The west Algarve is usually associated with a rugged and unspoilt Algarve experience. Jaw dropping cliffs, secluded beaches, and that oh so clear turquoise water. Towns and facilities can seem few and far between for anyone arriving from the central Algarve where it seems like every few kilometres, you’ll find a large town. This makes the west Algarve feel like a completely different experience, it’s a boon for anyone that loves the outdoors, the cliffs and beaches are stunning for walks. The Atlantic coast and wind make it great for anyone looking for more adventurous activities. It’s a surfer’s paradise in Portugal.
An Introduction to Burgau
But what if you want to experience some of this ruggedness, with your more traditional resort facilities. Well luckily for you there is a smattering of charming fishing villages now catering for a more touristy experience. Today we are taking a closer look at Burgau, a wonderful former fishing village located in a supreme bay approximately 25 minutes by car from Lagos. 5 km to the east is the much bigger resort of Praia da Luz, and 6km to the west is the equally beautiful Salema. Both towns are around 1-hour hikes over the stunning cliffs, where you’ll find hidden beaches, the ruins of fortresses, and even dinosaur fossils.
The Village of Burgau
The bad bits? Well it’s surprisingly easy to pass through Burgau and ask your self “is that it?’’. In fact, the main road in and out of the village is deceptive. You’ll find a mix of new developments, and some more run-down houses. From this one-way road you can’t see the beach, the bay, or even the cobbled streets that make Burgau breathe! To get to the great parts, you need to turn down a steep and single lane street, in the summer access can also be tricky. However, once you’re through you’ll find two small carparks and an opening that leads right to the fantastic beach!
In this opening is the closest you’ll get to a public square in Burgau. You’ll find the biggest restaurants and several bars. For the beach goers and day trippers there are two small car parks and public bathrooms as well. The focal point of Burgau really is the beach, Praia do Burgau.
Praia do Burgau
The impressive golden sand beach stretches the entire width – around 350m of the bay. On either side of the beach are the typical steep cliffs of the west Algarve. This sheltered bay and gently sloping beach is the reason for Burgau’s existence, it offered the perfect natural harbour for launching and landing fishing boats. That’s probably the first thing you might notice when you arrive at Praia do Burgau, the central concrete boat launch. At its heart Burgau is still a fishing village. In the mornings and evenings, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of this fishing activity, with boats being launched or catches being landed, and of course you might be able to eat some at the nearby restaurants.
The beach itself is fantastic and widely known among locals as one of the best family beaches in the area. However, due to the sheer cliffs, at it’s busiest in the heart of the summer season it can feel very busy. Some love this feeling, others miss a calmer and more peaceful beach experience. On the beach you’ll find all the services you’ll need, and year after year the beach is awarded blue flag status.
The beach is life guarded throughout the summer season, and you’ll find sun bed and parasol rental if you don’t have your own. There are several bars right on the beach, but it’s only a short walk to village centre for a few more. You’ll also find a selection of watersports and sports equipment hire. Burgau’s sheltered bay is a great place to learn the basics of paddle boarding and surfing.
At low tide, Praia do Burgau also offers the perfect place for rock pooling. If you’re not familiar with this classic British seaside activity, it’s a simple as it sounds. Exploring rock pools and looking for coastal creatures it is rare to see outside of this habitat. You should be able to find crabs, starfish, shellfish and of you’re lucky maybe even octopus. It’s a great activity for all ages and a great way to introduce young children to marine life! Just be careful of getting too close to the cliffs on the eastern edge, they can be unstable.
Best Restaurants in Burgau
Burgau has a small but great selection of restaurants that cater to multiple cuisines. The best for us though, was to seek out some fresh seafood. However, if you’re looking for something other than seafood, you’ll find luxury pizza, an Indian restaurant, and several restaurants with more traditional Portuguese dishes. Unfortunately, if you are vegetarian or vegan your choices are limited, you might need to head to nearby Luz or Lagos for a wider selection.
O Clube – We’re big fans of petiscos (The Portuguese version of tapas) and O Clube offers some of the best in Burgau. You need to try their clams, shrimp and even the fried cuttlefish. If you’re not up for seafood or smaller dishes, they also have a burger menu. We didn’t try them, but they did look great!
Corso Pizzaria – is a lively pizzeria serving homemade pizzas. The menu is simple, pizza, calzone and salads. The pizza’s range from €8-12 so they’re good value too!
A Barraca – With one of the best viewpoints in Burgau, A Barraca specialises in serving the local fish. It is unpretentious but is at the more premium end of the restaurants in Burgau. Try any of the local fish grilled! Dishes range from €14-20.
Somewhere to Stay in Burgau
The recent tourist boom hasn’t left Burgau completely unscathed. The more modern developments and accommodation are tasteful, low rise, and located on the outskirts of the village. We stayed in the wonderfully located Quinta do Mar da Luz. It was a 20 minute walk over the cliffs into Burgau. With its lush gardens and three pools, one which had amazing views over the ocean, it is a brilliant retreat in the countryside. For those looking to stay in Burgau there is a range of accommodation to suit lots of budgets.
Should you visit Burgau?
Burgau is a great place to visit for short stays, for the adventurous and active longer stays are recommended. Day trips to Praia da Luz and Salema are simple and give access to a wider number of bars and restaurants. However, those looking for serious culture, history, nightlife, or food, should consider heading towards any of the bigger towns in the region. Burgau is a simple one beach village, but that one beach village is seriously impressive!
If there’s something you’d like to add to our guide to Burgau, get in contact with us or leave a comment below!
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