliffs. Be VERY CAREFUL here. These cliffs are steep so stay away from the edge.
8. Praia do Carvalho (Carvalho Beach)
This is another spectacular beach in the Algarve. It’s a small sandy beach but there are several caves that offer some shade and a unique view of the beach.
To get to Praia do Carvalho, descend the steps in the tunnel. Just before your feet hit the sand, to the left is a small cave that is a cool spot to photograph the beach.
View from the sea cave at the bottom of the steps. It’s a nice view, but there are two more caves on the beach that offer a better view.
For more interesting vantage points, be sure to walk along the beach, as there are a few more caves here.
Praia do Carvalho | Best Beaches in Algarve
This beach is part of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail.
How to Visit Praia do Carvalho
Parking: The lot sits in the hills above the beach (Parking Praia do Carvalho on Google Maps). From this lot, you’ll walk down a long series of steps and then it’s a short walk on down some steep steps in a tunnel.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail: If you have plans to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, you’ll walk right past this beach. To take a break in the shade, there are several sea caves on the beach that make a nice spot to cool off and have a snack.
9. Praia da Cordoama (Cordoama Beach)
When planning out where to go in the Algarve, we weren’t quite sure if the western beaches were going to be worth the extra time to get out to (both Praia da Cordoama and Praia da Bordeira, mentioned next).
Well, these are spectacular beaches and well worth it, particularly for those who want to relax on large stretches of sand or those who want to go surfing.
Praia da Cordoama is a beautiful beach with picturesque coastline views. This beach is popular with surfers or those wanting to learn how to surf. On the beach you can rent sun loungers and umbrellas, there is a restaurant, and you can sign up for surf lessons.
After a day of fun on the beach make sure you drive up to the viewpoint to take in the full beauty this beach offers.
Cordoama Beach | Best Beaches in Algarve
How to Visit Praia da Cordoama
Parking: There is a parking area that sits right next to the beach (it’s marked on our map below). Next to the parking lot is Bar da Praia and a surf shop.
Viewpoint: For the best view of the beach, visit the Cordoama Viewpoint (aka Miradouro da Cordoama). From this vantage point, you get 360° views of the beach and surrounding hillsides. It’s amazing!
10. Praia da Bordeira (Bordeira’s Beach)
Our final entry on our top 10 best beaches in Algarve is the photogenic Praia da Bordeira. This beach is a 30-minute drive north of Praia da Cordoama.
Praia da Bordeira is another beach that attracts surfers. This one is unique in terms of how wide this beach is, so wide that it will feel like you are walking across a desert to reach the sea.
For rent are a few sun loungers and umbrellas and there is a surf school at the beach. Next to the beach is a small cove that makes a good spot to go snorkeling.
For the classic view of Praia da Bordeira, walk the boardwalk trail to the peninsula of rock that sits next to the beach.
Praia do Bordeira | Best Beaches in Algarve
How to Visit Praia da Bordeira
Parking: There are two parking areas. The lower lot sits inland from the beach and from here it is a flat but sandy walk to the shoreline. The second parking lot is located on Estrada da Praia. From this lot, there is a trail that leads down to the beach and a boardwalk trail that leads out onto the peninsula.
Viewpoint: For the best view of Praia da Bordeira, walk the boardwalk trail to the peninsula.
8 More Beautiful Beaches in Algarve
The beaches below share many of the same qualities as the beaches listed earlier, but there are several reasons why they didn’t make our top 10 list. They were either more challenging to get to (the effort didn’t make them as worthwhile, compared to those mentioned already) or they weren’t quite as picturesque.
With that being said, these are still gorgeous beaches to visit, as you will see in our photos.
1. Praia João de Arens
This was one of our favorite experiences in the Algarve. Visiting Praia João de Arens is more about hiking the cliff trails than visiting the beach, which is why we didn’t list it in our top 10 beaches. And what makes it even better is that there were very few people here during our visit, giving this experience an off-the-beaten-path feel to it.
Praia João de Arens | Best Beaches in Algarve
Praia João de Arens is a tiny, clothing-optional beach in a picturesque cove surrounded by cliff walls. From the cliff trails, there is a steep trail that leads down to the beach.
If visiting a nude beach isn’t your thing, this is still worth it just for the views. We had an awesome time exploring these cliff trails and photographing the rocky coastline. It’s beautiful views in all directions and the red sandy cliffs look different from many other places in the Algarve.
The coastal cliffs above Praia João de Arens
To get here drive down Caminho da Praia do João d’Arens. There is a large parking area on the left. You then walk 300 meters to get to the trails that run along the top of the cliffs. Parking is free.
2. Praia do Barril & Cemitério das Âncoras
Two things make this beach unique: a short ride on a train and a visit to an anchor cemetery (Cemitério das âncoras).
Praia do Barril is located on the eastern end of the Algarve, so those coming from Lagos or Albufeira will have a long drive to get here. But this long, white sandy beach is a gorgeous spot to visit. It’s also home to an anchor cemetery, where you can see the old anchors used in the tuna fishing industry.
Praia do Barril | Best Beaches in Algarve
Cemitério das Âncoras
Park at ‘Parking Praia do Barril,’ a large paid parking lot, or you can opt for the free parallel parking along the same street the parking lot is located.
To get to the beach, walk across the white pedestrian bridge. Once across the bridge you have two choices for getting to the beach. You can pay a fee and take the small train or follow the pedestrian path that runs alongside the train track.
It is 1 mile from the parking lot to the beach, and the train shaves off 70% of that distance.
The beach is a nice fine sand, there is a restaurant and a cafe, sun lounger and umbrella rentals, and you can rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and surf boards.
The anchor cemetery, Cemitério das âncoras, is located on the sand dunes behind the beach. There is a boardwalk you can follow that circles the anchors.
3. Praia de Carvoeiro (Carvoeiro Beach)
This picturesque beach sits next to Carvoeiro, a small fishing village that gives this beach its name. It’s also within walking distance of Algar Seco, one of the Algarve’s best places to visit. We think Carvoeiro Beach is a very nice beach to visit, but we enjoyed our time at the beaches on our top 10 list a bit more. However, if you plan to visit Algar Seco, it’s worth the short walk to the viewpoint of Praia de Carvoeiro.
Carvoeiro Beach | Best Beaches in Algarve
4 & 5. Praia Nova and Praia de Nossa Senhora da Rocha
These two beaches, which sit side-by-side, are divided by a rocky peninsula, on which sits Chapel Nossa Senhora da Rocha. The views of both beaches from the chapel are worthwhile if you have the extra time in your itinerary.
Chapel Nossa Senhora da Rocha
Praia Nova is the beach to the right of the church when facing the sea. This is a large beach with tall cliffs on three sides. There are no services on this beach.
Praia Nova | Best Beaches in Algarve
Praia de Nossa Senhora da Rocha, the beach to the east of the peninsula, has a restaurant (Restaurante Vilarinho) and lounger and umbrella rentals. The fishing boats on the beach are still used by fisherman today. This is an easier beach to get to, with a ramp leading down to the beach.
Praia de Nossa Senhora da Rocha | Best Beaches in Algarve
6. Albandeira Beach
This small beach is nothing special. The main reason for visiting Albandeira Beach is to see the sea arch that sits next to it.
From the small beach, follow the path past the picnic tables and up a slight hill to get to a viewpoint of the arch, called Arco de Albandeira.
To get here, you will have to drive on a narrow road, just big enough for one-way traffic, but is a two-lane road. To do this, you have to be comfortable using occasional pullouts to avoid oncoming traffic.
Park at ‘Parking de Praia de Albandeira’ (as labeled on Google Maps), a medium size parking lot that is free. Just beyond the parking lot is the beach and a cafe.
7 & 8. Praia da Rocha & Praia dos Três Castelos
Praia da Rocha is located near Portimão. It makes it onto a lot of lists, since it is a long, sandy beach packed with amenities such as sun lounger rentals and restaurants and is a great spot to go swimming. This is a very nice beach, but not nearly as picturesque as the others on our list.
Praia da Rocha | Best Beaches in Algarve
Next to Praia da Rocha is Praia dos Três Castelos, a beach with fewer amenities but a few sea pillars, so it looks a little more interesting.
Praia dos Três Castelos | Best Beaches in Algarve
If you are staying in the area (Portimão), it’s worth a visit to this beach. But if you will be staying elsewhere in the Algarve, it’s better to visit the nearby Praia dos Três Irmãos or one of the other beaches on our top 10 list.
Best Beaches in Algarve, Portugal: On a Map
How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each beach. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Frequently Asked Questions
What part of the Algarve has the best beaches?
The stretch of coastline between Lagos and Albufeira is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve. This is where you will see dramatic sea cliffs, sea stacks and arches, and long stretches of golden sand. On this list of best Algarve beaches are Praia do Camilo, Praia da Marinha, and Praia dos Três Irmãos, as well as the stunning Ponte da Piedade.
What are the most popular beaches in the Algarve?
The most popular beaches to visit in the Algarve are Camilo Beach, Marinha Beach, Praia Dona Ana, and Praia da Falesia. If you want to visit lesser known or beaches with fewer crowds, visit the beaches on the far eastern and western ends of the Algarve.
When is the best time to visit the Algarve?
Peak season is July and August. During this time, the Algarve is at is busiest. The beaches, hotels, and restaurants will be packed with visitors. For warm weather and lower crowds, the best time to visit the Algarve is shoulder season, the months of May, June, September, and October.
If you have any questions about the best Algarve beaches, let us know in the comment section below. And feel free to share your favorites…we would love to hear about them as would our readers. Thanks!
More Information for Your Trip to Portugal
ALGARVE, PORTUGAL: Learn how to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, one of the most beautiful walks in Europe. Don’t miss our guides to Ponta da Piedade and Algar Seco, find out where to stay in our Algarve Hotel Guide, get a list of the best restaurants in Albufeira, and learn why October is the perfect time to visit the Algarve.
SINTRA: In our article Best Things to Do in Sintra, we cover the top sights to see in Sintra. In our article One Day in Sintra, we provide three different ways to plan a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon.
PORTUGAL ITINERARY: If you have 10 days in Portugal, here are 5 different ways to plan your trip.
NAZARÉ: Nazaré is famous for its enormous waves, making it a top surfing destination in the world. Learn more about this coastal town in our Guide to Nazaré.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide. And tips and tricks for taking great photos in our article How to Take Better Photos while Traveling.
We have TONS more information about Portugal in our Portugal Travel Guide, including Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, the Algarve, and the Douro Valley.
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