The Best Bars in Praia da Rocha, Portugal
Praia da Rocha has its fair share of great bars | © M-Production / Alamy Stock Photo
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.
Bar, Cocktails, $$$
The resort’s sole glam beach club is spread around a circular pool, right on the waterfront. Ramshackle bamboo pagodas provide shade for a crowd of clubbers, who come for a sushi lunch and stay for DJ sets that spill onto the sand. Check the website for a list of upcoming guest spinners, find your most resilient credit card, and you’ll be ready for unlimited rounds of bubbly, rosé, and tequila shots.
The faces of Led Zeppelin, Kiss and Metallica scowl down from posters pasted all over this heavy metal bar, complete with pinball table and booming sound system. Look up at the handwritten A4 signs above the bar to find out which shots are currently going for €1. If you’re into hard drinks and hard music, you’ll surely bond with the alternative crowd of locals who come here post-beach.
Bar, Beer, Wine, $$$
One of the resort’s late-late bars, Outro thumps on until 4am, luring clubbers to its neon-streaked space with unpretentious pop, before switching to house and Latin-tinged dance music. It’s larger than most of the competition, but does fill up, so don’t leave it until the wee hours to bag a spot on the dancefloor. Out back is a slim terrace for smokers and sea-gazers. It’s open every night during summer, but only Thursday-Saturday in the winter months.
Cloque ao Mar
Bar, Portuguese, $$$
Slightly west of the main strip, this bar sits on the cliffs above Praia dos Três Castelos and Praia dos Careanos. Part of the popular sea-view restaurant Ao Mar, it has a chic outdoor patio with spot-on sunset views, all under a wooden pagoda woven with fairy lights. Go early evening – before dinner service – for a glass of wine and some petiscos, before watching the dusty ochre cliffs turn amber in the dying sunlight.
Pub, Beer, $$$
Courtesy of Ireland's Eye
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.
The Manhattan Cafe
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.