Praia da Rocha is one of the largest and most popular beach resort towns on the Algarve. Named after the very long and very beautiful beach that this town is centered on, Praia da Rocha is a lively town with plenty of bars, restaurants, and cafés.
The town attracts people from all walks of life, but is particularly popular with families. Its buzzing nightlife, which mainly consists of bars but has a few clubs as well, attracts people from all over the Algarve – especially people staying at nearby towns like Alvor, Ferragudo, and Portimão City Centre.
Most of the town is centered along the boardwalk or “Strip,” which, along with its many bars and restaurants, has some fantastic views of Praia da Rocha beach, the nearby Praia da Rocha lighthouse, and across the river to Ferragudo.
Praia da Rocha is in a fantastic location for exploring both the Western and Central parts of the Algarve, if you get bored of its beautiful beach and many beach clubs. The small, picturesque town of Ferragudo is just across the river, Portimão is just 2 km away, while Sagres and the Western Coast of the Algarve are a little further but ideal for a daytrip.
This article focuses mainly on visiting Praia da Rocha. There’s a separate article on living in Praia da Rocha.
Featured accommodation in Praia da Rocha
There are too many accommodation choices to list in Praia da Rocha, but there are a few that particularly stand out.
- Bela Vista Hotel & Spa – The oldest hotel on the Algarve, and home to one of the best spas in the Algarve, this 5-star hotel is always a hit with luxury travellers.
- Algarve Casino Hotel – This 5-star hotel has plenty of luxury amenities including 2 outdoor swimming pools, a hot tub, and a fitness centre, as well as beautifully-decorated rooms (many of which with views over the ocean).
- Hotel da Rocha – Affordable but incredibly well-reviewed hotel accommodation, including suites with beautiful sea views, that’s located in the heart of Praia da Rocha.
Is Praia da Rocha right for me?
Praia da Rocha is one of the most popular resort towns on the Algarve, with one of the biggest beaches and a wide variety of accommodation – everything from cheap apartments to a 5-star luxury hotel.
It’s a resort at the end of the day. The town is made up of moderately tall high-rise apartment and hotel blocks, and at the bottom there are plenty of cocktail bars, Irish bars, and both Portuguese and international restaurants.
If you’re just looking for somewhere to relax, enjoy the beach, and have a few drinks, Praia da Rocha could be ideal. It’s not as busy as Albufeira, and sometimes it’s cheaper as well.
Praia da Rocha or Albufeira?
Praia da Rocha is often overshadowed by Albufeira, the main beach resort town on the Algarve. Both are very similar and it can be difficult to know which one to choose.
Albufeira is probably more picturesque: While Albufeira began life as a fishing village, Praia da Rocha developed around the beach. This means the buildings are more modern and much taller, although they certainly aren’t overpowering.
Albufeira probably has the wilder nightlife, particularly around “The Strip” which is known for its stag parties, strip clubs, and nightclubs. While Praia da Rocha does have a buzzing nightlife, and plenty of pubs and clubs to match, it’s slightly lower key than Albufeira’s Strip.
Praia da Rocha or Portimão?
Praia da Rocha is sometimes referred to as Portimão, the city that’s located 2 km away, as Praia da Rocha is technically the beach for Portimão. In reality, Portimão are Praia da Rocha are incredibly different and it’s best to think of them as separate.
Praia da Rocha is a resort town that’s sprung up around Praia da Rocha beach, and consists of all the trappings you would normally find in a seaside town like souvenir shops, bars, and a real holiday atmosphere.
Portimão, on the other hand, is a Portuguese city, and it’s where many of the Portuguese in the area live. It’s not overly beautiful, especially when compared to Faro, and, because of this and the fact that it doesn’t have an easily accessible beach, it’s not overly touristic.
That’s not to say it isn’t worth visiting. Portimão has a fantastic waterfront, plenty of great seafood restaurants, and some very attractive historical buildings. It’s a different vibe to Praia da Rocha, though, and, for many people, it makes more sense to stay in Praia da Rocha and take a few day trips up to Portimão.
Praia da Rocha Checklist
- Flights: The Algarve’s main regional airport, Faro Airport, is located around 1 hour by car from Praia da Rocha. Flight comparison sites like Skyscanner.net and Google Flights are useful for finding the cheapest flight deals.
- Accommodation: From budget apartments to luxury hotels, Praia da Rocha has a whole host of accommodation options for you to choose from.
- Transport to Praia da Rocha: Most people book an airport transfer or rent a car to get from Faro Airport to Praia da Rocha, but it’s also possible to get there by public transport or shuttle bus as well (see below).
- Travel Insurance: From cancelled flights to lost luggage, it’s always a good idea to book travel insurance. There are countless travel insurance companies to choose from, including World Nomads.
Getting to Praia da Rocha
Praia da Rocha is located in the Western Algarve, roughly 1 hour’s drive from Faro Airport. The easiest way to get there is to rent a car or take an airport transfer.
It’s also possible to get to Praia da Rocha by public transport, although normally you will need to take the bus or train to Portimão (2 km away) and then get connecting transport onto Praia da Rocha. If you’re not carrying too much luggage, it’s also possible to walk between the two.
From Faro Airport
- Airport transfer: Booking an airport transfer from Faro Airport to Praia da Rocha is probably the easiest way to get to your accommodation. Several transfer companies, including Welcome Pickups, offer transfers to Praia da Rocha.
- Rental car: If you’re planning on exploring the Algarve, even if it’s just to take the family to the nearby waterparks, it could be worth hiring a car rather than relying on taxis and public transport. If you do rent a car, getting from Faro Airport to Praia da Rocha is easy. Most people take the A22 toll road, which is incredibly quick and rarely busy, or there are the older non-toll roads as well (see: renting a car at Faro Airport).
- Taxi (or Uber): You’ll find a taxi rank outside of Faro Airport, and it’s usually possible to order Ubers (or other taxi apps) as well. This normally works out more expensive than a pre-booked airport transfer, but does give you the flexibility of not having to book in advance.
- Public transport: There isn’t a direct bus or train from Faro Airport to Praia da Rocha, so you will need to take the airport bus or a taxi into Faro first before taking a bus or train (see below).
- Shuttle bus: Unlike normal buses, shuttle buses go directly to Praia da Rocha from Faro Airport. Although this is slightly more expensive than taking a normal bus, it’s a lot less time-consuming. Shuttle buses can be booked through hoppa.com.
- Bus: While there are around 2 buses per day that go directly from Praia da Rocha to Faro, for the majority of services you will need to go to the bus station in Portimão. Bus tickets from Faro to Portimão can be bought on Eva-Bus.com.
- Train: There is no train station in Praia da Rocha. The nearest train station is in Portimão, which is roughly 2 km away, so you will need to either take a taxi, bus, or walk from Portimão to Praia da Rocha (see below). Train tickets from Faro to Portimão can be bought on cp.pt.
From Lisbon & the rest of Portugal
- Train: You can get to Praia da Rocha by taking a train from Lisbon (or further north) to Portimão, which is located around 2 km from Praia da Rocha.
- Bus: Buses are available to/from Lisbon and other parts of Portugal but, like the trains, go to Portimão rather than Praia da Rocha.
How to get between Portimão and Praia da Rocha
To get the train or most buses, you’ll need to go to the train or bus station in Portimão.
- Bus: Vai e Vem buses connect Portimão and Praia da Rocha. More information can be found on Portimão council’s website.
- Taxi (or Uber): Taxis are available throughout Praia da Rocha, and it’s usually fairly quick to get an Uber as well. If you need to book a taxi in advance, you can call Taxi Arade on 00-351-282460610 or book using the MyTaxi app.
- Walk: You can walk from Praia da Rocha to Portimão, and this is quite pleasant in the evenings. Both are connected by the river, so all you have to is follow the river away from the sea for Portimão or towards the sea for Praia da Rocha.