Best Algarve beaches, romantic, remote Portugal
There are many ways to reach Portugal. If you are heading toward the best Algarve beaches then the fastest way there, is through the airport at Faro.
We chose to land in Seville, a beautiful city to the west of Spain, rent a car and drive the 150 odd kilometers into Portugal instead. But that’s another story!
A word of warning; if you are into karaoke, organized beaches and crowded promenades, this article is not for you. If on the other hand, you like quaint little whitewashed towns by the sea, fresh fish at a nondescript harbor front restaurant, the remote but best Algarve beaches or that gorgeous sandy cove, found only by a lucky stroke, then read on!
For most of the year, the south of Portugal is blessed with some of the mildest weather in Europe. We traveled there toward the end of September and except for one rainy day, the weather was perfect.
The highway that runs through the Algarve is of super quality and is parallel to the coast all the way up to Lagos. You punch in your credit card details at the border and strategically positioned cameras flash you and charge you (small amounts) as you go along. It’s a good thing that the highway stops where it does, as this is where the best and barely discovered part of this beautiful land really starts!
The first town we visited, on the eastern coast is called Tavira, a typical town of whitewashed buildings with a charming fisherman’s port and some excellent restaurants. As usual, you need to sniff out the better places to dine and not be fooled by some of the tourist traps. There are several, wonderful little eating spots at the port and also along the river bank. Tavira is a town I would easily recommend and is also not far off from some of the best Algarve beaches!
After Tavira, unless you are into long stretches of organized Algarve Beaches and throngs of tourists around Albufeira and the adjacent towns, I would press the pedal to the metal (assuming you are driving of course) and not stop until you reach Lagos. This, although also very touristic is another lovely town that is steeped in history, has a really interesting old village core and well worth a visit.
Although I would give the Albufeira area a miss, there is nothing stopping you from visiting the little towns dotted along the other side of the highway toward the mountains. Many of these villages have such charming architecture and are worth checking out.
The rock formation and beautiful little coves around Ponta da Piedale just outside Lagos are also worth a visit. In fact, if you like to walk, I suggest that you spend an afternoon rambling through the ridges and discover the different little sandy coves.
Our main stop over was a short drive from Lagos, between the villages of Salema, Budens and Figueira. This is a quiet part of southern Portugal and close to best Algarve beaches, at least the most secluded and unspoiled ones, which is what we were after.
If you take the little country road out of Salema, towards Figueira and onto Raposeira, you should come across two fantastic and secluded beaches called Zavial and Praia Figueira, which are normally kept secret by the nature loving locals.
The best Algarve beaches enjoy a finer grade of sand than is often found in many parts of Spain. The coast also tends to be more interesting with little coves and rocky foreshore interrupting the long stretches of sandy beach.
The furthest, western point of Portugal, where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic ocean is called Sagres, here you can find three more of the best Algarve beaches. My favourite is Praia de Beliche. Located outside the town, you have to walk down quite a few steps and half way down is a little tavern which serves the most wonderful fresh sardines around! On the road to Beliche there is a large ceramics factory that has an interesting selection of typical Portuguese pottery.
Villa do Bispo is another charming town worth a stopover. The village is not large but has more than its fair share of great restaurants. We ate the most amazing Caldeirada de Lulas, a baby squid stew in rice in a little local place just off the main square. Villa do Bispo is also the crossroads to venture further into the countryside, mountainous areas and natural parks.
I would also recommend saving the last day or two exploring this area along the Atlantic coast; at least venturing up to Carrapateira and Bordeira. The long wild stretches of sand, so remote and beautiful definitely compete with the best Algarve beaches and those of the rest of the world.