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Algarve beach break guide: find your perfect day in the Winter sun

From secluded coves to surf-friendly shores, there’s a beach for everyone in Portugal’s Algarve region. Here we pick just some of the best

Tamsin Wressell
Thursday 18 January 2024 09:00 GMT
The warm waters, gentle waves and golden sands of Odeceixe are family-perfect
The warm waters, gentle waves and golden sands of Odeceixe are family-perfect (Algarve Tourism Bureau)

If you’re looking for the perfect all-round sun destination, look no further than the Algarve. Here you can choose from a wealth of wonderful beaches, bays and coves, each with a unique appeal, from idyllic escapes to family-friendly shores, and waves meant for water sports.

To help you find your perfect beach break, travel experts Jet2holidays offer great-value trips in more than 50 amazing destinations, including the Algarve. All holidays include accommodation, return flights, transfers and 22kg baggage, all wrapped up in an ABTA and ATOL-protected package for a low £60pp deposit*. There are thousands of Free Child Places** available, and infants under two go free✝. Meaning it couldn’t be easier to book your next break with the Which? Travel Brand of the Year 2023 and Tripadvisor’s Best UK Airline.

Read on for our pick of the Algarve’s stunning shores – and start planning your next beachy getaway.

Praia de Odeceixe: Best for families

While this beach (pictured above) also draws in surfers, it’s particularly popular for families. The Rio de Seixe meets the sea here, creating a calm and shallow lagoon in a horseshoe shape, with gentle waves that are ideal for children to swim in. With warm summer waters sheltered from the wind, it’s perfect for paddleboarders too, while younger children can paddle with parents on the riverside. Close to the beach, there are a few restaurants with terraces overlooking the shores, as well as a surf school. For places to stay, the village of Odeceixe is roughly a 30-minute walk away up a country road.

Praia do Ancão: Best for exploring nature

(Algarve Tourism Bureau)

Against a picturesque backdrop of stone pine trees, this stretching sand beach in Almancil is just a 30-minute drive from the Algarve’s capital, Faro. Set in the large, protected area of Ria Formosa Natural Park, which extends from the beach to Cacela Velha in the eastern Algarve, it’s a beautiful spot boasting golden sand dunes and crystalline waters. Kayaking, wakeboarding and paddleboarding are popular here, with equipment available to rent, and some of the area’s best seafood restaurants are close by. But it’s worth taking a walk further into the natural park as well, with the wetlands boasting canals, barrier islands and marshes stretching over 60km.

Praia da Arrifana: Best for surfers

On the Algarve’s west coast, near Aljezur, the waves of the Atlantic Ocean provide one of the best spots to surf. Praia da Arrifana is popular with surfers of all levels in the Algarve – good surf peaks run the full length of the beach, while its sandy bottom makes it safe for beginners. Divers also flock to these waters. The beach itself is fringed by steep cliffs, with the pretty village of Arrifana perched on top. Here you’ll find bars, restaurants and cafes (ideal for watching the sunset at the end of the day), as well as surf camps offering lessons.

Praia do Carvalho: Best for snorkelling

Secluded and sheltered, with crystalline waters, Praia do Carvalho is a snorkeller’s dream (Algarve Tourism Bureau)

Close to Lagoa, this beach is really something special. It would only be accessible via the sea if it wasn’t for a hand-carved tunnel and staircase that stretches for 15 metres through the cliffs. In the rocky walls of the tunnel, several marine fossils can be seen, and when you get through to the other side, the beach is entirely surrounded by ochre rock walls. The waters of this hidden cove are shallow and clear, with an abundance of fascinating marine life that swim around the rock formations in the sea. Coasteering is also popular here, but make sure to go with a guide for safety.

Praia de Cacela Velha: Best for sunset views

Enjoy a stroll, paddle or swim at sunset on this stunning bow-shaped beach (Algarve Tourism Bureau)

Despite being considered one of the best beaches in Portugal, Praia de Cacela remains fairly quiet and free of crowds. The bow-shaped stretch of sand is separated from the mainland by an estuary, with plenty of space to stretch out along the shoreline. Praia de Cacela is accessible from the mainland during low tide, when a series of lagoons and tidal pools appear on the beach. These shallow waters make for reliably warm swimming conditions, while the sands provide beautiful sunset views. Cacela Velha, a former fishing village, is close by, with stunning coastal views and pretty cobbled streets to wander down.

To make it even easier for you to enjoy the ultimate break in the Algarve, Jet2holidays provides the perfect package holiday, looking after you at every step of the way with award-winning customer service and In-Resort Customer Helpers to ensure your stay goes smoothly.

With accommodation to suit every budget and need, Jet2holidays offers a range of hotels, apartments and villas with a variety of board options, from Self Catering to All Inclusive Plus.

Fly to the Algarve from 11 UK airports: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and London Stansted. To find out more and start planning your trip, visit Jet2holidays

*On bookings made ten weeks or more before departure. Full payment required by balance due date.

**One free child place per two paying adults. Subject to availability. T&Cs apply, please see for further details.

Applicable for all infants under the age of two years on the date of return. Infants are not entitled to a flight seat (they must be seated with a parent or guardian) or a 22kg baggage allowance.

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