Guest Post: The Best Beaches of the Western Algarve
Thinking of visiting the Algarve region of Portugal? Eleanor Willock from parenting and lifestyle blog, The Bristol Parent, believes the best is to the West.
Firstly, I have to say, I am one of the Western Algarve’s biggest fans, to me it’s a near-perfect destination regardless of your age or family situation. For me, the first holiday with my now husband, our honeymoon, and our first holiday with our daughter were all in the Western Algarve. Typically, we stay somewhere between Sagres and Silves and have tried a variety of accommodation, from permaculture yurts to luxury family resorts. It’s all good! So, I thought it might be good to share my favourite beaches with you, to give you inspiration if you’re trying to choose where to go on your next holiday. The Western Algarve is so easy, you just hop in your hire car at Faro airport and get on the A125 highway, and you’re there in an hour and a bit. Luscious and green inland, its coastline ranges from some of the world’s best surf to millpond lagoons. The Algarve gets less populated and less built up the further west you go, and the temperature slightly lower. Portugal is of course surrounded by the North Atlantic Sea and is not a Mediterranean country, hence the dramatic differences in the beaches and conditions near the coast.
Here are my picks:
Praia de Cabanas Velhas
We found this beach totally by accident, driving round the pretty coastal road near Budens, which incidentally has one of the best mercados, if you’re self catering. It’s a fantastic sandy cove, with shelter amongst the rocks as well as coconut-top sun-shades to hire. It also has a lovely, relaxed beach bar and small playground.
Praia do Zavial
Zavial is pretty magical cove, accessed by a winding little road, to a small car parking area. It has waves and sometimes surfing, and a fine sandy beach with a river inlet to poke about in. It also has a cute little beachside restaurant with delicious seafood and shaded eating areas for a long lunch and a chilled local wine.
Praia do Amado
Totally different to Zavial, this is a huge, sweeping beach right on the surfing-perfect coast. The drive there is an absolute thrill, look out for the battered old camper buses of the many surfers who flock there perched up on the cliffs. The sea itself can be pretty fierce, it’s popular with surfers for a reason – but there is a surf school for those of all ages looking to try it out, a gorgeous shoreline to walk along, and it’s got a relaxed, busy vibe that’s not to be missed. Pre-parenthood, sitting in the beach bar, eating a burger and drinking a cold beer was about as perfect as my Algarve holidays used to get!
Praia do Martinhal
Flat, shallow and perfectly curved beach, fringed by grassy dunes, this is such a special place. As suited to an afternoon’s play with small children as it is to a romantic evening stroll or even an invigorating morning jog, this is a fantastic place. There’s plenty of spots to grab a bite round here too, and parking right by the beach. It’s also a popular windsurfing and kayaking spot, if you’ve ever wanted to try that out.
Alvor is the only small town beach I’ve mentioned, because I think there’s something really special about it. It’s a fab place to spend part of your holiday, with a very nice main beach and some secluded coves very nearby. Alvor was a small fishing village and still is at heart, so expect a lot of very good seafood, accompanied by a lovely, buzzy late afternoon/evening vibe too. If you’re visiting the Western Algarve, there’s so much more to it than just the coast, but I’ll save that for another time! Self-catered accommodation is a great way to keep the price of a holiday down and allow yourselves some privacy. If you’re looking for family holiday inspiration, you can read more about Eleanor’s family travels in Portugal, France and Spain at The Bristol Parent, @EleanorWi on Twitter and the_bristol_parent on Instagram.