Best Beaches in the Algarve
The western Algarve is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be picky about which sand you choose to stretch out your beach towel upon. We’ll provide the pictures and first hand experience of the details for the best of the best beaches, so you can focus on what matters: relaxing.
While the entire length of southern Portugal contains beautiful beaches, we’ve found the most spectacular are either just outside of Lagos or near Benagil, both of which sit at opposite ends of a large bay. We’ve grouped the beaches into these two locations, and once you’ve parked in either location you can easily walk between either the beaches near Benagil, or the beaches outside of Lagos. That means all of the following beaches are within about a 40-kilometer stretch of coastline, and are easily accessible in a single day. But trust that once you see these beaches, you’re going to need to spend at least a day enjoying each one, if not more.
Praia da Marinha
What makes for a good beach? How about clear blue water, soft sand, and seclusion created by unbelievable natural cliffs and rock formations? Praia da Marinha checks all of the boxes. To reach it, there is a decent sized parking lot at the top of the cliffs, complete with a small snack shop, however this does require walking down some steps to get to the sand. The steep steps help limit the number of people who make it down to the water, though, so be thankful for them as you climb up and down. The parking lot is also the beginning, or end, of a beautiful and highly recommended cliff-side hike, allowing for views down to secluded beaches. The trail is well marked, and given you’re so close to the water it’s nearly impossible to get lost. You can even peer down into some of the sink holes which act as skylights for the caves below. Just don’t get too close to the side of the cliff, remember that there’s a reason that these arches and sinkholes have formed here. Spoiler alert: the trail leads to our next highly recommended beach…
Praia de Benagil
Known for its cave, Algar de Benagil, the beach just around the corner is no less beautiful. Positioned at the end of a narrow ravine, Praia de Benagil is a hive of activity, with boat tour operators buzzing in and out. The beach, however, is no less dramatic, and if you’re a strong swimmer, makes for the perfect place to swim, kayak, or paddle out to the famous caves. Parking is at the top of the cliffs to the east end of the beach, which makes for a steep walk down along the road. The parking lot is also the beginning, or end, of a beautiful, and highly recommended, cliff-side hike, allowing for views down to secluded beaches, and you can even peer down into some of the sink holes which act as skylights for the caves below.
Praia da Batata
Batata, though itself not the most beautiful beach compared to others on this list, is included here because it sits at the beginning of arguably the most beautiful stretch of coastline in the Algarve, just outside of old-town Lagos. Beginning at the end of the rock jetty and marina boardwalk, near the old castle fortifications, this beach is better described as a series of small, secluded beaches, which can only be reached through a series of hand cut tunnels through the cliffs at low tide. Parking can be found along the main road next to the boardwalk, and the first sandy stretch of beach is easily accessible with no stairs (unlike the next few beaches listed, which are a short walk or drive further down the coast). Being short walking distance from the old-town Batata is also the most crowded, as for better or worse it attracts those who just want to quickly put their toes in the sand but don’t want the effort of a full day at the beach.
Praia Dona Ana
The next beach along the peninsula outside of Lagos, Dona Ana is the biggest, providing the most room to stretch out and find your own piece of paradise. It also has the largest parking lot, most amenities nearby, and least number of stairs to reach the sand. With a view comparable to the famous Twelve Apostles coastline in Australia, Dona Ana makes for a breathtaking place to spend the day, or two or three. And it only teases at the next two beaches further down the Lagos peninsula…
Praia do Camilo
The darling of Lagos’ beaches, this tiny secluded beach is the stuff dreams are made of. The beach is only accessible either by boat or hundreds of stairs descending down the steep cliffs, which means you’ll need to walk back up those same stairs if you ever decide to leave. The seclusion you gain at this beach will be well earned. Parking is a little more limited compared to the other beaches outside Lagos, and can be found at the top of the cliff, next to a small café. If parking is an issue, it is possible to park in the other beach parking lots or near central Lagos and walk the few kilometers out to the peninsula and Camilo.
Ponta da Piedade
This is it, the tip of the Lagos peninsula, and the climax of its spectacular ocean cliffs. This dramatic stretch of coastline holds nothing back. Arches abound, private beaches beckon, and sea caves hold secrets around every corner. While technically not a sandy beach, when the ocean is calm Ponta da Piedade makes for a world-class swimming hole. The parking here is generous, and there are plenty of cliffs to walk, but reaching the water involves another large set of slippery stairs. Near the parking lot and lighthouse are a couple shops and a small café, in case you’re in need of some quick refreshments.
We’ve done our best above to outline what you can expect for parking and facilities at each beach, but understand that a visual is always better. Take a look at the interactive map below, where you can find the location of each beach, along with pictures, driving directions, and more. Please let us know in the comments if you’ve found any other beaches you highly recommend in the Algarve!