The Algarve is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and is regularly voted as the best beach destination in Europe, so narrow down your options with our top 10 Algarve beaches run down.
What makes Algarve beaches so special is the huge variety on offer, from cove beaches only accessible by the sea, to enormous stretches that go on for miles, to white sands on the Algarve islands and the dramatic rock formations and cliffs along others.
A great way to discover as many Algarve beaches as possible in one go is to hop on an Algarve boat trip, with boat trips available from Vilamoura marina, Albufeira marina, Portimão and from Lagos marina all year round.
With so many beaches to choose from it can be hard to pick out a favourite but we have come up with a list of the top 10 Algarve beaches that we think shows off the very best beaches the region has to offer!
1. Praia da Marinha
Marinha beach is considered to be not only one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe but also as one of the 100 best in the world and it is not hard to see why!
Located along the coast between Carvoeiro and Armação de Pêra, this beach is one of the gems of the Algarve and boasts golden sands, clear blue waters and some of the most amazing cliffs and rock formations around.
There is a large car park at the top and then it is on to the steps and down all the way to the beach.
Marinha is not a particularly large beach and in the summer months it can get very busy so it is a good idea to get there early and to tackle the steps when it is not the heat of the day.
A great one for photography buffs, but not so suitable for anyone who may find the steps a challenge, especially on the way back up.
2. Praia da Rocha
Praia da Rocha is the main beach for Portimão and has been a popular destination for visitors since tourism first began in the region.
This is a huge, wide and long beach, that runs all along the front of the Praia da Rocha resort up to the Portimão marina.
There are some beautiful rock formations along the beach, hence the name which means beach of the rock, but it is the sheer size and options for sports, surfing, boat trips, cafes, restaurants and even nightclubs on the beach in the summer, that make this a real hit with all ages.
The long boardwalk makes travelling from one end to the other really easy and children will love the play parks in the sand and the ample opportunities to stop for an ice cream.
Praia da Rocha is the Algarve beach that has it all, and even in the summer month when thousands of people arrive, the beach is still so big there is always a space to lay your towel.
3. Praia da Ilha de Cabanas
The beach on the ilha de Cabanas near to Tavira requires a little bit of work to get there but we all know that sometimes the best things in life are worth putting in some effort for!
The beach is located across the river from Cabanas village on a spit of land with the river on one side and the sea on the other, giving it a unique blend of fresh and salt water flora, fauna and wildlife and making it an ideal location for nature lovers.
To get to the beach you need to jump on to a water taxi, with many leaving regularly from the jetties in the town and costing very little for a return journey. The short trip across the river is great fun, especially for children and once on the other side it is only a couple of hundred metres over the boardwalk to the main beach itself.
The waters here are usually warmer than in many other parts of the Algarve and the beach is huge with a couple of beach bars on the ilha for drinks, snacks and ice creams.
4. Praia de Vale do Lobo
For a taste of the high life, head down to Vale do Lobo beach located within the heart of the Golden Triangle.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy the lifestyle down in Vale do Lobo and this has to be one of the best beaches in the Algarve for some celebrity spotting with sporting stars, tv personalities, models and the odd Hollywood A-lister all known for choosing Vale do Lobo beach to soak up some rays in the Algarve.
The beach has a number of famous restaurants, including Maria’s, Julia’s and Sandbanks, all serving up a glamorous beach experience, while there are lots of sunbeds and even a massage station for a touch of relaxation.
With the beach being only a short distance from Vilamoura marina and the Aquashow water park, it is really easy to find, although in the summer months you do have to pay to park near to the beach.
5. Meia Praia
Meia Praia is the largest beach in Lagos and this enormous, sweeping beach that spans the entire bay is a favourite with locals and visitors at any time of the year in the Algarve thanks to it offering space even in the peak of the season.
The beach is only a short distance from Lagos marina and you can access it from various different points without having to negotiate any steps, which makes it fantastic for anyone with accessibility issues.
It can get windy at this beach but that only makes it more appealing to the surfers and windsurfers who head out to catch the waves.
The beach has something for everyone, including water sports options, restaurants and bars but it is knowing that you never have to struggle to find a space on this beach, even though it is right next to a major city and tourist hotspot in the Algarve, that makes it so special.
6. Armona Island
The Ria Formosa national park is an area of outstanding natural beauty and within it are a series of small islands with Armona Island being one of the most beautiful and home to a stunning beach.
You can only access this island by water taxi or ferry, with regular boat trips taking place throughout the day and very reasonably priced. A water taxi from Olhão marina is the fastest way to get there but nothing beats getting on the ferry with the locals as they bring across their shopping for the week!
The island is only about 1 kilometre wide and once you pass through the cluster of little holiday houses and restaurants you walk along a little path that takes you out to the white sands of the beach.
This is a real castaway experience, even in the summer months, and Armona island offers a totally new perspective on Algarve beaches that is unique to this area of the region.
7. Praia da Arrifana
Not everybody goes to the beach to sunbathe and build sandcastles and while Praia da Arrifana is a great spot for both, what it is really famous for is for being a top surfing beach in the Algarve.
Located along the western coast of the Algarve, beaches in this area feel the full force of the Atlantic which makes them not great for swimming but exceptional for surfing and Praia da Arrifana has to be one of the best.
The water quality here is very good and the beach is considered to be accessible for everyone but if you are not a fan of surfing there is still plenty to love about this beach, including the dramatic cliffs that surround it and even the ruins of a fort that sit above the beach that you can explore.
This is a fantastic beach to visit at any time of the year and looks especially dramatic in the winter when the waves crash onto the sands and because it is locate within a national park, the wildlife, flora and fauna are all outstanding too.
8. Praia Grande
Praia Grande is located between Carvoeiro and Ferragudo in the central Algarve with the beach bordering both the Atlantic and the River Arade and ensuring gentle waves all year round.
The sheltered waters make this beach a great one for nervous swimmers or for anyone not keen on being taken unaware by a random wave while trying to get into the water.
Praia Grande is huge with one area near the river with rocks to climb on and views of the fort, another area with a dedicated sports pitch and even a small play park on the sand for younger children. You can even get to the beach by water taxi from Portimão arena if you want to cut out the drive around!
What draws most people to this beach however is the live music and entertainment. Head down on a Sunday and Club Nau on the beach holds music sessions, or move around the corner and relax with chill out tunes on the sand at Escondidinho.
9. Tavira Island
Some beach goers prefer to let it all hang out and if you are looking for a naturist beach in the Algarve then head over to Tavira island.
The beach on Tavira island is known for being one of the five official naturist beaches in Portugal and while it is perfectly alright to go on the beach with your clothes, don’t be surprised if you see lots of people without theirs!
To get to the island you need to catch a ferry from the little port just outside Tavira, then once on the island if you are looking to be nude then the best place to head is about 15 a minute walk from the port on the ocean side of the island.
The beach is very beautiful and home to some bars and restaurants and also a large campsite for anyone who wants to stay over on the island for a break.
As well as being a beach for naturists, the beach is also a home to many chameleons and other wildlife , making this one for everyone!
10. Praia da Galé
Praia da Galé is close to all of the attractions of Albufeira and Zoomarine, yet feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of this top tourist destination.
Located between the expansive beaches of Praia dos Salgados and Armação de Pêra, the beach is really easy to find and is split into two distinct areas which makes it a great place for people who want more from their beach in the Algarve.
On one side of the beach is scattered with rock formations and pools that are great for climbing over and exploring at any age. The rock pools are always a hit with children who are keen to see what they can find and provide constant entertainment.
On the other side of Galé the beach is wide and a more traditional looking beach in the Algarve, offering water sports for all the family to enjoy.
There are a good choice of restaurants and bars along the beach with varying prices to suit all budgets which makes this an Algarve beach to stay the entire day on.