Praia do Castelejo: the #1 guide
Praia do Castelejo is a wild and rugged beach in the municipality of Vila do Bispo. It is one of the most popular beaches for surfing in the Algarve. The Financial Times once even called Praia do Castelejo a perfect beach. But who takes travel advice from a financial newspaper? Let’s explore if there is any truth to that statement.
Watch it in HD
Would you like to see a preview of this beach? Then make sure to watch the following video.
Praia do Castelejo is a big beach, with a length of about 500 metres. It lies within the Costa Vicentina natural park, which is known for its wild and rugged nature. The area is unspoiled, remote and of great natural beauty. Praia do Castelejo is thus quite off the beaten track.
Praia do Castelejo is backed by impressive steep cliffs, which are higher on the southern side than on the northern side. These cliffs consist of black schist, which contrast with the golden sand. This gives the beach quite a remarkable look.
The sea here has big waves and can be rough. In addition, the current can be strong and the Atlantic Ocean can be quite cold. Make sure to check the sea conditions before swimming or surfing.
On some days you can see mist coming off of the water. This misty air gives the beach a magical feel.
Just watch out for some rocks in the water though. While some are big and clearly visible, others are less visible. Ask the lifeguard or a local surfschool if you are unsure where the rocks are.
Praia do Castelejo lies just south of Praia da Cordoama. The border between these two beaches is a series of rock formations. During low tide you can actually go for a long beach walk. You can walk north from Praia do Castelejo towards Praia da Cordoama and all the way to Praia da Barriga.
When walking towards Praia da Cordoama, the only thing you see is the roaring Atlantic Ocean on your left and the imposing cliffs on the right. It will make you feel tiny.
You can often see fishermen on the beach as well, especially near the rock formations that separate Praia do Castelejo and Praia da Cordoama.
In summer, Praia do Castelejo is a relatively popular beach. In terms of number of visitors, Praia do Castelejo has much less visitors than the popular beaches of the southern Algarve, but it is more busy than its neighbour Praia da Cordoama. Most of the people visiting Praia do Castelejo are surfers or people who love wild beaches such as this one. In general, the western coast of the Algarve is much more quiet than the touristic southern coast.
On some places you can see rocks just in front of the cliffs. During low tide you wouldn’t almost notice them, but during high tide the beach becomes smaller and the rocks become more prominent.
The sunset on Praia do Castelejo is beautiful as well. After all, the sun sets in the west and this beach faces west. In our opinion Praia do Castelejo is definitely one of the best beaches on the west coast of the Algarve.
Pedra da Laje
On the north side of Praia do Castelejo there is a series of rock formations that separate the beach from Praia da Cordoama. One of these rocks is very big and is known as Pedra da Laje.
Pedra da Laje kind of resembles a castle, which also gives Praia do Castelejo its name. In general you can often see fishermen around these rocks, because there is plenty of fish here. In addition, during low tide you can actually find rock pools with an abundance of marine life between the rocks. Children usually love to explore these rock pools, which is possible because the water is calm here during low tide.
Praia do Castelejo has amazing surf conditions, which is why this beach is known as a heaven for surfing. The high waves of the Atlantic Ocean attract plenty of surfers to this area. Praia do Castelejo is good for both beginners and more experienced surfers. Surfing on this beach is best with a western swell and eastern wind direction. When you are in the area of Lagos or Sagres, this is one of the best surf beaches in the area.
There are several surf schools that come to Praia do Castelejo to practice. It is recommended to go here with a local surf school, because they know this beach very well. For example, there are some rocks underwater that could hurt you, and a surf school knows exactly where to surf in order to avoid them. If you already know this beach, you can also just rent surf equipment.
Torre da Aspa viewpoint
To the south of Praia do Castelejo is a tall cliff. It is 156 metres in height, making it actually the highest cliff of the coastline of the Algarve. It is not the highest point in the Algarve though (that is Mount Fóia near Monchique). On this cliff there is a viewpoint called Torre da Aspa. From here you have a breathtaking view over both Praia do Castelejo and Praia da Cordoama. Torre da Aspa refers to an old tower from the 16th century that once stood here. Nowadays the tower is gone, and the cliff is mostly used as a viewpoint over the nearby beaches.
Miradouro do Castelejo viewpoint
Behind Praia da Cordoama you can find a viewpoint called Miradouro do Castelejo. From this viewpoint you have an amazing view over both Praia da Cordoama (to the north) and Praia do Castelejo (to the south).
During low tide, you can actually see the full extent of the rock formations around Pedra da Laje.
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. Drive to the village of Vila do Bispo and then continue west on the M1265. Follow the signs ‘Praias‘. The road towards the beach is winding and narrow (especially the last part). This is hard when there are cars going in the opposite direction, so you have to drive carefully. At the end of the road you can turn left for Praia do Castelejo or turn right for Praia da Cordoama. There is a car park with plenty of parking space.
There is a restaurant on Praia do Castelejo, located along the path to the beach. It is simply called Restaurante Castelejo. The restaurant focuses on fresh fish and seafood. Especially their octopus is really good. It is a great place to have lunch.
If you wish to stay in the area near Praia do Castelejo, we recommend any of the following accommodations:
- Pure Fonte Velha B&B. This highly rated bed & breakfast offers both a fabulous bed and an amazing breakfast. The atmosphere is very nice and the owners are friendly. It is just great to stay in this place.
- Pure Flor de Esteva – Bed & Breakfast. This bed & breakfast in Vila do Bispo offers nicely decorated private rooms with good value for money. In addition there is a nice outside terrace. Furthermore, the staff makes you feel welcome.
- Abrigo das Nortadas. This country house offers large double rooms. It is located in the countryside, but still easy to reach. In the area you have plenty of opportunities for hiking and biking.
Another option is to quickly check the availability of nearby hotels. Below you can find a map with the location of hotels near Vila do Bispo. By changing the date of your holiday, the map will show you the current prices.
Praia do Castelejo has good facilities. There is a small kiosk for refreshments, as well as a restaurant for a proper meal. A toilet is available inside the restaurant. There are lifeguards on duty and you can rent surf equipment if you want to. Castelejo is a blue flag beach.
Facilities in Praia do Castelejo:
- Restaurant: yes
- Bar/club: no
- Toilet: yes
- Shower: no
- Water sports: yes
- Sunbeds: yes
- Parking: yes
- Lifeguards: yes
- Blue flag beach: yes