Spanning the entire southern coast of Portugal, the Algarve has long been a magnet for travelers seeking a slice of paradise.
With its rugged coastline, golden beaches, and charming towns, it's no wonder that it’s emerged as one of Europe's most popular holiday destinations.
In this article, we'll explore the allure of the Algarve and help you discover the best places to stay, ensuring your vacation is nothing short of unforgettable.
With over 300 days of sunshine a year, the Algarve offers the perfect climate for those seeking to escape the everyday hustle and embrace a more laid-back lifestyle. From the dramatic cliffs of Sagres to the pristine sands of Praia da Marinha, the Algarve's diverse landscapes provide endless opportunities for exploration and relaxation.
In addition to its natural wonders, the region is steeped in history, with numerous sites dating back to the Roman and Moorish eras. The Algarve's picturesque towns, like Lagos, Faro, and Tavira, offer a fascinating glimpse into the past while also serving as gateways to some of the best beaches in the area.
Whether you're a sun worshipper, history buff, or adventure seeker, the Algarve caters to all tastes. As we delve deeper into where to stay in the Algarve, you'll be one step closer to planning the perfect holiday in this enchanting corner of Portugal.
Where to Stay in the Algarve – Most Popular Towns Overall
If you're looking for a quick answer on where to stay in the Algarve, below are our most popular picks.
1. Best for Families: Praia Da Luz
2. Best for Sun-Worshipers: Burgau
3. Best for Golfers: Vilamoura
4. Best for (wannabe) Hippies: Aljezur
5. Best for Nightlife: Lagos
6. Best Kept Secret: Olhão
7. Best for History Buffs: Silves
8. Best for Surfers: Sagres
9. Best for Retirees: Tavira
Main Towns to Stay in the Algarve
Praia Da Luz
Ideal for families, Praia da Luz offers a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere with its beautiful beach, child-friendly amenities, and a range of activities to keep everyone entertained.
Its calm, shallow waters make it perfect for young swimmers, while its picturesque setting ensures a memorable holiday for all ages. There’s a tonne of places to eat out, a few small supermarkets, and pretty much the whole town is accessible on foot.
Ok, I may be biased because I live just outside of Burgau, but I think this is one of the best places for your next Portuguese holiday. Often compared to the enchanting beauty of Santorini, Burgau is a hidden gem nestled along the Algarve's breathtaking coastline.
This picturesque village is known for its pristine beach, framed by dramatic cliffs and azure waters. The charming whitewashed buildings and narrow streets create an atmosphere reminiscent of a Mediterranean island paradise, making Burgau a must-visit destination for those seeking a tranquil retreat with stunning scenery. The unspoiled beach, coupled with the village's laid-back charm, offers a serene escape from the busier tourist hubs in the region, inviting visitors to unwind and revel in the Algarve's natural splendor.
A golfer's dream destination, Vilamoura boasts some of the finest golf courses in the Algarve, attracting enthusiasts from around the world. The bustling marina, lined with sleek yachts and stylish boutiques, serves as the focal point of the town, where visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll or indulge in exquisite dining at one of the many fine restaurants.
Beyond the marina, the pristine beaches, of Praia da Falésia, with their golden sands and crystal-clear waters, are perfect for sunbathing and swimming. Other activities include all manner of watersports, a few tennis clubs as well as horse riding.
Renowned for its laid-back, hippie vibe, Aljezur is a haven for those seeking tranquility and a connection with nature. Surrounded by unspoiled landscapes, it's a fantastic destination for surfers, hikers, and anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
A popular spot with unbelievable natural beauty, the beach of Arrifana is just a short drive away from the town. One of the best beaches in the Algarve, especially for surfing, there are almost always some waves to surf at Arifana – You can easily rent a board or take a lesson at the beach.
A vibrant town known for its historic charm, stunning beaches, and bustling nightlife, Lagos offers a lively atmosphere that attracts visitors looking to enjoy a mix of culture, relaxation, and entertainment. The lively bars and clubs make it a perfect destination for those seeking a fun night out.
For daytime activities, mooch around the cafes and shops or opt for a boat ride to explore the stunning coastline. The smaller caves and grotto’s around Ponta Da Piedade are well worth a visit, but the jewel of the coast is the famous Benagil Cave – try to get there early in the morning if you want an uncrowded selfie!
A lesser-known gem in the Algarve, Olhão is a traditional fishing town boasting a picturesque waterfront, fresh seafood, and a charming, authentic atmosphere.
Its off-the-beaten-path appeal allows visitors to experience a more genuine side of the Algarve, away from the tourist crowds. Located very near the international airport in Faro, the short transit time makes Olhão a great place to check out.
Brimming with history, Silves is home to a well-preserved Moorish castle and an ancient cathedral, offering visitors a fascinating glimpse into the region's past.
Its' charming streets and relaxed ambiance make it a delightful place to wander and soak up the Algarve's rich cultural heritage. Tour the castle and check out the incredible views of the surrounding landscape before stopping off at one of the local restaurants for dinner – always bustling during the warm summer evenings.
Steeped in history and home to some of the Algarve's most spectacular beaches, Sagres offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and fascinating cultural heritage. From its dramatic cliffs and historic fort to the pristine sands of Martinhal Beach, Sagres is an explorer's paradise.
A great place to be based if surfing is your thing – Praia Do Tonel picks up any swell the Atlantic has on offer, or head for the tubes of Beliche just a short ride out of town.
Top tip: My favorite place for ice cream is the Italian gelateria – Alice’s, located in town. Be sure to give it a try, you will NOT be disappointed!
With its laid-back vibe and picturesque setting, Tavira is particularly appealing to older visitors seeking a tranquil retreat. Its cobbled streets, historic buildings, and serene riverside location make it a charming destination for those looking to unwind and soak up the region's beauty at a leisurely pace.
Where to Stay in the Algarve – Final Words
To sum up, the Algarve is a fantastic place to visit and offers a huge variety of areas to stay in to suit every traveler's needs.
From the vibrant nightlife of Lagos to the serene, lesser-known charm of Olhão, and the laid-back hippie vibes of Aljezur, there's a perfect getaway waiting for everyone. Each destination outlined above boasts its own unique character and attractions, ensuring that your holiday in this enchanting region of Portugal will be a memorable one.
About the author
Matt Hapgood is a father, surfer, and entrepreneur. He has worn many hats in his career, from being a removal guy in Vancouver to teaching elementary kids in the UK, as well as a parking valet in the French Alps. He’s the founder and main contributor to MattHapgood.com and is currently living in the Algarve, Portugal.
Please note, this post may contain affiliate links, which means that – at absolutely no cost to you – we earn a small commission on sales generated through this website. We only recommend sites we actually use and thank you for your support!
Which area of the Algarve is best? ›
Carvoeiro: The Algarve's Best Place for Relaxation
Situated on the Atlantic coast, Carvoeiro is renowned for its sparkling sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, making it a popular destination for Algarve tourists seeking the winning combination of sun, sand, and sea.
The best areas to stay in Algarve for first-timers are Lagos, Faro, Albufeira, Portimão, Lagoa, Olhao, Aljezur, Silves, Alcoutim, Loule, Tavira, Carvoeiro, Sagres, Quarteira, and Vilamoura. These are the most beautiful towns and popular destinations in the Algarve for tourists.What is the most scenic part of the Algarve? ›
Tavira is one of the main towns in the Algarve, as well as one of the most beautiful. It's situated along the banks of the River Gilão and has a great historical legacy left by first the Romans and later the Arabs. After enjoying this city, you can take a ferry to its island and discover its beautiful pristine beaches.What is the posh part of the Algarve? ›
Vilamoura is the best place to stay in Algarve if you're looking for an upscale, glittery beach holiday that puts the focus on golf courses, luxury resorts and walks along the marina. Vilamoura is the crown of Algarve's Golden Triangle due to its collection of luxury accommodations.Is Lagos or Albufeira better? ›
Albufeira is better if you're looking for a resort holiday experience – beach during the day and party during the night. Lagos is better if you want a more traditional Portugese holiday, backpacker vibes and stunning landscapes close to the city.What town is best to stay in the Algarve? ›
- Faro – Best Place to Stay in Algarve for City Life.
- Tavira – Best Areas to Stay, Algarve, Portugal, for a Quiet Beach Holiday.
- Quarteira – Best Place to Stay in Algarve, Portugal for Couples.
- Carvoeiro – Best Place in Algarve, Portugal, for Families.
- Portimao – Best Place in Algarve for Shopping.
A full week on the Algarve gives you plenty of time to split between activities and relaxing on the beach. If you're looking for a more relaxing beach holiday, 7 days on the Algarve is a good choice.What is the number 1 beach in Algarve? ›
Praia do Camilo is widely known as one of the most gorgeous beaches in the Algarve. It has the characteristic high cliffs of many beaches in the region, as well as clear green waters and views of Lagos and the Ponta da Piedade rock formations.What is the least touristy part of Algarve? ›
The south western part of the Algarve is probably my favorite area in the Algarve. It's less touristy but (partly) does have the beautiful iconic coastline and great Algarve weather!What time of year is best for Algarve? ›
If you're a sunseeker the best time to visit Algarve is between June and August. The hottest month of the year is July with an average daily maximum of 30 C and an average low of 22 C. The coolest month of the year is February with an average daily maximum of 16 C and an average low of 10 C.
What is the Golden Triangle of the Algarve? ›
The Golden Triangle is a mini region located at the Algarve, that forms the figure of a triangle. It's part of the Golden Triangle in Portugal the resort town of Vilamoura and the resort complexes of Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo, at the seaside, connecting at the top with the countryside city of Almancil.What time of year is best to visit Algarve? ›
Visiting the Algarve region of Portugal is an ideal choice for anyone looking for a sun-filled getaway. Generally, the best time to visit this charming coastal area is during the dry season between April and October, as this is when temperatures are at their highest and rainfall is at its lowest.Where do celebs go in Algarve? ›
Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo, and Almancil — the so-called Golden Triangle of the Algarve — are increasingly sought after by celebrities looking for luxurious and comfortable homes around exclusive venues.What celebrities live in Algarve? ›
Many celebrities own homes in this region, including Boyzone front man Ronan Keating, television presenter Carol Smillie, celebrity gardener Charlie Dimmock and Total Eclipse of the Heart singer Bonnie Tyler.Where do most Americans live in the Algarve? ›
Algarve: The Algarve region in southern Portugal is a popular destination for American expats looking for a warm climate and a relaxed lifestyle. Many expats choose to live in towns such as Lagos, Albufeira, and Faro.Is it better to stay in Faro or Lagos? ›
Lagos provides a better beach experience than Faro. Lagos offers stunning beaches that attract visitors from around the world. The beaches are long, flat and sandy with beautifully dramatic rock formations. The largest beach in the area is Meia Praia and arguably one of the best beaches is Praia Dona Ana.Why is the Algarve so popular? ›
The Algarve is a popular tourist destination because it has beautiful views, sandy beaches, and a warm climate. People from all over the world come to visit this area in Portugal.Is it worth going to Albufeira? ›
Attracting four million tourists a year, the Algarve coast is known for its golden sands, red limestone cliffs and breathtaking rock formations. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that one of the main reasons why Albufeira is worth visiting is its selection of amazing beaches.Is it easy to get around Algarve without a car? ›
Nevertheless, getting around the Algarve region of Portugal is easy due to its well-developed transportation system. There are many options for getting from one place to another, including buses, trains, taxis, and car rentals.Do I need a car in the Algarve? ›
You don't need a car to visit Algarve. Most people visiting the Algarve rent a car as soon as they land at Faro airport. But don't let that discourage you from visiting this stunning region – a car is not necessary for the Algarve, as it is well-connected by public transport.
Is it better to stay in Portimao or Lagos? ›
Both resorts are great holiday destinations and tourists to either will not be disappointed with their choice. Portimao and Praia da Rocha is slightly more focused for families and younger travellers while Lagos with its heritage is designed for the more mature or cultured visitor.Is there a direct train from Lisbon to Algarve? ›
By Train. Five trains per day offer a direct service between the Entrecampos Station in Lisbon and the Faro Station in Algarve. The journey takes nearly three hours, and you can buy tickets online or in person. There are both first and second class cars, with varying levels of amenities.Can you do the Algarve as a day trip from Lisbon? ›
Thanks to its convenient location, the capital city can be perfectly used as a base to plan some awesome day trips from Lisbon. For example, in less than three hours you can visit the Algarve and take a swim in the Atlantic.How do you get around in Algarve? ›
There are essentially 7 ways to get around in the Algarve: by (rental) car, train, bus, taxi, uber, transfers and hiring a camper. Each of this means of transport can be most suitable to get around in the Algarve, depending on the situation.Is it safe to swim in the sea in the Algarve? ›
Beware of uncrowded areas and those that are designated as surf zones, as they more likely to conceal hazardous currents. Parents should be especially cautious when allowing their children to swim. In 2007, four tourists drowned off the Algarve coast while trying to save three children from strong currents.Can you swim in the sea in the Algarve? ›
If you are looking for a beach holiday, then the Algarve is the perfection destination. You can swim in the ocean comfortably from March until October. And in the winter months, you can take long refreshing beach walks.How much is the train from Lisbon to Algarve? ›
|Transport Name||Route Time||Price|
|Rede Expressos Standard AC||08:15 - 11:30||$11|
|Portuguese Railways 1st Class||10:02 - 14:26||$36|
|Rede Expressos Standard AC||13:15 - 17:30||$14|
|Portuguese Railways 1st Class||14:02 - 18:05||$34|
Albufeira lies at the heart of the buzzing central Algarve region, while Lagos (38km to the west) is the largest city of the western Algarve area. Albufeira is the largest town of the central Algarve (with a population of 44,158) and is slightly bigger than Lagos (31,049).What is the main city in the Algarve? ›
Faro is the capital and biggest city of the Algarve, with a population of about 118.000 people.Which is better Algarve or Costa del Sol? ›
In all, both the Algarve and Costa del Sol are two wonderful places to visit and there is really no wrong option. It will come down to personal preferences and holiday budgets. In my opinion, the Algarve is generally a more relaxing and calmer destination, if you are looking for a quiet holiday on the coast.
Is Madeira or the Algarve better? ›
Step 1: Decide what it is you are looking for
So if you are looking for a quiet place with relatively fewer tourist activities, then Madeira would be your best option. On the other hand, if you are looking to reside in a larger inland city that is bustling with life, the Algarve might be ideal for you.
Barcelos is a walkable city easily explored on foot, so spend some time wandering through its narrow streets and pretty squares before heading to Jardim das Barrocas. Here, as well as at the beautiful gardens, you'll find the Igreja do Bom Jesus da Cruz and Torre do Cimo da Vila.What is the coldest month in Algarve Portugal? ›
January is the coldest month in the Algarve, but compared to the cold winter months here in the Netherlands, the temperatures are still very mild. The Algarve has a Mediterranean climate, which refers to the countries around the Mediterranean Sea.What are the rainy months in the Algarve? ›
In general, it rains little in the Algarve. Most of the rain falls in the period from November until the end of March. The summer is usually quite dry.Which month is rainy season in Portugal? ›
Portugal's rainy season begins in November and December, meaning fewer sunny days, but the country still experiences more sun than rain and warmer temperatures than much of Europe. The Algarve usually remains especially pleasant and sunny and can attract European visitors looking for a winter getaway.What is the old town in the Algarve? ›
The fishing village of Albufeira is the largest resort town in the Algarve, but head for Albufeira Old Town and you'll see that the original charm is still there.Where is the heart of Algarve? ›
The heart-shaped rock is visible from a coastal cliff at one of the most beautiful beaches in Algarve – Praia da Marinha. The beach is located between Carvoeiro and Armação de Pêra towns. The heart-shaped rock is actually not a single piece of rock that has a hole in a shape of a heart.Why is the Portuguese Algarve famous What will you find there? ›
Anchoring the south of Portugal, the Algarve is famous for its cliff-backed beaches, mouthwatering seafood and picturesque villages. It's also a remarkably easy-going region, with a welcoming vibe for every kind of traveler.What is the cheapest month to go to Portugal? ›
The cheapest time to visit Portugal is in January and February. Avoiding the major Portuguese holidays like Christmas and Easter and the major European vacation times of July and August will help you score serious deals.Can you swim in Algarve in December? ›
It's possible to swim in the sea at this time of year but it's generally a little too cool for most. The average sea temperature is 18 C.
What months are best to stay in Portugal? ›
The best time to visit Portugal is in spring (March-May), when the country is in bloom and waking after the winter. You could also go in fall (between September and October) when the sun is still shining, the weather is warm, and many of the crowds have dispersed.Where is the nicest place to go in Portugal? ›
- Algarve. The Algarve is one of the best regions to visit in Portugal if you're looking for a sunshine-filled beach break. ...
- Lisbon and the Tagus Valley. ...
- Alentejo. ...
- Porto and Northern Portugal. ...
- Central Portugal.
This is where, in the most exclusive regions of Portugal. Where do the rich live in Portugal? Where do the rich live in Portugal? Lisbon, Oeiras, Cascais, Sintra, Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia are the municipalities with the highest concentration of population with the highest income in the country.What is the most expensive part of the Algarve? ›
The city of Loulé has the highest price per square meter. This city includes some of the most glamorous beaches in the Algarve: Quinta do Lago, Ancão and Vale do Lobo, plus the famous Vilamoura Marina, a must for Algarve nightlife in the summer.Why are there so many Americans in the Algarve? ›
Combined with its relatively warm temperatures, plentiful recreational activities, widespread knowledge of English among many locals, and relatively low cost of living, Portugal is a natural destination for Americans looking to relocate.In what town in Portugal does Madonna live? ›
Madonna's home in Sintra, Portugal, known as Quinta do Relogio.What US state is most like Portugal? ›
The similarities between Portugal and California are astounding, right from the climate, beaches, and even nature. You will find plants and hills that are almost identical in both places. While California is relatively larger than Portugal as a country, there are so many similarities that they share.Is English common in the Algarve? ›
English is widely spoken in Portugal, especially in the larger cities and in the Algarve. Plenty of foreigners live comfortably and reasonably efficiently speaking only in English.Where do Americans retire to in Portugal? ›
For the best places to retire in Portugal consider Lisbon and Porto if you are looking for a good life in the city. Cascais is an excellent location a short 30-minute drive from Lisbon. Consider the Algarve for a relaxed retirement with plenty of beaches and golf courses.How many days in Faro is enough? ›
How many days to spend in Faro? We recommend a total of 3 days to see everything, which includes both times exploring within the city as well as some day trips into the region.
What is the best season to visit Algarve Portugal? ›
The high season (June–August) has the best beach weather
With cool ocean breezes, evening temperatures hover around 22°C (72°F), making for comfortable outdoor dining. Naturally, the peak season for tourism coincides with these inviting conditions on the beach.
Both Faro and Albufeira have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Albufeira than Faro. The ideal length of time for a trip to Faro is 2-5 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Albufeira is 3-7 days.What is the difference between old town and new town in Albufeira? ›
New Town has pretty much the same things as Old Town with a beautiful beach, restaurants and shops but the main thing this town is known for is their hardcore partying and karaoke. I had no idea Albufeira had such a thriving nightlife until I started doing some research on things to do in the area.Which part of Algarve is less touristy? ›
- Salema - A tranquil beach town.
- Burgau - Cuteness on a beautiful bay.
- Cabanas de Tavira - A tiny town with large beaches.
- Monchique - Peace and serenity in the (undiscovered) mountains.
- Alte - A real traditional Algarvian town 6. Monte Clerigo - Tranquility on the wild western Algarve coastline.
Most of the nicest beaches of Algarve can be found around the wide area between Lagos and Vilamoura. But there are also some amazing 'rougher' beaches along the west coast as well. Praia da Bordeira is one of the nicest beaches in that part of the Algarve.Do I need car in Algarve? ›
You don't need a car to visit Algarve. Most people visiting the Algarve rent a car as soon as they land at Faro airport. But don't let that discourage you from visiting this stunning region – a car is not necessary for the Algarve, as it is well-connected by public transport.What is the nicest beach in Algarve? ›
- Marinha Beach. Rock formations at Marinha Beach. ...
- Arrifana Beach, one of the best beaches in the Algarve for surfers. ...
- Carvoeiro Beach. ...
- Estudantes Beach, one of the best beaches in Portugal. ...
- Monte Clerigo Beach. ...
- Bordeira Beach, one of the best beaches in Portugal. ...
- Falesia Beach. ...
- Barril Beach.