In the west, the waters are choppy, while in the east they become calmer and warmer. And along the entire stretch is a dusting of outstanding beaches – more than 100 of them. The kind of beaches you see when you close your eyes and dream of paradise.
But the Algarve’s beaches don’t all sing from the same hymn book. Some are cocooned in white sands, others golden. Some are enveloped by craggy cliffs, others embellished with natural rock archways. But one thing is true across them all – they’re fringed by the incredible azure Atlantic, offering aquatic adventures.
Ready to dive in? Discover the best beaches in the Algarve ahead of your next trip.
Praia da Marinha
You can’t talk about the best beaches in the Algarve without mentioning Praia da Marinha. Its medley of colours are bold and beautiful. Aquamarine waters, golden sands, peach-hued rock formations, most often shimmering against a bright blue backdrop. Yep, it’s pin-up pretty and totally worth venturing to.
The cliffs above Praia da Marinha provide a spectacular vantage point of the beach, particularly at sunset, but otherwise you can head down the steps onto the shore itself. Plop down on the sand and drink in the views of dramatic limestone rock stacks that have been carved by the ocean for thousands of years.
Praia do Vau
You’ll find tranquillity here. Come early in the morning to experience Praia do Vau at its most quiet and get stuck into a good book while lazing on the golden sands. Raise your gaze from the pages and you’ll find dramatic ochre cliffs and rock formations surrounding this secluded spot. On holiday with little ones? There are rock pools and caves galore, perfect for an hour or so of fun exploration!
Praia da Falésia
Stretching for more than 6km between Vilamoura and Olhos D’Agua, this iconic Blue Flag beach is famed for the rusty red cliffs fringing its entire length. These incredible natural formations, topped with pine trees and blooming wildflowers, are worth the trip alone. But down on the shore, a vast sandy stretch awaits, along with the refreshing crystal-clear ocean if you fancy a swim. Slip off your shoes and stroll along the water’s edge or grab one of the loungers and enjoy an afternoon of sunbathing.
Praia da Rocha
If you’re looking for a beautiful wide sandy beach with bags of atmosphere, make for Praia da Rocha. This eternally popular coastal stretch can be found at the bottom of a steep set of cliff steps. A boardwalk snakes along its entire length, lined with cafés and bars, perfect if you don’t want to feel the sand between your toes. Walk along and watch the Atlantic waves rolling in and feel the gentle sea breeze on your face. Spot 13 is the ideal place to make a pit stop. Sit under the shade of a bamboo umbrella and enjoy the chilled jazz soundtrack and laidback vibes. Feeling peckish? Nibble on juicy olives, fresh bread and grilled sardines, all washed down with a refreshing Aperol spritz.
Ilha de Tavira
Feel like you’ve landed in the Caribbean at this authentic Algarve spot. Part of the tranquil Ria Formosa Natural Reserve, Ilha de Tavira is untouched and oh-so-beautiful. It’s widely known as one of the best beaches in the Algarve thanks to its extensive golden sands and crystal-clear waters. Hop aboard a ferry from the mainland and venture through pine forest to reach this dreamy slice of Portuguese coastline.
There’s no tussling over towel space here, as this wide sandy bay is one of the biggest Algarve beaches. Wrapping around a 4km slice of coast, Meia Praia boasts white sands and is only a stone’s throw from Lagos. Bars and restaurants pepper the waterfront, perfect for a little midday respite, while there are water sports galore to get stuck into whether you’re a fan of windsurfing or paragliding.
Praia São Rafael
Staying in Albufeira? You’re in luck, because Praia São Rafael is only a short drive away from the resort centre. Here you can spot more of the Algarve’s tell-tale orange cliffs and rock formations, scattered along the sandy shore. The sunset here is rather spectacular from the clifftop, so make sure you stay around until twilight arrives.
This is just the start of the Algarve’s beach line-up. There are so many stunning places to spend a day drinking in Portugal’s sunshine along its southern coast. Can’t wait to go there? Begin planning a trip now with Jet2holidays.
Posted: 11th Mar 2019. Updated: 16th Mar 2023.