If you’re dreaming of a relaxing beach getaway, then look no further than the southernmost tip of Portugal, the Algarve – a sun-drenched region scattered with some of the best beaches and coastlines in Europe, earning itself a wealth of Blue Flag stamps from the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE) organisation.
The Algarve’s Carvoeiro beach has recently been crowned European Best Beach 2018; being labelled as a ‘little corner of paradise’, admired for its unspoiled nature and crisp blue water. To understand just why the Algarve has a reputation as Europe’s most popular tourist destination, we’ve put together a list of the most stunning beaches on offer in this corner of the world:
This former fishing village has a small, but stunning beachfront surrounded by colourful beach-hut style-homes. With an atmosphere reminiscent of a quaint British seaside town, the village of Carvoeiro offers visitors the chance to see the traditional side of the Algarve, filled with family-run bistros serving the freshest seafood and charming sweet shops.
Although close to the town, the beach is a secluded space ideal for couples or families looking for a relaxing retreat. At certain times during the day, the beach is covered with colourful canoes, kayaks and paddleboards, providing you with the perfect picture opportunity and is quite the spectacle.
This is a must-see destination, with the Carvoeiro boardwalk offering unbeatable views of the unique red sand and the turquoise coastlines below. It’s also a great spot for a romantic sunset stroll, with views aplenty.
Visit the ‘deserted’ island
If you have a full day spare during your trip to the Algarve, head over to the Ilha Deserta Island where you’ll find an (almost) uninhabited oasis filled only by exotic birds, crustacean and wild flowers. As one of the five barrier islands in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, this space is only accessible by boat and has been left untouched in its natural state – the perfect place for nature lovers.
You’ll stumble across the Santa Maria Boardwalk, a wooden strip raised above the nature reserve, which was built on the island in 1999 to protect the landscape. If you’re looking for a quiet place to relax amongst nature, and wander the soft sand, then this is the beach destination for you.
Praia Fluvial de Alcoutim
Head to the ‘deep Algarve’ where you’ll discover a true local secret – a hidden manmade river beach. Tucked away in a valley and sheltered from any breeze, this spot is typically frequented by locals and is home to a delightful ice-cream van – after all, no afternoon at the beach is complete without a cool ice cream.
From the cliffs above, you will see that this beach is dotted with wooden parasols and splashes of colour where beach-goers have laid down their coastal gear to go for a dip in the warm water. After a swim, visit the renowned Restaurante Arcos Do Guadiana, situated just a short walk from the beach edge. This spot offers superb views of the Guadiana River. Look no further if you’re seeking a taste of the Algarve, with its delicious sardines drizzled in olive oil to clams in a fragrant creamy broth – you’ll be able to taste the ocean in your bowl.
Postcard perfect Praia da Marinha
Like something out of the Jurassic Park films, the rock formations on the Praia da Marinha beach and the mist that often descends upon them, are out of this world. Twisted, worn and warped by the salty sea below, you’ll find no straight edge on these relics. Make sure you get a glimpse of the famous ‘M’ shaped rock, a regular star on most Algarve tourism guides and post cards – there’s little wonder this beach is considered by the Michelin Guide as one of the ‘10 most beautiful beaches in Europe’!
Don’t just observe them from the shoreline though, jump on a boat and explore the cave’s curves up close. There are dozens of boat trips available from Vilamoura, Albufeira and Portimao that will take you here, as well as small boats that leave from the village of Benagil (another stunning destination with grotto-like caves!).
Just a short walk from the beach is Praia da Senhora da Rocha, another beautiful beach cove, with the iconic Capela da Nossa Senhora da Rocha, a small, white chapel perched atop the sandy cliffs. There are steep paths available for you to make the walk to the top, where the panoramic views of the village and beach below, are well worth the long trek to the peak.
If you’re looking for somewhere to rest your head after exploring the Algarve beaches on offer, why not take a look at our selection of luxury Algarve villas.