This Stunning Southern European Beach Is Worth The Trek To Get There

In the heart of the Algarve on Portugal's southern coast lies Praia da Marinha, one of Portugal's most iconic beaches. Its secluded location makes it somewhat difficult to access, but a visit to Praia da Marinha is well worth the extra effort. The beach is a picturesque masterpiece, a crescent of golden sand nestled between limestone cliffs and glimmering turquoise water. The surrounding coastline is also stunning, with rock formations, spectacular natural arches, secluded coves, and caves carved out by the relentless Atlantic waves. 

With beautiful weather year-round in this part of Portugal, Praia da Marinha is a must-visit when touring the Algarve. However, those seeking serenity should probably skip this destination in August, when it can get very crowded. The beach is located near the towns of Lagoa and Carvoeira, about 37 miles from Faro airport. As there's no public transport to this location, it's necessary to go with a tour group, take a taxi, or rent a car, with parking available on the clifftops above the beach. From the parking lot, the only way to reach the sand is via a steep staircase.

Accessing the beach

To navigate the stairs safely, ditch the flip-flops and wear shoes that offer some support and traction. Descending the steep stairs may be tricky for children, the elderly, or anyone unsteady on their feet. Climbing back up isn't a cakewalk, either, especially on a hot day. Beachgoers should be mentally and physically prepared for these challenges when visiting the area. 

Another way to access the beach besides the stairs is via a boat tour from one of the nearby towns. Boat tours may be more appropriate for those with mobility limitations and allow for a unique vantage point of the coastline and beach. Some tours include stops at Praia da Marinha so that guests can swim in the crystal-clear water.  Tours may also include stops at other locations along the coast, such as the spectacular Benagil cave, which even contains its own small beach. Those who want to get as close as possible to these geological wonders should consider boat tours that use smaller vessels, which can more easily enter the sea caves and grottos.

Exploring the beach and coastline

However you choose to access the beach, you should come prepared with your swimming attire and towel, sunscreen, a sun umbrella, and plenty of water and snacks. There is a snack bar at the beach for buying basic provisions in case you forget anything. Swimmers can also bring snorkeling gear, as the calm waters make it an ideal location for underwater exploration. 

Photographers and artists will delight in capturing the arches and other rock formations along the shore and could probably spend entire days here playing with their cameras. From the Praia da Marinha parking lot, hikers can trek east along the cliffs toward Senhora da Roche for spectacular views of the coast.

Alternatively, walkers can head west toward the Benagil cave and pick up the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, one of the most renowned hikes in Europe. This rugged 7.46-mile route follows the coast, passing stunning beaches, coves, gorges, sinkholes, and the Alfanzina lighthouse. While Praia da Marinha can serve as the starting point for these more active adventures, it's also just a great place to sit and soak up the sun. Your choice — there's no wrong answer.