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Beaches in Faro, Algarve, Portugal

Thinking of learning Portuguese in Faro?
If you want to know more about the local beach resorts, FaroUncovered.com have some useful information, to give you a feel of the local area and the wonderful Faro beaches on offer.

“The beaches around the Algarve’s city of Faro are “ilhas” (sandspits) that form the outer edge of the Ria Formosa marshlands and lagoons. “Praia de Faro” (Faro Beach) is the only one that has a roadway connection, the others are reached by ferry boats. The boat trip itself is fun and the ilhas are idyllic.

Many Algarve beaches are now classified as ‘Accessible Beaches’ meaning that not only do they provide ramps, footpaths and walkways directly to the sand but also meet certain criteria for restaurant tables, bar and counter heights. They also have first aid posts and disabled toilets and should be equipped with wheelchairs, walking aids and other equipment capable of being used in the sea as well as on the beach. We include which beaches have been awarded the ‘Accessible Beach’ flag , although depending on individual abilities you may just want to know that you can park nearby or that there are no steps involved.

We also indicate which beaches have lifeguards during the season (normally April to the end of September) and as a reminder for you: a green flag – swimming permitted; yellow flag – swimming forbidden; red flag – swimming and entering the water forbidden; blue and white chequered flag – beach temporarily unattended.

Faro beach
Faro beach (“Praia de Faro”) is just near to the airport and the turning for the beach is sign posted from the roundabout in front of the airport. The road passes pine forests on one side as it skirts around the airport before arriving at the single lane road bridge to Praia de Faro.

Faro beach is also sometimes called Faro-Mar or Ilha de Faro and is on the Ancão Peninsula – confusing isn’t it?! It is hard to believe that it is an island though, because there is so much squashed on to it; there are shops, bars, restaurants and accommodation all packed on to the narrow island.

Being an island, Praia de Faro obviously has two sides, the lagoon side and the seafaring side. The lagoon side is really attractive, with colourful boats bobbing on the water and moored on the slipways. The water is safe for swimming in the lagoon, but it is also a very popular area for various water sports – jetskis in particular.

The beach on the seaward side is a magnificent long stretch of golden sand. It is flat and easily accessible from the paved promenade that runs behind the beach. There are all sorts of water sports available at Praia de Faro like windsurfing, sailing and jet ski and plenty of room to give it a go!

There is a lot of parking directly behind the beach, but in summer, particularly at weekends when everyone likes to go to the beach it can be difficult to find space.

Praia de Faro is supervised during the ‘beach season’ and is also classed as an ‘Accessible Beach’.

Faro ‘ilhas’ – Island beaches
Ilha da Barreta (also called Ilha Deserta) and Ilha da Culatra are the sandspit island beaches around Faro. They are only accessible by ferry, but there are regular trips departing from the town and they are well worth a visit.

The ferries to Farol (which is the western end of Culatra) and Deserta run from Porta Nova Pier in Faro. The pier is just to the east of the marina, round the corner past the fire station – follow the railway line and you can’t miss it.

Ilha Deserta is an uninhabited ilha with just one very popular restaurant on it (“Restaurante O Estaminé” offering traditional flavours from the Atlantic and Ria Formosa; Tel: 917811856) – if you want to lunch here we would suggest you book a table before or as soon as you arrive on the ilha! The beach on the seaward side is a beautiful sandy bay, just a couple of minutes walk from the quay.

There is a small area of sunbeds for hire, but most people seem to take their own sunshades and their own refreshments to enjoy a quiet few hours on this very peaceful ilha.

The ferry to Ilha Deserta runs daily throughout the year but with less frequent crossings during the quieter months. The trip takes about 30 to 35 minutes and is a very enjoyable journey through the Ria Formosa nature reserve. The cost of a return ticket is around 7€

Ilha da Culatra is the next ilha to the east and the lighthouse at Farol is easily spotted. The ferry from Faro runs to Farol, which has a small, permanent all year round, population which increases to around 3000 in the summer season. It’s a lovely seaside community of mostly single storey houses; with oleanders lining the sandy pathways and bougainvillea climbing over the verandas. There are several restaurants and cafés dotted along the pathways from the quay.

The beach on the seaward side is another beautiful sandy bay and obviously popular both with the residents and people just visiting for a few hours.

The ferry to Farol runs more often than to Deserta and there are also several places on Farol offering 24 hour water taxi services. The trip takes the same time (30 to 35 minutes) as the trip to Ilha Deserta and the return ticket costs around 5€

If you want a very quiet, relaxed day on the beach and nothing else, then Deserta is just the place; if you like to wander around and explore and have a choice of places to eat and drink, as well as having a beautiful beach, then Ilha da Culatra is the place for you.

Something we found rather frustrating was that the ferries don’t go from one ilha to the next! The quays at Farol and Deserta are virtually opposite each other across a narrow stretch of water, but no connecting ferry! We would suggest that if you want to see both in one day, you are probably best to start at Farol and to get a water taxi across to Deserta, then get the ferry back from Deserta to Faro. If you try this, don’t get the return tickets as the ferries are run by two separate companies!

The beaches at Ilha Deserta and Praia do Farol are supervised during the ‘beach season’.”