When I tell people that the Algarve in Portugal is the perfect place for a summer beach holiday, I find that they usually nod their head enthusiastically in agreement. After all, its warm, dry climate, beautiful beaches and stunning scenery are truly legendary. But when I go on to recommend the seaside resort of Praia da Luz, I notice that their expressions often change to one of mild confusion. That’s because this resort is not as well-known as some of its neighbours – but that is exactly what makes it such a desirable holiday destination!
While the summer crowds of holidaymakers vie for a tiny square of sand on the beaches of Albufeira and Praia da Rocha, I prefer heading to the quieter, less crowded Praia da Luz, which boasts an excellent beach, a promenade lined with art and craft stalls and a great range of restaurants. Here’s my argument in favour of this friendly, welcoming Portuguese resort.
Fun in the Sun
So you’re looking for golden sand to relax on and maybe a few water sports to try? Well, you’re in luck: Praia da Luz has a wonderful Blue Flag beach, stretching across the entire resort (which means that no matter where your accommodation is located, you’re never far from the sand!).
Sheltered at one end by Black Rock, a cliff formed by a volcanic explosion around 150 millions years ago, the sand gently slopes into the water, making it an ideal place to bring children who can paddle and swim safely. The centre of the beach (closest to the resort) can get busy during the summer season, but if you prefer to be alone, a short walk towards Black Rock sees the crowds thinning out.
If, on the other hand, you like the crowds or are looking for some water-based activities, stick close to the two water sports companies. Offering everything from boat trips, scuba diving and snorkelling to inflatables, jet skis, water skiing and paddle boarding, there is plenty on Praia da Luz’s beach to keep even the most restless friends and family members happy.
Those looking for even more seclusion (not to mention some excellent snorkelling opportunities) should head out to the small cove beneath the town’s seventeenth-century fort. There’s a sandy stretch here, which the fishermen of the town still use. And, if you get peckish, the fort itself has been converted into an excellent restaurant, serving fresh seafood and traditional Algarve cuisine.
Vibrant Local Markets
Nothing immerses you in the local culture as quickly or as completely as a trip to a local market, and this resort has two excellent food markets that are definitely worth a visit (whether you’re self-catering or not).
The Fish Market
The Fish Market celebrates the town’s history as a fishing village. This three-storey venue, situated just opposite the promenade, features a collection of excellent butcher stalls, as well as fruit and vegetable stands. You could spend the morning strolling around the market and then enjoy a leisurely lunch on the terrace of the restaurant located on the building’s second floor, which offers stunning views out across the harbour.
While the Fish Market is open every day, the weekly fruit and vegetable market is held every Saturday. There’s a wonderful array of local produce on offer and a chance to shop alongside the locals of the town – you’re in for a great experience!
Market Stalls Along the Promenade
If you’re looking for souvenirs or just fancy an evening stroll, visiting the market stalls along the promenade is a wonderful way to spend an hour. The stalls sell everything from local crafts to artworks by local artists.
Exploring Roman Ruins
Okay, these aren’t quite on the scale of the Roman villas of Milreu or Vilamoura, but they are Roman and they are ruins. Part of the fun of visiting the remnants of a Roman spa and fish salting tank in Praia da Luz is that these artefacts are actually hidden behind the modern promenade. Walk along the Avenida do Pescadores and you’ll find a small doorway, which leads to the Roman remains. Visitors are free to roam around and explore them!
How to Get to Praia da Luz
Getting to the Algarve is easy, as a range of premium and budget airlines (including easyJet) offer regular flights to Faro Airport from the UK. The flight time is a short two and a half hours, although the transfer time to the resort is a further hour after this. My advice would be to travel in comfort by booking a Shuttle Direct airport transfer online before you leave home. That way you not only avoid the taxi and bus queues at the airport, but you can also relax, knowing that you’ll be met at the airport by a friendly, experienced driver.
Where to Stay
Baia da Luz – For stylish apartment living with hotel-style facilities, try the Baia da Luz, situated close to the beach. All of the apartments have their own balcony, and there are two swimming pools, a tennis court and children’s playground on site. If you don’t want to cook for yourself, there’s also a great restaurant and a poolside bar, which sells a selection of light snacks.
Luz Beach Rooftop Penthouse– For the ultimate room with a view, book yourself into the elegant, modern Luz Beach Rooftop Penthouse. Set just back from the beach, the rooftop terrace (complete with hot tub) has spectacular panoramic views, while the vast, open-plan apartment boasts three en-suite bedrooms.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is one of the leading providers of airport transfers across Europe and North Africa. Choose from a range of service options tailored to suit all needs and budgets, ranging from economical shared group transfers to private premium journeys. A helpful, knowledgeable and punctual driver will meet you in the arrivals lounge when you land.