Favourite BEACHES


Favourite BEACHES

The Algarve gets the thumbs up for the best beaches in Europe. And no wonder. Here are some that never fail to thrill… and they are just a drive or walk away.

Praia do Carvalho
Named after a captain called Carvalho, who allegedly once owned this stretch of beach, the small and hidden cove here attracts fewer crowds than most beaches in Portugal, so it is an absolute must to visit. Surrounded by tall cliffs, it is famous for its soft, golden sand and clear water, and its quietness. Protected from the wind, Carvalho Beach is perfect for a swim, to practice diving, and freefalling.

The sea becomes deep very quickly and the tunnel to the beach has some steep and uneven steps, making it hard to reach for older people and those with mobility issues.

It is better to come prepared with everything you will need for the day, as there are no facilities on the beach.

How to get there
Drive on the EN125 near Lagoa and follow the signs to Carvoeiro. When you get closer, you will see signs indicating Praia do Carvalho.
You can park your car on the cliffs, or at the Urbanização Clube Atlântico. Then, just follow the signs and take the long stairs down to reach the tunnel that gives you access to the beach.

Praia do Barril
One of the three beaches on Ilha da Tavira, Praia do Barril is regarded as one of the best and calmest Portuguese beaches. A marvellous hidden gem, it is part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, famous for its sandy beach, clean deep blue water, and a lack of cliffs. It is also known for its bizarre anchor cemetery with over 100 rusting anchors in the sand, arranged in rows, a reminder of the local economy before tourism.

Built in the 1840s, the buildings on the beach were used by fishermen during the Bluefin tuna fishing season – April to September. Nearly 80 families lived in the small village but with the change in the migration routes of the Bluefin tuna, the village was eventually abandoned. The buildings have been restored and re-emerged as bars, restaurants, a small museum and other facilities.

During summer there are lifeguards supervising the beach. Various water sports are available, including sailing, kayaking, jet skiing and stand-up paddle boards.

How to get there
The most direct way to get to Praia do Barril is from the holiday village of Pedras d’el Rei, in Santa Luzia, where there are several places to park. A small train, originally used for hauling goods and freshly-caught fish between the fishing community and the village, will take you to the beach, around 1km away.

Praia da Armona
The Ria Formosa National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a number of small islands of which Armona is one of the most beautiful. Nine kilometres in length and one kilometre wide, it is home to some 50 people, has a small fishing village, a campsite, some mini-markets, cafés and restaurants that focus on fish and seafood dishes. The fine white-sand beach is very clean, and the seawater almost transparent.

A true stress-free road- and car-free paradise, Armona is the choice of many for windsurfing, sailing and canoeing.

How to get there
Ilha da Armona can only be reached by boat. You can choose between the regular ferry from Olhão or a private speedboat. The journey through the Ria Formosa takes about 20 minutes. There are several ferries every day and during high season they run almost every hour.
When you arrive on Armona Island, walk through the village and then take the wooden boardwalk to the Atlantic side of the island. This footpath is about 1.5 kilometres and it is a 20-minute walk to the best beach.

Praia de Odeceixe
The beach of Odeceixe, in the municipality of Aljezur, is located at the end of a valley, between towering cliffs of schist. The beach is a wide strip of sand – bordered by sea and stream – where several low-water lagoons are formed that are perfect for calm bathing; the stream, in very rainy periods, may affect the shape and size of the beach itself. You can enjoy a landscape of rare beauty from the top of the cliffs; this Natural Park is the only place in the world where it is possible to observe storks nesting on the sea rocks. Canoeing and boat trips on the stream are an attraction.

How to get there
Leaving Aljezur, head north on the EN120. Turn left at the entrance to the village of Baiona. This path follows the Seixe stream, leading to its mouth. The other option is to take the road to Praia de Odeceixe, where there is organised parking, ramp and stair access to the beach, several restaurants and also accommodation.

Praia Fluvial do Pego Fundo, Alcoutim
Surrounded by poplars, roses and lavender, this peaceful river beach was developed around a beautiful pond in the Cadavais stream, a tributary of the Guadiana River. The waters here come from the Alcoutim reservoir, and are renewed every day; throughout the bathing season, the water temperature can reach up to 30ºC.

There are sports and picnic areas, a first aid post, and the needs of those with reduced mobility are catered for.

How to get there
From the village of Alcoutim, cross the Ribeira de Cadavais bridge towards its left bank. There are signs indicating the location of the river beach, where you will find parking, a restaurant, and toilets. You can also go on foot – the beach is about 500m from the centre of Alcoutim.

Praia da Marinha
Praia da Marinha has long been regarded as one of the ten most beautiful beaches in Europe and one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world. It is bordered by amazing orange-yellow limestone cliffs with an incredible variety of rock formations.
Access to the beach is via a wooden staircase that starts at the top of the cliff, next to the parking lot, and continues down, so it is not suitable for those reliant on a wheelchair or with a buggy.

On the beach, the blue water is wonderfully transparent making it ideal for snorkeling sessions to spot countless species of marine fauna and flora, including urchins, starfish and seahorses.

Near the beach, you find the famous M rock, a structure that looks like the letter M – and from one angle forms a much-photographed heart shape.
If you want to enjoy the view, there is a famous walking trail up on the cliffs named Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos (Seven Hanging Valleys Trail) which takes you along seven beautiful valleys along the coast. It is one of the better-known walking trails in the Algarve.

How to get there
Praia da Marinha is not as crowded as some of the other beaches in the Algarve, possibly because it can only be reached by car.
Located between Armação de Pêra and Carvoeiro, it is close to Praia de Benagil. Follow the N125 and exit at the International School at Lagoa and follow the signs.
A bus service does operate from Lagoa, but unfortunately it is not very frequent.

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