Home to the unique Anchor Cemetery and the only beach easily reached by foot on Ilha de Tavira, Barril beach (Praia do Barril) makes a wonderful day out that doesn’t have to implement a boat trip.
The beach has all the facilities you need, like toilets, restaurants, bars, sunbeds, and shade, yet the opportunity to wander off to feel more remote.
Prefer to leave the crowds, lay down your beach blanket, and dip in and out of the glittering blue water reading a good book?
Yes, you can do that too.
For me, Barril beach in Portugal, or Praia do Barril, makes out one of the most stupifying beaches in Algarve, and here is a complete beach guide for you to enjoy it too.
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Where is Barril beach?
Barril beach (Tavira) is situated on the barrier island, Tavira Island, west of the tiny fisherman village Santa Luzia in the eastern Algarve.
It’s the only part of the island that’s connected to the mainland by a bridge – right on the middle of the island.
The entrance to the footbridge is close to the Pedras d’El Rei resort.
How to get to Barril beach
Going to Barril beach in Algarve and the Anchor Cemetery is one of the best things to do in Tavira. But the beach can also be done as a day trip from Faro or nearby Olhão.
The easiest way to get there is by car and you can park outside the Pedras d’El Rei resort where there’s dedicated parking where you can park for 8 Euros a day.
Alternatively, if you get there early, there are also free parking spots along the road lining the natural park.
Approximately driving time from:
Tavira: 10 minutes
Faro: 40 minutes
Olhão: 30 minutes
There are also buses running on weekdays from Tavira going through Santa Luzia to Pedras d’El Rei resort.
Bus number 105.
The latest bus table Eva Buses has released is from 2012, but it was still valid in 2020 and I haven’t seen any information about it changing until now. You can see the table here.
Walking from Santa Luzia takes about 40 minutes to the foot bridge.
On the other side of the little footbridge, you can catch a mini-train the 1.3km to Praia do Barril. This is great if you have kids or have walked from Santa Luzia.
The Praia do Barril train takes about 15 minutes and costs 1,50 Euros each way and they only take cash.
Back in the day, the Barril beach train was used to transport supplies to the tuna community on the island and bring tuna back to the mainland. But now, it looks like a cute little steam train which is super fun for the children.
Alternatively, you can walk half an hour along the train line for free. This is a unique way to get up close to the natural environment of the protected island. But stay on the path so you don’t disturb the fragile ecosystem.
These sandbars, mudflats, and unique tidal lagoons are home to numerous aquatic creatures, birds, and wading birds. This area is also an important resting area for migrating birds.
Facilities at Barril beach
Praia do Barril, Tavira, has all the necessary facilities of a beach. Here is what you can expect:
- Lifegueard in high season
As soon as you reach the little train station at Barril beach, you’ll find a little cluster of old fishing cabins converted into small restaurants and cafes, as well as public toilets.
On the beach, you can rent sunbeds and parasols. That said, it can be hard to get hold of one in the busy summer months and you should get there really early to grab one.
Alternatively, you can bring your own shade and relax on a big blanket or beach towel. The beach is massive, so you won’t have problems finding a spot even in the summer months, just walk a bit to one of the sides and you’ll have a much more quiet getaway.
How to spend a day at Barril beach
Once you arrive at Praia do Barril, you’ll walk from the little train station. On the dunes between the old settlement and the actual beach, there is the Anchor Cemetery.
A unique display of 203 old, rusty anchors placed on the dune with the stunning, blue Atlantic behind it.
These anchors were left behind on the beach in 1964 when the traditional tuna fishing in Tavira came to an end and the fishing community on Barril beach was abandoned.
To commemorate this important era of Tavira’s history, the anchors were collected and placed together. Today, one of the most distinctive attractions on the Algarve.
When you walk past the Anchor Cemetery, you’ll be met by an endless white beach. As you’re in the middle of Tavira Island, there is 5 km of fine sand in each direction.
Relax at the beach and swim in the calm water, something quite unique to the Algarve, normally getting strong wind and powerful waves from the Atlantic Ocean.
Due to the beach facing northeast, it’s protected from the strong winds and you won’t see any big waves or surfers in this part of the country.
If you fancy a walk, head east to Tavira beach and get a ferry back from there. If you have your car parked at the Pedras d’El Rei resort, you can walk along the bike path taking you all the way back
This is a great walk where you can stop by the enchanting fisherman’s village of Santa Luzia on the way to grab something to eat or a coffee.
Explore other mesmerizing beaches on the Algarve
Reflections on Praia do Barril, Tavira
There’s no doubt Praia do Barril in Algarve is worthy of being added to your Algarve itinerary. Not only for being an astounding white-sanded long beach but also for the historical importance of the old settlement that once had a central role in the region’s economy.
It’s also unexpected and cool with the quirky Anchor Cemetery placed behind the beach. If you’re looking for free things to do in Tavira, this is a great way to see any of the barrier islands without paying for a bot trip.
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