Almost everyone goes to the Algarve region in southern Portugal for its beautiful golden sand beaches. You know the ones with the soaring cliffs, the crystal clear blue water, the sea caves and unusual rock formations. And why not, it’s surrounded by two sides of the Atlantic. And, it’s gorgeous!

This is your guide to exploring the Top Beaches in Algarve Portugal.

A bit about the Algarve Region

Portugal’s most southern region stretches from west to east. It’s a surfers’ paradise on the southwest coast with its rugged cliffs and a natural, authentic and undeveloped east coast. The tourist hotspot is right in the middle. It’s here, you’ll find the newly developed condos and resorts being built in close proximity to those beautiful beaches. Where you will find lots of shopping, restaurants, water-sport activities and nightlife. 

beach in algarve

The further inland you go is where you will find the historic white-washed towns, the rolling countryside and farmland with its cork and olive groves. This is where it eventually meets up with the Alentejo region, often thought of as the new Tuscany.

Read more about the Alentejo region, the hidden gem of Portugal.

Best Beaches in Algarve Portugal

With over 100 beaches in the Algarve, how do you choose which ones to visit? Everything from the western-facing oceanfronts with the pounding waves to the secret coves with soaring cliffs. Those that are family-friendly, or couples looking for a romantic stroll at sunset. Here’s my pick of the best Algarve beaches to go to, starting in the west and going east.

Praia de Odeceixe is the best Algarve beach for families

Known as one of the best Algarve beaches for families because it offers a calm river safe for younger children and bigger waves on the ocean side for older kids.

Praia da Arrifana, Aljezur is perfect for surfers

On the west coast is where you’ll find one of the Algarve’s best surf spots for all levels to enjoy. Surf camps, restaurants, and hotels make this the ideal surfer’s destination. If you are looking for a nearby secluded

Praia Do Camilo, Santa Maria is a must for photographers

One of the smallest beaches in the Algarve this secluded spot can be reached at a descent of 200 wooden steps. Unique rock formations woven into the beach offer plenty of inspiring photo ops.

Meia Praia, Lagos, is for party-goers

The beaches close to the party town of Lagos will always attract a younger crowd as it offers a fun, social beach that even young families enjoy. This is known as one of the best Algarve beaches for swimming.

Benagil Caves, Lagoa is full of adventure

One of the few beaches in the Algarve that can only be reached by water. Of all the Algarve beaches, this one is the most popular, and for good reason. Be sure to book one of the boat or kayak tours to see it.

Praia Da Marinha, Lagoa, offers that wow factor

Known as one of the best beaches in the world where the cliffs have been cropped and changed into a series of pinnacles, crevasses and caves. Marinha beach is one of the top beaches in the Algarve.

Praia da Falésia, Albufeira, is perfect for sunset strolls

A long 10 km straight strip of sand backed by incredible cliffs in white and ochre is one of the best beaches in Albufeira.

Ilha de Tavira, Tavira, is ideal for that island getaway

The eastern coast of the Algarve is drastically different than the west. Tiny sand inlets make up the Natural Ria de Formosa park known for its migration of bird and marine life. A series of island beaches sit offshore, close to the charming town of Tavira is known for having some of the best beaches in Algarve.

Read more about the charming town of Tavira

Best Guided Tours and Experiences in Algarve

Portimão: Benagil Caves Speed Boat Tour with Sunset Option. Discover the Algarve coastline and the famous Benagil Caves on this RIB speed boat tour from Portimão. Look out for dolphins along the way and make a short stop for swimming. For more information, click here if coming from Portimão or click here if coming from Albufeira.

Benagil: Benagil Caves Kayaking Experience. Discover the fantastic scenery of the Benagil Caves with kayaks, to access even the most hidden spots. You can stop and get out inside at the famous Benagil Cave for some breathtaking pictures, and enjoy these ancient natural-made wonders. Click here for more information.

From Lagos: Boat Cruise to Ponta da Piedade. Marvel at the towering natural arches of Ponta da Piedade on a boat cruise from Lagos. Sail over turquoise water and see gems, such as D. Ana Beach while listening to commentary from your guide. Click here for more information.

From Lagos: Algarve Cruise by Catamaran. Enjoy a cruise from Lagos to Praia da Luz and back. Relax aboard a catamaran and take in the views of the caves and unique rock formations of Ponta da Piedade and the golden beaches of the Algarve. Click here for more information.

Best places to visit in the Algarve

Some of the best coastline towns can be found in the Algarve. Here are the ones worth seeking out, starting in the west again and going east.

  • Lagos, known as a party town, offers lots of accommodations and restaurants not to mention its close proximity to the best Algarve beaches.
  • Albufeira, known as the gateway to the Algarve, features lots of resorts, hotels, restaurants and some of the Algarve’s best beaches.
  • Faro, is known for its airport and is the main modern hub of the Algarve.
  • Olhao, known as a traditional fishing village, is now going through a major transformation.
  • Tavira, known as the prettiest town in the Algarve, is full of history and charm.

Best time to visit the Algarve

If you are looking to avoid the large crowds and the intense heat of the summer, travel in the shoulder season. April to June or September to October. This time will still allow you to enjoy the warm temperatures of the air and the sea. Portugal’s rainy season is November and December. And January is its coldest month of the year. Consider Portugal your late winter holiday destination. I visited at end of February into early March and it was perfect. We had these beautiful Algarve beaches all to ourselves. Although it was too cold to swim, it was sunny and almost 20 degrees every day. Just perfect for this Canadian girl.

Where to stay in Algarve

Lagos to Albufeira

Faro to Olhao

  • Sunny Hues of Faro – 2-bed, 1-bath apartment in Old Town with wrought iron balcony
  • Sunshine & Custard – 1-bed, 2-bath in the heart of historic Faro with terrace and views of rooftops
  • Textures of Faro – 2-bed, 2 bath with private terrace and close to the marina in Faro
  • All is Calm – 2-bed, 2-bath in the centre of Faro with shared access to a pool
  • Best Seat in the House – 2-bed, 3-bath luxury apartment on the green of Monte Rei Golf and Country Club course with sea-facing views, includes all amenities of spa, tennis, restaurants, pool

Search here for the best holiday homes OR search here for the best hotel stays.

Where we stayed in Algarve

The modern retreat of Casa Modesta lies in the Ria Formosa just outside the town of Olhão. A 9-suite retreat consists of two whitewashed buildings that offer guests a common kitchen and bar area, complete with a centuries-old bread oven and wine cellar. The second building features a small lounge and reception area as well as a dining hall where you will enjoy your breakfast each morning. Every room, (ours was #9) offers a large private terrace where you can enjoy both the sunrise and sunset views.  

As a holidaymaker…

I hope this has inspired your planning for the Algarve region. There is much to explore, so give yourself several days to see how much this region has to offer. 

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35 Comments

  1. The last time I visited the Algarve, I was in my 20s and enjoyed sun-filled days on Albefuira beach. I can now see there are so many more to choose from and beautiful accommodations to match. Perhaps a return visit is needed!

  2. Some lovely beaches there and it’s good to know that the end of February is a good time to visit as I’m currently looking for destinations for the second week of Feb. I love an empty beach and if I can surf as well that’s a great bonus!

  3. I know I am suspicious to comment on this post, because I am Portuguese. I’m a big fan of the algarve further west, the raw one. I really like the Manta Rota area, on the east side of the coast, where it’s always warm, the water is warm, and the beach has endless sand. But my favorite area is Cacela Velha 🙂

  4. What a great guide! I’m very lucky to live close and I’ve not been to all beaches you mentioned yet. So I’ve pinned them for the. next time!

  5. I have been to Portugal but not yet to the Algarve but looking forward to going there soon. Visiting in winter sounds like a good idea, as you get to have most of the attractions and beaches to yourself 🙂

  6. I’ve heard so many great things about algarves but I had no idea it had over 100 beaches. I’d be in heaven, but I’d also love to explore some of those caves.

  7. I’m not a big beach person, or rather not a sitting on the beach person. But I do appreciate a view and it seems like many of these beaches have just that. The caves would be really cool to explore, I’d really like to do one of these tours. And would likely hunt out the less busy beach areas to just relax away from the crowds. I haven’t been to Portugal yet, but it’s on my list

  8. I came in with the intention of choosing the best beach for me but I’ve concluded that I need to visit all the beaches you’ve listed here! I’d love to make it to Portugal someday and surf and swim here. I’d be curious to visit the pretty Tavira and learn more about Olhao’s transformation.

  9. I’ve never been to the Algarve but heard so many good things about it – my sister had her honeymoon there and loved it.
    The info here is great and I’d certainly refer to it when I get to travel around the area.
    That catamaran experience you mention would be just the thing I would want to do.
    As you say, with so beaches to choose from, which one do you go to. I’d spend a month there and visit them all!

  10. For me, no visit to Portugal is complete without a stop in the Algarve. The small towns on the stunning cliffs are a huge draw. Your post took me on a great trip down memory lane. Sadly we missed the Benagil Caves on our list visit. Good tip about visiting in February. A good option for less crowded sites.

  11. I lived in the Algarve many years ago. What a treat to revisit it through your photos and text. I must go back some time and see it again through new eyes.

    1. It’s always great to return to place we are so familiar with to see how our perspective changes, or if it feels like returning home.

  12. Well…this just shot to the top of my bucket list! I’ve only ever been to Lisbon and it was for a 12 hour layover. The Algarve Region looks absolutely STUNNING! You’ve done an amazing job capturing it and created a true sense of “get there now!” Also, thanks for including a little bit about each section of the region. It makes trip planning that much easier, as I haven’t seen a whole lot of travel guides or posts on this region!

  13. Your photos are beautiful. Something about Portugal just gets in your soul. I too loved Faro and would love to have explored Tavira but ended up going west to Carvoeiro which was beautiful. Thanks for the post, reminding me what a treasure Portugal is and how many little corners there are to explore. Another Canadian who loved the warmth there!

    1. Thank you so much fellow Canadian! I appreciate your kind words and pleased that it brought back some memories.

  14. We’ll be visiting Lisbon and the Algarve in July and I can’t wait to check out a few of these locations! The Benegil Caves and Praia Da Marinha are definitely on our list but we’re also going to check out a few more of the beaches you mentioned.

  15. Algarve region in Portugal is really worth visiting with all those incredible rocky beaches, rustic colorful towns. I loved the colorful houses in Tavira. I am saving your post.

  16. How timely! I’m planning a trip to Portugal in the fall, and Algarve is high on my list. Tavira was not on my radar and I’m so glad I read through this – because I definitely see myself exploring for a day or two. Thanks for a great post!

    1. I am so glad it inspired you to check out Tavira, it is definitely a charming town in that area. If you want to check out another post I have, it features the Alentejo region and there are a lot of wonderful places there to check out too. Enjoy your trip to Portugal, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

  17. I haven’t been to Portugal (yet) and hadn’t heard of Faro yet but I have to go there! Those beautiful doors and picturesque walks with cool visuals. They are amazing…old towns usually are, but Faro looks extra incredible!!

    1. Yes, don’t you just love those doors?! I hope you get to travel to Portugal one day, especially if you love charming, picturesque towns as there are many! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  18. As a fellow Canadian, I can appreciate the warm weather in February as a major draw!! Those beaches are absolutely stunning, and I have heard nothing but amazing things about Portugal in general. Casa Modesta sounds exactly like a place we search for, I love the personal touches and small scale service. Would love to visit someday!

    1. Thanks for commenting fellow Canadian 😉! Yes, it is definitely worth looking into when our winters seem to drag on, it is the most pleasant and welcomed weather. I hope you get to experience one day soon. Thanks for commenting.

  19. Wow.. Everything looks charming in Algarve. 🙂 I definitely love how you had the beach all to yourself. Those rock formations look amazing.. And Casa Modesto looks relaxing too. The host sounds wonderful too what with him cooking breakfast for guests. 🙂

    1. Glad you like it Marvi. It indeed was wonderful to have the beach to ourselves! And, what a beach it was. Thank you for stopping by my site and taking the time to comment.

  20. We’ve only visited Lisbon and the area around the city in Portugal and that was our first trip abroad together over 10 years ago! But since then we’ve always wanted to return and see more of the country. The coast down here reminds me of the Great Ocean road near Melbourne but I also love these towns too, so much character.

    1. We also went to Lisbon, maybe that is my next post! Yes, we shared the same impression of seeing more of the country in a return trip. I have not been to Melbourne, but that sounds wonderful if the Algarve reminds you of it.

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