Within reaching distance of Faro
Within reaching distance of Faro
The Algarve might be a busy, popular area for tourists but that doesn’t mean you can’t track down peaceful, low key beaches if you know where to look.
Luckily, we’re experts in this particular corner of southern Portugal. Choosing to make car rental part of your trip, as we’d advise, means you can get off the beaten track and really seek out those hidden spots that you’ll be raving about for months to come (unless you’re very good at keeping secrets, of course).
Here are just a few of our favourites.Car hire Faro
Just a two-hour drive from Faro, the village of Comporta is one that’s remained under the radar for most visitors. That’s no bad thing because now this enclave on the Tróia Peninsula (with a population of just over 1,200) is emerging as one of the most glamorous spots in the country. It boasts wetlands, a long stretch of beach and an estuary which means it’s flanked by water from every angle. Comporta has been touted as a celebrity haunt for a while, so you might want to move quickly. Beaches this pretty don’t stay secret for long.
Also known as Ilha Deserta, it’s immediately clear that this seven-kilometre-long stretch of land is home to one of the most tranquil beaches in the Algarve. Part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, you’ll be leaving your rent-a-car at the port and hopping on a boat for your day of relaxation. Expect to share your day with more than 300 species of birds, and to feel completely immersed in the Ilha Deserta ecosystem. Honestly, we can’t believe more people haven’t discovered it. Let’s hope the crowds continue to stay away.
This beach might be small, but it’s definitely mighty. Follow a shrouded path between the cliffs down from the road to where you’ll find a stretch of pale sand leading down into clear, clean water. Imposing rocks stand tall in the shallows, making this a unique photo opportunity, and there are cliff tunnels to explore if you’re feeling adventurous. Carvalho is surrounded by rocks, meaning it’s as secluded as they come, and the surrounding area is less built-up than elsewhere on the Algarve’s coastline. Best of all, it’s only an hour’s drive in your car hire from Faro.
Another beach that’s part of the Ria Formosa, Praia da Fábrica has actually only been a beach since 2010. Before that, it was a peninsula but an autumn storm cut off access and changed its geography forever. It’s a good thing it did too because being named one of the world’s top 15 peninsulas probably wouldn’t have had the same ring to it. Conde Nast Traveller awarded Praia da Fábrica this impressive moniker, and as purveyors of quality travel tips for years we whole-heartedly believe them. Leave your car rental by the seafood restaurant and hop over in a dinghy.
A 45-minute drive from Faro in your rent-a-car will take you to Caramujeira, one of the most coveted and exclusive areas in the whole country. The area isn’t short of beaches but we recommend the exquisite Praia da Marinha. It might not be as quiet as some of the other beaches on our list, but as an iconic symbol of the Algarve, it can’t help it if it’s popular. And we can’t deny that it’s secluded. Cliff-top hikes a-plenty are a popular activity for those who find lying on the sand all day a chore.
It’s a stone’s throw from the definitely not secret resort town of Lagos, but Praia do Camilo earns its place on the list since it’s only accessible via 200 steps, sometimes known as the “stairway to heaven” (or, at least, to beautiful azure-coloured water). Something tells us that dragging ourselves back up towards the rent-a-car at the end of a day of swimming and snorkelling around the rock formations might be a bit more difficult. Drive there from Faro in just over an hour.
Finally, a local beach tucked quietly inside a natural wildlife enclave. It’s an hour and 20 minutes from Faro and still on the Algarve, but the authentic, local flavour you pick up from nearby restaurants and the village of Aljezur will truly make you feel like you’ve successfully stepped off the tourist track. As we’ve come to expect from Portugal’s Atlantic coast, the surfing there is great too.