The Algarve is a region in southern Portugal and a popular holiday destination. What to do in Algarve? Check out these amazing Algarve tips!
About the Algarve
The Algarve is a name that puts an instant smile on the face of many travel enthusiasts. And rightly so, because this sun-drenched region on the southern coast of Portugal has a lot to offer. Why is the Algarve such a great travel destination? Well, I can tell you all about that as a travel blogger and Algarve expert. In fact, I stay in the Algarve for two months every year, and that has given me the opportunity to explore almost all the wonderful places in this region.
The Algarve is not just another place on the map; it is a vibrant mix of breathtaking coastlines, quaint villages, gastronomic adventures, and rich history. With my experience and knowledge of the region, I will take you on a journey through this enchanting part of Portugal. Read about the hidden treasures and indispensable experiences you can find here. So, get ready to fall in love with the Algarve and discover why it’s a place I keep visiting year after year.
30 Algarve tips
What to do in the Algarve? In this article, you will read all about the most beautiful Algarve sights. 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 towns and villages in the Algarve
You can visit many beautiful towns and villages in the Algarve. Which are really worth visiting?
Faro is probably the place to start your Algarve vacation. This is the capital of the Algarve and this is where the international airport is located. The historic city center of Faro has several beautiful sights, including the Arco da Vila and Igreja de Santa Maria.
Although it is not the most beautiufl city in Portugal, it’s a great place to spend a day or two. Explore the historic city center, and go on a boat trip to the Rio Formosa nature reserve.
- Hotel Tip: Senhor Gigi – Beautifully decorated guest house in the center of town. I absolutely love this place! Whenever I need to spend a night in Faro, I book a room here.
Tavira is a town east of Faro and personally, I think it is one of the most beautiful towns in the Algarve. It is beautifully situated on the river, there are many old churches and streets full of houses with colored tiles. The ancient Roman bridge across the river makes the city very photogenic.
You will also find many houses with colorful azulejos (Portuguese tiles). Tavira is also a great destination for a beach vacation. You have to go there by boat (a small ferry goes regularly), but then you arrive at this gorgeous sandy beach.
- Hotel Tip: São Paulo Boutique Hotel – Very nice boutique hotel with luxurious rooms and a pool on the beautiful Jardim da Alagoa.
Read more: 15 things to do in Tavira, Algarve
During my last visit to the Algarve, I discovered the picturesque fishing village of Fuseta. As far as I am concerned, this is one of the most beautiful places in the Algarve! What makes Fuseta so special is its authentic character and the perfect balance between traditional Portuguese culture and a relaxed beach destination.
The heart of Fuseta is its fishing port, where colorful boats float peacefully on the calm waters of the Ria Formosa. This is where you can watch the local fishermen at work and taste the freshly caught fish in the cozy restaurants along the quay. An incredibly nice place for a relaxing vacation!
- Where to stay: Casa da Avó Nina – a beautiful small-scale accommodation with an outdoor pool.
Loulé is a town not far from Faro. Normally this is a wonderfully quiet spot, but on Saturdays, the place buzzes with activity. After all, that’s when there is a market. This weekly market is a veritable explosion of colors and smells and offers an abundance of local produce, handicrafts, and culinary delights. The market is in and around the beautiful covered market hall which is truly a picture to behold.
In addition, in Loulé you can get lost in the beautiful narrow streets full of white houses and there is an old castle you can visit.
- Hotel tip: Loule Jardim Hotel (3⭐) – A great hotel in downtown Loulé with a sun terrace and rooftop pool.
The city of Albufeira is known as a party destination. Young people from all over Europe come here for the discotheques and the parties. But Albufeira is more than that! Thus, it has a beautiful historic center with a few nice churches.
There is always something going on in the colorful marina. This is also where boat tours leave many times a day. I myself did a tour by speedboat along the coast and it was really cool! We saw the most beautiful beaches along the jagged coastline and sailed into the cave of Benagil. In addition, we also saw dolphins.
Furthermore, in Albufeira, you can enjoy the many beautiful beaches and there are a few great restaurants where you can try delicious Portuguese food. This bustling seaside resort has a special place in my travel memories, as I stayed there for 7 weeks in 2020. And it was so much more fun than I thought!
- Hotel Tip: Hotel California Urban Beach (4⭐) – Luxurious and comfortable hotel in Albufeira Old Town, adults only. It has wellness facilities and a rooftop pool.
Read more: Fun things to do in Albufeira
Silves is the oldest city in the Algarve. It is located inland, not far from Portimão. This former Moorish capital exudes nostalgic charm with its imposing castle, which towers high above the city and offers spectacular views of the surrounding area. The cobblestone streets of the historic center invite you to explore. There are many nice little restaurants and cafes in places you wouldn’t expect. Moreover, there is also a lot of street art to see.
Another must-see is Silves Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic and Baroque styles. Also don’t forget to take a walk along the river, from here you will have a beautiful view of the town.
- Where to stay: Mosaiko 5 Suites. (4⭐) – A small-scale accommodation with beautiful and colorfully decorated suites. Right in the center of Silves.
Read more: Silves, the oldest city in the Algarve
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. It has many narrow streets with historic buildings. Also, climb up the hill to the ruins of the monastery. With any luck, you can explore it. Please note that it is a ruin, so be careful. You can still see some original Portuguese tiles in a corner).
Furthermore, Monchique has a few small stores and cafes where you can go for a (cheap) cup of coffee and a pastel de nata. Personally, I always go for a drink to Velochique, which is a cycling cafe in the middle of the square in Monchique. Highly recommended!
- Hotel tip: Vilafoia (4⭐) – This is one of the most beautiful accommodations in the Algarve. It is located on a mountain top and has a large garden with a 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 to eat (this is the best place in Portugal to try sardines), go shopping, or take a walk along the many beautiful beaches. And did you know that you can also find a lot of cool street art in Portimão?
I myself have been to Portimão twice for a long time and had a great time. It has some pleasant streets and it is incredibly fun to take a walk on the cliffs.
- Hotel tip: Hotel da Rocha – Luxury hotel in a great location overlooking Praia da Rocha.
Read more: 20 Best Things to do in Portimão Portugal
Ferragudo is a tiny fishing village near Portimão. It is always busy near the beach, where the fishing boats are located. If you go here to eat fish (tip: go to restaurant Sueste), it is prepared for you in an outside kitchen.
In addition, it has a small old center that you definitely need to explore. There are several narrow streets full of flowers and many houses with facades full of tiles. Be sure to go to the church for a great view of the village, the river, and Portimão. It’s really fun to spend an afternoon exploring Ferragudo.
- Hotel tip: One2Seven – Great aparthotel with a swimming pool. Beautiful view of the river and Portimão.
Lagos is my personal favorite in this list of Algarve sights, I spend a few months every year in this great city. Lagos is a medium-sized city on the coast with a beautiful historic center where you can get lost in the beautiful narrow streets. There are also many good restaurants and coffee shops in Lagos.
And did you know that Lagos is home to the Algarve’s most beautiful beaches? Between the beaches, you will find many great hiking trails. Make sure to hike to Ponta da Piedade, the most iconic rock formation in Portugal. All in all, Lagos is a great place to stay for an extended period of time.
- Hotel tip: The Salty Lodge (4⭐): cozy studios and apartments with terraces and sea views in a great location. Check out 20 beautiful B&Bs and hotels in Lagos Portugal for more tips on where to stay in Lagos.
Barão de São João
Barão de São João is a small artists’ village north of Lagos. When you’re visiting Algarve in November, make sure to check out the Walk & Art Fest in Barão de São João. Then you can join guided walks (for free) through the village and surrounding forests.
The village itself is very cozy and on every street corner, you’ll discover a work of art. It has several tiny cafes, where you can get a snack and a drink for little money. There are many beautiful hiking trails set out from the village, so get out into the woods and enjoy!
Sagres is a city located on the southwesternmost 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 (4⭐) – Beautifully situated in the greenery on one of the most beautiful beaches in Sagres.
Read more: The best things to do in Sagres
Salema is a charming fishing village on the coast between Sagres and Lagos. It is quite remote, you get there by a winding road. This makes it a perfect place for peace seekers and nature lovers. The village with its white houses feels very friendly.
In the morning the fishermen are always busy at the beach and during the afternoon the sun seekers and surfers arrive. A wonderful place for a relaxing vacation.
- Where to stay: Romantik Villa (4⭐) is a beautiful complex with suites and studios. There is a garden with an outdoor pool and from here you have a beautiful view of the sea.
More in the northwest of the Algarve is the town of Aljezur. Notable is the castle ruins on top of the hill; they are free to visit. From the castle, you have a beautiful view of the town and the green hills.
Surrounding the castle is the old center of Aljezur, which is a maze of very narrow streets. A great place to explore! There are also a few nice restaurants here. I myself once had a delicious meal at Mó Veggie Bistro, a vegetarian restaurant in a former mill. Very interesting!
- Hotel tip: Aljezur Old Town – charming holiday home with a 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, not far from Benagil. It is incredibly popular, as it is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve. 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 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 going down some stairs. There is a good chance that you are here by yourself 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 in the area. 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 and can be shortened to 6 kilometers. It’s 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.
The trail is divided into 13 different stages, and you can easily do a few as day hikes. 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 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. This lagoon is located near Faro and is about 60 kilometers long. There are many islands and sandbanks. Extra fun: You might see flamingoes here!
You can reach Ria Formosa 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 caves of Benagil. 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 wine tasting.
Climb Fóia for the best views
The last tip on this list of things to do in Algarve is one of my favorites: go to the top of Fóia (920 meters), which is the Algarve’s highest point. Getting to the top is easier than you think, as you can just drive to the top.
But of course, you can also make it a little more adventurous; it is also a popular spot for cyclists. In addition, of course, you can also hike to Fóia. Go to nearby Monchique, this is where a beautiful hiking trail to Fóia starts. Only do it on clear days though, otherwise, you won’t have a view (I have experience with that too, I was soaking wet thanks to low hanging clouds, haha!).
Book a trip to the Algarve
These are all my Algarve tips. As you can see, there is a lot to see and do in the Algarve! Doesn’t the Algarve seem like a great place to explore? Book your trip now!
✈️ Plane tickets – If you want to visit the Algarve, Faro is the most convenient airport to fly to. Check WayAway to find the best deals and get cash back on plane tickets.
🚆 Train tickets – Do you prefer sustainable travel? You can also travel to the Algarve by train. It might take a while, but it’s a great and relaxing way to travel. Train travel within Portugal is usually pretty cheap. Check Rail Europe for timetables and prices of international train travel.
🛏️ Accommodation – You can find great hotels, hostels, or apartments via Booking.com.
💊 Travel insurance – Don’t forget your travel insurance, as it will give you peace of mind during your trip. Check out Insubuy to find the travel insurance that fits your needs.
🛶 Tours & activities – 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? Get one of these travel guides for more tips:
I spend several months in Portugal almost every year, I absolutely love this country! Therefore you can read a lot about the Algarve and traveling to Portugal on this website. You might like to read these articles as well:
- The perfect Algarve itinerary for a 1 or 2 week road trip
- 5 Easy ways to travel from Lisbon to the Algarve
- 32 Best Things to do in Porto Portugal
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This article was published in February 2022. Last update with even more information and tips: September 2023.
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