The Algarve may well offer some warm, welcoming beaches for visitors to laze on, but there is much more to this Portuguese gem than the coastline. The resort has frequently picked up accolades at the World Travel Awards, and holidays here are particularly popular with couples looking for romance and families looking for fun.
Albufeira and Vilamoura promise history and culture alongside some of the most tempting restaurants in the region. While these may be the most popular holiday destinations, there are also picturesque fishing villages such as Alvor, charming and beautiful cities like Faro, and beachside paradises like Praia da Rocha, and historic towns with perfect seaside scenery like Lagos.
All budgets – You’ll find both luxury holidays and All Inclusive deals to tempt you
Families – There’s nothing like a warm climate and a beautiful seaside to bring the family together
Scenery lovers – The Algarve is full of dramatic cliffs, exciting caves, and soft-sand beaches
One of the Algarve’s livelier resorts, Albufeira has an exciting vein of bars and nightclubs running through its Montechoro area of town. The resort was once just a fishing village, but it has since become one of Portugal’s busiest resorts and a magnet for British and German tourists looking for beach fun. Albufeira is the Algarve’s largest and perhaps most popular spot, offering both vibrant nightlife and a beautifully whitewashed old town.
Vilamoura is a seaside town with a glamorous marina lined with upbeat bars and inviting restaurants. Away from the marina you’ll find two sandy beaches, which offer watersports and snorkelling trips through some of the resort’s astonishing caves. Vilamoura is popular with golf enthusiasts with its four championship golf courses to the north, and history lovers with its Roman ruins.
Faro is the Algarve’s attractive capital and city packed with great shopping, restaurants, and nightlife, yet surrounded on most sides by Roman walls. Faro is where you’ll find twisting streets and cobbled lanes packed with character and glimpses of the city’s history. From Faro’s gorgeous clifftop position, it’s impossible to be unimpressed by the serene coastline and the greens of the hillsides. Come for the history and beauty; stay for the nights out.
This stunning walled town is large and edged by placid or lively beaches, depending on which you visit. The castle and churches are impressive historic structures that complement the picturesque piazzas that pepper Lagos. The nightlife here is colourful and at times wild, offering visitors bars and clubs that range from elegant to pumping. Boat trips and mountain bike rides are ideal ways to enjoy the scenery.
Alvor is a charming fishing village with a traditional Portuguese atmosphere and some pretty beaches. The village’s peaceful pace is one of its most appealing features, with its sleepy lagoon and secluded coves, harbour-side cafes and cobbled streets. Families seeking quiet fun and couples seeking romance are both perfectly suited to a holiday in Alvor.
Praia da Rocha
Perfect for beach-lovers, Praia da Rocha has a vast stretch of golden sand from which visitors can enjoy the sun alongside their fellow bathers, or take a walk further up north for the resort’s more private coves. Praia da Rocha also comes with spots for drinking, relishing the Portuguese cuisine, and showcasing the resort’s architectural past. Praia da Rocha is also just 5 minutes from Portimao.
Must visit – The Algarve is a treasure trove of beautiful beaches, historic architecture, delicious regional foods, and plenty of things to do and see. History buffs will love exploring the Cerro da Vila ruins and the Moorish Silves Castle, while tourists seeking excitement will enjoy quadbiking at Quad Ventura or coasteering in Albufeira. Make sure you put plenty of time aside to enjoy the Algarve’s magnificent coastline, where highlights such as the Praia do Anção, Praia da Marinha, and Praia de Odeceixe are excellent choices.
Family fun – While the Algarve’s postcard coastline is probably the biggest draw for families visiting the resort, there are plenty of other attractions and areas to keep both kids and parents entertained. As you might expect, a lot of them involve water or the beach! Zoomarine is a water theme park that offers both fun and education about ocean life conservation, Dream Wave Algarve offers boating and watersports adventures across the coastline, and if you visit at the right time you’ll have the chance to see the Fiesa Sand Sculptures Festival, where huge, intricate sand structures are judged and enjoyed by everyone watching.
Natural attractions – The Algarve’s coastline is beautiful and striking, dotted as it is with incredible cliffsides and stunning caves. Benagil Cave is especially memorable, and sees visitors taking boat tours and sailing beneath the mesmerising rock formations. You’ll also find wetlands and green lagoons along the Ria Formosa, a hidden beach in Lagos called the Praia do Camilo, and the rugged, towering cliffs of the Cape of Saint Vincent.
Culture and history – When you visit the Algarve, you’ll see traces of all the cultures that have contributed to Portugal’s history and appearance: from the Arabian-style architecture, to the Moorish influences of the decorative glazed tiles on the flat-roofed buildings, and to the closed town walls of Lagos. It’s also found in the forts of Sagres and Castro Marim, as well as the impressive Castle of Silves, but if you want to learn about as well as observe the beautiful remnants of the Algarve’s history, you’ll find absorbing museums throughout Faro, Portimao, and the magical Roman ruins of the Cerro de Vila.
Food and drink – The Algarve is perhaps most famous for its delicate seafood and piri piri spices, not to mention the tasty locally-produced wines. There are far more delicious dishes to enjoy across the area though: try the feijoada, which is a thick bean stew packed with bacon, pork, and sausage, or a portion of the blackened iberico pork with a side of garlic bread mash. As for seafood, the salted cod of a bacalhau and the santola (spider crab) are sure to delight. Afterwards, you could enjoy a chocolatey brigadeiro, salame de chocolate, or a chocolate mousse, or perhaps a comforting rice pudding.
Night life – It has been said that the Algarve is one of the top clubbing holiday destinations in all of Europe, with parties running rampant through Albufeira, Lagos, and Praia da Rocha. If you are hungry for more upmarket wine bars and places to sip cocktails, you may want to visit Vale do Lobo, Almancil, or Quinta do Lagos. So, whether you are looking for a mellow holiday relishing the beach bars or classier drinking holes, looking for family-friendly places to spend your evenings, or visiting for the wilder places to party, the Algarve can offer it all.