• Lena Claeys

Algarve, Portugal: 10 Amazing Places To Visit

Updated: Nov 16

Thanks to its year-round sunny weather and beautiful rugged coastline, the Algarve, Portugal is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. But it’s not only the coast that makes this an attractive tourist destination. The Algarve is a true land of contrast, filled with historic towns, idyllic vineyards, lush mountain scenery, and tranquil nature reserves. In this article, we’ll highlight the 10 best places to visit in the Algarve, Portugal so you can have the best trip possible.


Algarve portugal

 

Check out our video on the Algarve to see what it's like there!



Where is the Algarve and how to get there?


The Algarve is the southernmost region of continental Portugal. There are multiple ways to get to the Algarve. The first one is by plane. It is most common to fly to the international airport of Faro. If you go from Lisbon to the Algarve you can also take the bus or train. Busses go to Albufeira, Faro, Lagos, and more. There is a direct fast train from Lisbon that stops at Albufeira and Loulé. Find more information on how to get from Lisbon to the Algarve.


Find a map below with all the places we'll talk about in this article. You can click any destination to get directions there yourself.




Important things to know before you go to the Algarve


Because the Algarve is such a perfect holiday destination, it gets very crowded during the summer. This is why we recommend visiting the Algarve between late April and the beginning of June or between mid-September and late October. In the Algarve, people speak Portuguese. But because it is a tourist region, most people know at least the basics of English. The Algarve is very safe. The only thing you need to watch out for is the power of nature itself. Because it is so close to the ocean, the weather and sea can be unpredictable. If you don't have enough time for multiple days in the mountains of the Algarve, we recommend taking a jeep tour with a local so you will see as much as possible in one day. More information about the mountains and a jeep tour can be found further in the article.


things to know when going to the Algarve Portugal


Best things to do in the Algarve Portugal


We spent a week in the Algarve, which was just enough to see all the highlights. But we recommend going for 10-14 days so you can see a bit more and have some time to relax as well. You can also check out our full Portugal Guide for information on other destinations in the country. Without further ado, let's dive into the 10 Amazing places to visit in the Algarve, Portugal.


10. Sagres


Sitting at the westernmost tip of the Algarve, Sagres is the wildest and most untamed destination. Windswept, barren landscapes, towering cliffs, and rough waters are what set this place apart. The town of Sagres itself is small and there aren’t as many tourist facilities. However, it’s a great place for surfing and relaxing. The town is home to two beaches: one on the south and one on the west coast. Other highlights include the fort and lighthouse, which date from the 17th century and offer incredible views of the ocean. Make sure to bring a sweater since the wind can make it cold here! Learn more about Sagres here.


Sagres Algarve portugal


9. Portimão


Traditionally a center for sardine canning and shipbuilding, Portimão is the second-largest city in the Algarve. While the fishing industry has been largely replaced by tourism, it’s still a big residential city and cultural hub. Visit the Portimão museum if you want to learn more about its fishing and canning tradition, or go to the medieval Fort of Santa Catarina de Ribamar for panoramic views. But the biggest draw is undoubtedly Portimão’s nearby Praia da Rocha, with beautiful beaches and stunning cliff views.


Praia da Rocha algarve portugal
Praia da Rocha

8. Faro & Ria Formosa


At number 8 we have Faro, the capital city of the Algarve. Even though the international airport is the gateway for many tourists arriving in Portugal, this city is usually overlooked. This is a shame because the Old Town and nearby Ria Formosa are definitely worth a visit! From cobblestone streets and cozy squares to a wide range of lagoons and wetlands, Faro boasts a blend of city and nature activities. We really enjoyed a boat tour in the Ria Formosa Natural Park (Parque Natural da Ria Formosa), which is home to canals, marshland, sandy beaches, and small islands (Ilha Deserta & Ilha da Culatra).


Ria Formosa Algarve Portugal
Ria Formosa Natural Park

7. Aljezur & West Coast Beaches


With wide-open beaches and sheer sea cliffs, the West Coast of the Algarve is a true hidden gem. The entire region falls within the boundaries of a natural park (Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina), and you can follow a number of hiking trails that showcase its rugged scenery, both inland and along the coast. But it’s also another prime destination for surfing. We recommend Arrifana Beach if you’re a beginner or intermediate surfer. The nearby coastal village of Aljezur is also worth a visit, with typical houses from the rural architecture of the Algarve.


west coast algarve portugal
Arrifana Beach

6. Fishermen’s Village Ferragudo


Ferragudo is a picturesque fishing village located near the city of Portimão. With its white houses reaching down to the river, walking around this authentic fishing town is an experience in itself. But Praia Grande is also a great place to relax and enjoy watersports, such as windsurfing. Since it doesn’t take so much time to explore around, we recommend spending a few hours here and combining it on a day trip to other destinations in the area. There are also other traditional fishing villages in the Algarve, such as Alvor.


Farragudo algarve

5. Lagos & Ponta da Piedade


Lagos is the western Algarve’s liveliest town and one of the best places to base yourself from in our opinion. It has a wide range of cafés and restaurants to choose from, but also some historical sights, such as castle walls, churches, and a fort called Forte da Ponta da Bandeira. Combine this with its spectacular coastline, filled with steep cliffs, caves, and grottoes, and you’ve got one of the most scenic destinations in the Algarve. We highly recommend hiking along the cliff walls, but also seeing them up close from a kayak or boat tour. If you want to learn more you can read our complete travel guide to Lagos in Portugal.


Ponta da piedade algarve portugal
Ponta da Piedade

4. Serra de Monchique (Monchique Mountain)


Apart from beautiful beaches, the Algarve is also home to a rolling mountain range. The town of Monchique lies in pristine nature, surrounded by lush green forests. It’s an idyllic and authentic mountain town with sweeping vistas and a network of nature trails. From here, you can take a road up to the highest point in the Algarve, which is 902 meters (Fóia). On a clear day, the views stretch as far as Faro, Lagos, the Atlantic Ocean, and beyond. The best way to explore this area is by off-roading on a jeep safari. We went on an amazing 7-hour tour with Algarve Jipe Safari. This combined the landscapes of Monchique and the town of Silves.


serra de monchique algarve portugal


3. Silves


Also accessible on the Algarve Jipe Safari tour, the town of Silves is a must-see during your visit. This historic town was actually the capital of the Algarve at one point. In fact, during the Moorish era from the 9th to 12th century, Silves had great importance as a trading center. The town itself cascades down the hill, flowing out from beneath the beautiful Silves Castle (Castelo de Silves). Enjoy your time learning about the town’s history inside the castle walls as well as on the cobbled streets surrounding it.


Silves castle algarve portugal


2. Praia da Marinha & the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail


Sitting between Portimão and Albufeira, the Seven Hanging Valleys Hike is awe-inspiring. This 12 kilometers, or 7.4 mile, out-and-back hike takes between 4 to 6 hours to complete if you do the full route and includes endless views of the Atlantic ocean as well as limestone rock formations. There is some elevation gain and loss as you climb up and down each of the valleys, but overall the hike is easy to moderate. We recommend starting the trail at the parking lot of Praia da Marinha since the nicest views are in that area and you’ll still have a great time even if you only do the first portion of the hike from that angle. Go to our map above to see the whole Seven Hanging Valleys Trail.


Seven Hanging Valleys Hike algarve portugal


1. Benagil Cave


Located underneath the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, The Benagil Cave is a world-class natural attraction in the Algarve. It is the most famous sea cave in the Algarve. The inside of the cave is extremely unique and unlike any other we’ve seen in the world so far. Dripping rainwater from above and pounding ocean waves from below are what shaped the limestone over millions of years. Although it’s only a short distance from Benagil Beach, you still need a kayak, stand-up paddle board, or guided boat tour to reach the caves safely. In our opinion, it’s best to rent a kayak since it’s the most stable on your own. Plus, the bigger boats don’t let you get off to explore the inside of the cave. It’s best to go early in the morning until noon for the best lighting/water conditions.


Benagil Cave algarve portugal

 

Free Giveaway


Did you enjoy our article on the Algarve? Make sure to download our free giveaway, which includes our summer travel packing list so you know perfectly what to pack when going to the Algarve.


what to pack to the algarve portugal


More Helpful Info About The Algarve


If you still need more information about the Algarve, make sure to check out these other great articles below:

  1. 15 Best Things to Do in the Algarve (Portugal) by The Crazy Tourist

  2. 9 Bucket List Things To Do in Algarve, Portugal by Salt In Our Hair

  3. 20 Fun things to do in Algarve Portugal: A responsible travel guide by Brainy Backpackers



Need more travel inspiration? Check out our other destinations and articles on Portugal:

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