Beaches in the Algarve you should visit
It is not a secret that the Algarve has some of the best beaches in Europe. The Algarve has a coastline of about 200 kilometres, which contains more than 150 beaches. From long sandy beaches on quiet islands to beaches that are buzzing with people and energy: you can find it here. The combination of beautiful beaches, stunning rock formations and one of the best climates in Europe has turned the Algarve primarily into a summer and sea destination. On this page you can read more about beaches in the Algarve, so you will know exactly which beach suits you best.
Beaches in the Algarve
The beaches in the Algarve have a fine, golden or white sand. On most beaches, the sand is very comfortable to walk on. In general, the beaches in the western Algarve are very different from the beaches in the eastern Algarve:
- To the west of Portimão, beaches are usually less crowded. Beaches here are also surrounded by breathtaking cliffs.
- Beaches in the central Algarve (between Faro and Portimão) are among the most crowded of the Algarve during the summer. Even so, it is always possible to find a spot. The beaches here are surrounded by impressive gold-coloured cliffs.
- In the eastern Algarve however, beaches have no cliffs. The coastal line is low with dunes and large sandy surfaces. There are also some barrier islands consisting mainly of sand and sediments.
The main beaches of the Algarve are situated around the following towns:
Albufeira is one of the most touristic towns in the Algarve. That is why the beaches near the town are usually quite crowded. Examples of beaches near Albufeira town are Praia dos Pescadores, Praia do Túnel, Praia da Oura or Praia do Inatel. Outside the town of Albufeira you can find some beautiful beaches as well. For example, Praia da Falésia is often seen as one of the most beautiful beaches of the Algarve. Other beautiful beaches near Albufeira are Praia dos Olhos de Água, Praia da Galé, Praia de Santa Eulália and Praia São Rafael.
Faro is the capital of the Algarve. Beaches near Faro are not backed by cliffs and are thus relatively flat. The main beach of Faro is Praia de Faro, which is located just outside the town. Nearby you can also find the natural park of Ria Formosa. In addition, you can visit several beautiful islands from Faro by boat, such as Ilha Deserta and Ilha do Farol, which is a part of Ilha da Culatra.
The beaches in the area of Lagoa are definitely some of the most famous beaches of the Algarve. You can see some of them in many advertisements for the Algarve. For example, Praia da Marinha is viewed by some people as the most beautiful beach of the Algarve. Other beaches near Lagoa are Praia de Albandeira, Praia de Benagil, Praia do Carvalho, Praia do Carvoeiro and Praia de Nossa Senhora da Rocha.
Lagos is a great town with a lot of culture, history and entertainment to offer. Moreover, the beaches of Lagos are some of the most beautiful of the Algarve. They are characterized by high cliffs and golden sand. Near the town of Lagos you can find Meia Praia, Praia da Batata, Praia dos Estudantes, Praia do Pinhão, Praia da Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo. Slightly further away you can find Praia de Porto de Mós and Praia da Luz. While technically it is not a beach, make sure to visit the amazing rock formations at Ponta da Piedade as well.
Monte Gordo beaches
Monte Gordo is a resort town in the east of the Algarve. Nearby, you can find some beautiful beaches, which are backed by dunes. For example, check out the beaches of Praia de Monte Gordo and Praia Verde.
Olhão is the largest fishing port of the Algarve. While Olhão itself does not have any beaches, it does have some islands. From the town of Olhão you can take the boat to visit these paradise islands. Make sure to visit Ilha da Culatra and Ilha da Armona.
Portimão is a relatively large town in the western part of the Algarve. It attracts quite a lot of tourists and you can find many tourist facilities here. The main beach is Praia da Rocha, which stretches for over a kilometre. Behind the beach there is a lively boulevard, backed by many high-rise hotels and apartments. Other beaches near Portimão are Praia do Vau, Praia de Alvor and Praia dos Três Irmãos.
The beaches in the area of Sagres have high cliffs, which make for a very beautiful scenery. Waves here are also quite big, which means you see a lot of surfers. The water of the Atlantic Ocean here is very cold though. Examples of beaches in this area are Praia da Baleeira, Praia da Mareta, Praia do Beliche, Praia do Burgau, Praia do Martinhal and Praia do Tonel.
While Silves is not a town near the coast, it does have its own beaches. This is because the municipality of Silves stretches until the coast. Examples of Silves beaches are Praia de Armação de Pêra and Praia Grande de Pêra.
Tavira is one of the most beautiful towns of the Algarve. It has amazing beaches as well, located on islands near the town. You can visit the islands of Ilha de Tavira and Ilha de Cabanas. All beaches in the area of Tavira are quite flat and backed by dunes. Another great beach is Praia do Barril, which is located on Tavira Island and is known for its anchor cemetary.
West coast beaches
The beaches on the west coast of the Algarve are all beaches between Sagres and Odeceixe. These beaches have a wild feeling and are not very crowded. Due to the big waves here, the conditions are very good for surfing. The beaches in this area therefore mainly attract surfers and tourists who love nature. The cliffs in this area are very steep, which make for a beautiful setting. Examples of beaches on the west coast are Praia do Amado, Praia de Odeceixe, Praia do Castelejo, Praia da Cordoama, Praia da Amoreira, Praia da Bordeira and Praia da Arrifana.
Islands in the Algarve
The Algarve has several islands, mainly near Faro, Olhão and Tavira. These islands are perhaps some of the finest beaches of the Algarve. However, all of these islands can only be reached by boat. All islands in the Algarve are permanently inhabited by some people, with the exception of Ilha Deserta. On these islands you will always find enough space. Moreover, if you are willing to walk 1 or 2 kilometres from the point of arrival, you will hardly see any other people on the beach.
Blue flag beaches in the Algarve
A total of 88 beaches in the Algarve have been awarded a blue flag. This is one of the largest concentration of blue flags in Europe. A blue flag stands for compliance with international standards regarding safety, water quality, facilities and environmental management. In the Algarve, the following beaches have a blue flag (2019):
- Aljezur (4): Odeceixe-Mar, Amoreira Mar, Monte Clérigo and Arrifana
- Vila do Bispo (11): Cordoama, Beliche, Castelejo, Tonel, Mareta, Martinhal, Ingrina, Zavial, Salema, Almádena – Cabanas Velha and Burgau
- Lagos (6): Luz, Porto de Mós, Camilo, Dona Ana, Batata and Meia Praia
- Portimão (5): Alvor Poente, Alvor Nascente – Três Irmãos, Vau, Três Castelos and Rocha.
- Lagoa (6): Ferragudo, Caneiros, Carvoeiro, Vale de Centeanes, Senhora da Rocha, Vale do Olival
- Silves (2): Armação de Pêra and Grande Poente
- Albufeira (25): Salgados, Galé Oeste, Galé Este, Manuel Lourenço, Evaristo, Castelo, Coelha, São Rafael, Arrifes, Peneco, Pescadores, Inatel, Alemães, Aveiros, Oura, Oura-Leste, Santa Eulália, Maria Luísa, Olhos de Água, Belharucas, Falésia-Açoteias, Falésia-Alfamar, Rocha Baixinha-Poente, Rocha Baixinha and Rocha Baixinha-Nascente.
- Loulé (10): Vilamoura, Quarteira, Forte Novo, Almargem, Loulé Velho, Vale do Lobo, Garrão Poente/Duna, Garrão Nascente, Ancão and Quinta do Lago.
- Faro (4): Faro-Mar, Barreta, Ilha do Farol-Mar and Culatra-Mar.
- Olhão (4): Armona-Mar, Armona-Ria, Fuseta-Mar and Fuseta-Ria.
- Tavira (4): Barril, Terra Estreita, Ilha de Tavira-Mar and Cabanas-Mar.
- Castro Marim (3): Alagoa-Altura, Praia Verde and Cabeço.
- Vila Real de Santo António (4): Manta Rota, Lota, Monte Gordo and Santo António.
In addition, most beaches in the Algarve have a physical flag, with a colour indicating whether it is safe to swim:
- Green = swimming permitted
- Yellow = swimming forbidden
- Red = swimming or entering the water forbidden
Sea water temperature and quality
The temperature of the sea water in the Algarve depends on many factors, mainly the wind direction and deep water streams. In general, the sea water temperature in the Algarve is warmer in the east than in the west. The further you go towards the west, the colder the water gets. For example, on the west coast the sea water temperature is usually between 17 and 20 degrees, while east of Tavira the sea water temperature can reach up to 26 degrees. Also, the sea is warmer in the summer than in the winter.
When the wind blows from the southeast (in Portuguese this wind is called sueste), it brings not only warm air, but also warm water from North Africa. Usually this wind lasts for several days, during which the sea is rough. Afterwards, the sea water becomes clearly warmer.
The water quality in the Algarve is generally speaking very good. There are almost no industries and all cities have waste water treatment plants since Portugal belongs to the European Union.