The Western Algarve, Portugal

The Algarve in southern Portugal is well known for its great weather, gorgeous beaches, its food, and elegant hotels. If you are more adventurous and inquisitive, visit the western Algarve and discover something very different than huge , beautiful complexes that are overcrowded. In the western Algarve you will find many quiet, stunning beaches that most Americans have not yet discovered. Almost every beach has a restaurant, bathroom facilities, and lifeguards.

Rua Serpa Pinto, 32, 7630-174 Odemira, Portugal
While in the Algarve last Summer, we decided to look for unusual beaches. We got a good map in Lagos where we were staying. The map listed beaches on the wild western coast of Portugal. We decided to go to Praia do Amado ( Amado Beach). There were not many Americans in this area so we considered these beaches as new tourist sites for us. This is another of those rocky beaches with immense cliffs. Amado Beach is a long curved beach with huge rollers that the surfers from many countries enjoy. Hikers love the long path to the beach and cliffs. Many of us scrambled along the path and onto the rocks with cameras taking all kinds of photos. On the road before the beach, there is a really good restaurant. This is such a breathtaking spot. I hope we return.
Praia do Burgau, Burgau, Portugal
While in the Lagos and western Algarve, I searched for lesser known beaches. With so many miles of coastline, I knew there had to be more beaches and less crowded ones at that. So my husband and I set out for several days to find these gems. We stopped at so many great beaches (we were usually the only Americans there) that the British and Germans have long known about. Each beach had a good restaurant with very fresh seafood. There were different activities available such as the usual sunbathing under the warm sun, surfing, parasailing, fishing,and horseback riding.

This beach at Burgau was a clean, beautiful, little town beach. There were several restaurants. This was a rewarding search for a different, lively beach. A natural and undeveloped area. We will return. Possibly we will rent for a week-end and stay in a small condo. If you go to the Algarve, bring a good current Michelin map of Portugal and get a map of the Algarve at your hotel desk. These will be easy to follow to the many western Algarve beaches. If renting a car, set this up with your travel agent in the states when planning your trip. It is cheaper, and the car will be delivered to you wherever you need it. Have a great time with this adventure!
Rua das Violetas - Porto de Mós, 8600-282 Lagos, Portugal
I have stayed in the Romantik Hotel Vivenda Miranda more than once because the manager, Anja Norek, is so professional and helpful. The staff is so welcoming and friendly. The rooms and suites are deluxe and spacious. The food is delicious. There are many organic products used and freshness is a number one priority. The owners Vera and Urs Wild are often on the grounds checking to make sure of the comfort and satisfaction of their guests. This hotel is a small, very elegant property on a cliff overlooking the beach. The design is Moorish. It was originally the home of 17th century aristocrats.The buildings are topped with the unique Algarvian chimneys that are so whimsical. Many tourists and locals dine at the hotel’s restaurant which is set on a patio overlooking the pool, cliffs,and the sea. The setting is dramatic and enhances your dinner. The spa at this hotel is excellent. Relax by the large pool that overlooks the beach. The town of Lagos is five minutes away by car. Make an effort to go into town if you are staying at the Vivenda Miranda.There are so many shops and restaurants there. The Vivenda Miranda is something special. At least try to go for lunch on the patio. The view literally leaves one gasping for breath. It’s just that spectacular as you gaze at the turquoise sea and the azure sky as you listen to the birds that fly by the cliffs.
Raposeira, Portugal
In the Algarve, just west of Salema you will find Zavial Beach which is an area of unspoiled natural beauty. There is no mass transportation. There are no highways or huge high --rises. In the Summer, parking is a little difficult but once you park, you walk the boardwalk past the restaurant and then go down to the sand. The beach is a deep area in from the water at low tide.High tide decreases the beach somewhat. This is a huge, clean horseshoe shaped beach with golden sand and boulders that surround the entire area. There is fishing, swimming, bodysurfing, surfing, and snorkeling. There are lifeguards during the Summer months. I sat on a towel under my umbrella and read a book for a while. Then I just walked to the water and waded in the warm, clear, and inviting sea. I took my camera and gingerly climbed among the rocks and boulders to take a few photos. What beauty! This was another typical Portuguese Summer day.... Brilliant sky, calm, crystal waters, and a peaceful beach. I had lunch at the Restaurant Zavial. It is situated on a rise above the beach. The specialties are fresh fish and chicken piri-piri (very hot sauce).I had the chicken which is a favorite of mine. After my leisurely lunch, it was time to head back to Lagos, my home base. Zavial is another western Algarve beach that I recommend you try (if you have a car) when in the Algarve.
Praia da Arrifana, 8670-156 Aljezur, Portugal
Arrifana beach is located on the western coast of Algarve, Portugal. Since it faces the Atlantic and has many huge bouilders that surround it, the surf can be quite wild at times. While it can be wild, Arrifana is also serene.The beauty stops many tourists at the top of the hill before their march down to the sand. You park at the top of the road and walk down. The descent is not easy. The way is steep and paved with the slippery little stones found all over Portugal. The path zigs and zags. You are rewarded when you finally reach the sand. The clear, clean waters shimmer under the brilliant sky.You will see swimmers in the more shallow waters and then there are the surfers! This is a very popular surfers’ beach. The waves are very powerful at Arrifana and surfers love that. After the beach ( or if you are adventurous enough to climb back up and then return), you can climb up to the restaurant for lunch. I enjoyed some local Portuguese dishes and a cold drink. Before I drove away, I stood at the railing atop the roadway and drank in the beauty and tranquility of Arrifana Beach. I could go back there next time I travel to the Algarve. There is a hostel in town during the season if you care to stay in Arrifana.
In the western Algarve there is a lighthouse located on the corner of the bay of Lagos. This lighthouse is surrounded by unusual natural rocks, caves, sea arches, and grottos. The massive cliffs ( up to 66 ft.) are impressive formations scattered in the turquoise and azure waters. There are boat rides available from Lagos’ marina ( i hour) or at the cliffs ( 40 min.).At the cliffs, steps have been carved into the rocks that lead down to a deck. It’s a fairly long descent with no railings so be careful. Boats run by experienced fishermen await you as you tour the caves and grottos.Some tours offer swimming where you can swim in the crystal waters and lie on a small sandy beach hidden in the cliffs. Kayaking trips and hang gliding are also available. Inquire at your hotel desk or at the tourist information booth in Lagos. The Ponta da Piedade is one of the top recommended spots in the western Algarve for sunset viewing.I have gone to the western Algarve on several occasions. This was my first visit to these cliffs and I am anxious to visit next time at sunset. The Ponta d a Piedade is a great way to spend half a day ( or more) in the Algarve. Info:
Praia Castelejo, Portugal
Each time I visit this beach, I am enchanted anew. These beautiful sands, sea, and cliffs are exotic. I sit on the sand watching swimmers, surfers, boaters, and fishermen. I watch the birds happily flying around. I stare at the brilliant blue sky with its puffy clouds gliding by. And I gape at the huge cliffs that tower over all of us.I collect the rare rocks with white stripes running through the stone that are unique to the area. This is Castelejo Beach on the western coast of Portugal where there are many rugged, wild beaches. From Lagos, you go west to Vila do Bispo and follow the signs to this beach. The road is rugged and narrow and ends just above the beach with a parking lot. Get a good map of the area at your hotel. Hungry? The Castelejo Restaurant is at the top of the path to the beach. This restaurant serves octopus dishes and other fresh seafood. If you are there at sunset you will be lucky enough to see this gorgeous beach bathed in glowing light. Try to visit this beach when in the western Algarve.
Praia da Luz, 8600-184 Praia da Luz, Portugal
Praia da Luz is about a 10 minute drive from Lagos. After ancient historic times passed, it was a little fishing village. In the 15th & 16th centuries, there was a large sardine fishing industry in the area of Praia da Luz beach. As I walked along the promenade in front of the beach, I appreciated the low rise development of the area. The view was of the beach, the walkways, the sea, and the palm trees. There are shops, restaurants, cafes, and the beach sheltered under the “Black Rock”. Market and artists’ stalls are prominent. Behind a gate near the Galley Restaurant, there are Roman ruins of a Roman spa and fish salting tanks. At the beach there is horse riding, kayaking, surfing, swimming, and diving. In the village, you can sign up for ballooning or golf. The village has it all: accommodations, shops, a church, and a bank or two. If you are interested in walking and hiking, you can take the trail three km. east to Porto do Mos Beach (Lagos). If you want to view the fantastic Ponta da Piedade, you will walk another five km. (If you want to return to Praia da Luz there is a bus). The Lagos Zoo is a short drive from Praia da Luz. The zoo has small animals and many birds. A stay at Praia da Luz would be a good choice in the Algarve. Or it is a great day trip from Lagos. We enjoyed the day trip with a delicious dinner on the beach at sunset.
Praia de Porto Mós, Portugal
While staying at the Romantik Hotel Vivenda Miranda overlooking the beach of Praia do Mos in Lagos, I gazed at this stunning beach many times. I don’t know how many photos I took of it. This is a long beach with golden sand, sparkling waters, and a couple of good Portuguese restaurants. During the Summer it is lively but not too overcrowded. At high tide, the beach may be less wide. Your hotel staff at the main desk will give you the low and high tides for your beach. People walk the cliffs and even traverse them down to the beach. I chose to go the long way around especially since lately you hear of rock slides in the area! The tranquil feel of this beach is a reward in itself. The area of Lagos and western Algarve is less developed as far as huge resorts and high rises. It is beautiful and in many spots untamed and one of my favorite areas of Portugal. Look up info on the Lagos area in Portugal guides or on or
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