Praia do Carvalhal – A visit to the beach in the Alentajo

Alentejo: Praia do Carvalhal - View down to beach
Praia do Carvalhal - View down to beach

When you want to relax and escape the rat-race of the Algarve I recommend you visit the unspoilt sandy beaches in the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina on the West Coast of Portugal. However, if you are looking for beach activities, entertainment, tourist shops etc  as in Portimão and Albufeira these more “rustic” natural beaches may not be for you.

Praia da Carvalhal, which is in the Alentajo, is an unpretentious beach situated near the small village of Brejão (about 30 minutes drive from Aljezur) in the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina. The beach is flanked by cliffs and hills and although semi-sheltered still has a cooling breeze from the Atlantic. Perfect if you enjoy some beach “air-conditioning” as I do!

Praia do Carvalhal - the beach is flanked by cliffs and countryside
Alentejo:Praia do Carvalhal - the beach is flanked by cliffs and countryside

There is also a small concession area with a few loungers and parasols for hire. I was surprised these remained empty even though the beach was very busy. However,  as I surveyed the beach, people, like Mr. Piglet and me, had brought their own parasols, beach chairs and windbreaks. Actually, according to Mr P if we could have carried the kitchen sink we would have brought that as well! Men…

While I studied the other people on the beach, as you do, I suddenly realised to my surprise I was the only blonde haired English “bife” on the beach! Excellent – so if you want to escape your fellow countrymen, Carvalhal beach seems to be the place to go.  In fact, the only languages I heard spoken were Portuguese and Spanish.

Alentejo: Praia do Carvalhal - view from the waters edge
Alentejo:Praia do Carvalhal - from the waters edge

There is only one snack bar by the beach which opens from the 1st July until about the second week of September or there abouts – sorry the guy was a little vague on this point. The people at the snack bar were very friendly and spoke English.

To give you some idea of prices in case you decisde not to bring your own provisions: Cheese Sandwiches €3.00, Cheese and Ham Toastie €4.50, Cheeseburger €4.50 Coca Cola €2.00, Milky Coffee €2.00, Beer €2.00

The reason I was “lurking” round the café, other than to gain access to the toilets, was to buy ice-creams. You can imagine my surprise when I was told “Sorry we don’t sell these
A beach café that does not sell ice-creams in peak season – that’s a first! Even in the back of beyond…a good salesman on the moon would even sell ice-creams in peak season!

As I studied the menu, I smiled to myself; you could buy a glass of whiskey, but could not buy ices! Crazy, they must be missing a sales opportunity  here, surely?

Alentejo:Praia do Carvalhal - View at 19.00 as we left the beach
Alentejo:Praia do Carvalhal- View at 19.00 as we left the beach

We brought our own nibbles plus a chilled bottle of wine to enjoy a “sundowner”. Priceless!

Late afternoon to early evening is a great time to go to the beach especially in July and August when beaches are really busy during the day. My fair skin, which burns very easily, does not enjoy the intense sun and harmful UV rays between 10am and 4pm and if I am not extremely careful I can resemble a BBQ’d piglet! We must be called “bifes” for some reason – I wonder why?

Relaxed, we finally left the beach at 19.00 and as we made our way back to the car I turned to take the picture above. I wanted to run back into the sea for a sunset swim  –  However, Mr Piglet had other ideas –  he just wanted his dinner!

Blue flag beach: Yes
Dogs: No
Cafe/Restaurants: Just one – Carvalhal Beach Café/Bar. Snacks, soft drinks and alcohol. They do not sell Ice Creams!
WC facilities: Yes, including a toilet for the disabled. Toilets are locked. Key available at Carvalhal Beach Café/Bar
Surfing: ?
Life Guard: Yes (In season)
Parking: There are two car parks
Disabled facilities:There is a toilet for the disabled plus good access to the beach via a level wooden walkway. (Please see photograph above).
Directions: Approximately 1 hr 15 mins drive from Lagos. From from Lagos take the N120 towards Sines. Keep driving until you eventually see a sign on the left to Azenhas do Mar. Note there are two turnings – take the second turning Go through the village of Brejão and past the Parque de Campismo do Monte Carvalhal da Rocha. Carry along this country road until the road forks. Take the Right hand fork which leads down to the car park for the beach

Related posts: Praia do Zavial – Western Algarve

Praia do Monte Clérigo – Western Algarve

Meia Praia – one of my favourite beaches

Praia da Amoreira – the Algarves best kept secret!

29 thoughts on “Praia do Carvalhal – A visit to the beach in the Alentajo

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  1. In Alentejo you have many options. One of them is Surfing in Vila Nova de Milfontes, an old picturesque village situated at the mouth of the River Mira, in Costa Vicentina Natural Park, near Algarve. It is a quiet village surrounded by amazing scenery with a quit atmosphere all year round. Amazing surf holidays in Portugal guaranteed!
    The Surf Camp is located in the town within a few minutes from the village centre and beaches. It’s is run by surfers for surfers! No doubt it’s one of the best places to learn to surf in Portugal. Unmatched surf trip in several deserted beaches surrounded by stunning natural scenery. Surf’inn Milfontes is located in a peaceful town inside the Costa Vicentina Natural Park plenty of beautiful natural sceneries. Its quietness makes it one of the best places to learn surf and enjoy life. Unforgettable surf holidays guaranteed! For those who love surfing or want to have a different experience, I definitely recommend to have a look to Surf’inn Surf Camps is a surf camps network intended to develop and promote a set of surf and kite activities.. This coast attracts surfers from all over the word due to its amazing conditions.


  2. Ahhh…the beaches off the beaten path are the best. Our beach is kinda like that. It’s never crowded no matter what the season. There are no vendors selling or renting anything. It’s just perfect and peaceful.


  3. It looks fab, I prefer the less touristy, unspoilt spots – you’re selling Portugal to me all the time and such great tips and advice you give. I laughed at the end when you said Mr Piglet had other ideas….I thought you meant a bit of how’s your father! Men and food eh..?!


    1. Hi N&P
      You should come and visit Portugal it has the most amazing beaches which has spoilt me for other beach holidays.

      As for Mr Piglet…food is always the number one priority as he has hollow legs!


  4. Except for the missing ice cream it sounds like a lovely place to visit. I hope you didn’t burn too bad. Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece of paradise. 🙂


  5. Looks wonderful! I love to seek out those stretches of beach far from the crazy tourist traps. Not that I dislike them but every so often you want a more laid back peaceful beach experience. No ice creams but whiskey is a bit weird, but like nrhatch says, you do sometimes get those wondering guys with their coolers, even better if they sell watermelon! Yum!


    1. Hi Dave,
      Tourist traps is a good description. The kids on this beach had to amuse themselves with old fashioned beach games. No expensive pedalos, canoes, swings, trampolines etc etc

      Will certainly bringing our grandduaghter to this beach when she is older to build sandcastles, play sand boules and bat and ball etc 🙂


    1. Hi H,
      I think the beach may be a bit narrow with hidden rocks for surfing. Not seen any surfers there…but there are so many other great surfing beaches to choose from. In fact, I think we will visit one this week. I love watching the surfers!


  6. Sounds like a most lovely day. I also bring many supplies with me on adventures too. Yes, the cafe owner certainly missed many sales opportunities by not selling ice cream. Who ever heard of such a thing?

    I answered your Cool whip question at my site. Another thought, do you have packets that can be made into a non-dairy whipped cream? That might be a quick substitute for the Cool Whip. The recipe I gave on my blog will be tasty, and probably work but is not as quick as opening a tub of gooey deliciousness to mix with the other ingredients.


  7. Looks like my kind of beach PiP! I’m not into crowds and noise with all the commercialism involved in a ‘tourist’ beach, so this would suit me fine.
    I’m lucky where I live, in that we enjoy that kind of beach too – we are off the beaten track so most tourists go to the beaches near the shops, right in town. We like it that way and can become a bit obsessive with our little piece of paradise!


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