The Algarve is known for its natural beauty and warm weather. With abundance of sunshine all year round, it is one of the most popular beach and golf holiday destinations in Europe. The Algarve receives plenty of sun all year around with an average of 13 hours of sunshine during the summer months. It is home to golden beaches, towering cliffs and mystic sea caves attracting millions of visitors every year. Let’s discover the 10 Best Things to Do in Algarve.
The final leg of our holiday in Portugal that started with 3 days Porto followed by 2 days in Lisbon the Capital and culminating in the Algarve.
About the Algarve
Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and The Mediterranean Sea and is a popular beach holiday destination. It was ruled by Moors for over 5 centuries and finally taken over by the Portuguese in 1189. The Algarve is also famous for its pottery and azulejos, the famous blue and white ceramic tiles. It also attracts golfers from all around the world with some of the best Golf Resorts on offer.
- Is Algarve safe? Portugal is one of the safest countries in Europe and same for Algarve.
- What is the currency in Portugal? As part of the European Union the currency is Euro.
- How many days do you need in the Algarve? 3 days is enough to get a flavour of Algarve and visit some of the most popular spots but a week for a more relaxed holiday.
Best Time to go to Algarve.
With temperatures rarely dropping below 20°C Algarve is an all year round destination but the peak season being July to September. The summers can be scorching and very busy so best to travel in the shoulder season post September or early summer. Winters are relatively mild with highs of 15°C and it starts getting warmer in spring with highs of 22°C in April.
How to get to Algarve
The fastest way to get to Algarve is to fly to Faro. Faro airport is the gateway to THE Algarve and 2 hour flight from the UK. Faro Airport is 4 km away from the main city of Faro and 30 minutes’ drive from Algarve. It can also be reached by road and train. We travelled to Algarve by train from Lisbon. It took us around 3 hr to reach Albufeira station from Lisbon.
Getting around Algarve
Hire a Car in if you want to travel around Algarve a great way is to hire a car. There is always the easier way of a taxi but this can get expensive in Algarve. UBER is available Algarve. There are frequent long-distance bus services connecting the different towns in the Algarve to Lisbon. A bus network is also available around Faro, Albufeira, and Lagos.
Where to stay in Algarve?
The most popular places to stay in Algarve are:
- Lagos, Albufeira or Praia da Rocha, Sagres – Overall
- Tavira , Praia da Luz and Alvor for family holidays with kids.
- Luxurious – Vilamoura or Vale Do Lobo.
Our stay in Algarve.
The Anantara Villamoura – A quiet retreat overlooking lush golf greens. The hotel is a short drive from the main Marina and offers free transport to and from the Marina.
- 280 Luxurious Rooms and Suites to choose from.
- 5 beautiful pools and Champagne cabanas.
- Minutes from the prestigious Victoria Golf Course.
- Close to Vilamoura’s beaches, marina and nightlife, including Purobeach Vilamoura
- A World-class kids’ and teens’ clubs
10 Best things to do in Algarve.
Algarve is all about Sun, Sea and Sand and having a relaxing holiday. It has some of the best sandy beaches and a picturesque shoreline but there is much more than this on offer. Let’s find out the 10 Best Things to Do in Algarve.
1. Visit the old town of Tavira
Tavira was originally a small fishing village and one which has still managed to retain much of its charm. It is a great place to stay if you are looking at a quieter family holiday. It is filled with character and gives you a feel of Portugal. Tavira has an old Roman bridge that has stood there for centuries. Cobbled streets and a sweet little town centre makes it the worth a visit.
2. Spend an evening in Vilamoura Marina.
Vilamoura is the more modern and upmarket town in Algarve and perhaps Portugal. It attracts visitors from all around the world. Vilamoura is famous for its large marina and golf courses. The evenings around the marina are lively and is filled with restaurants and bars. Vilamoura also has a sandy beach.
3. Visit the Old town of Albufeira.
Albufeira is the largest resort town in Algarve coastline. A former fishing village that has transformed into a busy holiday destination. It has sandy beaches and a buzzing nightlife. It is quite busy yet more affordable when compared to Vilamoura.
4. Day trips to Lagos and Sagres
Lagos and Sagres are the other 2 popular towns in the Algarve
Sagres is mainly a great destination, but there are a few sandy beaches there as well. It has a dramatic landscape with rough seas and cliffs. One of the popular attractions in Sagres is The Lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente located along the coastal peninsula of Sagres.
Lagos has a historic city centre filled with a number of historical monuments overlooking the harbour. It has a few good beaches but it is also famous for its lively nightlife and numerous bars and restaurants.
5. Party in the Strip – Albuefeira.
Where is the main nightlife in Albufeira? Avenida Dr. Francisco Sá Carneiro, more commonly known as The Strip is the heart of Albufeira’s nightlife. Open till the wee hours of the morning it filled with bars, clubs and eateries.
6. Admire the Benagil Caves.
One of the most popular attractions is – The Benagil Caves. Benagil is a small fishing village and has become popular due to the picturesque sea caves that are along its shoreline. How to get to The Benagil caves? The Caves are situated a few hundred meters away from Benagil beach.
The only way to get to the caves is to swim or by kayak. It is not an easy swim as it is around a cliff. There are loads of boat tours that promote a trip to the Benagil caves but be mindful they don’t allow you to get off at the caves. This would definitely top the 10 Best Things to Do in Algarve.
7. The 5 Best Beaches of Algarve
The coastline of Algarve is home to some of the finest beaches in Europe. Most of these are sandy and some have beautiful rock formations. Most of the beaches in the Algarve involve a bit of walking and steep wooden steps. It is well worth it though.
The must visit beaches in Algarve are:
Praia da Falesia
This is the longest beach of Algarve. Over 6km of beautiful golden sand an perfect to spend a day with the family. Being one of the more popular beaches it has really good facilities including bars and restaurants, this is a family friendly beach and is very close to Vilamoura. There is a path along the cliffs through the pine groves with beautiful views.
Praia da Marinha –
Often ranked as one of the best beaches in Europe. Is a bit of a walk from the main town but is very popular with tourists. A small tunnel under the rocks connects Marinha beach to another tiny beach called Praia da Mesquita.
Praia da Rocha
The Praia da Rocha is near Portimao and is great for swimming and sunbathing.
Praia de Dona Ana
Just outside Lagos, is popular for its sandy beach and the surrounding colorful cliffs. It reminds you of the 12 apostles on the Great Ocean Road. It is famous with both locals and tourists great for kids as well.
Praia de São Rafael
Praia de Sao Rafael is close to the village of Sesmarias 2.5 miles from Albufeira old town. It is set in a pretty bay, flanked by the limestone rock formations that add to the beauty of this beach.
8. Go Dolphin Watching in Algarve
Take a boat tour which includes sailing along the coastline admiring the beautiful rock formations and searching for the beautiful mammals.The most common dolphin species found here are the Bottle nose dolphin and striped dolphin.
If you are lucky enough you will come close to these dolphins that come and swim around your boat. Dolphin tours are offered from March to late November. It is not guaranteed though. Tours start from Vilamoura Marina. If you are lucky to to see them this would definitely top the 10 Best Things to Do in Algarve.
9. Enjoy a round of Golf in Algarve.
The Algarve is considered as one of the best golf destinations in Europe. Whether you are an aamateur or a professional there is something available for all levels. With some of the best golf courses to the ones with the most stunning views of the coastline, it is a golfer’s paradise.
10. What to Eat in Algarve
Being on the Atlantic Coast Algarve is blessed with divine Seafood. The most popular sea food of Portugal is the humble Sardine. The best way to enjoy Sardines is to have it grilled with salad and white wine. Other seafood on offer include crab, oysters, squid and shellfish.
Piri Piri Chicken – Another popular dish from Portugal. Barbecued chicken marinated in a special sauce made with the piri-piri chilli. The chilli was first imported from its former colony in Mozambique.
Custard Tart – Whether it is Porto, Lisbon or the Algarve the tasty custard tart flavoured with almonds is a must all through Portugal. We sampled them in all the 3 cities and has to be one of the 10 Best Things to Do in Algarve.
Time to say goodbye to Portugal
I must admit Portugal was a delight to visit and it was time to say goodbye to this amazing country.
We started our journey in the wine region of Porto followed by a visit to the vibrant Capital – Lisbon and onto the beautiful beaches of the Algarve.
Hope you enjoyed reading about the 10 Best Things to Do in Algarve as much as we enjoyed visiting it.
Its been over 30 years since I last visited the Algarve. Your article brought back lovely memories. It really is a beautiful place in Portugal. It certainly has changed since then as you would expect. I think it is time to revisit.
It’s very beautiful and a great place to have a relaxing beach holiday.
We are planning a short visit to Portugal soon, but to Lisbon & Sintra. Sadly we will be missing Algarve!
So thanks for this virtual tour of this beautiful place.
Benagil Caves looks so unusual! I should buy a drone camera before I venture here! Thanks for the tip about the boat tours that don’t allow to get off here. I will have to be careful when I plan.
Portugal is beautiful and so much to offer. You will surely enjoy Lisbon and Sintra and can have a read of my posts on both these places.
Thanks for the detailed information about getting to Algarve via Faro airport and getting around. It is on my list of places to visit which I have not come around to yet. The Benagil caves looks interesting to explore and I plan to do so, good tip about the boats. I have also heard about surfing in Portugal. Did you happen to see surfers there ?
There are a few surfing places and yes a great place to surf if you into it. Benagil canes is a highlight of Algarve.
I’ve been 3 times to Portugal, but never yet made it to the Algarve. There are clearly some wonderful sights, and plenty of beaches to see here. I never realized you couldn’t get off at Benagil Cave from the boat tours, just by swimming or by kayak, now I know! I’d love to see Lagos and Sagres when there. I’ve read a bit about both destination, plus I like the beer too ha!
Try and visit Algarve although very different from mainland Portugal. Hope you can experience it soon.
Looks like an amazing beach holiday destination and one I will add to my list. Thanks for sharing.
It’s a great beach holiday destination and child friendly
The views are indeed great. And the beaches, look fun with plenty of Sun. The rock formations along the beach are also inviting…. It seems in Algarve, it’s rare to have a gloomy day…
It’s a great destination and yes it almost always sunny ☀️
I haven’t spent enough time in Portugal but I think I need to rectify this – Algarve looks stunning. I’d love to stroll around the old streets of Albufeira and the caves looks amazing. Could be a good option for a late summer trip. When is the best time to go?
A late summer trip should be good with a bit less tourists and prices more affordable
A great place to visit if you want to have a beach holiday it seems. Thanks for sharing some of the must do and how to go about in Algarve. Quite handy.
Algrave looks like a wonderful beach destination in Portugal. The uncut rocks along the Mediterranean coast at this place are really Instagrammable. Benegail caves look stunning. The limestine rocks at Praia de São Rafael looks like famous 12 Apostles of Great Ocean Road.
The natural beauty is absolutely stunning and parts of the shorelines do look like the Great Ocean Road.
I cannot wait to get to Portugal! I really want to visit Lisbon, Sintra and Algarve. I would love to stay in the Old town of Albufeira, it looks charming and lively at the same time. I day trip to Lagos would also make sense. The Benagil caves are gorgeous, I’ve seen so many pictures on Instagram, and your pictures are amazing too. Thanks for listing the best beaches in Algarve, I’ll bookmark your post for when I finally plan my trip.
There is a lot to see and do in and around Algarve. Hope you can make it there soon. Let me know if you need any more help closer to when you going
Algarve is a beautiful place you discovered. And covered it so well with your pictures. What facinated me the most was your Dolphin tour. Amazing Amar!!
The dolphin tour is really nice.
I have been lookingvto go to Portugal for a long time. Algrave is one of the places I have considered. I love they have 13 hrs of sun in the summer. I think the old town looks amazing and I would love to take some day trips to Lagos and Sagres. The caves seem impressive as well so I will add those to my list. Great resource
Yes try sunny and a great plane to visit. Hope you can visit soon.
I have been to Lagos and Benagil Caves. The caves there are so tranquil. But I haven’t been to any beach in your list, though I spent one week in Algrave. Personally I prefer the beach there than in Spain.
The Benagil caves are absolutely outstanding and I would love to go back there again. The beaches of Portugal are golden sand and look stunning.
If I get a chance to visit Algarve, the old town Tavira and Albufeira will be in my itinerary rather than Vilamoura. It’s too crowded for my taste. I would like to go inside the Benagil Cave, too. It looks dramatic to be in there. And of course the custard tart is something that I want to try. Right at where it came from.
Yes I would agree about getting the real feel of Portugal in Tavira vs Vilamoura. Custard tart is a must
Algarve (which I always manage to misspell) is a fond place to me, because I had a childhood friend who was from that area. The best way to experience a destination is by being guided by a local who truly knows the place. I agree that the best time to go is in September because it is still quite hot and pleasant, but not as warm as it is during the summer months. I remember the Custard Tart and it remains one of my favv. sweets til this day! This post really brought back some fond memories from my time in Algarve.
That’s so nice to know about your childhood friend and memories connected to Algarve Hope you can visit it soon and experience it.
It truly looks like you had a great time in Portugal! Its an amazing country with so much fun to see and do. I hadn’t heard about the Algarve before i read your post but it looks like a great place to visit. Thank you for sharing!
A great part of Portugal and one you should try and visit some day. Great for sun sea and sand.
This post is making me want to go back 😊🔆
It’s a beautiful place and I would want to return too
I was just in Portugal last year, but I didn’t make it as far south as Algarve. Now I wish I had! It’s great that it has beaches, yet it also has the historical aspect and the quintessential black and white tiled walkways. What a great area to relax in!
It’s a nice part of Portugal. Especially if you want to relax with the sun sea and sand. Gives you a reason to return.
I am so pressured and preoccupied with family matters, that travel has taken a back seat on my priority list. However reading your posts make me happy. I feel that I have traveled with you. Thanks Amar.
Thanks. Hope you can visit Algarve as it is a great place to relax.
I have never been to Portugal and Algarve seems to be a very good first stop! Beautiful beaches and delicious food never goes wrong on a holiday! I would definitely want to have a look inside that Benagil cave and perhaps learn how to hit a golf boll or two!
The Algarve is beautiful and great to start or end your trip of Portugal. The beaches and food are as good. Hope you can experience it.
We loved our visit to the Algarve. We actually changed hotels 3 times because we did not have a good sense of how small this area really is. We thought we saw a lot. But your list has some new things for our return visit. We missed Tavira with its cobbled street town centre. We had a love hate visit to Albufeira. We hated the over-crowded tourist spots. But loved the areas a local friend helped us to discover. But I can’t believe we missed the Benagil Caves. Kayaking in sounds like fun. Thanks for taking me back!
There are a lot of love hate places in this area that’s true. Bengali is beautiful and a must visit. Hope you can experience it again some day.
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