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Praia da Rocha/Portugal

Introducing Praia da Rocha

One of the Algarve’s fine beaches, Praia da Rocha is a wide stretch of sand backed by ochre-red cliffs and the petite 16th-century Fortaleza da Santa Catarina, built in the 16th century to stop pirates and invaders from sailing up the Rio Arade to Portimão.

Behind the beach looms the town; this has long known the hand of development, with high-rise condos and luxury hotels sprouting along the cliffside, and a row of restaurants, bars and dance clubs packed along the main thoroughfare. If you look hard beyond the ugly concrete facade, Praia da Rocha has several vestiges from an elegant past, including some 19th-century mansions, which are now atmospheric guesthouses.

There’s also a sleek marina, Marina de Portimão, painted autumnal colours (to match the cliffs) and a casino where you can double (or deplete) your savings.