From Portimao to Porches, from Lagos to Luz: Here are some of our favorite hotels on or near the beach in southern Portugal’s Faro region.
Set on a cliff in a gorgeous 1918 mansion, Relais & Chateaux's Bela Vista Hotel & Spa is a beautiful historic property with exquisite interiors. The hotel has its own private and direct access to the beach below the cliff, though it's a long walk down to the beach (typical for the area). However, the hotel has beach baskets with towels and bottled water for anyone making the journey. There are loungers and umbrellas for a flat fee that can be charged to your room. On the hotel's street side, a pedestrian-only area gives great, easy access to a number of restaurants, bars, shops, and nightlife.
Blue & Green Vilalara Thalassa Resort is a luxurious cliffside hotel with a dramatic beach that combines golden sand, dark blue waters, and tall freestanding rocks. The higher location of the resort lends to less background noise for those on the beach, where loungers and umbrellas are free (a perk over Bela Vista Hotel & Spa, where these amenities cost a fee). Note that the sand is full of rough shell fragments, so travelers might want to wear shoes, and that the hotel's cliffside setting means it's a hike back up from the beach.
Situated on a cliff facing the ocean, the elegant Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa spans 54 acres of garden grounds, including a beautiful beach area surrounded by high cliff walls. While the beach has a slightly less manicured look than similar beaches in the area, no guests seem to mind. It is outfitted with sunbeds, umbrellas, and towels, plus a lifeguard hut. During the high season, the hotel has food and drink service. Note, however, that access to the beach is down a long set of stairs carved into the rock, which may be tricky for children or guests with mobility issues. When not on the golden-sand beach, guests can typically be found around the eight glorious swimming pools lined with cushioned wicker loungers and palm trees.
This luxury resort borders the coastal cliffs overlooking a long expanse of golden beach and the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel's lush, immaculate grounds offer direct access to the sand, which has a dramatic backdrop of red and white cliffs. With upscale rooms, great dining, decent family-friendly facilities, and a super-luxe spa, the hotel stands out as one of the best in the region.
Located in the small Algarve town of Olhos de Agua, the 310-room Porto Bay Falesia has a scenic clifftop position that provides superb views over the stunning five-mile stretch of Praia da Falesia beach. Though the hotel is right next to the sea, there are 130 steps down to the five-mile long beach, so the return journey can be taxing (despite regular rest benches). Alternatively, it's a 10-minute walk to the smaller Praia dos Olhos de Agua beach. The mood here is laid-back and peaceful, attracting mainly couples looking for relaxation, while child-friendly facilities also draw some families with kids.
Set on a cliff over the Atlantic Ocean, Cascade Wellness and Lifestyle Resort is a luxury property with classic Portuguese style. The nearest beach, Porto de Mos, is about a 10-minute walk down the hill, while the area’s other popular beach, Dona Ana, is approximately a five-minute drive. Cascade has great wellness facilities, a chic spa, an elegant restaurant, and a trendy bar, but one of its best amenities is its free shuttle bus that goes straight to the town center and to the beach, though it only runs during high season.
A favorite for couples and families, Blue & Green The Lake Spa Resort is a large luxury hotel in Vilamoura. It has a quiet location off an otherwise empty street, but it's still close to six golf courses and a five- to 10-minute walk from the beach and marina. Smart and ample features include superb (but seasonal) dining options, kids' club, and a state-of-the-art spa (with free access to the hydrotherapy areas). One of the hotel's three pools has a natural sandy floor that, at first glance, might fool you for a lagoon. Overall, this top-rated hotel is a cut above the rest, though note that it closes in December and January for maintenance.
The upper-middle-range Hotel Vila Gale Praia is a lovely boutique hotel a two-minute walk (less than a block) from Gale Beach. The large, wide golden-sand beach is quiet, safe, and only equipped by third-party companies in certain areas. The surrounding beach bars and restaurants are open until late in the season, and several travelers enjoy the beach even in the colder months. Vila Gale has a pretty outdoor pool where guests won't have to fight for loungers; a wellness area with a sauna, whirlpool, and Turkish bath; and all-day restaurant with room service. Freebies include hotel-wide Wi-Fi and breakfast, but the tennis courts and laundry service cost extra.
The 166-room Baia da Luz is a reliably peaceful place for a getaway near the beach. A five-minute walk away is a wide and sandy beach with a lively boardwalk and plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas. Beach towels are available for a fee, and cafe, bars, and water-equipment rentals line the shoreline. Back on-site, there is a casual restaurant, as well as a playground, tennis courts, and a lovely pool. Other features are slim, though, and the hotel is best for self-catering guests.
Estrela da Luz has a quiet location a 10-minute walk from Luz's boardwalk and beach. Along the wide and sandy beach, vendors rent sun loungers, umbrellas, and non-motorized water crafts. Note that the hotel does not provide free beach towels. Behind the beach is a long string of restaurants, bars, and cafes that buzz day and night. The simple property manages to pack a good bit into a 146-room package, including two casual restaurants, a spa, and three pools. All in all, it's a solid and popular bet for a town with lots of aparthotel options.