The Algarve is a region in southern Portugal and a popular holiday destination. What to do in the Algarve? Check it out.
Top 26 Algarve attractions
What to do in the Algarve? In this article, you’ll read all about the most beautiful sights and the best things to do in the Algarve. This is an overview of the most beautiful towns and villages, gorgeous beaches, and the most beautiful hiking trails in the Algarve.
The most beautiful cities and villages
You can visit many beautiful towns and villages in the Algarve. Which are really worth to visit?
Faro is probably the place where your holiday in the Algarve begins. This is the capital of the Algarve and home to the international airport. The old city center of Faro has several beautiful sights, including the Arco da Vila and Igreja de Santa Maria.
- Hotel tip: Senhor Gigi – Nicely decorated guest house, right in the center.
Tavira is a town east of Faro and is arguably the prettiest town in the Algarve. It is beautifully situated on the river, there are many old churches and streets full of houses with colored tiles. In addition, there are also several beautiful beaches just outside Tavira.
- Hotel tip: São Paulo Boutique Hotel – Beautiful boutique hotel with luxurious rooms and a swimming pool on the beautiful Jardim da Alagoa.
Loulé is located north of Faro and is best known for the market that takes place here every Saturday. It has a beautiful covered market hall. In addition, Loulé has many beautiful narrow streets full of white houses and there is a castle that you can visit.
- Hotel tip: Loule Jardim Hotel – Good location in the center of town, with a rooftop pool.
Albufeira is known as a party destination. Young people from all over Europe come here for the discotheques and the parties. Albufeira is so much more than that, it has a beautiful old center and there are also many beautiful beaches in Albufeira.
- Hotel tip: Hotel California Urban Beach – great 4* hotel in Albufeira Old Town, adults only. With wellness facilities and a rooftop pool.
The oldest town in the Algarve? That would be Silves. It is located inland, not far from Portimão. The cathedral and castle immediately stand out when you arrive in this city. It’s highly recommended to visit them both, and it’s also nice to stroll through the narrow streets and take a walk along the river.
- Hotel tip: Mosaiko 5 Suites – beautiful and colorfully decorated suites. Right in the center of Silves.
Monchique is a small town located between the highest mountains of the Algarve. You can explore some great hiking trails in the area, but the town itself is also worth a visit. Also, climb up the hill to the ruins of the monastery. With a little luck, you can take a look inside.
- Hotel tip: Vilafoia – Guest house on a mountain with swimming pool.
Portimão is the second-largest city in the Algarve after Faro and certainly one of the liveliest. There’s always something to do here! Wander through the old town, go out for dinner (this is the best place to taste sardines), go shopping, or take a walk along the many beautiful beaches.
- Hotel tip: Hotel da Rocha – Luxury hotel in a great location overlooking Praia da Rocha.
Ferragudo is a tiny fishing village near Portimão. It is always pleasantly busy along the beach, where the fishing boats are located. If you are going to eat fish here (tip: go to restaurant Sueste), it will be prepared outside for you. Ferragudo also has several beautiful narrow streets full of flowers and houses with a facade full of tiles. A great place to explore for an afternoon!
- Hotel tip: One2Seven – Nice aparthotel with swimming pool. Beautiful view of the river and Portimão.
My personal favorite in this list of what to do in the Algarve. Probably because I lived here for about five months. Lagos is a medium-sized city with a beautiful old center. In addition, you will find some of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve here and there are many hiking trails. It’s a great place to enjoy yourself for a longer period of time. If you only have a week or less in the Algarve, make sure to add Lagos to your Algarve itinerary. It’s absolutely worth it!
- Hotel tip: The Salty Lodge: cozy studios and apartments with terrace and sea view in a fantastic location.
Sagres is a city located on the most southwestern tip of the European mainland. That alone is reason enough to visit this place. All the way to the southwest is a lonely lighthouse on Cape Saint Vincent and that is an impressive sight.
Sagres itself is also a nice town with a relaxed vibe, there are a lot of surfers here. In addition, there are also several fortresses to admire.
- Hotel tip: Memmo Baleeira – Design Hotels – Nicely situated in the green on one of the most beautiful beaches in Sagres.
More in the northwest of the Algarve is the town of Aljezur. The first thing you’ll see is the castle ruin on top of the hill, which is free to visit. It is surrounded by the old part of Aljezur, which is a maze of very narrow streets. A great place to explore!
- Hotel tip: Aljezur Old Town – charming holiday home with roof terrace in the old center of Aljezur.
By the way, there are also many beautiful places to discover in the municipality of Aljezur, such as cute coastal villages and amazing beaches.
The most beautiful beaches
The Algarve has been voted the world’s best beach destination several times in the last few years. And that is not surprising, because there are many beautiful beaches in the Algarve! These are some of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve.
Praia da Marinha
Praia da Marinha is very centrally located in the Algarve and very popular. The beach is enclosed by high golden cliffs and it is very sheltered. Around the beach, you can find several hiking trails with beautiful viewpoints, so this is also a beautiful beach for the more active traveler.
Praia da Falésia
Near Villamoura, between Albufeira and Faro, there is another very impressive beach: Praia da Falésia. What’s so special about this? It is a very long sandy beach and is surrounded by huge bright red cliffs. Impressive to see from the beach, but also from the path that runs over the cliffs.
Praia da Bordeira
One of the most beautiful beaches along the west coast of the Algarve is Praia da Bordeira. This is a huge and wide sandy beach and you will often find surfers here. On the south side of the beach are several wooden boardwalks that lead to beautiful viewpoints.
Praia do Ninho das Andorinhas (Secret Beach)
In 2020 I stayed in Albufeira for almost two months and so I visited almost all the beautiful beaches in Albufeira. The beach that I remember the most is Praia do Ninho das Andorinhas, also known as Secret Beach.
It is quite far from the city center and is hidden between the cliffs. You can only get there by stairs. There is a good chance that you are here all alone because there are only a few people who know where to find this beautiful place.
Praia de Carvoeiro
Praia de Carvoeiro is different from the other beaches on this list. Not only is this beach surrounded by high golden rocks, but the village itself is also built in a semicircle around this beach. This makes this a very photogenic beach, which you can view well from the viewpoint.
Tip: a bit to the east you will find the Carvoeiro Boardwalk, a very nice walking path over the golden rocks.
Praia do Beliche
There are also several beautiful beaches at Sagres and Praia do Beliche is perhaps the most beautiful. You have to descend a lot of stairs (which is usually the case with the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve), but then you find yourself on a gorgeous beach that is surrounded by steep high cliffs. This beach is very popular with surfers, the waves here are very suitable for both beginners and advanced.
Praia de Monte Clérigo
During my hike on the Fishermen’s Trail, I walked from one beautiful beach to another. The one that I remember the most is Praia de Monte Clérigo. This is a tiny village with brightly colored houses along a huge beach. Along the beach, there are many cacti and it is also a dune-like area. Here you will also find several beautiful viewpoints. A great place to enjoy an afternoon.
The most beautiful hiking trails
The Algarve is bursting with beautiful hiking trails. Do you like to hike? Then you should definitely try one of these hiking trails.
Read more: 18 Best Algarve Hiking Trails
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
If you ask: What is the most beautiful part of the Algarve? Then the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail provides the answer. This walking path leads you along the most beautiful golden cliffs and a number of beautiful beaches, including Praia da Marinha. The trail is 12 kilometers long (can be shortened to 6 kilometers) and is not too difficult.
Do you fancy a real challenge? The Fishermen’s Trail is one of the most beautiful coastal walks in Europe. The trail is 226.5 kilometers long and runs from São Torpes in the Alentejo province to Lagos in the Algarve. You don’t have to walk it all the way, because the trail is divided into 13 different stages that you can easily discover separately from each other. One is even more beautiful than the other!
Rocha da Pena
A bit hidden in the interior north of Albufeira is the steep rock Rocha da Pena. This rock is often used by climbers, but there is also a very nice hiking trail over it. The walk is about six kilometers (with a steep climb) and from the rock, you have a great view of the Algarve. With clear weather, you can even see Albufeira and the sea.
Passadiços de Alvor
At Alvor (next to Portimão) there is an easy, but very nice hiking trail called Passadiços de Alvor. It consists of many wooden boardwalks and you walk over a dune-like area with a lot of water. A good place to watch birds and enjoy the silence. The circular walk is approximately 5 kilometers.
Tip: discover more beautiful hiking trails in the Algarve with this book: Walking in the Algarve: 30 Coastal and Inland Walks in the South of Portugal.
The best activities
What to do in the Algarve? In addition to visiting all those beautiful cities, villages, and beaches, there are still many fun activities that you can do in beautiful locations in southern Portugal.
Kayaking at Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade near Lagos is the most beautiful piece of coastline in the Algarve. Great to see from the lookout point, but it’s even more fun to go kayaking here. Only then can you view the various caves and beaches that you cannot reach on foot. Highly recommended!
Island Tour in Ria Formosa
Another must-see in the Algarve is Ria Formosa Natural Park. It is located near Faro and is a lagoon of 60 kilometers long. There are many islands and sandbanks. Extra fun: you can see Flamencos here! You can get here by boat from Faro, but it is even more fun to book an island tour, because then you will see several islands.
Caves & Dolphins
Along the Algarve coast are many caves and hidden beaches. Most of them can only be seen from the water during a boat tour. It is highly recommended to take a boat trip along the coast, so you can visit the beautiful Benagil cave. Do you have time to spare? Then you often sail a lot further out to sea and you can see dolphins. So cool!
In Portugal, they like a glass of wine and you will find shelves full of local wines in the supermarkets. Would you like to taste them? Especially in the vicinity of Silves are several vineyards. If you do not want to drive yourself, you can always book a tour, then you will be taken to various vineyards for a wine tasting.
Book a vacation to the Algarve
As you can see, there is a lot to see and do in the Algarve! Does the Algarve seem like a great place for a nice holiday? These are useful websites to book your trip to the Algarve:
- If you want to visit the Algarve, Faro is the most convenient airport to fly to. Check Skyscanner to find the cheapest tickets.
- Prefer sustainable travel? Traveling by train is of course also possible! You can reach Portugal by train from everywhere in Europe. It might take a while, but it’s a great and relaxing way to travel. Check Rail Europe for timetables and prices.
- A rental car gives you complete freedom during a vacation in the Algarve. Check Discover Cars and Rental Cars to find the best deals.
- You can find great hotels, hostels, or apartments via Booking.com.
- You can book a lot of fun tours in the Algarve. For example, jeep safaris, kayaking, or boat trips. Check Get Your Guide for all possibilities and prices.
Read more about Portugal and the Algarve
Would you like to discover more great things to do in the Algarve? These travel guides are full of tips:
Algarve Travel Guide: 54 Cities/Towns/Villages
In 2020 and 2021 I lived in the Algarve for more than seven months, so you can find a lot of information about this region and a holiday in Portugal on this website.
In addition, I regularly share fun travel stories and tips for the most beautiful destinations in my monthly newsletter. Subscribe here.
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