Like Albufeira to the east, Armação de Pêra is a former fishing village that became a popular resort town in the 1960s. It has just around 5000 permanent residents, but in the summer nearly 80,000 people come to sunbathe at its beaches. There’s the main beach in the center of town, a bigger one to the east (Praia Grande de Pêra) and a smaller one to the west (Praia do Vale do Olival).
It’s a more affordable alternative to Albufeira and attracts Portuguese families. The main beach stretches for over a kilometer and most of it is backed by high-rise apartment buildings and hotels. It can get crowded, but offers the convenience of restaurants, shops and accommodation within walking distance. The water is usually calm enough and safe for children and swimming, and there’s lifeguard supervision and access for the disabled. Its safety and quality are certified by the Blue Flag. In the bathing season (June to September), there are also parasols, sunshades and loungers for rent, as well as equipment for water sports, such as stand-up paddleboarding, flyboarding, wakeboarding, kayaking and jet skiing. A fun activity in a group is a banana boat ride.
You’ll also see fishermen huts and fishing boats on the sand (on the eastern end), which is why sometimes this beach is referred to as Praia dos Pescadores (Fishermen’s Beach). Fishermen often mend their nets here, and if you come early in the morning, you’ll see them arriving with the catch of the day. Their boats are no longer used just for fishing, however, they also sometimes take tourists on short trips along the coast. The name of the town reflects the fishing tradition -- this is where men from the neighboring village of Pêra would set up their “armação,” a structure used for tuna fishing.
Behind the beach is a promenade with open-air restaurants and bars. About halfway you’ll find the remains of a 16th-century fort. The Fortaleza de Armação de Pêra was built in 1571 to protect the coast but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755 so there’s very little of it left. What still stands is a small chapel from 1720, the Capela de Santo António, within its walls.
If you’re traveling with children, you’ll want to head to Zoomarine, a theme park that’s part zoo, part funfair. It’s less than 10 minutes away by car or bus (Vamus bus 51 or 57). Kids and adults enjoy seeing dolphins, sea lions, seals and alligators, and have fun on the water slides, at an artificial beach and in swimming pools.
Beach for: Families, Budget Travelers, Water Sports
Bar or Restaurant: Yes
How to Get to Armação de Pêra
By car, Armação de Pêra is 40 minutes from Faro via the A22 highway, and 20 minutes from Albufeira, following road M526. There’s a lot of free parking around the town, but in July and August it is sometimes not enough. The closer to the beach, the more difficult it is to find a spot. The bus from Faro (number 57, operated by Vamus) has just about half a dozen departures on weekdays and only a couple on weekends. Check the schedule on the Vamus website. It departs from Faro’s bus station and stops in Armação de Pêra in 1 hour and 20 minutes (it makes several stops on the way, including Albufeira). If you’re in Albufeira before heading to Armação de Pêra, you can take bus 57 or the 51, which runs between Albufeira and Lagos but stops in Armação de Pêra in 20 minutes.
Beaches by Armação de Pêra
As mentioned above, to the east of Armação de Pêra’s main beach is Praia Grande de Pêra. A small river known as Ribeira de Alcantarilha serves as the border between the two. This beach is much quieter and even bigger, and stretches to Praia dos Salgados, which is the western end of Albufeira. If you enjoy long walks by this sea, walking to these beaches is highly recommended. The western end of the beach of Armação de Pêra becomes the small Praia do Vale do Olival, which is backed by limestone cliffs. These cliffs mark the beginning of a stunning coastline of golden cliffs and rock formations that characterize southwestern Algarve. From here you can follow a trail over the cliffs to the small, romantic beaches of Beijinhos and Tremoços. A longer walk will take you to the iconic promontory of Senhora da Rocha, which divides two more beaches (by car from the center of Armação de Pêra you’re there in less than 10 minutes).
Hotels in Armação de Pêra
Armação de Pêra Apartments
Most families that visit Armação de Pêra stay for over a week, sometimes even the entire month of July or August. For this reason, staying in an apartment is a very popular choice. It allows you to prepare meals and there’s more space for children. If that’s what you prefer, take a look at your options here: Armação de Pêra Apartments
Holiday Inn Algarve
The location is just perfect -- right on the beach. Most of the rooms with balconies offer a sea view, as do the two restaurants, bars, and terrace with swimming pool. Guests may request massage and beauty services, and work out at the small fitness center.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Holiday Inn Algarve
Vila Galé Nautico
The largest hotel in Armação de Pêra is a 5-minute walk from the beach and has rooms with balconies, most of them overlooking the huge swimming pool. It’s very family-friendly, with a children's pool, a kid’s club, and a playground. For grownups, there are massage services and a fitness center.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vila Galé Nautico
Lindomar Apartamentos Turísticos
If you’re on a budget, you might want to stay at these basic but clean apartments. They’re just a 5-minute walk from the beach and have balconies, some of them with a sea view.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Lindomar Apartamentos Turísticos
By the Sea - Rooftop Pools
These highly-rated apartments have balconies and one or two bedrooms. They’re fully equipped to make it a comfortable home away from home. All guests have access to the two rooftop pools, and the beach is less than 5 minutes away.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: By the Sea - Rooftop Pools
Vila Vita Parc
For a really memorable holiday with someone special, stay at this resort, which is one of the best in Algarve. It stands on a cliff above Praia dos Tremoços, which is a short walk over the cliffs from Armação de Pêra. Expect world-class service at the ten restaurants, six bars, and spa, and a wonderful view of the coast from the tropical gardens with swimming pool.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vila Vita Parc
Vilalara Thalassa Resort
To the west of the center of Armação de Pêra you find another of Algarve’s most luxurious resorts, recognized as one of the world’s top thalassotherapy centers. It’s right above a beach by the Senhora da Rocha promontory, and features large suites, six outdoor pools, and two restaurants.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vilalara Thalassa Resort