This fishing village turned vacation resort presents a lovely scene of whitewashed houses centered around a picturesque sandy bay that’s ideal for sunbathing, swimming and watersports.
While much of Portugal’s premier tourist region, the Algarve, has been heavily developed to accommodate tourists, the small, low-rise village of Carvoeiro has managed to retain its old-world character. Lounge on the small beach, embark on challenging hikes along coastal trails and enjoy meals at clifftop restaurants overlooking the coast.
Historically, Carvoeiro was a fishing community with most of the locals earning a living by catching tuna. The peaceful little settlement has had a relatively uneventful past, except for one major occurrence: In 1554, a naval battle took place in the bay here between a Portuguese fleet and a Turkish privateer.
Life in this town revolves around Praia do Carvoeiro (Carvoeiro Beach), a small strip of sand around which cliffs rise, providing shelter. Lay out on the golden sand, cool off during a swim in the sea or rent Jet Skis or a paddleboat and venture out onto the water. On the surrounding slopes there are restaurants and bars with views of the beach.
Follow hiking trails along the coastal cliffs near Carvoeiro. Look for the ruins of the 17th-century Fort of Senhora da Conceição and the still-working Lighthouse of Cabo Carvoeiro, which stands on a bluff overlooking the coast.
Rent a kayak and paddle around the coast, looking for holes in the cliffs. These holes, known as “algares,” are the result of erosion.
Carvoeiro makes a great base for exploring the Algarve. Families may want to spend a day at the nearby Slide and Splash waterpark at Lagoa. Also worthy of a daytrip is the town of Silves, which has a Moorish castle. The town is just a 30-minute drive from Caroveiro.
Find Carvoeiro on Portugal’s Algarve coast, just east of Portimão. To get here, fly into Faro Airport and then drive or arrange for a transfer to take you 40 miles (65 kilometers) west to Carvoeiro.
The village is compact and easy to traverse on foot, but if you want to visit other regional attractions or are staying in the hills outside town, having a car will make it easier to get around.