Situated in the centre of the Algarve, Carvoeiro is a small but popular beachside town with whitewashed buildings and golden sandy cliffs. It has a small beach, Praia de Carvoeiro, which was voted European Best Beach in 2018, and is within easy driving distance of some of the best beaches on the Algarve including Praia da Marinha (9 km).
Although Carvoeiro attracts people of all ages, it’s particularly popular with families. As resort towns go, it’s lower key than other towns on the Algarve (like Albufeira, and especially Albufeira’s Strip, as well as Praia da Rocha), and this makes it much more suited to families or those that aren’t looking to dance the night away while drinking cheap cocktails.
As well as the Praia de Carvoeiro beach, and the other great beaches nearby, Carvoeiro also has plenty of other family-friendly attractions nearby including Slide & Splash (6 km) and Zoomarine (17 km).
There are also plenty of local tour companies that offer boat tours of the caves (especially the nearby Benagil Caves), as well as other watersports like standup paddleboarding, kayaking, and dolphin watching.
It’s also just a short drive from towns lives Silves and Monchique, both of which make fantastic day trips. A little further afield, Faro, the Algarve’s capital, and Tavira, are also popular day trip locations on the Eastern Algarve.
Is Carvoeiro right for me?
While Carvoeiro does have quite a few bars, including a few with karaoke and live music, it isn’t really a clubbing destination. If you’re looking to party until breakfast time, consider Albufeira (especially The Strip) or Praia da Rocha. Carvoeiro is much more of a pub town than a club town.
Carvoeiro has a nice beach, Praia de Carvoeiro, but it’s quite a small beach. During the summer months, especially August, it can get very crowded. While there are plenty of other beaches that are just a few minutes’ drive from Carvoeiro, you normally do need a car (unless the Rota das Falésias minibus is running).
Another downside to Carvoeiro is the lack of public transport options. If you’re planning to visit the Algarve without a car, and want to explore a lot of the other towns on the Algarve, it may not be the best town for you.
Of course, some people are just looking for a nice beach town where they can relax and maybe take the occasional day trip from. All they really need is a way to get to Carvoeiro (e.g. an airport transfer) and then either a taxi or tour bus to take them to any attractions that are outside of Carvoeiro town centre. If that sounds like you, then Carvoeiro is still somewhere worth considering.
If having access to public transport is important, you may want to consider another beach town like Ferragudo or Lagos: see the list of best towns for those visiting the Algarve without a car.
One other downside to Carvoeiro, again for those that don’t have a car, is the lack of a big supermarket close by. There are some medium-sized supermarkets in the town centre that are fine for the basics but, for a decent-sized supermarket like Jumbo or Lidl, you really have to go to nearby (~5 km away). If you don’t have a car, the easiest way to do this is to book a taxi.
Public transport & getting around
Public transport in Carvoreiro is quite limited, particularly as Carvoreiro does not have a train station. As with many towns on the Algarve, a car is recommended.
There are some bus services, however, and from Carvoreiro you can get to nearby towns like Lagoa, Ferragudo, and Portimão.
The nearest train stations are the Estômbar-Lagoa (~ 6 km) or Parchal (7.7 km) railway stations. If you take the train from Faro to one of these stations, you’ll then need to get a taxi onto Carvoeiro. Of the two, Parchal is larger and where you’re more likely to be able to get a taxi. Train tickets can be booked on cp.pt, and discounts are available if you book in advance.
There aren’t usually direct buses to Carvoeiro from destinations like Lisbon. To get to Carvoeiro from other places in Portugal (for example Lisbon), you’ll need to take a bus to Lagoa and then a local bus to Carvoeiro.