I had the joy of being “stuck” in Carvoeiro for nearly 2 months. It wasn’t in the plans, but I’m really glad it happened; it’s a beautiful village here in the Algarve of Portugal. As a photography destination, it’s pretty special too. Not only are you close to other really epic locations in the Algarve like Benagil Cave and Praia da Marinha, but town itself makes for a really pretty photo.
Like many of the places on the beach in Portugal, Carvoeiro is known locally as Praia do Carvoeiro. It’s located just outside the small city of Lagoa – which itself is fairly unremarkable, but also pleasant. And though there are only about 2,000 permanent residents to Carvoeiro, in the summer the population swells to over 20,000 as tourists from around the world roll in.
Historically, Carvoeiro was a fishing village. But due to its coastal location, it was also home to Roman presence and also the occasional pirate attack. Since the 1960s, though, it’s been all about tourism.
Tips for Photography in Carvoeiro
Obviously, photos are a dime a dozen here. This area is just so photogenic. So, feel free to disregard our location advice and just wander around with the camera slung around your neck. However, this are some of our thoughts.
- It works any time of day. But, it can be busy beyond sunrise.
- Too much light pollution for good astro photos.
- Lots of Parking available
- Public toilets right at the beach.
- Food and shops 50m from the beach.
- Best at low tide, but works no matter when.
Where to Stay?
There are actually a fairly limited number of hotels in Carvoeiro. You’re likely best looking for an AirBnb or for a rental apartment.
Parking and location
There is parking along the road in most places. But, the best place to park is up the hill towards Monte Dourado Resort where there’s a large parking area.
The Photo Locations
If you head up to the boardwalk at sunset you’ll see dozens of people photographing the sea views. However, I think the seascapes from up top are a little bit of a challenge. Personally, I think you’re better off here photographing town itself. And of course, you should make quick road trips to the other photo locations nearby. For the sake of this post, though, I’ll focus on photos of town.
Upper Vantage Point
Likely the most photographed image of Carvoeiro is from up above town, along the coast, looking back towards town. It’s the postcard image of the village. Personally, I think it’s best at sunset. At sunrise you’ll have the sun rising almost directly behind town and it can be a bit of a challenge getting the exposure right. At sunset, you’ll also have all the lights in town already on. But, the viewpoint is busy at sunset in the summertime.
The below photo is from sunrise.
The above image was taken on a Canon 15-35mm f/2.8 lens. The was also image blending done to add the lights from the city which had been turned off by the time sunrise happened.
And as you can see by the next image, the light at sunrise from this vantage point gets very “hot”, really quickly. You’ll definitely want to pack some grad filters or be ready to blend exposures if you come here at sunrise.
Location #2: The Beach
I think there’s likely a dozen different photos to be made along the beach depending on the tide. Personally, I’ve never had the chance to photograph a sunset at lowtide here, but I think that could be the ideal situation. There’s a row of rocks that leads off to the west of the beach that’s only accessible at low tide. I think that would be a brilliant spot.
As it is, I got down to the beach for a sunrise. And despite the clear skies, I was really happy with what was available from a composition standpoint.
On the west side of the beach there are some rocks that are exposed just below a high tide. They make for a really beautiful foreground to your images. I was playing around with 1-2 second exposures to get the motion right on the water. I’m really happy with the result.
Below is another image from the exact same location, just shot vertically of the rock in to the left in the above image.
If you head to the east side of the beach there are also some rocks. However, I think you need to be there at low tide to really make that angle work. Still, at sunrise there was some nice light hitting the edges of the cliffs above, so I messed around with a 0.5 second photo of the waves lapping on the beach.
I think the result is pretty good.
There are also some boats that sit along the shores of the beach. They were once likely fishing boats and a staple of the beach here. These days, they’re tour boats ready to take tourists to the local grottos and hidden beaches. I think in the right situation, they’d like make a good photo as well.
Camera Gear for Carvoeiro
Honestly, it’s not really that simple.
I guess it really depends on what you’re hoping to capture. For the images above I used my Canon 15-35mm f/2.8 lens almost exclusively. So, I will say that you’ll almost definitely want a wide angle lens. But, you’ll also likely want a telephoto lens to help you capture the details of the village. I think a 70-200mm lens would be put to really good use here in town.
We offer a variety of photo tours and walks throughout Portugal. So, if you’d like to see Carvoeiro and the surrounding area with one of our photography guides, get in touch.
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