Imagine the Cliffs of Moher combined with a Mediterranean climate and sandy beaches, and you have the best beaches in Algarve, Portugal. This idyllic area is the Southern most post of Portugal and home to what I would consider Europe’s most scenic beaches.
You’ll find sandstone rock formations towering over spotless beaches and a rugged coastline scattered with grottos (caves) and coves. The Algarve is ideal if you’re looking to escape to a combination of nature and sea.
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The Best Beaches in Algarve, Portugal
While you may assume that Faro, the biggest city in the Algarve region, has the best beaches, think again. The smaller beach town of Lagos is actually home to many of the epic, Algarve beaches you would get from a quick Google search.
While in Lisbon last month, my partner and I decided to take a bus down to Lagos to relax on the beach for a few days and celebrate Halloween. Even at the end of October, we were pleasantly surprised that we were still able to swim most days. (See the Youtube video above for proof!)
In the summer months, beach-goers wake up at sunrise with their umbrellas just to save their spot for the day. Thus, it gets packed here in hotter months. Other than the small population of locals and British and Irish retirement community, the town gets a lot quieter in shoulder season.
Here are the unmissable beaches in Lagos:
Dona Ana Beach
This beach looks closer to planet Mars than it does planet earth. Dona Ana boasts massive golden cliffs surrounding a blanket of sandy beaches. The shoreline is scattered with colorful shells and rock perfect for collecting. Since the beach is so vast, you really have a lot of space to stretch out and soak up the sun.
Dona Camillo Beach
This is not only my favorite beach in Lagos. It’s quite possibly my favorite beach in the world. About a 10-minute walk down from Dona Ana, Dona Camilo is an oasis of desert-like nature, more golden cliffs, and a quant, yet flawless beach. It’s about half the size of the Dona Ana beach, and the texture of the sand reminded me of quinoa! If you get up early enough like I did, you can have the entire beach to yourself!
Technically connected to Dona Camillo, you’ll find the student beach on the other side of the cliff. Luckily, there’s a small little walkway on the beach that will lead you right to it.
This beach is even smaller than Dona Camilo, and is sectioned into two parts. It has much more of a hidden beach vibe to it, and is usually crowded with young people.
Hidden Beaches around Ponta da Piedade
Speaking of hidden beaches, Lagos has those too, but proceed with caution. While walking along the Ponta da Piedade area at the end of the cliffs (highly recommended), we hopped into a fisherman’s boat for a grotto tour of the area! (Just see my face in our video for how much I enjoyed this). While exploring from the coast, there were a number of secluded beaches with people spotted along them.
Apparently some people will hike down through the cliffs to get to them, however I would recommend being very careful if doing this. The cliffs are infamous here for being unstable along the edges. Prepare for an extreme downhill hike if you’re planning on getting to one of these.
Benagil Cave beach
You may recognize this place, as it’s always in the listicle round ups of “50 places you need to see in the world before you die”. This large grotto is located in the town of Benagil, and is only accessible by boat or swimming.
It’s quite popular to visit either by kayak or boat, and then swimming to the shore. Unfortunately, we ran out of time during our trip to Lagos, but are using this as an excuse to come back.
Ria Formosa Natural Park Beaches
Paved with sandbar islands and salt water lagoons, Ria Formosa nature park is a protected region and park, which is a must visit if you’re in Faro. This nature haven protects wildlife and implements sustainable fishing methods. The area even has a few islands to explore as well!
Praia da Falesia Beach
Not only is this beach known for being one of the longest, it’s also know for being one of the most peaceful. Paraia da Falesia is 6 kilometers long of golden sand beaches, just outside of the town of Albuferia. This area is known for it’s laid back atmosphere and preservation of typical Portuguese culture.
Praia do Amado Beach
Located in the small village of Carrapateira, Amado is one of the longest beaches in the Algarve, with each grain of its sand as golden as the next. However, not only is it particularly beautiful, but the beach is also a great surf location for beginners!
There’s several surf schools dotted along its shore meaning that this beach provides the perfect opportunity to try something new and break away from your standard day of sun-bathing and sandcastle construction.
How to get to Algarve, Portugal
There are a number of ways you can get to this Southern region of Portugal, which depends where you are coming from. The easiest way would be to fly into the Faro airport. You can then take a bus into any of the other towns throughout the area.
Otherwise, if you are coming from Lisbon, you can get here by bus, which takes about 3 and a half hours. You can leave from either of the main bus stations in Lisbon.
We decided to stay in Lagos, which I would recommend as well if you’d like to be closest to the best beaches in the Algarve, Portugal. If you’re planning on traveling through the region, you can either take the public buses, rent a car, or take a day tour.
Check out this downloadable google Map here to help you plan your trip!