The beaches of the Algarve – in the southernmost region of Portugal – are popular. And for a good reason.
The south coast houses 150 km of beautiful golden sandy beaches. Some are out of the way, most are easily accessible. Some are surrounded by large rocks and cliffs. And all of them have great swimming opportunities.
Most of the Algarve beaches that you can quickly find in travel guides or online are located west of Faro. If you’re not that into crowded and tourist hotspots, there is still plenty left on the east side of the Algarve capital.
Here you can too rest your tired feet and dive into the Atlantic.
With over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, even winter is soft and gentle and meets spring everywhere. This makes the Algarve a year-round travel destination.
In addition to the beaches, the Algarve has small villages with bright white houses, cobbled streets and donkey carts. The tourist hotspots such as Albufeira, Faro (read all about activities in Faro with children) and Lagos as well as the many golf courses also make it a popular travel destination.
Next up are 3 beaches in the Algarve that I have personally explored. It was a tough job that just had to be done.
Undiscovered beaches of the Algarve
Leave behind the crowded tourist beaches in the Algarve and head to these secret spots instead!
1. Cacela Velha, the Algarve beach with a view
This small, picturesque village is located at the end of the lagoon of the Parque Natural Ria Formosa, about 8 km east of Tavira. The village was developed mainly in the 17th century when it became part of a defensive line and a fortress was built.
The view from the historic center to the sea is incredible. You can see the sandbars and lagoon that are part of the natural park. Of the sandbanks that separate the lagoon from the sea, Cacela Velha is an ancient fortress. Small fishing boats will take you to the sandbars that depart from the factory near Cacela Velha.
2. Praia do Barril, the Algarve beach with a picturesque train
Imagine a large sandy surface adorned with huge anchors from ships placed as artifacts in the dunes. This is what Praia do Barril looks like. With its tranquility, nice water temperature and the few catering companies, it is the right place to overcome the crowded beaches and still enjoy a certain level of comfort.
Praia do Barril is also part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. You can reach it from the Pedras d’El Rei tourist complex (via the N125) by scenic train or about 1 km (free) along the railway line. You can also get there by boat from Ilha de Tavira.
3. Fuseta, the Algarve beach surrounded by fishermen
The fishing village of Fuseta is located between Olhão and Tavira. There are restaurants and cafes and you can still get a taste of Portuguese life in the main square of this small and cozy village. Fishing is still an activity that the men proudly practice, hence the colorful fishing boats in the small harbor.
From here a boat will take you to the sandy beaches of the island of Ilha de Armona within 10 minutes. This boat sails regularly from Ril through October. If you miss the last one back, you can call a taxi from the beach. In winter you can call a taxi to get to the beach and back.
If you’re looking for a secluded spot to sunbathe, you can call a water taxi (phone number, 4 locations and prices – from € 5 – per person – indicated on a billboard at the port) that will take you a little further to the island, where you are likely to be are one of the few who enjoy the Portuguese sun.
Fuseta also has a beach that is connected to the mainland and therefore easy to get to. Simply park your car in one of the many free waterfront parking spaces and make yourself comfortable on the beach in front of the village center. This beach is an ideal place to relax if you are traveling with young children as the water is very calm.