Algarve beaches are some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, many of which have been awarded the exclusive "Blue Flag" eco-label!
With 200km of Algarve coastline, there are almost too many beaches and coves to count and there are certainly too many Algarve beaches to cover here. However, you can find general information about what the beaches are like in central, western and eastern Algarve, where the nudist and gay beaches are and what the coloured flags on the beaches mean so you can stay safe on the beach and in the water. You can also find out why it is such an honour when Algarve beaches receive the Blue Flag award and read about the "Accessible Beaches" scheme, which makes choosing a suitable so much easier, particularly for disabled people. In general though, whatever you are looking for in a beach, you can be assured that the Algarve has a beach perfect for you!
Central Algarve Beaches
Central Algarve beaches, although the busiest during the summer, still have plenty of room for everyone! From small coves to sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see.
Armação de Pêra has some smaller cove beaches under the cliffs at the western end like Nossa Senhora da Rocha, but the main beach in front of the town, Praia de Armação de Pêra then continues into Praia Grande - a vast stretch of sand that runs all the way to Albufeira.
Albufeira is always popular and has some great beaches - right in the town are Praia dos Pescadores and Praia do Túnel and then a little further east - the lovely bays of Praia da Oura and Olhos d'Água, then the long stretch of golden sands of Falésia that continues all the way to Vilamoura. The entrance to Vilamoura marina creates a gap in the sands before Praia da Marina which continues along to Praia de Quarteira. By the time you get towards Quinta do Lago the beaches are becoming sandspit islands on the outer edge of the Ria Formosa lagoon system which continue past Faro and Olhão to the eastern side of Tavira.
Western Algarve Beaches
Western Algarve beaches are some of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve and since the extension of the A22 motorway, more and more people have been discovering the delights of the western Algarve.
Carvoeiro has a myriad of lovely beaches around it's coastline dotted in and around the rather spectacular cliffs including Praia da Marinha, Praia de Vale Centeanes, Benagil and the town beach Praia do Carvoeiro which sits in a horseshoe shaped bay, right in front of the town centre.
Ferragudo has beaches on the seaward coast like Praia dos Caneiros - a lovely small, secluded bay between the cliffs - and Praia Grande and Angrinha on the banks of the River Arade, opposite Portimão. This is a favourite area for windsurfers and other watersports.
Lagos is famous for its award winning beaches, especially Meia Praia which is a gorgeous long (4km) stretch of golden sands with several beach bars along it's length. From Lagos to Sagres the scenery becomes more dramatic as you go through national park territory and there is a mix of sheltered coves and long sandy bays all along the coast. Sagres sits on the most south-westerly point in Europe and has great beaches for sunworshippers and watersports enthusiasts! Praia da Mareta - a sweeping bay, sheltered by cliffs at either side; Martinhal, favoured by windsurfers - a lovely sandy beach backed by large dunes facing Sagres fishing port (Baleeira)across the bay; Beliche on the way to Cabo São Vicente - incredibly sheltered by the cliffs even on the windiest of days! Then there are still all the slightly wilder, very much quieter, western Atlantic Algarve beaches such as Castelejo, Arrifana, Amado, Bordeira, Clerigo and Odeceixe to explore!
Eastern Algarve Beaches
The eastern Algarve beaches are really one long stretch of sand that runs uninterrupted from the edge of the River Guadiana at Vila Real de Santo António to Manta Rota and includes Praia de Monte Gordo, Praia da Lota and Praia da Manta Rota. At Cacelha Velha the eastern end of the Ria Formosa starts and Praia de Cacelha Velha is a beautiful untouched sandspit ilha reached only by boat. The water at the eastern end of the Algarve is normally a few degrees warmer as it is edging closer to the Mediterranean. The beaches are backed by gentle dunes rather than cliffs and are very gently shelving. There is a huge amount of room for everyone! At various points along the beaches there are beach bars, restaurants and sunloungers - Monte Gordo in particular has an abundance of all of them!
Cabanas and Tavira beaches are sandspit islands (ilhas) and reached by boat. The warmer water on the lagoon side of Ilha de Tavira is perfect for swimming, and the idyllic beach on the seaward side goes on for ever.
Algarve Nudist Beaches
There are currently just two 'official' nudist (naturist) beaches in the Algarve although there are many more beaches known for their nudist areas, but are not officially recognised. In general, there are so many quiet coves or long stretches of near deserted beaches that the Algarve is perfect for naturists.
The two official Algarve nudist beaches are:
- Adegas beach in Odeceixe, on the western Atlantic coast of the Algarve, which is a small cove the other side of some large rocks at the southern end of Praia de Odeceixe. Access is either from Praia de Odeceixe at low tide or it can be reached from the cliff top, via a footpath, at high tide.
- Praia do Homem Nu on the Ilha de Tavira - a long sandspit island beach reached either by a short ferry crossing from Tavira in the eastern Algarve, or (the easiest route for the nudist beach) by a tourist train that crosses the Ria Formosa from Pedras D'El Rei a little to the west of Tavira. The train takes you to Praia do Barril and the naturist beach is further along to the western end of the ilha.
Some unofficial Algarve nudist beaches are:
- Praia da Bordeira, near Carrapateira on the western Atlantic coast of the Algarve.
- Praia do Beliche near Sagres, Praia Cabanas Velhas near Almádena, Praia das Furnas near Figueiras and Praia do Zavial all in the Vila do Bispo muncipality in the western Algarve.
- Praia dos Pinheiros and the eastern end of Meia Praia both in Lagos.
- Praia Grande, Armacão de Pêra in the central Algarve.
- Praia do Trafal, Quarteira in the central Algarve.
- Praia da Fuzeta at the eastern end of Ilha da Armona, reached by ferry from Fuzeta near Olhão.
- Praia de Anção, reached by boat from Sitio da Fábrica in Cacela Velha, just to the west of Monte Gordo.
More information about naturism in the Algarve can be found at Clube Naturista do Algarve .
Gay Beaches in the Algarve
These are the 3 best known gay beaches in the Algarve:
- Cavalo Preto between Vale do Lobo and Quarteira
- Praia Grande in Armação de Pera
- Quinta do Lago and Faro Island - an area between the two beaches
Algarve Beach Flag Safety
To stay safe on Algarve beaches, always pay attention to the beach flags so see whether or not it is safe to swim or if the beach is being attended by a lifeguard.
Swimming & entering water forbidden
Beach temporarily unattended
Algarve Blue Flag Beaches
The Algarve boasts some of the best beaches in the world, and many have been given the official Blue Flag stamp of approval from the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) organisation. Blue Flag works towards sustainable development at beaches and marinas through publicly awarding beaches and marinas with their exclusive eco-label if they meet strict criteria regarding water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, safety and other services. Blue Flag also accredit beaches and marinas that are suitable for wheelchair access.
Algarve Blue Flag Beaches
- Albufeira: Arrifes, Aveiros, Belharucas, Castelo, Coelha, Evaristo, Falésia Acoteias, Falésia Alfamar, Galé-Leste, Galé-Oeste, Manuel Lourenço, Maria Luísa, Olhos d'Água, Oura, Oura-Leste, Rocha Baixinha-Nascente, Rocha Baixinha-Poente, S. Rafael, Salgados, Santa Eulália.
- Aljezur: Arrifana, Monte Clérigo, Odeceixe-Mar
- Faro: Barreta, Culatra-Mar, Faro-Mar, Ilha do Farol-Mar
- Lagoa: Caneiros, Carvoerio, Ferragudo (Praia Grande), Senhora da Rocha, Vale Centeanes, Vale do Olivial.
- Lagos: Batata, Camilo, Dona Ana, Luz, Meia Praia, Porto de Mós.
- Loule: Ancão, Garrão Nascente, Garrão Poente, Loulé Velho, Quarteira, Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo, Vilamoura.
- Olhao: Armona-Mar, Fuseta-Ria.
- Portimao: Alvor Nascente - Três Irmãos, Alvor Poente, Rocha, Três Castelos, Vau.
- Silves: Armação de Pêra, Praia Grande Poente.
- Tavira: Barril, Cabanas-Mar, Ilha de Tavira-Mar, Terra Estreita.
- Vila do Bispo: Almádena-Cabanas Velhas, Burgau, Castelejo, Cordoama, Ingrina, Mareta, Martinhal, Salema, Zavial.
- Vila Real de Santo António:Lota, Manta Rota, Monte Gordo, Santo António.
Accessible Beaches in the Algarve
The "Accessible Beaches - Beaches for Everyone" project is an initiative of the National Coordination Committee for the European Year of People with Disabilities (CNCAEPD) to make river and sea beaches accessible to people with reduced mobility and to raise awareness and provide information about the most accessible beaches. Accessible beaches comply with access requirements, such as ramps, footpaths and walkways, support facilities (such as bars and first-aid posts), handrails, adapted toilet facilities, parking places and lower bars and counters. The beaches that meet these requirements are awarded the "Accessible Beach" flag and are promoted at an international level.
Accessible Beaches Algarve ("Praias acessíveis")
Beaches marked with * have amphibious chairs for people with reduced mobility to enjoy bathing in the sea.
- Aljezur: Monte Clérigo*
- Vila do Bispo: Salema*
- Lagos: Meia Praia*, Luz* , Porto de Mós*, Batata
- Portimão: Vau*, Rocha, Alvor Nascente - Três Irmãos, Alvor*
- Lagoa: Carvoeiro, Senhora da Rocha*
- Silves: Armação de Pêra
- Albufeira: Rocha Baixinha Nascente (east)*, Rocha Baixinha Poente (west), Barranco das Belharucas, Salgados*, Manuel Lourenço, Maria Luísa*, Galé Leste (east), Olhos de Água, Oura, Galé Oeste (west), Peneco (Túnel) and Pescadores (Fishermen's beach)
- Loulé: Vilamoura*, Quarteira*, Vale de Lobo*, Garrão Poente
- Faro: Faro-Mar*, Faro-ria* - Faro is an island beach and both the sea ("mar") and river ("ria") sides are accessible and have the amphibious chairs.
- Olhão: Fuzeta Ria
- Tavira: Barril*
- Castro Marim: Praia Verde, Alagoa / Altura*, Cabeço (Retur)* (located in the urbanization of Retur in the county of Castro Marim)
- Vila Real de Santo António: Manta Rota*, Lota*, Monte Gordo*, Santo António*
- Alcoutim: Pego Fundo* (river beach)
Source: Praias acessíveis: Instituto Nacional de Reabilitação (National Institute of Rehabilitation - Public institution within the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Portugal). You can translate this page using a toolbar translator.