Dona Ana is one of the most famous beaches in Algarve. Images of its clear waters and stunning cliffs have been used to promote the region and it’s one of the most photographed by tourists. International travel publications regularly consider it one of Portugal’s best.
It’s the biggest beach on the coast between the center of Lagos and the Ponta da Piedade headland, but can be crowded in the summer. It’s good for sunbathing in the morning and to avoid the sun in the afternoon, when its southern side is shaded by the high cliffs.
Like most beaches on this coast, it flies the Blue Flag, indicating that it’s clean and good for swimming. The water is usually calm in the summer, as the different rock formations and cliffs protect it from the winds and currents. For this reason, it’s also popular for snorkeling.
The sand isn’t as soft and golden as that of the other beaches in the area. That’s because much of it had to be brought from the bottom of the sea in 2015, when much of the sandy area was disappearing. Increasing the area had the cost of almost 2 million euros, but many say this affected the natural scenery. However, it improved the safety of visitors, as they can keep some distance from the cliffs and avoid an eventual rockfall.
There are breathtaking views from the top of the cliffs. While many photograph it from the southern side (by the wooden staircase that leads down to the sand), the view is arguably better from the cliff on the northern side (especially in the morning and at sunset).
The staircase means that this is not a beach for the disabled, and the elderly may find it difficult to go down and then up the 93 steps. However, it attracts all kinds of people, from families to groups of young people who just come to relax (it’s not a beach for water sports or partying). There are sunshades and loungers for rent in the bathing season, connected to a bar serving light meals and refreshments.
It’s said that the name comes from a nun who lived in a convent in Lagos in the early 20th century. The convent was invaded by soldiers in World War I, and all nuns were murdered except Ana. She was able to escape through a tunnel that led to this beach.
Beach for: Couples, Families
Bar or Restaurant: Yes
How to Get to Praia da Dona Ana
Praia da Dona Ana is about a 15-minute walk from the center of Lagos. It’s a pleasant walk, past other beaches and over cliffs, but those who want to save their legs can take bus number 2 that stops nearby. The tourist train is another option. If you’re driving, there’s very limited parking above the beach, so go early or you’ll have trouble finding a spot. The beach is also a frequent stop on boat and kayak tours, which explore the caves and grottoes on this coast. To know how to get around Lagos, see the transportation guide.
Beaches by Praia da Dona Ana
To the south of Praia da Dona Ana, heading in the direction of Ponta da Piedade, you’ll find other beaches. The first one is the picture-perfect Praia do Camilo, where everyone just has to stop and take a few selfies. A short walk from there, hidden down a steep cliff, is the “secret” beach of Pinheiros, an unofficial nude beach. To the north of Praia da Dona Ana is the smaller but similar Praia do Pinhão.
To locate these beaches, see the Lagos beaches map.
Hotels by Praia da Dona Ana
Carvi Beach Hotel
Located right above Dona Ana Beach, this is where you should stay if you want the beach at your doorstep. Featuring a rooftop swimming pool and restaurant, and rooms with balconies, it offers sea views from just about anywhere. It’s a good choice for couples, as well as for families, with double, triple and family rooms of different sizes.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Carvi Beach Hotel
Villa Doris Suites
This property’s spacious suites and apartments cater to large groups (the penthouse suite has four bathrooms and accommodates as many as 8 people!). It’s located steps from the steps that lead down to the beach, and offers an outdoor pool and hot tub.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Villa Doris Suites
Villas D. Dinis
Located on the road between Praia da Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo, this highly-rated property has uniquely-decorated rooms and suites in a group of traditional villas. It’s for adults only and especially catering for couples, with private patios and an outdoor pool.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Villas D. Dinis
Dona Ana Garden
Named after the beach, this 3-star hotel is just a 2-minute walk away. It has standard rooms and apartments, and a year-round outdoor heated pool.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Dona Ana Garden