So many beaches, so little time! The Algarve boasts some of the best and most picturesque beaches to be found in Europe with golden sands and azure waters - there are just so many to visit, from long sandy bays where you'll always be able to find a good bit of 'breathing space' even in the height of summer to the numerous secluded rocky coves that dot this spectacular and beautiful coastline. The beaches along the south here have calmer waters than the western Atlantic coast so are just perfect for families with children. Here is just a selection that are an easy drive from Conscious Earth.
• Beaches near Portimão
Portimão is only 6km / 10 mins drive from Silves and boasts some fantastic beaches. It is a mix of late 19th, early 20th century buildings in the older part of the town, and high rise apartment blocks in various pastel shades of blue, pink and coral around it. The town centre is perfect for those who love to shop. It is packed full of stores, offering a wide choice of clothes, gifts, souvenirs, and plenty of traditional shops selling bargain leather goods, such as handbags and belts. There are also plenty of bars, restaurants and café's where you can sit for a bite to eat or a drink and watch the town carry on around you.
To see the more relaxed side of Portimão, wander down to the river front, where the 'Manuel Bivar' gardens are, and have an ice-cream or a coffee at one of the cafes along the front. The roads in and around Portimão are quite confusing and congested, especially if you end up in the narrow back streets where everyone parks on both sides of the road! There is plenty of car parking around the town, and there is a particularly large car park on the waterfront which is very easy to find if you approach from the marina end and follow the river.
Praia da Rocha
St Caterina Fort is at the end of the Beach near the Marina. It offers a bird's eye view over the surrounding area. It was built in 1621 on the orders of D. João de Castro (Governor of the Algarvian Kingdom) to protect the City of Silves and Vila Nova de Portimão from Spanish Pirates and Moors. This is one of those places that you can get awesome sunset pictures.
The Marina is another wonderful place for all the family to dine and watch the sun go down. We frequently treat ourselves to Nosolo Italia a great little Pizza restaurant for all the family. Just opposite and new to Portimão in 2007 is the arrival of 'Nikki Beach' in conjunction with Tivoli Hotels, bringing their luxury holiday formula to the Algarve. It's a luxurious treat to watch a sunset here, but well worth the expense.
Praia do Vau
for more information visit www.portimaouncovered.com
• Beaches near Alvor
Just west of Portimão only 15mins drive from our house is the fishing village of Alvor. It's a small picturesque spot with numerous beautiful beaches- small and sheltered or with long sandy shores. There are a couple of reasonable beach bars with friendly helpful staff amd plenty of car parking directly behind the beach offering excellent disabled access - the car park and beach are at the same leve,l so there are no steps. There is also plenty of space to play games and sports, or for anyone who simply wants to relax in the sun and enjoy the beach life there is plenty of choice for where to pitch your towel.
There are two restaurants on Praia de Alvor, one at the entrance and another further along the beach in case you want to have some lunch or drink while you are the beach. There are also lots of sun loungers and sunshades to rent if you want a more comfortable stay at the beach. If you are not a resident at the Penina hotel though, you will have to opt for the sun loungers a bit further away from the entrance to the beach, as the first ones are reserved for residents of the hotel.
Praia de Três Irmãos
Much of what was a thriving fishing village, before the tourist boom, is still here to enjoy. Few buildings loom large enough to obscure the view of the lagoon, and low-rise is the order of the day but much of the character of the place has survived for you to enjoy... the sights, sounds and smells are all part of the experience. Many of the restaurants, especially those specialising in seafood, have much of the cooking and grilling done outside, which does wonders for swelling customer numbers, once the aromas are absorbed.
for more information visit www.alvoruncovered.com
• Beaches near Lagos
To drive from our house on the A22 West it only takes 30 mins and well worth a visit. It is said that the beaches in Lagos are some of the best in the Algarve, how ever we feel that all the beaches in the Algarve are beautiful in their own special way and Lagos is certainly no exception.
With fine golden sands, magnificent views and gentle waves, the beaches in Lagos can be appreciated by all ages. Here there are many beaches dotted around the centre of Lagos with tiny cove beaches in between. To be honest, which ever beach or cove you choose to explore in Lagos, we assure you that you won't be disappointed.
Porto de Mós
All of the Lagos beaches have sand which is soft and clean and it's very safe for children to play. In summer time it is really popular with residents and tourists, but there is enough space for everyone to enjoy it. If you are feeling energetic and want a great view, walk up to the top of the cliffs on the western side of the beach, from there you can even walk all the way to Luz.
Praia da Batata
There is a beach bar at the main entrance to the beach and another further along, which is also accessible down steps which are quite steep so if you're with children it may be best to enter from the flatter main entrance next to the forte. Praia da Batata, so we are told also plays host to some fantastic beach parties throughout the year (particularly in the Summer), with famous DJ's and people arriving from the rest of the Algarve and from the rest of Portugal. So it looks like we will just have to do some more research on the party scene here arnd get keep you posted with our results!
Praia da Dona Ana
There is plenty of parking behind the beach and there are two access points at both ends, down some steps, so it's not suitable for disabled access. As I mentioned before Lagos is only 30mins drive away and all these beaches are 5 mins drive from Lagos, so it's well worth a visit.
Praia do Camilo
for more information visit www.lagosuncovered.com
• Beaches near Ferragudo
Ferragudo is only a 15 mins drive East, smaller and more traditional than Portimão. Located across the river estuary of Rio Arade, Ferragudo is a beautiful village and many of the buildings are traditionally fisherman's homes and retain an old-world charm. The buildings in general are lower-rise and the town itself is more relaxed than Portimão.
Ferragudo town is embraced by palm-fringed gardens, which run alongside a narrow river let up to the main cobbled square, Praça Rainha Dona Leonor. This is a lovely square, with lots of café's where you can sit for a delicious pastry and a coffee for a breakfast in a morning, or something more substantial at lunch.
Take a walk around the corner onto the quay and there are some more restaurants with a lovely view across the Arade and offering delicious, fresh fish dishes. Moving away from the town there is a lighthouse down a one-way track towards the coast on Ponta does Altar with a fantastic view of all of Portimão, across the river and the Monchique hills in the background, if you look out to sea you can see for miles.
Praia do Molhe
Praia do Pintadinho
Praia do Pintadinho is relatively small so the only facility on offer is a small restaurant. There you will be able to get a coffee, ice cream, a snack or something more substantial. Here there is a large car parking area just behind the beach, and some spaces on the road just above the beach. Disabled access is easy because the car park and beach are both at ground level. As with most of the beaches in the Algarve sun beds are for hire.
Praia dos Caneiros
• Beaches near Carvoeiro
Carvoeiro is just 20 min drive on the A22 East and it's certainly a family favourite for us. It was traditionally a small fishing village surviving on the tuna catches. Now it is an international tourist resort buzzing with friendly people and has expanded enormously. The town is full on either side of fantastic bars, restaurants, cafes and shops. We love it here, although you have to get here early if you want to find a place to park close to the centre.
Praia do Carvoeiro
There are showers and toilet facilities on the beach and a paved area just behind the entrance with easy access for pushchairs and wheelchairs. The cafes here are a real treat both in the day and at night, often in the evening there are artists, fire jugglers and mime acts to entertain you while you relax and enjoy your drinks. There is car parking just behind the beach, but spaces are limited and it can get quite busy in summer, so you may need to park a little further away and walk down.
Praia do Carvalho
Praia da Marinha
Praia do Paraiso
This small, sheltered bay is reached down a long, winding flight of steps built into the cliffs. There are no amenities on the beach, but the Restaurant above, is open all year and has a lovely outside terrace to enjoy a meal while looking out over the cliffs. We have spent some memorable evenings here and recommend a visit.
Praia de Vale de Centianes
for more information visit www.ferragudouncovered.com
• 'Grotto Tours' by boat
If you do anything at all in Lagos you simply must take a 'Grotto Tour'. Step aboard a small fishing boat, let your local fisherman be your guide, and witness from the water, the distinctive and magnificent cliffs that surround the Lagos area. It is truly an amazing sight!
Your guide will navigate around and under the intriguing rock formations, take you into caves and point out the many secluded beaches that surround the town. You can take the grotto tour by signing-up with one of the vendors along marble sidewalk in front of town. Alternatively, catch a boat at Praia Dona Ana or at Ponte da Piedad. This tour offers a little variety to your beach day. The fisherman bring the boats right to the beach, and you can generally get a good rate here approx. €10 to €20 per person, based on your starting point.
However, the most admired feature around the vicinity of Lagos for its tourists is the unspoiled peninsula called Ponta da Piedade fronting the bay of Lagos. This is a truly wonderful walking area with stunning sea views. It has scenery of matchless beauty with colourful cliffs, caves, arches, rocks and some wonderfully transparent waters. The crystal clear water allows you to see the many and varied underwater rock formations. The rocks full of holes turn these beaches into sheltered coves, protecting them from the North wind that often refreshes Lagos. There are impressive caves located along the coast here with great names... Cathedral; Belas Artes; Living-room; The Shoe and The kitchen. Don't forget to look out for the small entrances in the rockface that allow natural light to create mesmerising reflections on the water, providing a beauty all its own.
There are also Grotto Tour boats which visit the many sea caves along the cliffs around Carvoeiro if you are in that area for the day, leaving from Carvoeiro town beach.
for more information visit www.algarveuncovered.com