One of the most popular surf beaches in Portugal’s Algarve is the mesmerizing Arrifana beach (Praia da Arrifana) stretching elegantly below the steep cliffs of Aljezur.
The iconic view of the beach from the top has reached millions of online publications and is where surfers from all over the world peek down to judge the waves before they decide if this is their surfing destination for the day.
But even if you’re not surfing, this stupefying west coast beach is a wonderful place to go for a walk, a dip, or just soak in the sun throughout the year. There’s no reason to skip it on your south Portugal itinerary.
In this beach guide, you’ll find everything you need to know to visit Arrifana beach, Portugal.
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Plan your trip
How to get to Arrifana beach, Portugal
Praia da Arrifana is situated on Algarve’s west coast, off the tiny village of Aljezur. The easiest way to get there is by driving. From Sagres, drive the N268 and N120 up north.
You’ll find plenty of parking above the beach. However, spots fill up quickly as one of the most popular beaches in the area, especially in the summer months. You might also see cars parked on the steep road down to the beach, but this is actually not allowed for non-residents.
You can also get from Lagos to Aljezur by bus, but it only runs on weekdays except for public holidays. From there, you can take the local bus to Arrifana beach.
The walk from the parking lot on the top is a steep, narrow street zig-zagging down to the sandy beach.
When is the best time to visit Praia da Arrifana
Like with all Algarve beaches, you can go to Praia da Arrifana at any time of the year. That said, the beach is set on the western coast of the Algarve, and the Algarve winter months can be cold for swimming.
However, you can go surfing all year round and the beach is perfect for having a picnic in winter while watching surfers ride the waves.
The best time of the year to go for a beach day is autumn through September and October after the summer crowds have left but the temperatures are still excellent.
Where to stay near Arrifana beach
HI Arrifana Destination Hostel
HI Arrifana Destination Hostel is a great place to stay if you want to meet other travelers. It has an outdoor pool where you can chill on hot days and there’s a nice restaurant and garden on the premises.
The hostel is only a few minute’s walk from Praia da Arrifana and has parking included, so you won’t have to worry about that when you go to the beach.
Arrifana Guest House
Arrifana Guest House is another wonderful option for travelers that prefer more privacy. There is still a shared lounge where you can meet other travelers and free parking for guests. With only a 10-minute walk to Arrifana beach, also this place is ideal for avoiding parking.
Facilities at Arrifana beach
Praia da Arrifana is a fairly ample beach with few facilities, but you can expect the following at the bottom:
- lifeguard in the summer
On top of the cliffs, you find parking and a few restaurants where you can have lunch or dinner and they usually fill up with people having drinks at night.
While Arrifana beach is one of the most popular beaches on Algarve’s west coast, it’s also a beach you must have respect for. There are frequent landslides from the black cliffs that wrap around the beach, so stay clear of the cliff walls.
For this exact reason, you’ll also see a brushstroke of rocks lining the bottom of the cliffs where you should stay clear of. At high tide, however, the sand gets swallowed by the ocean and only the rocky part is visible.
With its vivid waves, the 700-meter long, sandy beach is perfect for both surfing and bodyboarding, but you’ll see people relaxing on the beach too.
The condition of the waves is usually great for beginner surfers to learn, so if you’ve just done surfing lessons and want to try it out for yourself, this beach is a good place to start. There’s also a surf school in Arrifana if you want to learn.
South on the beach, you’ll see Pedra da Agulha AKA Needle Rock, towering up from the ocean, a common landmark of the Vicentina Coast.
Things to do near Arrifana beach
There is a network of spectacular hiking trails on top of the cliffs of Arrifana where you get astounding views of Arrifana beach and the cliffs.
This is a great activity to do in the winter months when the sun isn’t too harsh. It’s a perfect place to walk for sunset too when the golden light paints the cliffs and the water glitters like crystals.
See the sunset from the top of the cliffs
You don’t have to walk far to get a mesmerizing sunset on top of the cliffs above Arrifana beach. Bring a cold drink and some snacks to enjoy the natural color spectacle taking place over the glittering Atlantic Ocean.
You can drive a bit up the dirt tracks to get to the top of the cliffs, and from there, find your perfect sunset spot!
Explore the ruins of Arrifana Fortress
Arrifana Fortress was destroyed twice after its original construction in 1635 when it was functioning as a defensive fortress to protect the coastline. First, in the 1755 earthquake, and later in the 19th century when it was abandoned.
The entrance, which is the only part you can see today, was first reconstructed by the municipality of Aljezur in 2007.
Yet, it offers spectacular views of the coastline and is definitely worth a visit!
Other spectacular beaches in the Algarve
Reflections on Arrifana beach, Aljezur
Arrifana beach, Aljezur, is no arguing one on the iconic west coast beaches on the Algarve. Water can be cold, so you might want to wear a wetsuit, especially if you do water sports that make you stay in the water for a longer time.
It’s definitely up there with my favorite beaches, not only for the breathtaking view from the top viewpoint, but it’s a lovely beach to hang out at all year round.