Praia da Salema: the #1 guide
Praia da Salema is the beach in front of small fishermen village of Salema, in the municipality of Vila do Bispo. Here you can find golden sand, colourful fishing boats and traditional white painted houses. In addition, you can find fossilized dinosaur footprints here. It is part of the Costa Vicentina natural park, which is known for its beautiful nature. In fact, the Guardian named Praia da Salema one of the 50 best beaches in the world, ending at the 15th place. Do you wonder why? Let’s explore this beach.
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Praia da Salema stretches for about 1 kilometre in length, making it quite a long beach. The beach basically lies in a large sheltered bay. Praia da Salema is backed by the village of Salema and on either end of the beach there are big cliffs.
The beach has a large sandy area, especially during low tide. The sand itself is relatively hard.
The water of the sea is very clear, but can be a bit cold. Since there are usually no big waves, it is good for swimming. In addition, there are several water sports available on the beach. Furthermore, just off the coast you can find a shipwreck of a French ship called L’Océan, which sank in 1759 after a battle. It is possible to dive near the shipwreck.
Just watch out for some rocks in the sea, especially on the western side of the beach.
At low tide it is nice to go for a long beach walk. There are no other beaches directly connected to Salema beach though. The first beach west of Praia da Salema is Praia da Figueira and the first beach to the east is Praia da Boca do Rio.
In summer, Praia da Salema can become a bit crowded. However, the more you go to the east on the beach, the more quiet it becomes. It is never overcrowded though on this beach. Furthermore, off season the beach is usually empty and peaceful. It is a great beach for families.
Salema is a fishing town and you will notice that when being here. For example, if you come early in the morning, you can see fishermen unloading their catch of the day. And you can see several colourful fishing boats in the central part of the beach.
Just behind the beach there is a small boulevard with benches. It is also great to walk here.
When you walk from the town of Salema to the beach, there are narrow streets where you can already see the sea.
Also at night, the village of Salema and its beach can provide wonderful views.
On both ends of the beach there are yellow limestone cliffs, dating back to the Early Cretaceous, about 150 million years ago. Here you can actually find fossilized dinosaur footprints, which are some of the best preserved dinosaur footprints in the entire Algarve. You can clearly see three toes in the footprints. The footprints are made by a type of Ornithopod. The dinosaur footprints were discovered in 2001 by geologists from the University of Lisbon. However, some locals have known about these footprints for as long as they can remember.
Although you can see dinosaur footprints in several places near the beach, the best preserved ones are at the western end of the beach. Here you can find a staircase from the beach to the top of the western cliff. The footprints are in a rock about 15 metres west of this staircase. You can always ask the lifeguards or a local exactly where to find them.
On top of the cliffs you can actually find a walking trail along the coastline. A nice hike is to walk east, towards Praia da Boca do Rio. This 2,5 kilometre hike provides you with fabulous views. If you go even further east, you will encounter the Fort of Almádena.
How to get there
The easiest way to move around in the Algarve is by car. If you don’t have one, make sure to rent a car. Salema lies halfway between Sagres and Lagos. When driving on the national road EN125 in the direction of Sagres, it is just past Budens. Salema is signposted here. Go left on the roundabout and continue in the M537 towards the sea. This is the easiest way to get there. Another way is by taking the road southeast of Figueira. You will then arrive from the other side of the village.
There is a small car park just behind the beach, but it only has a couple of parking spaces. You can see it in the picture below. This parking area is usually full in summer. A larger car park can be found about 5 minutes walking from the beach.
There are several good restaurants in the village of Salema. Our favourite ones near the beach are:
- Água na Boca. This Portuguese restaurant in a narrow street behind the beach has awesome food and great wine. It has been here for more than 30 years and is perhaps the best restaurant in Salema.
- Olhos N’Agua Restaurante. This restaurant has a good location, just behind the beach. It offers Portuguese food, mainly focusing on fresh fish. The staff is friendly as well. It is also a fabulous place to watch the sunset.
In the village of Salema you can find several good apartments, hotels and villas. If you wish to stay in this area, we recommend any of the following accommodations:
- Salema Beach Village. This four star holiday park offers townhouses with two or three bedrooms, surrounding a big terrace with swimming pool. Some of the townhouses have sea view. It is great for families. Highly rated as well.
- Hotel Residencial Salema. This three star hotel offers comfortable rooms for two people. The location of the place is excellent, right near the beach. In addition, the staff is friendly and prices are reasonable.
- Seaview Apartments. This hotel offers one-bedroom apartments with sea view and a private balcony. Rooms are decorated in a typical Portuguese manner. Only a short walk from everything in town.
Another option is to quickly check the availability of nearby hotels. Below you can find a map with the location of hotels near Salema. By changing the date of your holiday, the map will show you the current prices.
Although Salema has a great beach, there is much more to explore in the Algarve. For example, you can discover nearby the beautiful rock formations near Lagos and see the coastline of the Algarve. You can book some of these excursions already online. Below you can find our favourite excursions in the area.
Praia da Salema is a Blue Flag beach and has good facilities. There are lifeguards overlooking the beach in summer and you can rent sunbeds. In addition, you can rent stand-up paddle boards, bodyboards and kayaks near the beach. Last but not least, you can get a massage on the beach.
Facilities in Praia da Salema:
- Restaurant: yes
- Bar/club: no
- Toilet: yes
- Shower: yes
- Water sports: yes
- Sunbeds: yes
- Parking: yes
- Lifeguards: yes
- Blue Flag beach: yes