If we had to choose the best areas to stay in the Algarve our selection of most interesting places would be: Albufeira, Portimao, Faro, Lagos, Tavira, Carvoeiro, Sagrés, Quarteira, Vilamoura and Olhao.
The Algarve is a region that covers the entire southern coast of Portugal, the Algarve is a Portuguese version of Andalusia.From the Spanish border of Huelva to the tip of Cabo de San Vicente, in the western end of the Algarve, the region extends along less than 200 kilometers
Short distance that allows you to move between cities, towns, beaches and environments with ease, for example, with a rental car for greater autonomy and independence.
The best time to travel to the Algarve can be in summer , which, although it is high season, does not register the volume of visitors that many tourist towns on the Levantine coast have at that time, such as Benidorm.
Even so, during these dates, can be more complicated to move around with a rental car In September, even though it is high season, there is less influx of visitors and this is noticeable. The rest of the year, the Algarve is a destination almost for one.
The best areas to stay in the Algarve
The Algarve region offers many charming places, capable of creating and encouraging unforgettable stays.To choose a few is difficult.
However, some key locations in the area allow you to enjoy a good accommodation in the Algarve and all the advantages of proximity to beaches and monuments most prominent of the area, combined with the best transport connections to move within the towns, between cities and villages and even to travel to other nearby parts of southern Portugal.
In this sense the best areas to stay in the Algarve are Albufeira, Portimao, Faro, Lagos, Tavira, Carvoeiro, Sagrés, Quarteira, Vilamoura and Olhao.
The town of Albufeira is located in the centre of the Algarve coast , between Quarteira (to the east) and Carvoeiro (to the west).Albufeira was originally a fishing village that has grown exponentially with tourism.
It is a coastal town , which highlights its long beaches , its climate, its bars and restaurants (a hundred in its old town) that encourage a popular offer of nightlife .It is also worth mentioning the atmosphere of the chiringuitos in summer in the area of Areias do Sao Joao.
The historical centre of Albufeira is very small, but very picturesque with its traditional architecture of whitewashed houses which is divided into narrow streets similar to those you can find in many white Andalusian villages.
Don’t miss the beautiful white churches of Albufeira .the Matriz de la Concepción Church (with its Sineira Tower), the San Sebastian or Santa Ana Church, all from the 18th century and the Matriz de Paderne Church, a charming village located in the northeast of Albufeira.
On the beaches where you can sunbathe and do sport activities , the most visited are Coelha, Praia do Barranco das Belharucas, Praia dos Aveiros, Praia de Gale, Praia de Sao Rafael, Praia de Falésia, Praia de Arrifes, Praia do Castelo, Praia Evaristo or Praia dos Salgados, some of them quieter, others more touristic.
On the other hand, the Peneco beach has a tunnel access from the urban area of Albufeira (next to the local tourist office), the Pescadores beach is the urban beach of Albufeira, next to the Peneco beach.
As recommended activities in Albufeira, there are summer offers to visit the maze of caves on the coast in boats with departures from the same port of Albufeira The Benagil Caves can be visited in a less invasive way, on paddle surf.
You can also go on boats to see cetaceans in the area, and there are options for different tours on sailing yachts and motor boats between ports.
To move in Albufeira and the surrounding area, two recommendations, the train service that can be taken at the station of Ferreiras. The station is somewhat distant from the urban center (6 kilometers), but is connected with a bus line (the orange one).
The bus terminal is about two kilometres from the centre and the bus connections are generally quite complicated, for example the Albufeira-Faro line, where the buses make a long detour and stop in smaller towns.The Faro International Airport is best reached by taxi (45 kilometres).
The accommodation offer in the Algarve in the Albufeira area is impressive .There is a lot to choose from, from four star hotels to beachfront apartments and cottages in the parishes around Albufeira.
Albufeira is undoubtedly one of the best places to sleep in the Algarve .
– Accommodation in Albufeira
Portimao is the largest city in the West Algarve is a coastal enclave located on one of the banks of the River Arade, very significant in the Portuguese fishing industry, in the processing of sardines and in shipbuilding.
However, over time, as has happened with other towns on the south coast of Portugal, the tourist industry has gained weight in its economy, although not as much as in other areas of the region.
Today, Portimao is a residential town where you can see the daily life of the Portuguese on foot, offering many leisure options to the visitor.
In the picturesque historical center of Portimao , you must approach the town hall building, whose facade has the appearance of an altar open to its square.For archaeology enthusiasts, there are two significant necropolis of the Neolithic period in the area, the Alcalar and the Monte Canelas.
Very plastic is the cut out image of the Castle of Santa Caterina of the XVII century on the river Arade.And, if you want to know more about the maritime and fishing tradition of Portimao and the whole Algarve region, don’t miss the Portimao Museum.
Portimao is a perfect place to go shopping and to get traditional products and crafts Among its squares, you can find shopping streets like the one in Rua Direita, where typical restaurants and cafes are wall to wall.
In the best tables of the pedestrian walkways of Portimao you can order fish from the Algarve coast, made with local recipes, for example, the famous grelhados , fish (and meat) roasted on the grill.And, if not, the always present seafood cataplana , stewed in its traditional copper container.
The Ribeirinha de Portimao is a key place to find restaurants specialized in the best of the Portuguese food of the south and to eat in front of the sea!And to drink, a glass of green wine, a drink with a low alcohol content that is very sweet to the palate.
A recommendation for the more active, walk precisely along the Ribeirinha promenade, with a view of the fishing port and the sea and arrive at the Plaza de Bivar.
Portimao is also famous for its beaches , especially the most popular of all, the Praia da Rocha , which is about 3 kilometers south of the city center.This is a sandy beach with all the services and a good offer of restaurants by the sea.
There is a bus service that allows you to reach the most popular beaches in the area of Portimao, da Rocha, Praia da Marina or Barranco das Canas.
In addition to hotels and apartments of all categories , the offer of holiday homes in Portimao is an ideal and economical option to stay in the Algarve for stays of one month, or so, for families and groups of friends on summer days.
– Accommodation in Portimao
Faro is a residential and commercial city on the east coast of the Algarve, 111 kilometres from the Spanish city of Huelva.Faro has a remarkable fishing and canning industry and other cork manufacturing industries. The town has an international airport which is 26 kilometres from the city centre.
In this urban center, you must see, yes or yes, the famous Chapel of Bones , the ossuary of the church of Carmen; the cathedral and Portuguese Gothic style, the castle , with its walls, the Episcopal Palace and the Palace of Estói , a noble construction of the 18th century that today is a pousada, a great hotel.
Faro has some museums of interest , such as the Maritime Museum, the Life Sciences Museum, the Algarve Regional Museum and the municipal museums of Loulé and Faro itself.
The commercial area of Faro can be found in the surroundings of Liberdade, Ferreira Almeida and Francisco Gomes streets, and in Santo Antonio street, the main one.
In the terraces of these streets, you must sit down and order the Portuguese desserts of the region like the Don Rodrigo, the Colchón de Novia, the cheese of fig and almonds or the folares, typical of the Lent.
The kitchen of Faro is very complete .It not only stands out for its desserts, but also for its meat, broth and fish dishes, and to get hold of its delicacies, you have to write down (to order later) the best of its local recipes: horse mackerel, leg of lamb, pork with clams, fried rabbit or peas with Algarve eggs.
This town has good connections by train (station in Largo da Estaçao) and bus (station on Avenida da República) with all major towns in the Algarve.
Its accommodation offer is very complete and at very affordable prices to sleep in the Algarve in the body of a king or a queen.
– Accommodation in Faro
Lagos is a small coastal town belonging to the district of Faro, it is a tourist and service town Its immediate interior is less populated and is dedicated to agriculture
The place was occupied from ancient times and owes its name to the Roman name, Lacobriga.Its role in the Age of Discovery of the 15th and 16th centuries was crucial.
In Lagos, the most important monuments are: to be discovered by any restless traveller, the Church of Santo Antonio, from the 18th century and which stands out for its interior decorations; and Ponta Bandeira Fort and its corresponding wall.The fortress is located on the promenade, a place to visit with enough time to enjoy it.
Transport in the area, by bus and by train (local Algarve lines).
– Accommodation in Lagos
Tavira is a town in the east of the Algarve, very close to the Spanish border.
Cobbled streets, charming squares, historical sites and beaches make this enclave a special environment, and one of the most interesting places to stay in the Algarve.
In Tavira, it is necessary to approach the Castle fortress In its heights, the views of the town and the coast are memorable.A route through the old churches should include that of Santa Maria do Castelo, with its peculiar clock tower, and the chapel of Sao Sebastiao, to find the tranquillity of the place.
The exhibition of the Municipal Museum of Tavira allows you to know the history of the place and its connection with the past.Near Tavira, there are four beaches , but the most popular is the one of do Barril, ideal to enjoy it with the family.
To buy some souvenirs, the Republic Square , around which everything in Tavira revolves, in all senses.
For those who are looking for something curious in the area, we recommend visiting the Camera Obscura , a water tank converted into a panoramic point that also allows you to see all of Tavira but reflected in a mirror.
Pego do Inferno is a bathing area located inside , about ten minutes by car from Tavira.Perfect for taking the kids along, a further recommendation is to walk along the banks of the Gilao River at dusk and cross its old Roman bridge when the wind is calm.
In Tavira, the most recommendable accommodation is the small apartments and small hotels to sleep in the Algarve in a historical place.
To move in the area, as in other towns of the Algarve, if you go with time, the train (station in Avenida Luis de Camoes) and the bus (at the station by the river), if not, the rental car.
– Accommodation in Tavira
Carvoeiro is a coquettish fishing village on the Algarve coast located 10 kilometers east of Portimao and within the municipality of Lagoa from which it is only 5 kilometers.
Coquettish for its architecture, its houses and streets, all around a rocky promontory (Monte Carvoeiro) that falls to the sea and separates two beaches.
As places to visit, it is worth seeing the chapel of Our Lady of the Incarnation , located inside what was once a fortress, and the Alfanzina Lighthouse , built in 1920.
The best hotel places in the town are located around the central square of Monte Carvoeiro.Carveiro is perfect for those who want to stay in the Algarve in areas not often visited by the general public.
– Accommodation in Carvoeiro
In addition to this article on the best areas to stay in the Algarve we recommend: Where to stay in Lisbon, where to stay in Madeira
Sagrés is located in the westernmost tip of the Algarve It is a dry coast full of cliffs where the wind rules the landscape.
Sagrés has a charming fishing port, a small town centre with houses of traditional architecture and a fortress, a restored construction at the end of the promontory of the cape that allowed to close an open bay.The outstanding and visitable constructions are the later 18th century outbuildings that have been preserved.
In the fortress of Sagrés, you have to take some time to see the Church of Nuestra Señora de Gracia, a small temple to which the sailors were entrusted before going out to sea, or when returning, as a thank you for having survived the hardships of the seas.
The famous Cape of San Vicente , the most western place in the Algarve region, is a mythical place that is said, with little foundation, to have been the home of a sailing school created by King Don Manuel in the fifteenth century, all because he succeeded in living in Sagrés for a short time.
has its grace climb to lighthouse from the tip and take some photos in that place so emblematic. and for walk, the environments reserved of the Park of the Southwest Alentejo and la Costa Vicentina.
Sagrés is perfect for hiking by the sea or for surfing among the best waves in the Algarve.In Praia do Tonel, you can find the biggest waves of the region.
If we talk about beaches , there are some with wild and inhospitable cliffs, some with their typical beach bars, others, like those of do Telheiro, Beliche, Martinhal, Cordoama, Castalejo or Ingrina, this last one is always attractive because of its crystalline waters.
Sagrés has a bus service that connects the town with Faro (Eva Transrápido) and all the intermediate towns, although the best transport system is undoubtedly the rental car that guarantees flexibility and availability for any type of mobility.
In Sagrés, there is a good offer of accommodation in the Algarve, hotels, pousadas, apartment houses and bed & breakfast. A lot to choose from and at reasonable prices Far from much, close to peace.
– Accommodation in Sagrés
Quarteira is situated to the east of Albufeira, also on the coast.Quarteira is another of the coastal towns of the Algarve with a economy very much oriented towards tourism and which developed urbanly in the 1970s and 1980s.
Quarteira is a preferred destination in the Algarve for beach tourism and for families with children The beaches that should be among the preferences of travelers in the area are, without doubt, those of Quarteira, central and urban, Forte Novo, one kilometer from the town, and Vilamoura, at the same distance, all sandy and with good services.
Cavalo Prieto Beach, located two kilometres to the east and more isolated, has a curious lagoon which, when it overflows, forms pools that are ideal for bathing the youngest members of the family.
In Quarteira, the Roman villa of Cerro da Vila stands out as a monument of great heritage value, , very close to the Vilamoura marina and 1,500 metres west of Quarteira.
It is a Roman settlement from the 2nd century that reoccupied the place that had already been inhabited since the Bronze Age. The remains of the villas correspond to two residences located on the old Roman port.
It is also interesting to visit the fishing port and enjoy the atmosphere when the boats that fish near the coast return.
A visit to the market in Quarteira , which is very large in size and held on Wednesdays, a walk down the avenue or a bicycle rental in Vilamoura can be part of simple activities to experience with friends or family.
There are buses that connect with Faro and Albufeira.
Quarteira is ideal for staying in the Algarve in all-inclusive resorts and at more than affordable prices.
– Accommodation in Quarteira
Vilamoura, yes, is located very close to Quarteira, a tourist area that has developed around a small fishing port and two beaches .
It is a location eminently of leisure that occupies an area of 1,700 hectares in which are distributed hotels, golf courses, night clubs , a riding center, a casino and bars and restaurants, and a marina with just over a thousand moorings.
The bus station of Vilamoura is located in the avenue Eng.
Vilamoura is a good place to stay in the Algarve in quality resort .
– Vilamoura accommodation
Olhao is also a coastal town in the eastern Algarve, very close to Faro (just 10 kilometres), forming part of its conurbation.Olhao is a fishing port and a residential and commercial town .
The town is located on an estuary that is part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, an ideal environment for walking, hiking and bird watching in its natural environment.It is an environment of beaches of fine sand , the most recommended, the one of the island of Armona.
The old town of Olhao is formed by the old streets of its fishermen’s quarter , very typical, very authentic.In the area, you can enjoy the spectacle of the markets and the hustle and bustle of the people who sell and buy, fish market, one, and vegetables and meat, the other, separated by the Praça Patrão Joaquim Lopes.
In Olhao, mass foreign tourism seems to have passed by .
To see more, you have to walk a little bit through the streets of Olhao, to see, for example, the Capilla del Senhor dos Aflitos ; the Museum of the city in the Plaza de la Restauración and the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario .
To move out of Olhao and to connect with other towns, without hesitation, the train and the bus .In Olhao, the bus station is located on Beco Padre Tomás street, 200 meters south of the train station.
If you want to live close to the spirit of the lusos of the south, maybe the best thing to do is to rent a holiday home to integrate as a neighbour.
In any case if decks Olhao as area for sleep in the Algarve you must have in counts that the offer of accommodations is more limited than in other areas of the region.
– Accommodation in Olhao
The Algarve , the warm and extensive south of Portugal, is a complete destination with its beaches and guarantee of sunny days, its culture and historical heritage, its gastronomy, the warmth of its people or its interior landscapes.