With its broad, cliff-backed swathe of sand, picturesque old sea fort and bustling town overlooking the sea, it’s easy to see why Praia da Rocha has been a popular place for holidays since the late 19th century. Climb the steps of the 16th century Fortaleza da Santa Caterina and take in the views of the modern yacht-filled Marina de Portimão and ocean from the fort’s terrace. Only a short stroll up the elevated main street of Avenida Tomás Cabreira is Praia da Rocha town. It’s full of luxury hotels, bars, restaurants, and even a casino, which look down over the beach from the edge of ochre-red clifftop. The port town of Portimão and the lively nightlife resort of Alvor, are both just under 15 minutes away too.
Enjoy the long, hot summer between June and September.
2 hours 45 minutes
About 70km east of the resort is Faro Airport (FAO), also known as Algarve Airport.
Praia da Rocha’s beautiful big beach is one of the best in the Algarve, perfect for lazy summer days. Book your holiday with Thomas Cook today.
With beaches this good, holidays Praia da Rocha could easily just consist of sunbathing, swimming in the sea and enjoying the open-air cafés lining the promenade. But there’s plenty of things to do in Praia da Rocha away from the impressive sandy shoreline too. Explore the history of the area with a trip to the 15th century fortress of Santa Catalina and Portimão’s old town. Take the kids on a family-friendly day out to Ocean Revival Underwater Park or the Zoomarine aquatic attraction. Sail along the River Arade to Silves on a boat trip, or unwind in the nearby village of Alvor.
There are countless great beaches on the Algarve coast, and Praia da Rocha is one of the most beautiful. You’ll find a quiet spot to lay down your towel on the wide sweep of sand, and kids can paddle in the calm waters. There’s everything you could need for a day in the sun, from parasols to places to There are countless great beaches on the Algarve coast, and Praia da Rocha is one of the most beautiful. You’ll find a quiet spot to lay down your towel on the wide sweep of sand, and kids can safely paddle in the calm waters. There’s everything you could need for a day in the sun, from parasols and water sports, to places to eat and drink on the promenade. eat and drink on the promenade.
There are lots of things to see away from Praia da Rocha’s impressive beachfront too. Head to Portimão, where you can delve into the old-time atmosphere of the fishermen’s quarters, follow the Riverside Walk around the luxury marina, or browse the award-winning Museu de Portimão museum. The fishing village of Alvor is only seven km away and has a long sandy beach that reaches the Alvor Estuary. Stop off at the 18-hole golf course at the popular Pestana Alto Golf, on the way back. For underwater sights, spend a day at the Ocean Revival Underwater Park. Take a boat out to this exceptional diving destination and you’ll see an artificial reef made from decommissioned Portuguese Navy ships teeming with marine life. Kids will love all the aquatic adventures at Zoomarine. Just 30 minutes away from Praia da Rocha by car, Zoomarine not only lets you get up close to sealife but there are fountains, wave pools and water slides to splash around in as well.
When the sun sets in Praia da Rocha, the nightlife lights up. Spend a quiet evening dining al fresco at one of the beachfront bars, cafés, and restaurants. Find a table in the open air and enjoy a glass of cerveja (beer) or vinho (wine) as you eat some traditional Portuguese dishes like the delicious cataplana fish stew. For more of a hedonistic vibe, there are a lot of great bars to choose from including sports bars, Irish pubs, karaoke bars and discos. Sip on umbrella-decorated cocktails as you dance the night away in a nightclub, or pull up a seat and relax as live music plays out in one of the bars.
Beach lovers: The calm waters, broad sands and promenade dotted with bars and restaurants make Praia da Rocha an all-rounder to please the whole family.
Golfers: Tee-off on the legendary 18-hole Alto course, which was the last designed by architect Sir Henry Cotton and has rolling fairways and great views of the sea.
Sports fans: As well as big sports events all year round, the Praia da Rocha sports area next to the beach means the whole family can play everything from beach football and volleyball to basketball and even gymnastics.
Language: Portuguese is the language spoken here
Currency: Change your spending money into euros
Local time: The time zone in Praia da Rocha is the same as GMT/UK time
Fly to: Faro Airport (FAO), also known as Algarve Airport, is around an hour away
Flight time from UK: Approximately 2 hours 45 minutes
Tourist information: Further tourist information can be found at www.visitportugal.com
Visa & Health: Before you travel, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday
Temperature: Summer days can get as hot as 26°C and winters are mild with average highs of 16°C
Best time to visit: Praia da Rocha holidays are best between June and September when you’ll get the warmest beach weather.
Made for sunbathing and sightseeing, Praia da Rocha’s Mediterranean climate brings long, hot summers and mild winters. There’s 11-12 hours of sunshine a day from June to August and very little rain, so pack your sunglasses and sunscreen and leave your waterproofs at home. Fancy a dip in the sea? In August and September, the usually chilly Atlantic waters warm up to a comfortable 22°C.
On foot: Walk around the beach resort and you won’t miss any of the bars, restaurants, shops, and attractions
By mini-train: Take a trip on the mini-train which runs along the seafront to the marina; you can scope out your perfect beach spot at on the way!
By bus: Hop on one of the buses that use the Vai e Ven route for a quick and easy way to see the rest of Portimão. To explore more of the Algarve, you’ll need a ticket for the Rede Expressos and EVA Transportes bus routes.
By train: You can easily visit other towns around the Algarve, including the region’s capital Faro, by train. There are regular rail services from Portimão station, and once on board you can sit back and enjoy the scenic views from the window.
May, Beautiful May Jazz Festival: For four days every May, Portimão is home to the annual Maio Lindo Maio (‘May, Beautiful May’) festival. Held in the Portimão Fair and Exhibition Center, there are performances from national and international jazz singers.
Sardine festival: Recognised as the sardine capital of the Algarve, Portimão celebrates the tasty fish with an annual festival around the second week of August. Join the thousands that visit for the festival and tuck into grilled sardines as you watch fireworks and live music.
Show jumping: Equestrian lovers will enjoy September’s International Show Jumping Competition; it’s one of the most prestigious of the horse-riding events held in Portimão every year.
Motor racing: Only about ten km from Praia da Rocha, visit the Algarve International Motor Racing Circuit (Portimão Circuit) and watch everything from the Superbike World Championship and Formula 1 tests, to the World Touring Car Championship. It’s truly a petrol head's dream!