The Algarve beaches – in Portugal’s most southern region – are popular. And for good reason.
The south coast houses over 150 km of beautiful golden, sandy beaches. Some are secluded, most are easily accessible. Some are surrounded by great rocks and cliffs. And all provide great swimming possibilities.
Most Algarve beaches you’ll find during your quick search in guidebooks or online are located west of Faro. If you’re not so much into over crowded and touristic hot spots, there are enough left on the east side of the capital of the Algarve.
Here, you can also rest your weary feet and dip into the Atlantic Ocean.
With over 3000 hours of sunshine a year, even winter is soft and gentle and meets spring anywhere else. This makes the Algarve an all-year-round destination.
Besides the beaches, the Algarve is home to small villages cramped full with bright white houses, cobbled streets and donkey carts. The touristic hot spots like Albufeira, Faro (read all about things to do in Faro with kids) and Lagos and the many golf courses also make it a popular destination.
Next, you’ll find 3 beaches in Algarve that I’ve explored personally. It was a tough job that just had to be done.
See also Best Beaches in Sardinia, Italy.
Undiscovered Algarve beaches
Ditch the over-crowded tourist beaches in the Algarve, and head to these secret spots instead!
1. Cacela Velha, the Algarve beach with a view
This small, scenic village is located at the end of the lagoon of Parque Natural Ria Formosa, about 8 km east of Tavira. The village was mainly developed during the 17th century, when it became part of a defense line and a fort was built.
The view from the historic centre down on the ocean is incredible. You can see the sandbanks and the lagoon that are part of the Nature Park. From the sandbanks, that separate the lagoon from the ocean, Cacela Velha appears as an old fortress. Small fishing boats will bring you to the sandbanks, leaving from the factory close to Cacela Velha.
2. Praia do Barril, the Algarve beach with a scenic train
Picture a big sandy surface, decorated by huge anchors from ships that are placed in the dunes as artefacts. This is what Praia do Barril looks like. With its tranquillity, nice water temperature and few catering businesses, it’s the right place to escape the over crowded beaches, but still enjoy some level of comfort.
Praia do Barril is also part of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. You can reach it from the touristic complex Pedras d’El Rei (entered through the N125) by picturesque train or by walking alongside the train track for about 1 kilometer (for free). You can also get to it by boat from Ilha de Tavira.
3. Fuseta, the Algarve beach surrounded by fishermen
The fishing village of Fuseta is situated between Olhão and Tavira. It has restaurants and cafe’s and you can still get a taste of the Portuguese life on the main square of this small and cozy village. Fishing is still an activity the men proudly practice, hence the colourful fishermen’s boats in the small harbour.
From here, a boat takes you to the sandy beaches of island Ilha de Armona within 10 minutes. This boat runs regularly from April through October. If you miss the last one back, you can call a taxi from the beach. In winter, you can call a taxi to get you to the beach and back.
If you want a more secluded place to sunbathe, you can call a water taxi (phone number, 4 locations and pricing – starting from €5,- per person – are mentioned on an advertising board at the harbour) that brings you a bit further out to the island, where you’re probably one of the few to enjoy the Portuguese sun.
Fuseta also has a beach that is connected to the mainland and therefore easy to reach. Just park your car in one of the many free parking spots along the water and get yourself comfortable at the beach, right outside the village centre. This beach is an ideal place to hang out if you are traveling with small children as the water is very calm.
Check out our post on the best sunglasses for the beach.