There are a lot of ways to measure the arrival of summer in Portugal.
Technically, it arrives in June. But by early May when the sun starts to shine in earnest, the sun and surf-loving Portuguese head to the beach. The Algarve coast, in the south of Portugal, hosts some seriously spectacular beaches. In fact, they are routinely named some of Europe’s finest. The climate and atmosphere are Mediterranean, but don’t forget, this is the Atlantic. So good waves and watersports abound alongside more gentle waters good for family fun. There are more than 150 beaches to choose from, but we’ve done the hard work to bring you the best beaches in the Algarve.
Praia da Arrifana
This popular beach is more than 500 meters long and surrounded by tall cliffs. Surfers and body boarders can take advantage of Atlantic waves within the confines of the protected cove of Arrifana.
Praia do Martinhal
With a long sweep of golden sand, marshes, lagoons and a small island out at sea, this beach has something for everyone. It is a favorite among windsurfers, surfers, body boarders, snorkelers and kayakers.
Recognized as one of the top surfing spots in Europe, Praia do Amado is host to several surfing and body board competitions that include local and international surfers. There is a surf camp run by the local surf school, teaching visitors how to take full advantage of the natural swell conditions along the west coast of Portugal.
A long beach cut in two by the mouth of the Seixe creek, Odeceixe is a haven for families with convenient facilities, easy parking, a snackbar, restaurants and sunbeds. And for the little ones, there is a lifeguard always on duty. If sightseeing is on the agenda, there are impressive views of the sea from the Miradouro da Ponta Branca while the old Moorish town of Odeceixe is complete with an ancient fort on the hill.
The 19th Hole
By day, Vilamoura, on the southern coast of the Algarve, is a playground for lovers of swimming, sailing, golf and tennis. And, after a long day on the links or lounging on the beach, visitors can partake in some Algarvian nightlife after the sun goes down. Vilamoura has six different golf courses, the largest marina in Portugal and breathtaking beaches galore, some of the best beaches in the Algarve.
The vibe is chill
Look in either direction and you will see a vast, flat expanse of white sand and crystal clear blue water that seem to continue endlessly. The water is warm and calm here, making this beach the picture postcard of Algarve tranquility. Set among protected pine forests, this is a quiet pocket of the Algarve that feels undiscovered. The beach is easily accessed by wooden steps. A handful of charming restaurants and bars dot the area, great for a snack or a drink after a long day relaxing. Beach beds and umbrellas are available to rent by the day and parking is free, making it one the best beaches in the Algarve.
Ilha de Tavira
The eastern coast of the Algarve is characterized by the estuaries and sand islands making up the Parque Natural Ria de Formosa, an important habitat for bird and marine life. A series of spectacular island beaches sit offshore: Ilha de Tavira, easily reached by boat from the historic town of Tavira, has lots of sand to explore (it’s 11km long), offering wide, lonely stretches of beach, an anchor cemetery, a nudist zone, birdlife, sociable bars and lagoon-side paddling for small children.
Where to Stay
All of these properties, whether off the beaten track or in the middle of a historic village, offer a unique experience of the Algarve.