Lagoa (not to be confused with Lagos) is a small town named after a lagoon that no longer exists. Its old center maintains some of the traditional Algarve architecture and two 18th-century churches, but that’s not what brings the tourists. It’s its stunning coastline that has made it grow as a major destination, and its beaches now compete with those of Albufeira, Lagos and Portimão. There’s a good hotel in the center (see below), but most people stay in the neighboring villages that are administratively part of it, such as Carvoeiro and Porches, which offer better access to the beaches. These are some of the best in Algarve (and Europe!), with spectacular rock formations and caves.
Although there are other cities better known as family destinations, it also has a popular attraction for children, the Slide & Splash waterpark. For grownups, there’s the Seven Hanging Valleys trail, which is the region’s most beautiful hike, going over golden cliffs and magnificent beaches.
Nearby (to the west) is Ferragudo, which still looks like a traditional Algarvian fishing village. Located where the Arade River meets the Atlantic, it has a couple of attractive beaches separated by a 17th-century castle. Even more picturesque is Carvoeiro to the south, once a fishing village but now the tourist center of the region of Lagoa, with some of the best places to stay. It’s also home to the fantastic Algar Seco rock formations, but the most famous natural wonder is the Benagil Cave, only accessed by boat, mainly from Benagil Beach. To the east is the much-photographed headland of Senhora da Rocha, topped by an iconic little chapel. It belongs to the village of Porches, which is known for its pottery and has a number of excellent hotels.
Lagoa’s main annual event is FATACIL, one of the most important fairs in Algarve. It takes place in August, showcasing traditional arts and crafts for 10 days. Even more popular is the International Sand Sculpture Festival (known as FIESA Sand City), which invites dozens of professional sculptors from all over the world to make the most amazing sand sculptures based on a theme, some of them reaching 12 meters (40 feet) in height. Past themes have included the wonders of the world, Hollywood films and characters, the animal kingdom, and music. It usually inaugurates in the spring and lasts until autumn. It’s the largest event of its kind in the world and very much worth visiting. Skip the lines and get your ticket here: Sand City Tickets
Beaches in Lagoa
The beaches on the Lagoa coast are relatively small but incredibly scenic. Surrounded by ocher cliffs and rocks, they’re considered some of the most beautiful in Portugal. The water is usually calm, so these are not beaches for surfing (surfers should head west to Sagres and Costa Vicentina instead). Do bring a snorkel, as the clear waters allow you to explore the underwater world at many of them. Many are only accessible by car or can be reached on foot from hotels. A few others are so secluded, you’ll only find them on a boat tour.
- Praia da Marinha
- Praia de Benagil
- Praia do Carvalho
- Praia de Vale Centeanes
- Praia da Senhora da Rocha
- Praia Nova
- Praia da Cova Redonda
- Praia de Albandeira
- Praia das Fontainhas
- Praia do Barranquinho
- Praia dos Beijinhos
- Praia dos Tremoços
- Praia dos Caneiros
- Praia Grande do Ferragudo
- Praia da Angrinha
- Praia do Carvoeiro
- Praia do Paraíso
Widely considered Algarve’s best beach and even one of the world’s most beautiful, it has turquoise waters and a series of intriguing rock formations. The most famous formation is a double-arched rock which looks like a heart when seen from the right angle at the top of a cliff. The views from above are breathtaking, and from here you can head west to other beaches, following the Seven Hanging Valleys trail.
See the Praia da Marinha Guide.
One of Algarve’s most famous and romantic sights -- the Benagil Cave -- is hidden just a few feet from this beach. The natural wonder is only accessible by boat, so you’ll see people lined up at the beach, waiting for the next departure. When the sea is calm, it’s possible to rent kayaks and paddleboards. The beach is often crowded in the summer, so don’t expect much peace and quiet. If you follow the Seven Hanging Valleys trail at the top of the cliff, you can always continue to other beaches after visiting the cave.
See the Praia de Benagil Guide.
Another romantic beach is found just to the west of Benagil, following the Seven Hanging Valleys trail. Accessed via a “secret passage” (a tunnel hidden on the ground), it looks like a fairy tale. At the bottom of the steps of the tunnel is a “window” carved on the cliff framing a postcard view, and on the sea is a perfectly-centered rock. No one can resist taking countless photos, and this has led to a bigger number of visitors. It’s the beach for social media, but thankfully most people leave by the afternoon, when half of it is shaded. If your priority isn’t photos or sunbathing, the late afternoon is the best time to experience it at its most magical.
See the Praia do Carvalho Guide.
This is the second most popular beach to hop on a boat and visit the region’s famous cave, after the beach of Benagil. It can get crowded, as it’s relatively long but narrow. Unlike many in the area, it has a restaurant and a ramp, making it accessible to those with mobility issues. When the water is calm, it’s good for snorkeling. There are beautiful views from the top of the golden cliffs. In fact, this is the start or end of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail.
See the Praia de Vale Centeanes Guide.
It’s a small but very picturesque beach, as it’s also a fishing harbor and located next to a headland topped by an ancient chapel. It illustrates many Algarve tourist guides, and the views from the top of the headland and cliffs are extraordinary. On the days when the water is calm, it’s great for swimming, jet skiing and kayaking. Two of Algarve’s most luxurious resorts are within walking distance.
See the Praia da Senhora da Rocha Guide.
Connected to Praia da Senhora da Rocha by a tunnel carved on the cliff that separates them, this is a longer and quieter beach. The view of the chapel is even better from here, and there’s more space to spread your towel. When the sea is calm, it’s excellent for swimming. However, there are no lifeguards or facilities of any kind, just nature all around you.
See the Praia Nova Guide.
Perhaps because of the luxury resort above it, which is one of the top thalassotherapy centers in the world, this beach was once considered one of the best in Europe. It’s hidden at the bottom of a cliff and reached via a long staircase, so not many people come here. It therefore offers peace and quiet, and plenty of space.
See the Praia da Cova Redonda Guide.
Although its arched cliff has begun to attract more visitors, this beach remains somewhat of a secret, at least when compared to the others in Lagoa. The arch gained visibility through photos shared on social media and when Condé Nast Traveler magazine placed the beach on a list of best ones to visit in Europe. It’s a small beach, divided into two sections by rocks.
See the Praia de Albandeira Guide.
From Praia de Albandeira, walk east through the woods and over the cliffs to this “secret” beach. On the days when it’s discovered by tourists on boat tours, it can get crowded, but it’s usually frequented by just a few locals and guests of a hotel nearby. It’s quite small and half of it shaded by the midafternoon, but it’s a beautiful and peaceful place to relax in the sun or in calm waters.
See the Praia das Fontainhas Guide.
It’s small and secluded but very much worth finding, as it’s quite beautiful. An unmarked path leads to a magnificent scenery of pine-covered cliffs and the beach facing a massive islet. The water is usually crystal-clear and calm, and despite the growing number of visitors, it remains a very peaceful place.
See the Praia do Barranquinho Guide.
Because of the name (“Kisses Beach”), this beach attracts couples. The scenery is also romantic, with golden cliffs and rocks in the water. It’s a small and quieter beach than others in the area. The water is often calm and shallow, making it child-friendly and good for swimming. There’s a great view from the trail over the cliffs.
See the Praia dos Beijinhos Guide.
It looks like the private beach of the luxury resort above it, but it’s public, like all beaches in Algarve. Small and secluded, it’s for those who want to escape the crowds. The water is often crystal-clear and good for swimming and stand-up paddleboarding. From the top of the cliff on the western side there’s a panoramic view of the coast, from Armação de Pêra to Albufeira.
See the Praia dos Tremoços Guide.
This is really two beaches separated by a cliff and connected when the tide is low. It’s quite popular with the people of the neighboring towns, who visit throughout the year for the restaurant which offers seafood and sea views. Right in front is a sea stack which is environmentally protected, as it’s the habitat of sea birds. The side that’s only accessible at low tide is quite peaceful and beautiful, with another sea stack, caves and clear waters. There are paddle boats, kayaks, sunbeds and sunshades for rent at the restaurant, which is also a great sunset spot.
See the Praia dos Caneiros Guide.
This is the main beach of the village of Ferragudo. It faces the Portimão skyline and on its northern end is a 17th-century castle. That makes it a picturesque beach, but the only tourists you’ll find here are those staying at the hotels nearby. It’s mostly frequented by local families, as it’s very child-friendly, due to the calm waters and a playground by the entrance. It’s relatively long, so you can find a quiet spot even on the more crowded days. It has good bars and restaurants, which remain open throughout the year.
See the Praia Grande do Ferragudo Guide.
It’s the closest beach to the center of Ferragudo and separated from Praia Grande do Ferragudo by the castle. At low tide, however, it forms one long beach with its neighbor. It’s very quiet and you likely won’t find any tourists. It’s the beach of locals and fishermen, but couples will enjoy the romantic scenery of the castle and the boats crossing the Arade River from the marina of Portimão.
See the Praia da Angrinha Guide.
The main beach in the former fishing village of Carvoeiro still has fishing boats on the sand, but they now take tourists around the coast. The boats and the white villas perched on the cliff behind it make it one of Algarve’s most picturesque beaches.
See the Praia do Carvoeiro Guide.
A long but hidden staircase leads to this secluded beach at the bottom of a cliff. It’s just a short walk from Praia do Carvoeiro, but is never crowded. It’s very small and few people know about it, except for those who live nearby. It guarantees peace and quiet, but you have to go when the tide is low, as it almost disappears at high tide.
See the Praia do Paraíso Guide.
How to Get to Lagoa
The city of Lagoa can be reached by train about half a dozen times a day from the main towns in Algarve. The station is called Estômbar-Lagoa, and it’s about 3km (close to 2 miles) to the west, meaning it’s not within reasonable walking distance of the center. You’d need to wait for a bus or take a taxi or Uber. Very infrequent buses operated by Vamus also connect the city to Albufeira and Portimão (numbers 13 and 14 connect these two cities, stopping in Lagoa’s bus station on the way). This means that if you’re coming to this part of Algarve, it’s best to rent a car or rely on Uber. From the airport in Faro, there’s bus 56 (the “Aerobus”), that stops is Lagoa’s bus station in 1 hour and 35 minutes.
Hotels in Lagoa
The only hotel in the center of Lagoa has good-value studios and suites. Guests can relax on the sun terrace by the swimming pool and enjoy Mediterranean cuisine at the restaurant.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Lagoa Hotel
Located by the road to the center of Carvoeiro and the famous beaches of Lagoa, this 5-star hotel is one of the best and most convenient to explore the area. It has 248 luminous rooms, many of them facing the sea, and features a rooftop bar, two restaurants overlooking the ocean and a spa.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Tivoli Carvoeiro
Vilalara Thalassa Resort
Surrounded by natural beauty, this luxurious hotel is where you should stay if you just want to relax. It stands above the beach (Praia da Cova Redonda, also known as Praia das Gaivotas), and features beautifully-landscaped gardens, spacious suites, two restaurants, four outdoor swimming pools and a spa that’s considered one of the five best thalassotherapy centers in the world.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vilalara Thalassa Resort
Vila Vita Parc Resort
One of Algarve’s best resorts stands above the ocean, by two small beaches. The luxurious property is continuously updated to offer something new year after year. Its rooms and suites feature a contemporary style, but the architecture follows the Moorish and Algarvian traditions. One of the 10 restaurants has two Michelin stars, and there’s also a state-of-the-art spa and pools surrounded by a tropical garden.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vila Vita Parc Resort
Monte Santo Resort
This award-winning resort is a short drive from the center of Carvoeiro. It’s made up of large suites and townhouses, and is a very peaceful and romantic place. There’s a huge swimming pool, a wonderful spa, and a restaurant with outdoor seating.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Monte Santo Resort
Vale D’Oliveiras Quinta Resort
Surrounded by the Carvoeiro countryside, this is a relaxing resort even in the high season. It consists of townhouses and offers indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, and two restaurants which use ingredients from the organic garden.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vale D’Oliveiras Quinta Resort
This property is 5 minutes by car from the center of Carvoeiro and has apartments with one, two or three bedrooms. There’s an outdoor swimming pool that remains open outside the summer season, but is not heated.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Placid Village
Pestana Viking Beach & Spa Resort
Staying here places you just steps from three beaches (Praia Nova, Praia da Senhora da Rocha, and Praia da Cova Redonda). It has rooms with sea views, a large outdoor pool, a spa with an indoor pool, a gym, and a restaurant.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Pestana Viking Beach & Spa Resort
Vila Alba Eco-Resort
Located on an unspoiled stretch of coastline between the beaches of Albandeira (to which it has direct access) and Barranquinho, this resort has classically-styled suites, some of them with sea views. Peaceful gardens surround the infinity pool, and there’s also a restaurant, a spa, and a fitness room.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vila Alba Eco-Resort