Carvoeiro: What You Need to Know

Once a fishing village, Carvoeiro has been a tourist hotspot for nearly 60 years. And when you take a closer look at the area, it isn’t hard to see why.

Surrounded by spectacular natural scenery, dramatic cliffs, and beautiful beaches, this popular resort town has everything you could want when seeking a relaxing getaway.

Less than an hour from Faro, and located about halfway between Albufeira and Portimao, Carvoeiro is a great resort village for a family holiday or people wanting to truly enjoy the best of what the Algarve coastline has to offer. Catch some sun on a beautiful beach or hike to some of the most incredible natural rock formations you have ever seen.

Carvoeiro is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of your everyday life and surround yourself with a warm, friendly and laid back community. To maximize your vacation time, here’s what you need to know about Carvoeiro:

What To Do In Carvoeiro

Despite the fact that Carvoeiro is known as a beach town, there are plenty of other activities to try in the area!

Here’s a list of some of our favorite things to do in Carvoeiro:

Visit the Beach

If sun and sand are on your agenda, you’ve come to the right place. Carvoeiro is close to some of the best beaches in Portugal. The beaches listed here are just highlights of the beaches in the region.

Praia do Carvoeiro

Praia do Carvoeiro, or Carvoeiro beach, is the town’s main beach. This is not a large beach but its picturesque views and available water sports makes it a popular place to visit.

The beach is sheltered by rocky cliffs so the waters are calm. This is the perfect spot for a swim and calm enough for children to play.

If you are looking for adventure, try renting a paddleboard or jet ski, or, if you’re looking for something more, you can go scuba diving from this location! For those who would rather stay dry, catch a boat tour of the nearby sea caves or visit one of the many restaurants and cafes located nearby.

Praia do Vale de Centeanes

Praia do Vale de Centeanes is a smaller beach located within walking distance of the town center. You can find the beach by following Estrada Do Farol street.

This beach can get a little crowded so plan to arrive early to ensure you get the perfect spot. There is a small restaurant on the beach that serves light meals and refreshments so it is easy to spend an entire day soaking up the sun.

The waves are stronger at this location than at Praia do Carvoeiro or the other beaches on the list so exercise caution when going for a swim. There is a lifeguard on duty during the day so the beach remains relatively safe.

This beach is the starting point of the Sete Vales Suspensos hiking trail. It is possible to start your day here, hike the trail, and finish at the breathtaking Praia da Marinha.   

Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha is located about 7km from Carvoeiro but it is more than worth the trip. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, this beach has some of the most incredible rock formations in the area, including the famous double sea arch known as the “M rock.” At low tide, you can walk farther along the beach and explore the coves and caves that line the shore.

To get to Praia da Marinha, you must descend a long and steep staircase. At the bottom is a restaurant and a fairly tiny beach. The main beach is just a short walk from there. If you have mobility concerns and are unable to make it down the stairs, this beach provides magnificent views from the trails that run along the cliff tops. 

With clear, calm water and lots of sea life, Praia da Marinha is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Praia do Carvalho

Less than 5km from Carvoeiro is Praia do Carvalho. This beach is only accessible by traveling through a man made tunnel in the cliffs. While passing through the tunnel, you can literally see history as there are visible fossils in the walls. Just be careful not to fall as the passway is steep and the steps uneven.

The water is clear here so it’s a good spot for snorkeling. Watch out and use your best judgement when decided to swim—the currents get stronger the farther you are from shore.

The biggest draw to this beach is the cliff jumping opportunities! On the right-hand side of the beach is a ledge about 7 meters up. There is a higher jump spot up on the left, which is best suited to those seeking a big thrill. The water is deep here so the risk of injury is low.

The cliff faces cast significant shade in the afternoon so use that time to explore the rock formations or hike west along the coastline towards Praia do Vale de Centeanes.

Visit Algar Seco

Awe-inspiring rock formations and cliff faces are characteristic of the Algarve coast and Algar Seco is one of the most incredible.

One kilometre east of town, you can reach Algar Seco by following the Carvoeiro boardwalk that begins at the 17th-century fortification known as Nossa Senhora da Encarnacao.

The rock formations at Algar Seco have been carved over the years by wind and sea erosion. There are a number of grottos, tunnels, and natural pools just begging you to take a dip. 

Go right at the fork near the stairs and you will find the cave called “A Boneca” or the doll. This small cave leads to a chamber with two hollowed-out arches, or “doll’s eyes” that look out over the impossibly blue ocean, providing one of the most famous views in all of Carvoeiro.

Go left at the fork and you will come across an exposed sinkhole that has been filled in by seawater, forming a shallow saltwater pool.

If you are in need of something to drink while taking in the view, you can find Boneca Bar at the base of the cliffs.

Take your time on the boardwalk. There are many benches along the way so you can sit down and really appreciate the view.

Hike the Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos

For those who love to spend time outdoors, Carvoeiro’s hiking trails are a perfect fit. The most popular of the trails is Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos (Seven Hanging Valley Trail), which is about 11km long, round trip.

The trail begins at Praia do Vale de Centeanes and ends at Praia da Marinha, passing several memorable beaches and locations (like the Benagil Cave) along the way.

The hike can easily be tackled in a single day but try to plan for some extra time as it is likely that you will want to stop and admire the views of the Atlantic Ocean, including the sea arches, rock formations, and the Farol de Alfanzina (Alfanzina Lighthouse). 

Day Trip to Benagil Sea Cave

One of the most popular sites in the Algarve is the Benagil Sea Cave, near Lagoa. The cave is a 15-minute drive from Carvoeiro.

The cave features a grotto with a hole in the ceiling known as “the eye.” This hole allows sunlight to filter in, having a beautiful effect on the sand and sea inside the cave and allowing for a glimpse of the blue sky above.

Benagil Cave can be viewed from the cliffs above but the inside is only accessible by sea so you will need to do a little bit of planning if you want to explore it. When you arrive at the nearby Benagil beach, you can rent kayaks or stand up paddleboards to conduct your own cave exploration. If you’d like to take your time in the cave, this is the best bet as you can go at your own pace. It is possible to swim to the cave from the beach but we recommend you exercise extreme caution. The surf can be strong here and can change from fairly calm to rough and choppy with no notice.

Boat tours of the cave are an option as well. You can catch tours from Carvoeiro that will allow you to see not only the Benagil cave but offer a glimpse of many other caves and formations along the coast. But remember, not all boat tours will allow you to get off the vessel to explore the cave so choose wisely.

Explore the Area

Carvoeiro is large but like many resort towns, it isn’t hard to find something to occupy your time.

Aside from exploring Carvoeiro itself, you can make day trips to nearby Lagoa, Porches, Portimao, Vilamoura, and/or Ferragudo.

For travelers with family, a visit to the nearby Slide and Splash or Aqualand water parks can make for a perfect afternoon.

If you fancy a round of golf, there are several top-ranked courses in this region of the Algarve as well. For more information, check out our golfing guide here. 

Where To Eat In Carvoeiro

One of the things that the Algarve is known for is its great food. From traditional Portuguese dishes to fresh seafood and creative fusion menus, the Algarve has it. Because it caters to a large number of tourists each year, Carvoeiro has a number of great dining options!

Bon Bon Restaurant

This Michelin Star restaurant offers top-shelf Mediterranean cuisine. The staff is warm and friendly but the food and its plating take center stage.

Using only the best seasonal ingredients, you can expect a modern twist on traditional Portuguese flavors. The tasting menu is out of this world and sure to delight even the most discerning foodie.

When visiting in the summer months, try to arrange a table on the terrace. This vantage point provides incredible views of the Monchique mountains and some glorious sunsets.

Restaurante O Patio

This restaurant has been in operation since 1964 and has become something of a landmark in the city square.

The prawns are a popular dish here but you can’t go wrong with any of the items on the menu. Traditional Mediterranean meat, fish, and pasta dishes are what you’ll find here. But with expert wine pairings, wonderful service, and terrace view of Praia do Carvoeiro, you’ll be glad you came.

Taste Restaurant and Bar

If you are looking for a relaxing environment, Taste is the place to be.

With a garden lounge, open-air terrace, and large stained glass windows, the atmosphere is only outdone by the food.

Fresh seafood offerings like sea bass, tuna, octopus, and prawns, are sure to delight. But, duck and lamb are also popular dishes should you decide that fish isn’t what you’re up for. Pasta, risotto, and homemade veggie burgers are available for anyone that wants to avoid meat.

Simply put, Taste provides incredible ambiance, delicious food, and an all-around wonderful experience.

Where To Stay In Carvoeiro

From hotels to villas to rental apartments, Carvoeiro is a tourist-friendly village with lots of great places to stay.

Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort

Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort is a family-friendly 5 star hotel in Carvoeiro, Portugal. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the Vale Covo cliffside, the fully-refurbished hotel offers sports and leisure facilities.

Rocha Brava Village Resort

If you’re craving a true resort experience, check out Rocha Brava Village. This 4-star resort has not just one swimming pool but three, four tennis courts, a supermarket, restaurant, beauty centre, and a playground.

Perhaps best of all, this location boasts some incredible views of the Atlantic ocean. To truly experience the beauty, book a room with a balcony. Trust us, you’ll not regret it.

B&B Casa da Colina

If you’re after something a little more authentic in the heart of town, book yourself a stay at Casa da Colina. All three ensuite rooms have spectacular views of the region and with breakfast included each day, you can spend your mornings lounging by the pool or quietly planning the day ahead.

Conveniently located near all the local amenities, this bed and breakfast makes for the perfect home base.

Carvoeiro is a charming resort town that is home to some of the most beautiful beaches imaginable. Located near to many other points of interest, it is the ideal place to base your Algarve holiday.  

For vacation ideas in the Carvoeiro region, check out our 6-night tour that allows you to Explore the Wild Southwest Corner of Europe or reach out and let us help you build your dream vacation!

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