Visitor numbers to Alvor beaches ramp up during the summer months. But in winter, you’ll have peaceful stretches of golden sand all to yourself. Apart from Hotel Luna Alvor Bay and a few tall apartment blocks, there aren’t many high-rise buildings near the beach. Instead of large-scale development, Alvor’s landscape is dominated by a nature reserve, sweeping beaches, and refreshingly unobtrusive buildings.
Alvor town sits on a river estuary and looks out to sea. But this is no flashy resort town – small restaurants and traditional bakeries line the cobbled streets. Overflowing flower baskets hang from white-washed buildings and fishing boats dot the banks of the river. Even on chilly mornings, the smell of freshly baked bread and strong coffee is a good enough reason to get up with the sun.
The harbour area is the beating heart of Alvor. When the morning sky is still dusky pink, fishermen get to work, while their dogs keep watch. Early-rising locals stroll past on their way to the beach boardwalk, before the waterfront cafés have opened their shutters. Palm trees line the walkway and on a sunny day, it’s one of Alvor’s liveliest spots.
As lovely as Alvor town is, a real Algarve holiday involves spending as much time at the beach as possible. These are five of the beaches in Alvor and in the surrounding region of the Algarve:
1. Praia de Alvor
Praia de Alvor, or Alvor Beach, is everything a beautiful beach should be. Backed by dunes and a wooden boardwalk, this golden strand stretches for several kilometres. There’s so much space here, that even on a busy summer’s day, you should be able to find a quiet spot.
At the western end of the beach, huge stone blocks form a breakwater. So take a good book, find a smooth rock, and spend an afternoon reading in the sun. One of my favorite days in Alvor was spent lounging on these rocks, surrounded by sun-speckled waves.
Surfing, kitesurfing, and swimming are all popular at Praia de Alvor. When you need to fuel up in between activities, head to one of the laid-back beach restaurants along the boardwalk.
2. Praia dos Três Irmãos (Three Brothers Beach)
The Three Brothers Beach, Alvor, shares the same stretch of sand as Praia de Alvor. But the Three Brothers is on the eastern end and its magical rock formations make it look like a different world. Jagged sea stacks, mysterious caves, and arches carved out of rock – this is a beach for adventure. Rocky outcrops split the beach into a few sandy bays and cliffs act as a wind barrier.
At sunrise and sunset, the Three Brothers Beach is an incredible place to be. The dramatic rock formations are silhouetted against a changing sky. And on a cloudless evening, the sun seems to sink into the ocean, leaving a brilliant orange reflection across the water.
3. Praia de Carvoeiro
Although Carvoeiro Beach isn’t in Alvor itself, it’s definitely worth the 30-minute drive. Carvoeiro, once a small fishing village and now a pretty resort town, sits on a particularly dramatic stretch of the Algarve’s coastline. The town itself is a puzzle of colourful buildings and whitewashed villas, shambling down the cliffside.
But Carvoeiro Beach is the main event. A sweep of golden sand, this beach is small but perfectly formed. Carvoeiro Beach is protected by orange cliffs on either side, so it stays sheltered throughout the year. Although you might struggle to find space to relax here during the summer when the beach fills up with locals and visitors.
If you’re interested in exploring underwater, there are a couple of diving schools near Carvoeiro. Or for views of the coast, try the walking trails that wind along boardwalks and paths high up on the cliffs.
4. Praia do Camilo
Praia do Camilo, outside Lagos, is a wonderful day trip from Alvor. A dramatically beautiful beach, Praia do Camilo is backed by towering cliffs and lapped by turquoise waves. I visited in December, when the sky was a cloudless blue and only one child was brave enough to paddle in the cool waves.
But in the summer months, Praia do Camilo becomes one the busiest beaches in the Algarve. To reach it, you’ll need to make your way down 200 winding wooden steps, so it’s not ideal for visitors with mobility issues. But once you make it the onto the sand, it’s a relaxing place to spend the day. The clear waters are ideal for snorkelling and the beach itself is pristine.
5. Praia Dona Ana
Praia do Camilo sits next to another famous Algarve beach – Praia Dona Ana – so it’s worth visiting both in the same day. Often referred to as the best beach in the Algarve, Praia Dona Ana is particularly popular with families. Minimal currents, shallow waves, and lifeguard supervision during the summer make it a great place to swim.
Red, yellow, and orange cliffs have earned this stretch of coastline the nickname Costa d’Ouro or Golden Coast. And when the cliffs glow in the afternoon sun, the area more than lives up to its name. There’s limited parking near Praia Dona Ana, but the car park fills up during the summer. Walking or taking the bus from Laos is generally a better option.
While you’re in the Lagos area, take a trip out to Ponta da Piedade. From the headland, there are expansive views of the coastline on either side. Follow the stone steps down from the headland to get a better look at the rock pillars, tunnels, and grottos, carved into the cliffs. There are also boat tours, which take visitors right up to the base of Ponta da Piedade. Prices and times vary, but if you want the chance to weave in between the rock formations, take a smaller boat.
Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve
If you’re looking for walking or running routes, Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve is difficult to beat. The beachy section of the reserve stretches alongside Praia de Alvor, separated from the sand by a boardwalk. Another section of the reserve expands along the cliffs at Quinta da Rocha.
Altogether, Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve covers 1453 peaceful hectares of salt marsh and mudflats. So although the boardwalk and trails are neat and well-maintained, there’s still a wildness to the reserve. And whether you’re a morning or evening runner, you won’t be alone – the boardwalk is popular with locals.
Planning to explore Alvor beaches?
- Alvor accommodation ranges from self-catering apartments to hotels.
- Consider whether you want to be in the middle of the town or overlooking the beach: Compare Alvor apartments.
- If you’re travelling with friends or family, consider booking a villa: Compare Alvor villas.
- To get to Alvor, fly into Faro airport. From Faro, you can take a bus or drive to Alvor town. Car rental is a great option, as it’ll allow you to explore the coast freely.
- You might also like: The Salty Pelican Yoga & Surf Retreat, Portugal
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