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Algarve Beaches – Our top 10

The Algarve is a popular destination, not only for the Portuguese but also for many who come from abroad looking for good beaches, excellent cuisine, and a very pleasant climate.

Since our childhood, we used to visit the Algarve in the summer for the deserved family vacation. Time has passed and our travel options have changed, however, we continue to visit the Algarve regularly and all year round.

When we visit the Algarve it is mainly for enjoying the beach, so we will share the 10 beaches of the Algarve that we like the most and that we usually visit.

The Algarve is divided into two zones, the Barlavento (west) and the Sotavento (east). In the Barlavento, the beaches are usually made up of rock formations and in the Sotavento, the cliffs, if any, are more clayey and the beaches are of finer and whiter sand. Most of our favorite beaches are in Sotavento, as the waters are usually warmer.

It is important to remember that, with the effect of sea erosion, the cliffs have become unstable and there are warnings to maintain a safe distance, given the possibility of landslides. You should always avoid their shadow and keep as far away as possible.

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How to get to the Algarve Beaches

The Algarve is located in the south of mainland Portugal and can be reached by car, bus, train, and plane, with connections to Faro airport.

If you are in Lisbon you can reach the Algarve by car, using the A2 highway, by train (check schedules and prices here), by bus (check schedules and travel prices here) or by plane. From anywhere in the country it is also easy to reach the Algarve by car and public transportation.

If you are visiting Portugal just to go to the Algarve you can look for a flight to Faro Airport. This way, you won’t have to make the connection between Lisbon and the Algarve by land.


Between June and August, the Algarve is an area of Portugal where temperatures can easily reach over 35ºC (95ºF), so we always recommend that you bring a sun hat and water to avoid dehydration. You should avoid direct sun exposure in the hottest hours and always use sunscreen suitable for your skin type.

We usually prefer to visit Algarve in September. The weather is still amazing and there are fewer tourists around.

Seawater in Algarve Beaches

The seawater of the Algarve beaches has some thermal variation, and usually, when there are more visible algae, the waters are warmer. The sea is calm but you should always opt for guarded beaches, be careful and follow the instructions of the lifeguard and the color of the flag in place.

In recent years, and when the waters are warmer, a lot of jellyfish have appeared, so you should pay attention, and if you come in contact with one, you should seek help from the lifeguard.

Bolas de Berlim

Bola de Berlim, Algarve, Portugal
Bola de Berlim

One of the most typical activities on the beaches of the Algarve is the sale of Bolas de Berlim (sugar-fried dough ball). Originally there are two versions, the plain or with egg cream. In recent years, versions with more innovative fillings and batters, such as carob or chocolate, have emerged. It is safe to buy and eat these products on the beach and is not expected to be a food hazard. If you have the opportunity be sure to give it a try.

Our 10 Favorite Algarve Beaches

Barril Beach (Tavira)

This beach is at the top of our preferences. Choosing to visit Barril Beach is more than just putting your feet in the sand and bathing in the sea. It is an unforgettable experience.

Barril Beach, Algarve, Portugal
Barril Beach

Access to the beach is made through Ria Formosa nature reserve, from Pedras D’el Rei, which means that cars are nowhere near the beach. There is an open train running through the dunes or alternatively, you can walk there in about 15 minutes. This route, especially at sunset, has absolutely fantastic views of the greenery and the Ria Formosa, with the old train transporting those wishing to visit one of the most beautiful places in the Algarve.

It is a long sandy beach and, to the west, there is an official naturist beach.

There is a complex with several beach bars and a very nice terrace that invites you to a drink in the warmer hour or at the end of the day. There is also a restaurant and some shops. If you want to go all day to the beach and don’t want to be dependent on those restaurants, which have inflated prices, we advise you to bring your own food.

In the high season (July / August) free parking is scarce, so try to arrive early in the morning, or at lunchtime, taking advantage of the departure of many people who leave the place for lunch. Alternatively, there is paid parking which costs around 11 € per day.

  • Train Price: 2 € per way
  • Guarded beach
  • Restaurants / Cafes
  • Parasol Renting
  • Showers

Deserta Island Beach (Faro)

Deserta Island is one of the barrier islands of Ria Formosa. These islands are sandbanks by the coast but only accessible by boat. This island is almost virgin and is totally uninhabited. There is only one restaurant on the island and a few fisherman’s workshops. The beach is long and you will easily find a quiet spot to enjoy your beach day. Alternatively, you can stay near the concession area where you have the lifeguard. There is a walk that can be done through the middle of the island if you want to go to more secluded beaches.

Desert Island, Algarve, Portugal
Desert Island

On this beach, we also recommend that you take your own food, or you will be limited to the restaurant options.

The boat to the Deserta Island Beach departs from Faro and depending on the schedule there are ferries or faster speedboats. See more information about schedules here.

There is some paid parking next to where you take the boat, but in high season it may be more difficult to park, so we recommend that you use the parking outside the city wall which is free and usually always has vacant places.

  • Boat ticket price: from 10 € round trip
  • Guarded beach
  • Restaurant / Cafe
  • Parasol renting

Armona Island Beach (Faro)

Armona Island is also one of the barrier islands of Ria Formosa. It is an inhabited island with regular ferry connections. Upon arrival, there are some shops and restaurants. The walk to the beach is about 20 minutes since the beaches are on the Atlantic side of the island and the boat stops on the inner side.

Armona Island, Algarve, Portugal
Armona Island

The boat departs from Olhão. See more information about schedules here.

  • Boat ticket price: 1.85 € each way
  • Guarded beach
  • Restaurants / Cafes
  • Parasol Renting

Manta Rota Beach (Vila Real de Santo António)

Manta Rota Beach is located in Vila Real de Santo António, already very close to Spain. This beach is the limit of Ria Formosa. It is a wide beach with normally warmer waters than the rest of the Algarve beaches, as it also benefits from its close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. It was once a village with a lot of fishing activity, but now it is all about tourism. 

Beach access is made by the wooden walkways to avoid impact on the dunes. By the beach, there are several restaurants, cafés, and entertainment facilities.

  • Free parking by the beach
  • Guarded beach
  • Restaurants / Cafes
  • Parasol Renting

Marinha Beach (Lagoa)

Marinha Beach, in Lagoa, is one of the most famous beaches in the Algarve, being considered one of the best 100 beaches in the world.

Marinha Beach, Algarve, Portugal
Marinha Beach

The beach is at the bottom of a cliff carved naturally by erosion. Although not one of our favorite beaches to spend the day, we enjoy the view and stroll on the cliff tops that border the beach.

  • Guarded beach
  • Restaurants / Cafes
  • Parasol Renting
  • Showers
  • Water sports

Monte Gordo Beach (Vila Real de Santo António)

For many years, Monte Gordo Beach has been linked to fishing activity. Today, typical colorful boats are confined to a more restricted area of the beach, with the rest being occupied by restaurants, support structures, and sport areas.

Monte Gordo Beach, Algarve, Portugal
Monte Gordo Beach

This place was one of the pioneers of tourism in the Algarve, and due to its warm, calm and almost paradisiacal waters, it is still the destination for many families to spend their holidays.

Access to the beach must be made by the walkways to contribute to the preservation of the site.

Access can be made directly by an asphalt road on the west side and a dirt road on the east side.

  • Guarded beach
  • Restaurants / Cafes
  • Parasol Renting

Faro Island Beach (Faro)

On the west side, Faro Island is one of the first barrier islands of Ria Formosa, being an integral part of the natural park. Access is made by car via a narrow bridge and free parking is available on site

Faro Island, Algarve, Portugal
Faro Island

Being an inhabited island, there are many support structures and restaurants where you can try the typical cuisine of the region.

  • Guarded beach
  • Restaurants / Cafes
  • Parasol Renting

Tomates or Rocha Baixinha Oeste Beach (Vilamoura)

Rocha Baixinha Oeste Beach, also known as Tomates beach, is between Vilamoura Marina and Falésia Beach. Here the cliff is low and clayey and gives the beach a beautiful landscape of reddish tones, especially with the reflection of the sun.

Rocha Baixinha / Tomatoes Beach, Algarve, Portugal
Rocha Baixinha / Tomatoes Beach

Beach access is made by a dirt track from the parking, which is usually only free in low season. In July and August, it is explored by the on-site restaurant.

The on-site restaurant, with a great sea-view terrace, is open all year and serves light meals and drinks. It is the ideal place to stay shortly after the beach to enjoy the sunset. Even in winter, we love to relax there during sunny Algarve afternoons.

  • Parking
  • Restaurant
  • Parasol Renting
  • Water Sports

Vilamoura Beach (Vilamoura)

Vilamoura Beach, which is east of Vilamoura Marina and west of Quarteira fishing port, is an excellent beach option as it has a good sand area and the sea is calm and perfect for some dives. The proximity of Vilamoura and Quarteira makes it very crowded in high season, however, the beach is long and you should have no problem finding a place to put your towel.

Vilamoura Beach, Algarve, Portugal
Vilamoura Beach

One of the main advantages of this beach is that being close to two urban centers, allows you to leave the beach at times when the sun is most intense and enjoy one of the restaurants or bars in the area.

Above the beach, there is a restaurant with a very nice relaxation area and there is also on-site parking, both paid and free. If you come from outside, we advise you to go to the beach from Quarteira, instead of Vilamoura, to find free parking.

  • Parking
  • Restaurant
  • Parasol Renting
  • Urban area

Galé Beach (Albufeira)

Galé Beach is one of the border beaches of Armação de Pêra and is characterized by the rock formations of that area.

Galé Beach, Algarve, Portugal
Galé Beach

It is an extensive beach with several beach supports. Besides being an ideal place to go bathing, we really enjoy the scenery that the setting creates and it is also nice to have a coffee in the area during the winter.

  • Parking
  • Restaurant
  • Parasol Renting

The Algarve is a perfect area for beach seekers and this selection has to do with the kind of beach we like to make, usually quieter, to relax enjoying the sun, the sea and the excellent climate of the Algarve.

If you visit the Algarve do not miss the opportunity to experience one of these beautiful white-sand beaches.

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