It may not be the Algarve’s premier party town – that title goes to bar-packed Albufeira, just along the coast – but Praia da Rocha’s laid-back crowd of sun-worshippers prefer it that way. Still, if you’re looking for cocktails, pints and sunset views, there’s a cluster of characterful venues around Avenida Tomás Cabreira. Alongside the inevitable Irish pubs, you’ll find neon-lit dive bars, shot-pouring metalheads, and al fresco pool parties with guest DJs.
The resort’s sole glam beach club is spread around a circular pool, right on the waterfront. Ramshackle bamboo pagodas provide shade for a crowd of clubbers, who come for a sushi lunch and stay for DJ sets that spill onto the sand. Check the website for a list of upcoming guest spinners, find your most resilient credit card, and you’ll be ready for unlimited rounds of bubbly, rosé, and tequila shots.
The faces of Led Zeppelin, Kiss and Metallica scowl down from posters pasted all over this heavy metal bar, complete with pinball table and booming sound system. Look up at the handwritten A4 signs above the bar to find out which shots are currently going for €1. If you’re into hard drinks and hard music, you’ll surely bond with the alternative crowd of locals who come here post-beach.
Slightly west of the main strip, this bar sits on the cliffs above Praia dos Três Castelos and Praia dos Careanos. Part of the popular sea-view restaurant Ao Mar, it has a chic outdoor patio with spot-on sunset views, all under a wooden pagoda woven with fairy lights. Go early evening – before dinner service – for a glass of wine and some petiscos, before watching the dusty ochre cliffs turn amber in the dying sunlight.
Don’t be put off by the lack of local culture. This venerable old Irish joint is part of the fabric of Praia da Rocha’s nightlife – and, more importantly, has a fab location, with sweeping views over the main beach. Live guitarists and televised sport pull in the punters, Irish or otherwise, and happy regulars sink pints of Guinness. Brace yourself for singalongs.
This kitsch, Big Apple-themed bar is decorated with a twinkling skyscraper mural, a fizzing neon sign above the bar, and diner-style accoutrements. Try lava-lamp-bright cocktails like the electric popsicle or the alabammer slammer, amid Empire State posters and Route 66 licence plates. There’s a good selection of mocktails and milkshakes for non-drinkers, too.
Get ready to belt out your best Bonnie Tyler at this unpretentious karaoke bar, which attracts an older, international crowd of fun-loving late-nighters. Fairy lights and glitter balls adorn a bar topped with TV screens; an inflatable goal pinned to the wall gives a nod to the venue’s big match broadcasts; and holidaymakers in Guns N’ Roses wigs bellow golden oldies into the mic. A down-to-earth spot, where everyone gets a star turn.
Fancy a spot of live music? Duck slightly into the Algarve city of Portimão (a 25-minute walk from the beach) for this hidden-away bar, a legend among afro-latin music fans. Run by seasoned musician José Manuel Martins, it attracts Brazilian, African and traditional Portuguese musicians, popping in for a jam session from 11pm. It’s a small, quirky space with wall-mounted instruments and a raucous vibe.
Nurse your head in one of the best hotels in Praia da Rocha, or explore further and spend the night in another Algarve location, now bookable via Culture Trip. Nearby towns include Lagos, with a host of things to do, and Tavira, where you’ll be able to spend the day in a museum before relaxing with a glass in hand at one of the many bars in the area.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.