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Best Beaches in the Algarve

The Algarve is Portugal‘s southernmost region. It’s bordered by Spain to the east, the Alentejo region to the north, and the Atlantic to the south and west, which is where you’ll find its famously beautiful beaches. The golden sands backed by ochre-hued cliffs and edged by crystal-clear cobalt water are one of the main reasons people visit. You’ll find a wide range of beaches with something for nearly everyone, from peaceful stretches ideal for secluded sunbathing to lively beaches with outstanding surf. Plus, the region is home to world-class golf courses, maritime museums, ancient castles, enticing markets, and Michelin-starred restaurants. To make the most of it all, you might plan your trip based on one of the best beaches in the Algarve.

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Praia da Marinha

One of Portugal’s most emblematic beaches, Praia da Marinha, or Marinha Beach, boasts a myriad of little coves, natural arches, and a glistening stretch of golden sands framed by gorgeous clear blue water. Accessed by a set of steep stairs carved right on the cliffs, it’s often named among the most beautiful beaches in Europe. It’s part of the famous Seven Hangings Valley Trail that can easily be walked in a half-day, following the coast and its sheer cliffs. While it’s best reached on foot, providing the chance to soak up the breathtaking views, it can be reached by car with free parking available steps away. The water is chilly but this is a popular place to swim in between sunbathing.

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Praia da Falésia

Praia de Falésia was recently named the best beach in the world as part of TripAdvisor’s annual Travelers’ Choice Awards. It’s also a Blue Flag stretch, awarded for its cleanliness, water quality, safety, and sustainability management. Its name translates to cliff, with soaring pines sitting atop red cliffs that plunge over 130 feet into golden sands washed by the Atlantic’s azure waters. Body surfing and swimming are popular here, or you can always take a stroll on the footpath that runs atop the cliffs and enjoy the awe-inspiring views. There are several hotels that sit on the cliff tops with gardens that spread down to the edge of the beach and you’ll also find a beach bar and restaurant.

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Praia de Benagil

Most visit Praia de Benagil during their Portugal vacation to explore Benagil Cave, one of Portugal’s top attractions, just to the left of the beach. It can only be accessed by boat, with vessels available to take you on the short, under 10-minute ride. Due to the powerful waves and currents, swimming is not recommended but when the sea is very calm, standup paddleboards and kayaks can be rented for viewing this stunning natural wonder. When inside the cave, look up to see a giant opening, often called the “eye” where sunlight floods in, a bucket list experience for travelers from across the globe. The beach is also part of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail, about a 25-minute walk from Marinha Beach.

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Praia da Rocha

If you’re looking for a lively stretch, Praia da Rocha is one of the most famous beaches in the Algarve, located in Portimão. It stretches for more than two-thirds of a mile so while it attracts many Portuguese and northern Europeans in the summer, it’s never fully packed. A Blue Flag beach popular with families, it’s ideal for sand castle building and you’ll also find water sports gear for rent along with loungers and umbrellas. For food and drink, a boardwalk links bars and restaurants on the sand.  At the western end, you can climb up to the Tres Castelos Viewpoint to enjoy a panoramic view or get a different perspective at the other end from the early 17th-century Santa Catarina Fort.

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Praia do Camilo

Located near the town of Lagos, Praia do Camilo is hidden away in a secluded bay and can’t be seen from the road, helping to keep the crowds away. You won’t even get a glimpse until you’ve descended at least a few steps down the long staircase that leads to the sand and the brilliant aquamarine water, cradled between the cliffs. If you can make the early wake-up call, you’ll be able to take in a stunning sunrise. No matter when you visit, you’ll see one of the beach’s landmarks, an arch just to the left where the waves regularly splash through. The water is crystal clear and ideal for summertime swimming. In the winter, it’s a tranquil paradise for peaceful contemplation.

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Praia de Dona Ana

Also near Lagos, within a 20-minute walk of the town center, Praia da Dona Ana boasts pristine, crystal-clear water for swimming and snorkeling. With rock formations protecting the beach from strong waves, it keeps it perfectly calm and you’ll be able to see a diverse array of flora and fauna underwater too. But keep in mind that even during the peak of summer, the water is on the cold side with the highest temperature in the upper 60s. If you want to stay on the sand, it’s a long stretch with secluded areas, including sections where the cliffs provide shade from the sun. There’s also a beachside eatery with light bites like sandwiches and drinks. Arrive early to enjoy a majestic sunrise.

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Praia do Carvoeiro

Praia do Carvoeiro is the main beach in Carvoeiro and serves as a popular gathering point, like a town square. It sits within a small cove while rock formations tower on both sides and the backdrop is the village with its shops and restaurants. There are colorful fishing boats and white fishermen’s homes on the beach, providing an especially picturesque view that’s been captured on many Algarve postcards. During the day, tours are available via fishing boat to view the beach and coast from a different perspective. Water sports like kayaking and jet skiing are possible too. But be careful when swimming due to the many boats that come and go, along with a quick and significant drop to deep water.

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Praia dos Tres Irmaos

Located just a 5-minute drive from the town center of Alvor, Praia dos Tres Irmaos translates to the “beach of the three brothers,” named for the three rocks just offshore. The brilliant blue water is nearly transparent with striking clarity making it ideal for snorkeling. There are also several hidden caves, arches, and interesting rock formations that can be accessed from the sand at low tide. Many gravitate to its eastern side due to the scenic beauty of the rock formations but you’ll find umbrellas and loungers for rent on the west side which has a more tranquil atmosphere. There are a couple of eateries right on the beach for dining with a sea and a glorious sunset view.

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Praia do Alvor

Praia do Alvor, or Alvor Beach is the main beach in Alvor, located at the western end of the coastline. Made up of fine white sands and backed by dunes, it feels great on your feet making it ideal for barefoot strolls while separating the saltwater of the Atlantic from a freshwater lagoon. While it gets crowded during the summer, there’s always enough space for everyone along with quieter areas for those seeking a more tranquil setting. The further west or east you go, the less crowded it is. It’s great for kids who often build sandcastles while adults relax on loungers beneath shady umbrellas. The area is great for watersports too, including kayaking, jet skiing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.

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Praia da Arrifana

Just a few miles from Aljezur, Praia da Arrifana is a gem in the western Algarve popular for surfing and diving. A half-mile stretch shaped a bit like a seashell, combined with the towering cliffs, it enjoys some protection from the wind and it’s a Blue Flag beach, which means it’s also safe for swimming. During the high season, a lifeguard is on duty. While the waves aren’t as big as they are farther up the coast, it’s great for beginners with a sandy bottom. Surfboards and wetsuits are available for rent and there’s a surf school on-site for lessons. Diving is best enjoyed at the northern end of the beach close to the fishing port with crystal-clear water and near-perfect conditions.

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