Praia de Cacela Velha – the #1 guide
Praia de Cacela Velha is a wonderful beach in the municipality of Vila Real de Santo António. This beach is known for its beautiful dreamy landscape and its fantastic sunset. According to us, this is one of the best beaches in the Algarve. Fortunately, we are not alone in this opinion. Back in 2009, The Guardian named Cacela Velha one of the top 10 European beaches by foot. Also, the Spanish edition of Traveler magazine Condé Nast featured this beach in the list ’15 best beaches in the world’ in 2015. Are you curious to discover more? Let’s explore why Praia de Cacela Velha is such a gem.
Watch it in HD
If you would like to see the true beauty of Praia de Cacela Velha, then watch the amazing video below.
Praia de Cacela Velha is quite a long beach. It stretches for about 1,7 kilometres in length. In the east, the beach is wider than in the west. The beach is also known as Praia do Sítio da Fábrica or simply Praia da Fábrica. Praia de Cacela Velha is located west of Praia da Manta Rota. If you want, you could walk from Cacela Velha all the way towards Praia de Santo António.
Praia de Cacela Velha consists of sand that changes shapes according to the winds and tides. This means that the shapes of the sandstrips and thus the beach is different almost every day. The sand itself has a golden colour. It is a joy to swim here, since the water is transparent and quite warm. During low tide, you can see some natural pools and lagoons on the beach.
The beach used to be a peninsula up until 2010, when a storm cut the peninsula. This turned the western part of the beach, in front of Sítio da Fábrica, into an island. Still, both the island and the peninsula are part of the natural barrier that forms a defense against the Atlantic Ocean. This also protects the natural park of Ria Formosa.
In terms of number of visitors, Praia de Cacela Velha is a relatively calm and peaceful beach. You will see people on the beach, but it is never very crowded. Usually there are only a handful of people.
Kids usually love this beach, especially during low tide with the lagoons. Although this is not an official nude beach, sometimes there are some naturists on the beach.
Cacela Velha is a small traditional Portuguese village. It is part of Portuguese historical and cultural heritage. Fishing was the main economic activity in Cacela Velha for centuries. Since the last half of the 20th century, the town is focusing more on tourism. Still, there are local fishermen taking care of the daily supply of fish for local restaurants. The village itself consists of cobbled streets and whitewashed houses. It is so small that you can see all of it in 20 minutes.
There are three interesting things in the village. First, there is a church. It is called Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção and it is the only church in town. It dates back to the 16th century. Second, next to the church there is a fort, called Fortaleza de Cacela. This fort was built by Dom Rodrigo de Noronha in 1770 to defend the coast against pirates. The fort itself is not open for tourists, since it is an office for the National Republican Guard.
And third, there is a fantastic viewpoint in the village over Praia de Cacela Velha. Just follow the wall to reach it.
From this viewpoint you have a fabulous view over the turquoise waters and the dreamy strips of sand. The light here seems magical, which is hard to capture on camera. Time seems to stand still in this place.
The eastern end of the Ria Formosa starts at Praia de Cacela Velha. Ria Formosa is one of the most beautiful natural parks in the Algarve. Here you can see many species of plants and wildlife. It is a wonderful place to discover.
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. To get to this beach, you have several options. You can take the car to either Fábrica or Manta Rota. The easiest way is to go to Fábrica and take the boat there. You can park next to the restaurants at Sítio da Fábrica, but there are few parking spots. If this is already full, you have to park a bit further and take a longer walk. It is thus best to come early, to avoid the longer walk.
There are three options to get to Praia de Cacela Velha:
Option 1: by boat (most popular)
The most popular option is to take the boat from Sítio da Fábrica. This is about 1,5 kilometres west of the town of Cacela Velha. From Sítio da Fábrica it is only a couple of minutes walking to the point where you can get the boat. There are fishermen who are willing to take you to the beach for a small fee. The boat has no schedule. It departs when there are any passengers. This service is available every day during summer. During the rest of the year, this is only possible when the weather permits it. A boat trip to access the beach costs € 1,50.
Option 2: by foot from Manta Rota
Another option is to go to Praia da Manta Rota and walk west until you reach Praia de Cacela Velha. However, this is a very long beach walk.
Option 3: wading
The least popular option is wading through the water during low tide. From Cacela Velha or Fábrica, you can wade through the water to reach the beach. The water gets to chest level in the deepest part, so you need to carry your belongings over your head. This is only possible during low tide, and not the most comfortable way to reach the beach. That is why few people choose this option.
There are no restaurants on the beach. It is best to take your own food with you. To get to the nearest restaurant, you have to get back to Cacela Velha. The best restaurant in Cacela Velha is Casa da Igreja. It specializes in seafood and gets excellent reviews.
There are a couple of hotels nearby. If you wish to stay in this area, we recommend any of the following hotels:
- Mantamar Apartamentos. This aparthotel near Manta Rota is a wonderful base from which to explore the area. It has a swimming pool and a nice garden. The rooms are nice and it comes with all the facilities you need for a wonderful stay.
- As Serenas Casa B. This large apartment has a size of 115 square metres, which is perfect for groups or for people who love extra space. It has 3 bedrooms and comes complete with kitchen and garden.
Since Covid-19 travel restrictions have been lifted, we recommend to book your hotel now, as it will probably sell out soon. Below you can find a map with the location of hotels near Praia de Cacela Velha. By changing the date of your holiday, the map will show you the current prices.
There is a lot to discover in the eastern Algarve. Going on an excursion is an excellent way to do just that. There are several wonderful excursions you can take in the area. Our favourite excursions in the eastern Algarve are listed below:
There are no facilities on the beach. For example, there are no lifeguards and there is no toilet. Basically, it is only a stretch of sand with beautiful waters. Make sure to bring your own food and drinks, as well as your own sun umbrella. You could also bring a soccer ball or volley ball with you, since there usually is plenty of space.
Facilities in Praia de Cacela Velha:
- Restaurants: no
- Bar/club: no
- Toilet: no
- Shower: no
- Water sports: no
- Sunbeds: no
- Free parking: yes
- Lifeguards: no
- Blue Flag beach: no