12 January 2021
With a glorious 200km of coastline stretching all the way across southern Portugal from the border with Spain to the rugged Atlantic Ocean, the Algarve is blessed with the kind of natural white-sand beaches you’d travel halfway round the world for but that in this case are less than three hours from the UK.
Blue Flag status assures you of their cleanliness and quality (Portugal is one of the most environmentally friendly counties on the globe), while there’s so much space it’s never too hard to find a deserted stretch. Many have lifeguards in summer, making them particularly well-suited to families, and some have water sports (the likes of canoeing, wind-surfing, kite-surfing, jet-skiing, pedaloing and banana-boat rides) and RIB boat trips out to see dolphins and remote caves.
About halfway between Albufeira and Lagos, an iconic spot regarded as one of the loveliest beaches in all Europe, with stunning cliffs looming over its golden sands and hidden coves to explore at low tide. This is a great sport for snorkelling and for clifftop walks. The beach is accessed by steps down the cliffside – the reason such a gorgeous spot remains so pristine and untouristy.
Where to stay: VILA VITA Parc Resort & Spa
A generally quiet, unspoilt spot away from the crowds thanks to its setting in a fishing village just west of the resort of Oura with all its amenities. Lined by brightly painted fishermen’s huts and boats, the beach is most famous for the freshwater springs that once provided drinking water for the villagers; kids love to explore them at low tide, along with the interesting rock formations. There are a handful of restaurants on or overlooking the beach, ideal for a sunset aperitif or a dinner of fresh local seafood to round off the day.
Where to stay: Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort
Another spot familiar from a thousand and more photographs thanks to its soaring red sandstone cliffs, regularly appearing in TripAdvisor lists of the very best beaches in the world. It’s so vast (more than 6km long) that even in summer you can usually find your own quiet spot, yet it’s just 1km from the vibrant resort of Vilamoura with all its attractions for families and other, including a marina with boat trips and a water park. The eastern part of the Praia de Falésia is the place to head for great beach restaurants (don’t miss the local conquilhas clams, which can be collected on the beach itself) and activities – there’s paragliding, diving and a surf school.
Where to stay: Tivoli Marina Vilamoura Algarve Resort
Outside the medieval walls of Lagos, offering a 5km continuous stretch of sand dotted with low-key beach cafés and bars. Again, its sheer size means it’s easy to find space here to spread out away from crowds even in the height of summer. This is a popular spot in which to try out kite-surfing; windsurfing and jet-skiing are available too.
Where to stay: Onyria Palmares Beach House Hotel
On the secluded ‘Desert Island’ reached only by a half-hour’s boat ride from the Cais da Porta Nova in Faro – one of the five barrier islands of the Ria Formosa. Ideal for those feeling a little adventurous, these 7km of unsullied sands are some of the most remote in the Algarve, with waters so crystal clear that you can see shells on the seabed. There’s nothing else on this uninhabited island but a daytime restaurant, a lighthouse and a pier – so stay for sunset if you can but make sure not to miss the last boat home!
Where to stay: Real Marina Residence
Get in touch with your Travel Counsellor today to find out more about the Algarve for your 2021 beach getaway and take advantage of exclusive benefits such as full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and even after your trip.