Albufeira | Best Beaches
You won’t find a single cliff at Salgados Beach but nearby there is a boardwalk surrounding a lagoon (Lagoa dos Salgados) that offers great opportunities for walking and birdwatching. Long, spacious and covered with soft, very clean sand, Salgados is a great option for people with limited mobility. The beach is well served by cafes and bars but, fortunately, these amenities are not visually intrusive. However, cafes and bars are usually closed in winter. Free parking is available throughout the year.
Bathed by shallower waters, this is an expansive beach with room even during the peak of high season. To the west the beach is backed by dunes populated by spiny thrift, curry plant and saltwort, whereas to the east the sand is limited by rock pools and other geological formations. Embedded in these rocks you’ll find fossils of many marine invertebrates from the Miocene epoch (23 to 5 million years ago). It is easy to find parking space at the western end (as long as you arrive early enough), about 300 metres from the sand. Galé’s eastern end also has parking spaces but they are not as plentiful. The beach is well served by bars throughout summer.
Calmer even in August, the coarse sand at Castelo is covered by an abundance of shells. Because it is seated within a narrow bay and has a stony ocean floor, this beach is bathed by siphoned, irregular waves that can be quite energetic. It is a good option for a windy day, though. Some areas are restricted due to the danger of landslides and falling rocks. Access is made via two flights of steps between the small, informal car park located fifty metres from the sand. Castelo has a restaurant, as well as chairs and umbrellas to rent.
You’ll make your way across patches of farmland and scrubland before arriving at this rocky, quieter setting. It takes about 7-12 minutes to reach Coelha from the car parking. Coelha is not large and some areas are restricted due to the danger of falling rocks. However, with its caves, toothed cliffs and weathered galleries, this must be one of the prettiest beaches in Albufeira. Due to environmental concerns, parking is highly constrained next to the beach proper. There is a restaurant, as well as water sports for those that enjoy some excitement. Access to the sand is made through stairs.
SAO RAFAEL BEACH
Petite but full of character, this lovely location affords beautiful views of the golden cliffs and the deep-blue ocean. São Rafael is always choke-full in summer, and so you need to get there early in the day to find parking space. Get onto the water with a kayak or paddleboard to explore the gorgeous, jagged coastline. Here, snorkeling is also a great option to get acquainted with the Algarve’s varied marine life. There is a restaurant on the beach, as well as sun beds to hire. Access is made through a steep slope. Using public toilets during summer is a no-no.
A bay enclosed by weathered arches, caves, sinkholes and low cliffs, Arrifes’ particular character is given by the trio of sea stacks breaking the horizon in front of the beach. For bathers, the arrangement transmits the illusion of swimming within the confines of a large rock pool. There is a restaurant as well as sun loungers. Arrive early in the day, or before sunset to enjoy the nuanced light reflected by the cliffs. This is a rocky beach where swimming is not straightforward but snorkeling is quite rewarding. Arrifes has not too many stairs when compared to some beaches in the vicinity. There is a car park some 150 metres away from the sand.
Backed by long, rising cliffs, Falésia (main image above) is one of the most striking beaches in the Algarve. Deeply sculpted by the water and crowned by verdant pine trees, the uninterrupted line of cliffs is what gives Falésia its contrasting, colorful scenario. The sands get crowded from late June till early September but during low season the beach is all yours to enjoy. There are various places to eat and drink nearby during summer. From Alfamar, the beach is accessed by a long stretch of wooden steps that can be quite difficult to negotiate by people with limited mobility. Parking is usually available at Açoteias and Alfamar (about 250-300 metres from the beach) but parking spaces in the beach’s contiguity are not plentiful. Falésia is contiguous to Barranco das Belharucas beach, yet another beautiful setting where the cliffs reach its highest point.