Home Things to do in Algarve, Portugal

Things to do in Algarve, Portugal

Prepare to embark on a journey through the Algarve, a region we’ve explored time and time again, always finding something new and exciting.

So, let’s set off on an adventure to uncover the wonders of the Algarve.

Exploring the Algarve

Situated in the southernmost corner of Portugal, the Algarve is 280 km from Lisbon (a 3-hour drive). As we traverse these miles, our excitement mounts, knowing the treasures that await!

Mapa de Portugal com Algarve

Itinerary and Map of Places to Visit in the Algarve

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Top Algarve Attractions Unveiled

Unveiling Algarve’s Delights: Must-See Attractions and Activities


Make sure to include Lagos in your Algarve itinerary! This historic city, once home to ancient civilizations like the Phoenicians, Romans, and Moors, served as the Algarve’s inaugural capital.

Although it endured the challenges of the 1755 earthquake, Lagos experienced a renaissance as a tourist hotspot in the 20th century. Today, Lagos boasts some of the region’s most splendid beaches.

Ponta da Piedade

Situated near Lagos‘ historic centre, Ponta da Piedade is a revelation that left our hearts racing with its awe-inspiring landscapes and caverns.

You can traverse the area through coastal pathways and a staircase that resembles a fitness challenge.

Our tip: To truly absorb this beauty, take to the sea. Numerous boat tours depart from Lagos, and during the balmy months, we explored this marvel by kayak.

Praia do Camilo & Praia Dona Ana

Two of our cherished beaches, Praia do Camilo and Praia Dona Ana, nestle perfectly between the historic heart of Lagos and the stunning Ponta da Piedade. They’re practically neighbours.

Praia Dona Ana is a bit like that popular restaurant – undeniably fantastic, but always bustling.

Praia do Camilo, however, comes with a unique twist. It’s split into two sections by a tunnel through the rocks. Despite the mildly challenging access, the breathtaking vistas from the top more than compensate.

Given its smaller size, Praia do Camilo tends to fill up rapidly, especially during high tide. Our tip: visit it before noon or in the late afternoon. During the off-peak season, you’ll have this paradise all to yourself.

Praia de Porto de Mós

Praia de Porto de Mós
Praia de Porto de Mós – visitar o Algarve

Let’s not forget Porto de Mós Beach, the second-largest in the region, only surpassed by Meia Praia. Located 5 km southwest of Lagos’ city centre, it has been our escape from the bustling crowds.

Right at the beach front, adjacent to the parking area, you’ll discover two restaurants that have captured our hearts: Restaurante O António and Campimar Restaurante Bar. Both serve delectable local cuisine complemented by breathtaking views.

Zoo Lagos

Zoo de Lagos
Zoo de Lagos – visitar o Algarve

We discovered the Lagos Zoo, a place we’ve visited on numerous occasions, where the array of over 140 animal species and the rich botanical diversity consistently fascinate us.

“Perfect for family outings,” we noted, observing the enchantment on the faces of children celebrating their birthdays there.

We observed pelicans and peacocks freely roaming, creating a delightful ambiance where animals and humans exchanged glances that seemed to say, ‘I’d rather be in your place.’

Operating year-round, we’ve procured tickets both at the entrance and online, both practical choices.

Alvor Beach and its Picturesque Boardwalks

Situated near the heart of Alvor and a mere 15-minute drive from Portimão, Alvor Beach proudly flies the Blue Flag and extends over a scenic 2 km, seamlessly merging with the Three Brothers Beach, famous for its captivating rock formations.

Passadiços de Alvor
Passadiços de Alvor – visitar o Algarve

The 3 km-long Alvor boardwalk meanders through dunes and the Ria de Alvor natural reserve. It has consistently offered us exceptional birdwatching opportunities on our multiple visits.

Costa Vicentina and Odeceixe Beaches in Aljezur

The Costa Vicentina, less frequented but utterly captivating, unfurls from Odeceixe to Burgau. Here, along the Algarve’s western and Alentejo’s coastal stretch, you’ll find a rugged shoreline with expansive beaches.

It’s not a sea easily tamed; it’s cooler. This isn’t the sea for leisurely sunbathing and seaside strolls; it’s a sea that demands respect and presents challenges.

We’ve mentioned Praia do Amado, Arrifana, Odeceixe, and Sagres – names that resonate with surfers.

Odeceixe, where the land melds with the ocean, serves as a gathering place not only for wave seekers but also for those in pursuit of rare natural beauty.

Ah, Praia da Bordeira! A surfer’s haven where we’ve shared truly unforgettable moments. However, there are numerous other hidden treasures to uncover. Our suggestion? Rent a car to explore the region fully. Use DiscoverCars to save up to 70%.

Cape St. Vincent

Cabo de São Vicente
Cabo de São Vicente – visitar o Algarve

At the extreme southwest of Portugal, Cabo de São Vicente, with its majestic cliffs and turbulent sea, deeply impressed us.

This location, once regarded by the Romans as the edge of the world, features a lighthouse, café, souvenir shop, and restroom facilities.

It’s the perfect place for reflection, where one can ponder the vastness of life.

Our suggestion: Similar to Sagres Point, Cabo de São Vicente offers a magnificent setting to witness a breathtaking sunset.

Sagres Fortress – A Historical Treasure

Fortaleza de Sagres
Sagres Fortress

Near Cabo de São Vicente, we stumbled upon the Sagres Fortress, a site where we immersed ourselves in the history of the pioneering Portuguese explorers. There’s a wealth of history within these stones, more profound than some books can convey.

Cabo Sagres no século XV

An ancient chapel graces the 15th-century Fortress, offering breathtaking sea views. With a nominal admission fee, the detailed museum is unquestionably a visit worth making.

It remains open every day of the year, from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM-8:00 PM, depending on the season. For additional details, you can explore our ‘Things to Do in Sagres‘ guide.


Portimão, the Algarve’s second-largest city, has been a destination we’ve explored extensively, recognizing its role as a pioneering force in regional tourism.

Nestled at the estuary of the Arade River, each visit to Portimão unveils a new dimension of this dynamic city.

Praia da Rocha

Praia Rocha
Praia da Rocha

Praia da Rocha, spanning over 1 km, holds a special place in our hearts as one of our favorite beaches, where we’ve visited during both the bustling and quieter months.

Its remarkable capacity to host numerous visitors while preserving a delightful atmosphere has consistently impressed us.

With the prestigious Blue Flag distinction, it offers a range of water sports equipment rentals and beach amenities.

We’ve ascended to the Três Castelos viewpoint and explored the Fort of Santa Catarina multiple times, and the panoramic vistas have consistently taken our breath away.

As for Avenida Tomás Cabreira, it acts as the runway for our culinary and nightlife adventures, culminating at the casino, where the only certainty is departing with lighter wallets.

Our insider tip: To save on parking fees, we usually opt for the free parking area near the Rotunda on Estrada da Rocha, a mere 8-minute walk from the beach.

Praia dos Três Castelos

Praia dos Três Castelos
Praia dos Três Castelos

And just a stone’s throw away, lies Praia dos Três Castelos, our tranquil refuge from the bustling crowds. We’ve always been cautious and kept our distance from the rocky cliffs due to potential landslides.

During our journeys, we’ve been greeted by a usually serene sea, and during the bathing season, the reassuring presence of lifeguards is a given. Convenient parking options are also available nearby.


Lagoa proudly showcases 20 km of magnificent golden cliffs that stand tall above the sparkling sea, marking one of the Algarve’s earliest territories under Portuguese rule.

Its conquest can be traced back to the endeavors of Sancho I, the son of Dom Afonso Henriques, who, upon capturing Lagoa, applied pressure on the then-Moorish capital, As-Shilb (Silves).

Enchanting Carvoeiro Boardwalks

Passadiço do Carvoeiro
Carvoeiro Boardwalk

Here we find ourselves in the charming village of Carvoeiro, Lagoa. During our numerous walks along the Carvoeiro Boardwalks, the views have consistently enchanted us.

The journey commences at the Fort of Nossa Senhora da Encarnação, perched atop the steep hill on the left (east) side of the beach. The boardwalk extends for 570 meters, culminating at the parking area atop Algar Seco.

Although the walk itself takes only 10 minutes, one inevitably lingers longer, as the landscape beckons for contemplation.

Algar Seco

Algar Seco

Algar Seco sets itself apart with a collection of remarkable caves, sinkholes, and limestone coastal formations, shaped by the forces of rain and sea over countless millennia.

Here, Mother Nature has embarked on a journey of abstract artistry.

While the towering limestone pinnacle is undoubtedly impressive, the most captivating feature is the cave known as ‘A Boneca’ (The Doll). A brief exploration through this cave leads to a small chamber, revealing Carvoeiro’s most renowned viewpoint—two eroded arches that frame the vast expanse of the deep blue ocean.

The moniker ‘A Boneca’ derives from the cave’s ocean-facing facade, which bears a resemblance to a doll, with the two cave arches forming its eyes.

As for capturing Algar Seco through your lens? Well, it’s a bit like attempting to take a selfie with a celebrity who’s not too keen on fans; the photos never quite do it justice.

You can easily lose track of time as you meander through the labyrinthine pathways, explore hidden caves, and discover secluded corners of this enchanting place. Remember to don comfortable footwear, watch your step, and keep a close eye on any little explorers in your group.

Our top recommendation: Aim to arrive early in the morning. Be sure to descend the stairs at the far end of the parking area, leading down towards the restaurant below.

Algar de Benagil

Algar de Benagil
Algar de Benagil

Our first adventure into the Benagil Cave is etched in our memories forever. This cave stands as the largest and most renowned maritime cave in the Algarve. Accessible solely by sea, it possesses an aura akin to an ‘El Dorado’ of sea caves.

The Benagil region is surrounded by a multitude of sea caves, and the majority of boat excursions explore several of these caves en route to the Benagil Cave itself.

Entering these caves can be likened to a game of chance, hinging on the temperament of the ocean. Even when cave entry proves elusive, we sometimes enjoy the serendipity of spotting dolphins.

Our tip: Secure your boat tour reservation a few days in advance, particularly during the peak season. The Benagil Cave excursion ranks as the most coveted Algarve experience.

Slide & Splash

Slide & Splash

Slide & Splash is a highly enjoyable water park with attractions suitable for all age groups, making it an ideal destination whether you’re visiting with children or active teenagers.

During our initial visit, we were captivated by the wide array of attractions on offer. While some water rides do have height requirements of 100-120 cm, there’s a delightful play area specifically designed for the younger ones, known as ‘Tropical Paradise.’

Among the water rides at Slide & Splash, those that typically draw longer queues include The Big Wave, Big Fall, and Boomerang.

Our top tip: Plan your dining experience during off-peak hours. There’s nothing like a leisurely meal to refuel your energy for more exhilarating slides and aquatic adventures.

Tickets for Slide & Splash can be conveniently purchased online or at the park’s entrance. Opting for online tickets offers a 10% discount. For additional information and operating hours, click here.

Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha

The vistas here are absolutely stunning, and you might find them oddly familiar, as many Algarve travel guides and tourist brochures showcase images of this area along their recommended routes.

During our visits in the low season, we’ve experienced the pure magic of the place, often having the beach nearly all to ourselves, aside from the occasional seagull companion. However, in the summer, it undergoes a vibrant transformation into a bustling tourist hub.

The most rewarding way to soak in the scenery is by traversing the cliff-top trails, which offer unparalleled views of the beach.

As for parking, it can sometimes resemble a real-life game of musical chairs. Arriving late might leave you with a space scarcely large enough for a motorbike.

Hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos

The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail stands out as the Algarve’s most popular hiking route. It follows the coastline between Praia da Marinha and Praia do Vale de Centeanes.

En route, you’ll traverse the shoreline and encounter several noteworthy sites, including the famed Benagil Cave, Benagil Beach, Carvalho Beach, and the Alfazina Lighthouse, among others.

The trail can be completed in one direction, spanning approximately 6 km and taking around 3 hours. Alternatively, you can return along the same path, but arranging transportation back to the starting point is relatively straightforward.

While the trail isn’t overly strenuous, adequate preparation is essential. In our hiking experiences, we’ve always stressed the importance of wearing appropriate footwear and ensuring you have an ample supply of water.

Our top recommendation: If you decide to tackle this hike during the summer, set out in the early morning to beat the heat!


It enchants with its profound historical legacy and breathtaking beaches, and along its coastline unfurls one of the Algarve’s most expansive sandy shores — Armação de Pêra Beach.

Silves, once the Islamic capital of Al-Gharb for approximately five centuries, shelters an exceedingly rich historical heritage

Silves Castle

Castelo de Silves
Silves Castle

As we traverse its ancient walls, the weight of history bears down upon us. Our memory of that initial visit to Al Hamra (the red) remains vivid—a striking presence atop the city’s highest perch, in stark juxtaposition to the whitewashed houses.

Silves no período islâmico

The Algarve’s largest and most impeccably preserved castle traces its origins to the Moorish period. Despite enduring significant damage from the 1755 earthquake, it has been painstakingly maintained.

Upon entering, the statue of King Sancho I serves as a poignant reminder of the pivotal battles that shaped this locale, along with the harrowing plunder carried out by foreign crusaders — contrary to the explicit wishes of Dom Sancho I, who sought to protect the lives of the residents.

A visitor centre hosts a collection of artefacts, including pots and jars discovered on-site. Furthermore, there’s a charming garden adorned with fountains, perfect for moments of relaxation.

Admission fee: €3 or €4 for a combination ticket (Castle + Municipal Archaeological Museum).

Praia de Armação de Pêra

Praia de Armação de Pêra

At Armação de Pêra Beach, we stumbled upon the perfect retreat.

The eastern stretch of the beach is ideal for families, boasting easy access without stairs and often fewer crowds.

As you move towards the centre, the beach transforms into a quasi-resort, complete with neatly arranged sunbeds and umbrellas, akin to little soldiers devoted to serving the sun.

The tranquil waters, free from strong currents, along with the presence of vigilant lifeguards during the summer months, bestowed upon us a reassuring sense of security and tranquillity. The daily sunset display paints a mesmerizing picture that renders any Instagram filter amateurish in comparison.

It’s remarkably delightful and peaceful, a surprising oasis nestled in the heart of the vibrant Algarve.

Moreover, this location conveniently allows for visits to nearby attractions such as the Zoomarine theme park (5 km away), the exhilarating water slides at Slide & Splash (10 km away), and the bustling Algarve Shopping mall (10 km away).


Al-Buhera, known as the ‘Castle over the Sea,’ was considered impregnable until its capture by Dom Afonso III in the 13th century.

Its history is intertwined with fishing, including the Roman production of tuna preserves. Nowadays, it has gained recognition as a tourist destination owing to its magnificent beaches, establishing itself as one of the Algarve’s top coastal retreats.

Zoomarine Algarve

Zoomarine Algarve

Every visit to Zoomarine in Guia is an unforgettable adventure for us.

With each trip, it feels like we’re embarking on a new journey, even though we could navigate our way there with our eyes closed, having departed from the coastal resorts. It’s undeniably one of the Algarve’s most sought-after attractions.

The ‘Wonderful World’ presentation consistently enchants us. The seals and sea lions perform like aquatic comedians, showcasing their sailor tricks and seeking lost treasures.

They never fail to evoke genuine laughter, and it’s heart-warming to witness the sheer joy on the faces of the little ones.

But Zoomarine offers more than just entertainment; it boasts pools, water slides, a wave pool, and a pristine sandy beach nestled amidst tropical gardens.

From our experience, the waiting times for attractions typically range from a reasonable 20 to 30 minutes. We’ve also discovered the secret of visiting on Sundays to dodge the crowds, especially during the bustling summer.

Moreover, we’ve made it a habit to purchase our tickets online, a savvy way to save money and gain more time to revel in the attractions.

While Zoomarine operates from March to November, it’s during the summer when it truly comes alive. Be sure to include it in your Algarve itinerary for an unforgettable experience.

Praia da Falésia

Praia da Falésia

This extensive stretch of golden sandy beach spans over 6 kilometres between Vilamoura and Albufeira, renowned for its red sandstone coastline that shifts in shades with the changing light.

In the summer, it becomes a popular bathing spot, with several sections offering all the necessary amenities.

For those willing to venture a bit beyond the main access points, tranquillity can still be found, even during the bustling peak summer.

Our recommendation: The most picturesque section of Praia da Falésia, in our view, lies to the west, closer to Olhos de Água. We’ve had memorable walks along its entire length.

Praia da Oura

Praia da Oura

Praia da Oura, a sun-drenched stretch nestled in the heart of Algarve’s vibrant nightlife, stands as a testament to the region’s dual nature. Here, on this same street lined with bars and clubs, the echoes of the previous night’s revelries linger in the air, a siren song for the young and the restless.

The beach itself, a canvas of golden sands, is artfully divided by nature’s own handiwork: rugged, rocky formations. To the east, sheltered coves offer a haven of tranquillity, a serene escape from the world’s bustle, where the sun’s gentle caress invites a moment of repose.

Yet, this coastal gem is not merely a bastion of relaxation. For the adventurous at heart, it presents a playground of exhilarating water sports and the allure of unexplored caves, each crevice and cavern holding whispers of untold stories.

The journey to this beach, while most swiftly conquered by car, presents its challenge. In the high tide of summer, when the sun reigns supreme, a parking spot becomes as coveted as a treasure, a rare prize in the bustling epicentre of Algarve’s summer euphoria.

Marina da Albufeira

Marina da Albufeira

Nestled between the lively quarters of the Old Town and Gale, the Albufeira Marina emerges as a jewel in the Algarve’s coastal crown. It’s not just a marina; it’s a vibrant gateway to the azure expanses of the sea, a starting point for voyages that etch themselves into the heart of every adventurer.

This bustling marina is more than a collection of moorings; it’s a microcosm of Albufeira’s touristic prowess. Here, amidst a constellation of hotels, restaurants, and bars, the marina unfurls like a red carpet to a world where luxury yachts and quaint shops share the stage with sparkling pools and inviting flats.

The essence of Albufeira Marina lies in its eclectic offering of boat tours. It’s a place where the thrill of dolphin watching, the romance of sunset cruises, and the exhilaration of party boat adventures come together to create unforgettable experiences.

But the allure of Albufeira Marina extends beyond its nautical escapades. It stands as a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Whether slicing through the waves on a kayak, balancing the winds on a wakeboard, or exploring the underwater realms through scuba diving, the marina promises an adventure for every taste, ensuring that the call of the sea is answered in innumerable ways.

Praia de Santa Eulália

Praia de Santa Eulália

Santa Eulália Beach, cradled by pine trees and palms swaying like dancers in the coastal breeze, stands as a resplendent gem in the illustrious setting of Albufeira’s shores. This beach, a scene so picture-perfect it could easily be mistaken for a digital masterpiece, is indeed a tangible paradise, its beauty unmarried by the artifice of photo editing.

Renowned as a sanctuary for those seeking solace from the bustling world, Santa Eulália Beach has become a cherished retreat. Here, nestled within arm’s reach of luxurious accommodations, its Blue Flag status is not merely a symbol but a testament to its pristine nature and unwavering commitment to safety.

The beach itself is a dreamscape of fine, golden sand, each grain seemingly kissed by the sun, set against a backdrop of waters so clear and tranquil they resemble glass.

In the zenith of summer, lifeguards stand sentinel, their watchful eyes ensuring peace of mind, while the convenience of sunbeds, umbrellas, and boats for hire adds to the allure of leisurely days spent by the sea.

Our experience was further enriched at a nearby local restaurant, a haven where the bounty of the sea was transformed into culinary delights.

There, amidst the gentle symphony of waves, we indulged in seafood dishes that were as much a feast for the soul as they were for the palate.

This serene ambiance, a tranquil counterpoint to the vibrant pulse of Albufeira’s city centre, mere kilometres away, wrapped around us like a gentle embrace, leaving an indelible mark on our memories.

Praia Olhos de D’Agua

Praia Olhos de D’Agua

Olhos de D’Agua Beach, located just 5 km from Albufeira, has evolved from a quaint fishing community into a charming tourist destination.

Nowadays, it attracts more tourists than fishermen, especially during summer, when the beach can become relatively small at high tide.

During the bathing season, you’ll find shaded areas and sunbeds available for rent, along with the reassuring presence of lifeguards.

The beach derives its name from freshwater springs that bubble up from the sand, creating a captivating natural phenomenon. It’s akin to a nature’s magic trick, minus the rabbits and top hats.

When the tide is low, take a look to the left side of the beach, and you’ll witness freshwater bubbling up – it’s almost as if the beach is shedding tears of joy.

The palm tree-lined promenade, adorned with traditional Portuguese mosaic designs, provides a perfect spot to sit and admire the beach’s beauty.

Loulé & Vilamoura

Loulé, with its 15 km of coastline, offers a unique blend of luxurious resorts such as Quinta do Lago and Vilamoura, combined with the charm of its inland town.

Here, you can explore a medieval castle and visit the picturesque village of Alte, nestled beneath the Serra do Caldeirão, renowned as one of the most quintessential villages in the Algarve.

It’s like pairing champagne with a custard tart – unexpected but utterly delightful.

Near the village of Alte, you’ll discover the Queda do Vigário, a tranquil spot where you can cool off in the refreshing waters of the waterfall.

We also cherish the memories of spending unforgettable afternoons on the world-class golf courses in the area.

Loulé Municipal Market

Mercado Municipal de Loulé

There’s nothing more quintessentially Portuguese than leaving a market with a codfish under your arm and a travel itinerary in hand.

This market, with its neo-Moorish architectural style, acts as a magnet for gourmets and tourists from across the Algarve region.

Operating from Monday to Saturday, between 7 am and 3 pm, this market boasts a diverse range of products, spanning from fresh fish and seafood to exquisitely packaged souvenirs.

During the tranquil weekday mornings, you can leisurely explore the stalls brimming with fresh fish. However, on Saturday mornings, the market springs to life, teeming with vibrant energy.

The lively atmosphere extends beyond the confines of the covered market; the streets surrounding the building teem with vendors peddling fruits, vegetables, liqueurs, and, of course, the iconic codfish.

It’s an authentic experience that should not be missed.

Praia da Vilamoura

Praia da Vilamoura

Vilamoura, a tourist resort located just 20 minutes from Loulé, holds a special place in our hearts.

The Vilamoura beach stretches for approximately one kilometre and, during the peak of summer, can be busier than a year-end clearance sale (for a more tranquil experience, we suggest strolling to the left when facing the sea).

You’ll find available parking and a small bridge that leads to another beach: Praia da Rocha Baixinha, which officially belongs to Albufeira but is essentially an extension of Vilamoura’s beach.

The proximity to the marina, brimming with inviting bars and restaurants, along with the Algarve’s largest casino, has provided us with many fond memories of well-spent afternoons filled with entertainment.

If you have the opportunity, set aside a few days to explore Vilamoura. It’s a delightful destination.


Faro, the capital of the Algarve, and the airport that signals the start of everyone’s beloved summer vacations.

Its coastline is graced with an extensive salt marsh known as the Ria Formosa, a unique lagoon system comprising peninsulas and islands that run parallel to the coast, stretching all the way to Olhão, Tavira, and Vila Real de Santo António.

The natural beauty of this area never ceases to amaze us. You can embark on a boat trip from Faro to explore this picturesque region.

Delving into Faro’s Old Town

Cidade Velha de Faro

Strolling through the charming streets of Faro’s Old Town, we are consistently captivated by its serene ambiance. Ascending the tower of Faro Cathedral, a 13th-century architectural gem, grants us panoramic views of the city that never fail to delight.

For an engaging history lesson, the interactive “Faro Story Spot” exhibition, conveniently located near the Cathedral, is a must-visit.

Faro boasts several other noteworthy attractions, including the Church of Carmo, home to the renowned Chapel of Bones.

Faro Cathedral – The Church of Santa Maria

Sé de Faro - Igreja de Santa Maria

Faro Cathedral stands as one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks, constructed on the site of an ancient mosque in the 13th century.

Visiting the cathedral is free, although it’s not guaranteed to be open during the day. It’s a bit like playing the lottery, but instead of cash, you win culture.

If you’re fortunate enough to find the cathedral open, make sure to climb its tower, which offers captivating views of the old town and the lagoon.

Facing the cathedral, the Episcopal Palace (18th century), while inaccessible to the public, serves as a poignant reminder of Faro’s rich history.

Embracing Nature at Ria Formosa Natural Park

The Ria Formosa Natural Park holds a special place in our hearts, as it often feels like stepping into a scene from a National Geographic documentary. It’s a destination that’s absolutely worth a visit.

Stretching across more than 60 kilometres and encompassing over 18,000 hectares, this Algarve region is a natural wonder to behold.

The islands in this area act as a natural barrier against the ocean, creating stunning wetlands that serve as a haven for various bird species. You’ll also discover salt flats and pristine beaches within this diverse ecosystem.

During our most recent summer visit, we embarked on a truly memorable boat tour, allowing us to explore the enchanting islands of Culatra and Armona.

In the winter months, these islands are quieter than a library, but they burst with life during summer.

barco pela ria formosa

Exploring the Ria Formosa offers a multitude of delightful experiences. However, if you find yourself with limited time, we highly recommend embarking on a boat tour departing from Faro. Most of these tours typically last around half a day and include visits to 2–3 islands.

One of the most popular boat tours departing from Faro is the Natural Park Ria Formosa and Faro Islands Boat Tour. This excursion allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Ria Formosa while exploring its captivating islands.

Olhão’s Bustling Markets

Wandering through the markets of Olhão is an immersive experience that immediately captivates the senses with its vibrant atmosphere and rich traditions. The two iconic buildings that proudly stand as landmarks are like the beating hearts of the city, attracting both locals and visitors alike.

You can’t help but be enveloped by the authentic local dialect, the melodious chants of the vendors’ calls, and the buzz of conversations among long-time acquaintances.

Built in 1915 and meticulously renovated in 1997, the market serves as the perfect stage for keen observers to witness the pulse of local life, especially on Saturday mornings when additional vendors spill into the surrounding streets.


In the 5th century, Tavira, situated along the Gilão River, began to flourish as a hub for trade with North Africa.

Presently, it stands as one of the most picturesque cities in the Algarve, exuding a serene charm framed by three exceptionally beautiful beaches.

Praia do Barril

Praia do Barril
Praia do Barril

If you’re looking for a beach day, Praia do Barril, located in the heart of Tavira Island, is an enchanting destination that never fails to captivate us.

The first time we stumbled upon the anchor cemetery, we were mesmerized by the untold stories that these rusted relics could possibly hold.

During the summer, the sea is typically calm, and there are lifeguards on duty throughout the official bathing season, making it one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal.

We start our journey from the village of Pedras d’el Rei, just about a 10-minute trip away. Here, we hop on a charming tourist train, which was once used by local fishermen.

This brief ride, lasting less than 10 minutes, serves as a delightful prelude to the natural beauty that awaits us at Praia do Barril.

Relaxation at Tavira Island Beach

Praia da Ilha de Tavira
Tavira Island

Each time we visit Tavira Island Beach, we are struck by its expansive beauty. Stretching for about 10 km in length and varying in width from 150 meters at its narrowest point to nearly 1 km at its widest, it offers an abundance of space.

The tranquil and safe waters here often make you forget that the Atlantic Ocean can be quite tumultuous elsewhere. Lifeguards are present during summer to ensure your safety.

As you stroll westward, venturing away from the bustling restaurants, the beach gradually becomes more deserted, to the point where it could easily resemble a scene from a deserted island film. It’s undeniably one of the most breathtaking locations in the Algarve.

Silnido ferries, a constant presence during our travels, depart from both the Quatro Águas dock and the centre of Tavira, providing a scenic journey of approximately 10 to 20 minutes. This crossing, which may even include sightings of flamingos, becomes an integral part of the adventure.

Vila Real de Santo António

In the eastern Algarve, Vila Real de Santo António was meticulously planned under the guidance of the Marquês de Pombal, mirroring the urban design of downtown Lisbon. This charming city, situated on the border with Spain, captivates us with its rich history and the extraordinary beauty of its beaches.

Praia da Manta Rota

Praia da Manta Rota
Praia da Manta Rota

Manta Rota Beach, situated to the east of the Cacela Velha peninsula, stands out as one of our preferred destinations.

It marks the eastern boundary of Ria Formosa and stretches for over a kilometer, offering plenty of space, particularly during low tide.

It serves as a gathering place for both Portuguese families and Spanish tourists, allured by its typically calm, shallow, and warmer waters.

Accessible via boardwalks that help preserve the dunes, you’ll also find cafes and restaurants nearby.

Getting to Manta Rota Beach is a breeze, simply follow the N125 road with clear signage that effortlessly guides you.

The ample, free parking available near the beach is always a bonus, allowing you to enjoy the beach without any additional worries.

Praia de Monte Gordo

Praia de Monte Gordo
Monte Gordo

Monte Gordo, with its affordable accommodations and dining options, is like that savvy friend who always knows where to find budget-friendly deals.

Our initial visit to Monte Gordo Beach revealed a 1.5 kilometre expanse of pristine white sand, which defied our expectations of the Algarve’s typical rugged coastline and rocky formations.

The gently sloping shoreline and absence of protruding rocks provided a serene bathing experience, bolstered by the presence of vigilant lifeguards throughout the bathing season.

Moreover, the abundance of reasonably priced lodging and dining establishments consistently makes Monte Gordo a preferred destination for us, not to mention the allure of its warmer waters.

Castro Marim

Historically, Castro Marim played a crucial role in safeguarding the southern coast of Portugal. It boasts 3 kilometers of stunning beaches, each proudly flying the Blue Flag designation.

Praia Verde

Praia Verde
Praia Verde

Praia Verde was a delightful find. Nestled within a fragrant pine forest, its tranquil surroundings have created cherished memories of picnics in the shade of the pine trees.

Located just under 20 minutes from the Spanish border, Praia Verde draws a diverse crowd, with Spanish tourists and Portuguese families coming together to enjoy its offerings.

The tide often creates small pools, providing endless enjoyment for children. Lifeguards are also on duty during the summer, ensuring a safe and peaceful experience in the calm waters.

Praia da Alagoa

Praia da Alagoa
Praia da Alagoa

Also known as Praia da Altura, it stretches for nearly 2.5 kilometres. The calm and warm waters of Praia da Alagoa invite you for a relaxing swim.

Boardwalks protect the dunes, and of course, there are cafes and restaurants nearby. Because, after all, nothing complements a day at the beach like a good meal.

The water quality is confirmed by the prestigious Blue Flag distinction, and safety is ensured with lifeguards on duty during the summer.

The beach is located less than 15 minutes from Castro Marim and less than 10 minutes from Monte Gordo, with ample parking facilities always making our visits convenient.

Best Tours and Experiences in the Algarve

Here are some of the top tours and experiences to enjoy in the Algarve:

Savouring Gastronomy at the Top 10 Restaurants

If you believe the Algarve is all about beaches and sunshine, prepare to be pleasantly surprised by its culinary offerings. While the famous Piri-Piri chicken is a true delight, the Algarve’s gastronomy extends far beyond that. With its extensive and rich coastline, you’ll discover a wide range of dishes, from perfectly grilled sardines to sumptuous cataplanas.

In terms of beverages, there’s Medronho, the region’s brandy. It’s so potent that a few sips can entirely change your perspective on life. There’s something for every palate, ranging from locally crafted, unlabelled bottles reminiscent of moonshine to more sophisticated options that elevate you to the level of a sommelier.


1. Restaurante Adega da Marina // Indulge in the pleasure of grilled swordfish or tender baby squid; each visit surprises us with the consistently swift service.

2. Restaurante Chico Zé // Renowned for its grilled seafood, particularly sardines during the summer and sea bass available year-round. Please note that a queue often forms around 12:30.


3. Retiro do Pescador //We developed a deep appreciation for seafood cataplana at this establishment. It excels in fish dishes, and there’s convenient parking available.

4. A Sagres // Enjoy a warm and inviting atmosphere along with friendly service and a delightful octopus rice dish.


5. Casa da Tocha // offering an array of tapas and main courses, this restaurant stands out with options like Octopus Tapas served with sweet potato and Beef Bites paired with Madeira Wine. Be sure to save room for their renowned “Best Chocolate Cake in the World” for dessert.


6. Restaurante Casa Algarvia // Serving up traditional Portuguese cuisine, with the fish cataplana being a standout dish. Reservations are recommended, and prices cater to tourists.

Armação de Pêra (Silves)

7. Olivalmar // Boasting a spectacular sea view, this restaurant is renowned for its Lobster Cataplana. Don’t forget to indulge in their carob petit gateau for dessert.


8. Restaurante O Ribeirinho // Known for its quality Piri-Piri chicken, friendly staff, and wallet-friendly prices. A diverse dessert menu awaits, including Algarvian fig pastries.

9. Restaurante O Catraio // With its cozy ambiance, welcoming service, and an exceptional Bacalhau com Natas (Codfish with Cream), this spot is highly recommended. Keep in mind that it has limited seating, so booking a table is wise.

Vila Nova de Cacela (Vila Real de Santo António)

10. Restaurante A Camponesa // Each visit to this restaurant is well worth the anticipation, as the freshly grilled sardines and inviting atmosphere make every minute enjoyable.

Choosing Your Ideal Algarve

The epicentre of the Algarve’s allure, where the airport serves as a gateway to a mosaic of experiences, is a realm bustling with life and diverse accommodation choices.

This central hub, a tapestry woven with both frugal and opulent threads, offers shelter to every traveler.

It is a gateway to the famed sands of Albufeira, the enchanting Armação de Pêra, the vibrant Portimão, the quaint Carvoeiro, the serene Porches, the bustling Quarteira, the luxurious Quinta do Lago, the elite Vale do Lobo, and the glamorous Vilamoura.

For families seeking a haven, Praia da Rocha in Portimão, with its golden sands, and Praia de Alvor, where the sea whispers tales of old, stand alongside Lagos, a place where history dances with modernity.

For those whose hearts beat in sync with the night, Albufeira unfolds its vibrant tapestry, Portimão lights up with promise, and Vilamoura whispers secrets of nocturnal revelries.

And for the golf aficionados, a symphony of green awaits at Praia dos Salgados in Albufeira, the manicured elegance of Quinta do Lago, the sophisticated fairways of Vilamoura, and the regal Vale do Lobo, where each stroke narrates a story of challenge and triumph.

From Luxurious Hotels to Budget-Friendly Stays

EPIC SANA Algarve Hotel
EPIC SANA Algarve Hotel

Top Hotels

1. EPIC SANA Algarve Hotel

  • Location: Praia da Falésia, Albufeira.
  • Highlights: It is one of the finest hotels in the Algarve. Direct access to one of the most impressive beaches in the Algarve, 6 large pools, a spa, golf course, fitness centre, 4 restaurants, 2 bars.

2. Vila Vita Parc Resort

  • Location: Porches (Lagoa).
  • Highlights: Perched on a cliff above 2 romantic beaches (Praia dos Tremoços and Praia dos Beijinhos), featuring traditional and Moorish architecture, a tropical garden with sea-view pools.

3. Bela Vista Hotel & Spa

  • Location: Praia da Rocha, Portimão.
  • Highlights: A former 19th-century seaside mansion, meticulously renovated to preserve its original architecture. It boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant on the terrace, a spa, and a pool.


1. Alfagar Village

  • Location: Albufeira, close to Santa Eulália Beach.
  • Highlights: A 3-star resort offering 1, 2, and 3-bedroom flats with balconies, sea views, and kitchen facilities. It includes an outdoor pool for both adults and children.

2. Dianamar

  • Location: Old Town Albufeira, near the central beaches.
  • Highlights: Comfortable rooms with balconies and private bathrooms. Top-floor rooms offer sea views and a rooftop terrace.

3. 3HB Falésia Mar

  • Location: Above Praia da Falésia, Albufeira.
  • Highlights: Flats with sea views, a garden with a large pool, and a restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine.

Uncovering the Best Apartments

1. Giramar Apartamentos Turísticos

  • Location: Lagos, close to Dona Ana and Camilo beaches.
  • Highlights: Spacious flats, most with terraces, offering good value for money. Only 12 flats available.

2. Placid Village

  • Location: A 5-minute drive from Carvoeiro town centre.
  • Highlights: Spacious flats (1-3 bedrooms) with an outdoor pool open year-round.

3. 3HB Golden Beach

  • Location: Albufeira, near the nightlife area and Oura Beach.
  • Highlights: Flats (1-3 bedrooms) with an outdoor pool.

Opting for a Unique Experience at the Top Hostel

1. Stork Hostel

  • Location: Central Olhão, facing the main church in the city.
  • Highlights: Close to the pier for the beaches on the Ria Formosa islands. Offers views of stork nests on the church.

2. Son of a Beach Hostel

  • Location: Albufeira, near the beach.
  • Highlights: A renovated traditional building with a shared terrace. Provides dormitories (mixed and female-only) and private rooms.

3. Boas-Vindas Hostel

  • Location: Albufeira, a 5-minute walk from the beach.
  • Highlights: Shared kitchen and lounge. Mixed dormitories.

Retail Therapy – Where to Shop

MAR Shopping
MAR Shopping
  • Municipal Markets: Explore the vibrant markets of Loulé and Olhão, where you’ll encounter a captivating blend of colours and aromas, where locally sourced fresh produce mingles with authentic local craftsmanship.
  • Shopping Centres: Traverse the corridors of Algarve Shopping in Albufeira, MAR Shopping and Designer Outlet in Loulé, experience the sophistication of Quinta Shopping, and immerse yourself in the modernity of Forum Algarve in Faro and Aqua Portimão. These destinations offer a fusion of international brands and cutting-edge technology.
  • Traditional Shopping Streets: In Faro, Portimão, and Lagos, as well as the charming alleyways of Albufeira, you’ll find an array of shops where artisanal craftsmanship takes centre stage. From ceramics to textiles and handwoven traditions, these streets offer a glimpse into the rich local culture.

Best time to visit Algarve

Between June and September, the Algarve graces visitors with clear skies and pristine beaches. During these summer months, the sun becomes a steadfast companion for outdoor adventures.

In May and October, as the temperatures become milder, and the crowds thin out, you can savour the Algarve at a more relaxed pace and often find better prices.

While some may mistakenly believe that winter robs the Algarve of its charm, it’s during this season that the region returns to its roots, offering locals a serene and quieter environment for leisurely gatherings and tranquil moments.

Navigating the Algarve

De Carro

If you’re traveling by car, you can take the A2 highway from Lisbon towards the Algarve. The journey will take approximately 2 hours, and you’ll reach the A22 highway just north of Albufeira. If you’re coming from Spain, the A49 highway without tolls connects with the A22 near Castro Marim after about 1 hour and 30 minutes of driving.

It’s important to note that the A22 highway in the Algarve has electronic tolls, and the toll charges vary based on the distance traveled.

De avião

Faro Airport, the third-largest airport in Portugal, serves as the primary gateway to the Algarve. To find and compare flight prices and make reservations, you can use websites like Skyscanner. Major airlines such as TAP, Ryanair, and EasyJet operate flights to Faro Airport. Upon your arrival, you’ll have various car rental options available at the airport.

Do Aeroporto para o centro de Faro:

To get from Faro Airport to the city centre, you can take either Bus 14 or Bus 16. Bus 16 has more frequent departures compared to Bus 14, which has only four daily departures. These buses will drop you off at the Faro bus station in the city centre, specifically at Avenida da República, 9.

During the off-peak season, when direct flights to Faro may be limited, Lisbon Airport can serve as a viable alternative for your travel plans.

De comboio

CP (Comboios de Portugal) provides several daily train connections to the Algarve. The Alfa Pendular trains operate between Porto and Lisbon to Faro, with two to three daily departures, taking approximately 5 hours and 3 hours, respectively.

Intercity trains also link Lisbon to Faro, making stops at additional stations along the way. The journey takes around 3 hours and 30 minutes, with three daily departures.

De autocarro

Every day, there are bus services that connect Lagos, Olhão, Faro, and various other cities, including destinations in Spain such as Seville and Huelva. Flixbus offers multiple connections daily with competitive prices.

Travel Tips

  • Rent a Car: The key to uncovering hidden treasures along the curves of the Algarve.
  • Sunscreen: Your shield against the radiant assault of the sun.
  • Meal Times: Lunch is typically served from 12 pm to 3 pm, and dinner from 7 pm to 10 pm.
  • Water: Your loyal companion for days filled with sun-soaked adventures.
  • Beach Safety: Keep a watchful eye on the flags and your children.
  • Polite Portuguese: “Obrigado” and “por favor” can open doors and warm hearts.
  • Avoid the Crowds: For popular tourist spots, consider an early start.
  • Book in Advance: Your treasure map to securing your spot.
  • Layer Up: Be prepared for the cool summer evenings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the most appealing aspect of the Algarve?

  • In our perspective, the coastline of the Lagoa municipality vies for the title of the Algarve’s most captivating region. The beaches here are truly natural marvels, all easily accessible by a short car ride.
  • Nevertheless, Lagos is a strong contender for this distinction, offering a unique blend of culture and stunning beaches.

Quais as cidades mais bonitas do Algarve?

  • Lagos. In this charming town, the heart of the Algarve beats at a more relaxed pace. Its streets weave a tranquil labyrinth, characterized by the understated elegance of Algarve architecture. The world-renowned beaches here are graced by serene waters.
  • Loulé. Located just a short distance from Faro, in the heart of the Algarve’s interior, Loulé boasts an authentic Algarve atmosphere in its Municipal Market, where the calls of local vendors fill the air. The town is also home to a castle and church that serve as reminders of its Moorish heritage. Along its coastline, you’ll find several popular resorts, including Vale de Lobos, Vilamoura, and Quarteira.

Where to Enjoy the Sunset in the Algarve?

  • Ponta da Piedade offers its final bow before the sea, as it transitions from blue to turquoise, captivating the onlookers who never cease to applaud.
  • Cabo de São Vicente, in Sagres, the sun, in an almost mystical farewell spectacle, slowly descends into the ocean with the deliberate grace of one who knows they are being admired, leaving us in silent awe to celebrate the enchantment of yet another day’s end.

Is five days sufficient for an Algarve visit?

Five days is a reasonable timeframe to explore the Algarve. However, prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to experiences:

  • Identify 10 Must-See Places: Rather than attempting to visit every tourist attraction, focus on the ten that truly pique your interest.
  • Cluster visits that are close in proximity. Allow time for excursions and leisurely walks.
  • And, of course, set aside entire days for beach relaxation.

How many days are recommended for visiting the Algarve?

  • A 7-day itinerary is recommended. If the Algarve is part of a broader itinerary across Portugal, consider a 3 to 4-day plan. However, if you have two weeks (a 15-day Algarve itinerary), that would be wonderful, allowing you to explore multiple cities and experiences, especially if you plan to settle in the Algarve.

Is the region expensive?

  • Compared to other European destinations, the Algarve is quite affordable, making it a budget-friendly option similar to Spain’s Costa del Sol.

Is the Algarve more affordable than the Costa del Sol?

  • Yes, the Algarve tends to be slightly more budget-friendly.

Is dining in the Algarve reasonably priced?

In the quaint eateries that dot the Algarve, a meal unfolds as an affordable luxury, where one can indulge in the local fare for a mere 10 to 20 euros per person.

These places, brimming with the robust flavours of Portugal, offer a culinary journey without the burden of extravagance.

For those seeking to dine amidst opulence, the upscale restaurants beckon with their refined ambiance, where the price of a meal ranges from 30 to 50 euros, crafting an experience of gastronomic delight and sophistication.

Which is the most upscale destination in the Algarve?

The liveliest city in the summer?

Albufeira or Lagos?

  • For those journeying with the exuberant laughter and wide-eyed wonder of young children, Lagos stands as a haven. In its embrace, families find a slower rhythm, a gentle ebb and flow more suited to the tender pace of childhood.
  • Albufeira, in its vibrant contrast, dances to a livelier beat. Known for its spirited nightlife, it is a mosaic of celebration and exuberance, often accompanied by the free-flowing streams of libations. It’s a city where the night sparkles with promise and the pulse of festivity.

Albufeira or Vilamoura?

  • Turning towards Vilamoura, this gem in the Algarve’s crown gleams with a different kind of allure. It’s a bastion of upscale leisure, where luxury is not just an accent but the very essence of its existence.
  • Here, the price of elegance is mirrored in every refined detail, making Vilamoura a choice that, while pricier, assures an experience steeped in sophistication and tranquil luxury.
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Accommodation in the Algarve

Seize the moment! Reserve your lodging now and immerse yourself in the unparalleled culture and pristine beaches of the Algarve.