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8 beaches in the Algarve you really must visit

Whether you’re already planning your long-awaited holiday or thinking about your next getaway, the Algarve is the perfect place to provide you with unforgettable experiences and memories. 

Here, waiting just for you, you’ll find soft golden sandy beaches, warm water, calm seas and beaches lapped by waves perfect for surfing and bodyboarding. Sand stretches for as far as the eye can see and small bays are sprinkled between rock faces while wild landscapes tumble along rugged cliffs and over earth-toned dunes. All best enjoyed on hikes along some of the best and most beautiful trails in Europe or donkey rides deep into the Algarve countryside. One thing’s for sure; there are beaches and experiences for all tastes.

From Monte Gordo to Aljezur, through Lagoa and Carvoeiro, here are 8 of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve and must-do activities that are sure to make your stay in the Algarve a truly unforgettable experience.

Eastern Algarve:  Vila Real de Santo António

Monte Gordo beach

If you like calm seas and warm waters you can bask in all day, Monte Gordo Beach is the place for you. The long stretch of sand and wooden footpath that runs along it is perfect for a sunset walk as you watch the local fishermen bring their colourful boats in after a long day out at sea.

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Cacela Velha Beach  

One of the best-kept secrets within the Ria Formosa Natural Park, this thin stretch of fine white sand lies in the middle of the sea, moulded daily by varying winds and tides. Trek through the salt marsh to reach the paradisaical haven at low tide, but when it starts coming back in, the only way back is by boat. A locale sure to leave its mark.

While you’re there…

spend a day across the border – Spain is only 10 km (just over 6 miles) from Monte Gordo. Or take a boat trip along the Guadiana River to discover tiny rural Algarve towns along its banks. If adrenaline is what you’re after, fly over the eastern Algarve on a gyrocopter, a kind of helicopter that takes off and lands like an aeroplane. And when it comes to relaxation, visit the outdoor saltwater SPA in the Castro Marim Salt Marsh Nature Reserve.

Central Algarve: Lagoa and Carvoeiro

Carvoeiro Beach

A small cove with calm, transparent waters on the edge of the picturesque village of Carvoeiro. The airy, white houses on the surrounding cliffs make the landscape look like it stepped right out of a postcard.

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Carvalho Beach

If you prefer smaller, more select stretches of sand nestled between soaring cliffs and the never-ending blue of the sea, Carvalho Beach is a must. But before you can dive into the transparent waters, you’ll have to go through a hand-carved tunnel through the cliff itself to get to the beach – and make sure you don’t miss the marine fossils in the tunnel walls as you go through. Your own real-life secret beach paradise.

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Benagil Beach and Cave

Benagil, a fishing village, gives its name to a modest beach at the very bottom of a valley, as well as one of the most beautiful sea caves in the world. Visitors to Benagil cave will find a mini golden sandy beach hiding within it, bathed in blue waters and lit by sunlight streaming into the cave through a round opening in the ceiling. This paradise on earth is only accessible by sea, but choices of transport range from boats to kayaks, canoes or even stand up paddle boards – all of which will allow you to visit this true geological wonder. 

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While you’re there…

take a boat trip to explore the magnificent rock formations along the 17 km (10.5 miles) of Lagoa coastline, as well as the charming wild beaches that can only be accessed by sea. If you like walking, don’t miss the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail – one of the most beautiful in Europe. Stretching between Marinha Beach and Vale de Centeanes Beach, the trail will take you along 6 km (3.7 miles) lined with coves, cliffs, viewpoints and lighthouses, woods and birds that are sure to etch themselves into your memory, (as well as into the lense of your camera or phone).

The Vicentine Coast: Sagres and Aljezur

Martinhal Beach

Though the town of Sagres is famous for its waves, it also has beaches with calm waters, such as Martinhal Beach. The islets that can be seen from the vast stretch of sand give the landscape a unique touch, which is complemented by windsurfers who find that the north winds here are perfect for their sport of choice.

This is one of 11 Zero Pollution Beaches in the Algarve.

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Amoreira Beach

Only 8 km (5 miles) from the town of Aljezur lies one of the best-kept secrets on the Vicentine Coast. The beautiful Amoreira Beach lines the Aljezur Riverbank, at its very mouth, which means visitors can go for a swim in both fresh and saltwater. A perfect 2-in-1 that delights lovers of never-ending sands and natural landscapes.

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Arrifana Beach

Providing the perfect waves for both surfing and bodyboarding, Arrifana Beach is also an excellent place for diving, so if these are your sports of choice, this beach is one you can’t dream of missing. With a stretch of sand over half a kilometre long and tall black cliffs lining its inner edge, any photo taken of this beach comes out looking like a picturesque postcard.

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While you’re there…

visit the Cape of São Vicente Fortress and watch the sunset over the southwesternmost tip of mainland Europe, the Cape of Saint Vincent. If you love hiking, follow the cliffs along the almost 7km (just over 4 miles) trail that stretches between the Cape of Saint Vincent and Sagres. The beautiful beaches of Beliche and Tonel are the perfect places to take a break and go for a paddle along the way. If you’d rather walk with friendly donkeys, however, explore the trails of Vale das Amoreiras, inland from the Vincentine Coast.

One destination, so many incredible experiences. Countless options for overnight stays. Pack your suitcase and head south. The Algarve and its charms await!

Blue Flag Beach

A certification of environmental quality granted by the Foundation for Environmental Education to river and coastal beaches that meet its stringent standards, including those relating to environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management and equipment, as well as safety and services.

🌊 Gold Standard Beach

Classified by Quercus – the Portuguese National Association for Nature Conservation that rewards the quality of bathing water.

🌍 Zero Pollution Beach

Awarded to beaches where no trace of pollution has been detected for three years in a row, by ZERO – Association for the Sustainability of the Earth System.

Accessible Beach

This award is presented to bathing areas with the best levels of accessibility and which provide the best services for and ensure the well-being of people with reduced mobility – awarded jointly by the Portuguese National Institute for Rehabilitation, the Portuguese Environmental Agency and Turismo de Portugal.