Our first holiday to the Algarve was nearly thirty years ago and memories of the stunning beaches remain imprinted in our minds like footprints in the sand. The secluded coves and miles of beaches with soft golden sand, flanked by sandstone rocks, rugged cliffs and unspoilt countryside enticed us to return; not to holiday, but to live. Nowadays, these same beaches are flanked by hotels and busy fashionable resorts such as Vale do Lobo, Albufeira and Portimão to name a few. Which is great, but if you are looking for something a little different and more relaxed, I will let you in to a secret with my “Algarve Insider Tips”
So step back in time with me, drive west and explore the unspoilt countryside and beaches of the Western Algarve and the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vincentina.
Discover the natural beauty of the Western Algarve
Discover for yourself the stunning beaches in an area of outstanding natural beauty popular with those who want to chill in a more relaxed and natural environment. There are many activities available including surfing, canoeing, fishing, golfing, walking, horse riding and birdwatching. Even if you are not avid birdwatchers look out for the magnificent white storks soaring overhead or nesting in outcrops of rocks in the sea.
White storks nesting on an outcrop of rocks
Many people visiting the Algarve are unaware of the Western Algarve, and although I’m tempted to wax lyrical for pages on end, I will confine myself to recommending my three favourite beaches.
These are my tips for tourists visiting the Algarve
PRAIA DA AMOREIRA
Praia da Amoreira – the Algarves best kept secret!
Praia da Amoreira is located about 7km just outside the historic town of Aljezur. There is ample parking and a rustic restaurant bar called Paraiso do Mar which serves reasonably priced meals and refreshments.
View from Restaurante Paraiso do Mar, Praia da Amoreira
There are no concession areas providing sun loungers and parasols so remember to bring your own if required. However, don’t panic because supermarkets sell reasonably priced sun parasols and small beach chairs during the summer season which will prove a good investment if you plan to visit the more rural beaches.
Praia da Amoreira, Western Algarve
Praia da Amoreira is also popular with local surfers and fishermen. and att low tide you may even see the locals searching for mussels and octopus in the rockpools.
Read more about Praia da Amoreira. Why not make a day of it and stop off in the historic town of Aljezur and visit the moorish castle?
PRAIA DO ZAVIAL
The blue flag beach of Praia do Zavial is “off the beaten track” at Raposiera just before the rustic town of Vila do Bispo on the N125.
There is plenty of parking although in the height of the summer season early arrival at the beach is advised. Access to the beach is via a wooden walkway.
Although there is a small concession area on the beach where sunbeds and parasols are available the beach remains unspoilt by the ravages of mass tourism. You will not find tourist shops only peace and tranquility.
There is a great little café/bar overlooking the beach where you can sample Portuguese cuisine (including the usual burger and chips) served by friendly staff.
Praia do Zavial – view from Zavial Café/Restaurant
Why not take a break from the beach and building sand castles, drop in for an ice-cold beer and enjoy the view?
Read more about Praia do Zavial. It’s well worth a visit!
MEIA PRAIA and LAGOS
The blue flag beach of Meia Praia, flanked by the Marina and the old town of Lagos, has something for everyone. In fact, a day out in Lagos is one of my favourite excursions!
This glorious soft sandy beach is over 5km long, stretching from the old fort in the west…
View across to Meia Praia from the old fort
…to Alvor in the east.
View from Meia Praia towards Alvor
There are several activities for children near the Marina end of the beach, during the summer season. And for those looking for some peace and quiet, walk eastwards along the beach a few 100 metres towards Alvor. There really is something for everyone – even walkers who I’ve observed striding along the shoreline. Or people like myself, who amble along and then pause to collect shells and admire the distant views.
There are several rustic beach bars and restaurants on Meia Praia but my favourite to date is São Roque with its stunning views overlooking the sea and the fisherman’s’ harbour. The staff are welcoming and the food is delicious!
View towards Lagos
After a lazy day on the beach why not pause for a sundowner or ice cream sundae in the Amuras Bar at Lagos Marina before you leave. Or wander round the historic town of Lagos itself just a short walk away.
Lagos Marina at sunset
English is spoken in most of the Western Algarve, but why not take your phrase book have fun and practise the lingo?
I hope you’ve enjoyed my “Insider Tips” but any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me by email, leave a note in the comments section below or sign up to receive regular Algarve updates by email!.
Read more of my beach reviews here