The Algarve Region is definitively one of the most beautiful in Portugal: scenic beaches, impressive cliffs, intricate coastline, beautiful inland hills...and so much more! Below is my Travel Guide to help you plan your holidays in the Algarve - including the best things to do in Algarve, the most beautiful beaches, where to stay, how to get around...
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Why visit the Algarve region? Video
Before we talk maps and Algarve must see, let's start with a short video that will show you what it is like to visit the Algarve region in Portugal: stunning beaches, strong fortresses, impressive cliffs and more... Let's be inspired:
Top things to do in Algarve (including Best Beaches in Algarve)
In terms of Algarve must see it really differs from one person to the others:
If you like the "most of" or the "best of"
- Cape St Vincent is the Southwestern most point of mainland Europe
- Praia da Marinha is often listed in the most beautiful beaches in the World
- Benagil is part of all lists about the best sea caves in the world
If you like long white sand flat beaches, head to the East and Tavira Island. If you like old structures: Sagres and Silves offer some of the best but this is not so fascinating compared to the beaches.
So, here is my personal list of the Top Algarve must see in terms of what I think are the most scenic places to admire:
- Ponta da Piedade
- Boat Tour from Benagil Beach including Benagil Sea Cave
- Praia da Falesia Beach
- Tres Irmaos Beach
- Praia da Marinha Beach
- Odeceixe Beach
- Praia dos Tres Castelos
- Praia do Camilo
More photos and suggestions down in this article.
Introduction to the Algarve - Map & Destinations
Below is a simplified Algarve Map with the main destinations. This will help you get a general idea about the region. I included 2 of the most famous Algarve points of interest: Benagil and Sagres.
The DETAILED MAPS with points for all the scenic locations, as well as their GPS coordinates are available in my guides to help you plan your Portugal road trip:
The best Algarve destinations - where to stay
You can set up a base really anywhere in the Algarve. The region is not too big, so you can explore from one town, especially if you stick to the West side Faro.
There are accommodations almost everywhere along the coast. You can choose.
Below are the main towns where you could stay in Algarve:
- Lagos Portugal
Small town on the western side of the Algarve (not to be mixed with Lagos Nigeria). It is known for its old historic center, busy nightlife and stunning beaches for scenery. It offers a lot but is not so central - See best rated accommodations
Good location, nice beaches for enjoying a day at the beach, large resorts - See best rated accommodations
Albuferia is the most popular Algarve destination thanks to its central location and all the facilities of a resort town. However, it is not for people looking for quiet time. A short distance to some of the most beautiful beaches in Algarve - See best rated accommodations
Faro is often overlooked because further from the most scenic beaches. It has a scenic old town and this is where the airport is located - See best rated accommodations
Tavira is the main town in the Eastern part of the Algarve Portugal. Old fort, cathedral, white sand beaches, islands... Definitively a very different atmosphere than the rest of the Algarve - See best rated accommodations
You can also head inland in the hills. The most famous town in Monchique. Personally, I think it is disappointing compared to the coastline. But if you want to escape the heat and the crowds, it is a good option - See best rated accommodations
So where is the best place to stay in the Algarve?
That's a very difficult question to answer. All areas have interesting beaches and things to do, great restaurants and there are a lot of accommodation choices.
- Portimao or a village around - it is quite central to visit all the best beaches, and it is very close to stunning beaches + it has all you might need in terms of restaurant and activities - Check out accommodations around Portimao
- Otherwise, have a look below at the top attractions in all regions of the Algarve and pick the area where you prefer the scenery
Fun Algarve activities
From the next section, I am listing for you all the best sites to visit in the Algarve: the best beaches, villages, castle, cliffs... If you are renting a car, you won't get bored.
But if you want something different in between have a look at those unforgettable experiences you could have in Algarve:
- Boat tour from Portimao to discover the amazing coastline from the sea and enter the famous Benagil Sea Cave!!! - Check out program and price
- 4WD exploration of inland Algarve to admire the scenery and taste local produces from Portimao - Check out program and prices
- Kayak exploration of the cliffs and caves near Lagos - relaxing experience close to nature! - Check out program and prices
- Jet Boat - do you love a good thrill? From Albufeira you can go on an exciting Jet Boat ride! - Check out program and prices
- Or check out all the activities in Algarve
Things to do in Algarve West Coast
Let's start with the best things to do in the Algarve West Coast:
Stunning Beach and Lagoon on the West Coast at the northern limit of the Algarve.
Loved by surfers.
Cabo da Vincente
Southwestern most point of Mainland Europe.
Beautiful Cliffs and a lighthouse
Promontory with a 16th century sea fort and a famous compass rose on the ground.
Stunning views of the cliffs.
Where to stay on the Algarve West End
I recommend staying in Sagres, close to amazing cliffs and beaches - Check out the accommodations around Sagres
Some have amazing sea views such as the Mareta View Boutique B&B - check out photos and prices
Things to do in Lagos, Portugal
The first main town now is Lagos Portugal, a vibrant and dynamic place the stay, home to some of the best beaches in Algarve. Discover the things to do in Lagos, Portugal:
Historic Center of Lagos
Discover the church Santo Antonio, the Castelo dos Governadores and the Forte da Ponta da Bandeira
Praia Dona Ana Beach
The most famous beach in Lagos with cliffs and pinnacles.
More photos and info on the Praia Dona Ana Algarve beach Article
Praia do Camilo Beach
A lot of stairs to reach it, but a scenic small cove with arch and many other rock formations.
More photos and info on the Praia do Camilo Beach Article
Ponta da Piedade
A promontory with the most beautiful cliffs in the Algarve coastline: arches, pinnacles...
More photos and info on the Ponta da Piedade Article
Praia do Canavial Beach
Large sand beach near the Ponta da Piedade Promontory
Where to stay around Lagos
Love what you see above? Lagos is a great city to stay in. It is smaller than the others, with great nightlife and easy walking access to stunning beaches - Check out accommodations in Lagos
Things to do in Portimao
And now here is what to do in Algarve in the Portimao area:
Praia do Alvor Beach
Portimao's long flat sand beach
Praia dos Tres Irmaos Beach
One of the best beaches in Algarve with its famous double arch rock formation.
More photos and info on the Tres Irmaos Beach Article
Praia dos Tres Castelos Beach
Stunning pinnacles near the high cliffs. In line with Praia da Rocha.
Praia da Rocha Beach
Large flat sand beach and the beginning of a long walk that takes you along Tres Castelos and further.
Its reputation come as the most photographed village in the Algarve. Probably because there is a great viewpoint across the water...
Fort of Sao Jao do Arade
Small medieval sea fort between 2 beaches.
Large flat sand beach
Where to stay around Portimao
Portimao is very central to reach all the most beautiful beaches. Plus close to the city center are some stunning cliffs - Check out the accommodations in Portimao
You can stay in the big tourist hub or try to find a nice resort or apartment closer to your favorite beach.
For example enjoy fantastic views at the Bela Vista Hotel and Spa, right by the Portimao beach - Check out Photos and availability
Or the Encosta da Praia Guesthouse, quieter on the other side of the harbor - Check out Photos and availability
Things to do around Benagil - Algar Seco
Below are the best places in Algarve around the famous Benagil:
Around the lighthouse, the cliffs are very impressive especially with the big hole above a sea cave!
Praia da Albandeira Beach
A small cove with high cliffs and views over the other side with a stunning arch.
More photos and info in the Praia da Albandeira Beach article
Praia da Marinha Beach
Considered by many as the most beautiful beach in Portugal. Visit at low tide!
More photos and info in the Praia da Marinha Beach article
Benagil Sea Cave
From the Benagil Beach you can take a boat to explore the coastline including the magnificent Benagil Sea Cave.
More photos and info in the Algarve Sea Cave Boat Tour article
Algar Seco Cliffs
Algar Seco is another stunning cliff area with holes, a boardwalk and an impressive pinnacle.
More photos and info in the Algar Seco Algarve article
Praia da Senhora Da Rocha
Easily accessible beach
Senhora Da Rocha
Small white church on a promontory between Praia da Senhora da Rocha and Praia Nova.
Long sand beach with high cliffs
Praia do Carvalho Beach
Secluded Beach accessed through a cutting in the cliffs and many many steps. Mostly interesting for the access.
Where to stay around Benagil
Around Algar Seco is the big resort hub if you are looking for all the facilities - check out the accommodations in Carvoeiro
Things to do in Albufeira
Now let's discover the beaches and other things to do in Albufeira Portugal and around. Some of the best places in Algarve.
Beach with a very different style and rounded rocks.
More photos and info in the Gale Beach article
Praia do Evaristo Beach
Not really famous, it is best seen at high tide when the waves crash on the rocks.
More photos and info in the Praia do Evaristo Beach article
Praia Sao Rafael Beach
Another beautiful beach with pinnacles and rock formations... (there are so many!)
Praia dos Arrifes Beach
Great small beach with many huge rock formations.
More photos and info in the Praia dos Arrifes beach article
Praia de Falesia Beach
My favorite beach in Portugal with its huge colored cliff!
More photos and info in the Praia da Falesia beach article
Vale do Lobo Beach
Located in a high-end resort and living area, Vale do Lobo beach has red rock formations that will make you think you are in the desert.
Where to stay around Albufeira
Albufeira is a big touristic town. It was not my favorite but it is close to some of my favorite beaches so... - Check out accommodations in Albufeira
You can stay right in front of the beach at 'Inn the Beach Apartments' - Check out photos and availability
Or you could stay near the amazing view of Falesia beach at the amazing PortoBay Falesia - Check out photos and availability
Things to do in Faro and East Algarve
Now let's head East and discover the things to do in Faro and in East Algarve. This area has a very different atmosphere to that of the West coast.
Faro and Parque Natural Ria Formosa
Faro has a charming old town and boat tours to discover the protected nature (especially birds) in the Ria Formosa National Park.
Small town with white and colorful houses. Visit the cathedral and fort on top of the hill.
Boat tours and ferries to the Island and more flat white sand beaches...
Praia da Manta Rota Beach
East Algarve has only flat white sand beaches such as Manta Rota.
At the border with Spain is Castro Marim and its fortifications.
Where to stay in East Algarve
The main places to stay are:
- Faro, central near the airport - check out accommodations in Faro
- Tavira, the charming town of East Algarve - check out accommodations in Tavira
I personally stayed in Tavira for one night at the Taah Billa Guesthouse. Well located, spacious, simple, clean, good price, nice welcome - Check out latest prices
Inland Algarve things to do
Now let's go inland and discover the other things to do in Algarve.
Many dams have been built in the hills of the Algarve creating stunning lakes.
Algarve inland town with the red Silves Castle at the top, first established here in the 8th century. Walls are made of red sandstones.
The main town in the hills of the Algarve region. Old center with narrow alleys. Monchique is also famous for its liqueur: Medronho.
Another lake created by a dam.
And other lakes and hills...
Half day or full day 4WD tours are available for the main towns.
PLANNING TIPS - The Algarve Portugal
How to get to the Algarve
- Flight to Faro
- Motorway or small roads from Lisbon of from the East and Evora
- Lisbon to Albufeira: 2h30 via Motorway
- Evora to Tavira: 2h35
How long to stay in the Algarve
- Plan at least 3 days to see the highlights, but spending a whole week is worth it
- Lagos to Tavira: 1h15 via Motorway
How to get around
Without a car, you won't be able to do much except go to the nearby beaches.
Check out car rental deals on RentalCars.com
Be aware that the motorway between all the main towns in Algarve is not free. You need a Via Verde tag to pay.
If you don't want to spend money on it, take the smaller roads. it will be a little bit longer, but sometimes not that much.
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