Famed for its dramatic limestone formations, Praia da Rocha is a beachfront community in Portugal’s sun-drenched Algarve region. Its wide stretch of sand is watched over by the 17th-century Fortaleza de Santa Catarina, while the main thoroughfare of Avenida Tomas Cabreira is lined with vibrant restaurants and bars.
Things to do in Praia da Rocha
Soak up the sweeping views across the Atlantic coastline from the terrace of Fortaleza de Santa Catarina, which was built during the reign of King Phillip II to protect the mouth of the Rio Arade. Explore its trapezoidal-shaped design and visit the chapel dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria, with this 15th-century landmark predating the fort itself.
A steep staircase leads from the Fortaleza de Santa Catarina to the sands of Praia da Rocha, which are punctuated by jagged limestone formations and backed by sheer cliffs. You can refresh with a dip in the Atlantic waters during the summer months or test your surfing skills when Praia da Rocha’s exposed beach break is at its best in winter.
After a cultural fix? Pay a visit to the award-winning Museu de Portimão, which is located in an old sardine factory on the banks of the Rio Arade. Learn about the thriving fishing and canning industry on which the port city of Portimão once flourished, then peer through the underwater cameras to observe the marine life inhabiting the local shipwrecks.
Getting around Praia da Rocha
Praia da Rocha is a 10-minute drive from the Portimão railway station, which has regular services connecting west to Lagos and east to Faro. It’s just under an hour’s drive from Faro Airport while Lisbon Portela Airport is 2.5 hours away. Praia da Rocha is compact enough to explore on foot.