The Algarve is one of Portugal‘s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s easy to see why. Not only is Algarve Portugal weather one of the warmest in the country, but it also boasts a stunning coastline, beautiful beaches (some of the best beaches in Portugal!), and lively coastal towns. The Algarve is a paradise for beach-goers, outdoor adventurers, and foodies.
There’s something for everyone in the Algarve. This blog post will highlight the best things to do in the Algarve: from the best beaches in Algarve, Portugal to the best coastal towns and where to stay in Algarve Portugal, we’ve got you covered!
The Algarve is a region located in the southernmost part of Portugal and is known for its stunning yellow-gold cliff beaches and crystal-clear waters. With its miles of coastline, there are plenty of great beach spots to explore. Stretching from Cape St Vincent in the west all the way down to Faro in the east, there are plenty of beaches and coastal towns to choose from.
Popular spots and some of the best beaches in Algarve Portugal include Praia dos Três Irmãos, Praia do Camilo and Praia da Arrifana.
If you’re looking for outdoor activities, the Algarve is full of them! From hiking in Sete Vales Suspensos to surfing or kayaking in the ocean, there are plenty of ways to fill your days. Before kicking off with the official list of the best things to do in the Algarve, it’s a good idea to figure out where to stay in Algarve, Portugal first.
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Where to Stay in the Algarve
The Algarve stretches from Sagres to Monte Gordo, and there are many coastal towns dotted along the coast to stay in. The biggest and most popular towns to stay in are Alubferia, Portimão, Faro and Lagos. Then there are smaller towns like Tavira, Carvoeiro, and Sagres.
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These towns have plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from cosy guesthouses and apartments to large luxury villas and hotels.
When deciding where to stay in Algarve Portugal, you should take into consideration the things you want to do and see, as well as the amount of time you’re planning to stay. The west side of the Algarve, around Lagos and Sagres, are the surf hotspots of the Algarve, so if it’s a surf break you’re after, you’ll want to stay in either of these towns. Lagos and Sagres tend to attract younger travellers who are looking for a smaller, quieter place to stay and access to more remote beaches of the Algarve.
Whereas Faro, Albufeira and Portimão are more popular for families and people looking for a livelier atmosphere with plenty of restaurants, bars and nightlife options as they are bigger towns. These three towns are also in the “centre” of the Algarve coast so they are a great base if you want to explore the whole Algarve region.
Finally, Tavira and Carvoeiro are very small towns but are very popular with tourists looking for a relaxing beach holiday in the Algarve as they have easy access to a beautiful beach. So if you’re heading to the Algarve for a weekend getaway or a beach-bum holiday where all you do is walk from your hotel to the beach and back, staying in either of these towns would be the best option.
Best time to Visit the Algarve
Honestly, there is no best time to visit when it comes to the Algarve.
It’s a destination all year round, but it might just depend on what you are looking for in your holiday. The summer months from June to September is the best time to visit the Algarve if you want to experience the hot Algarve Portugal weather during the summer months. But be warned, these are the busiest months so this will be the most expensive and crowded time to visit. If you’re after a taste of summer in Portugal in the Algarve, I’d recommend visiting May to June or September to October as the weather will already be reaching mid-twenties, but with fewer crowds!
The winter months from late October to March is also a great time to visit if you want to enjoy the region in a quieter way and explore some of its places like villages, mountains, or castles without the crowds. October to January can be quite wet so visiting closer to spring (March to April) would be the best option for drier and better weather to enjoy the outdoors. But the south coast of Portugal is a great option for a milder winter with a bit of winter sun, so if an escape for the deep winter in Europe is something you’re after then the Algarve is a great option.
Now that you know where to stay in Algarve Portugal and the best time to visit, it’s time to fill your itinerary with things to do, so without further ado, here are the best things to do in Algarve:
The 12 best things to do in the Algarve, Portugal
1. Take a road trip along the coast
Taking a road trip in the Algarve is an adventure like no other. Driving along the coast, you’ll be treated to views of stunning vistas, picturesque villages, and pristine beaches. Either hire a car and stay in different towns along the coast or hire a campervan and camp out by the beach. There’s nothing like a road trip to really take in the beauty of the Algarve.
When it comes to activities for your road trip, the options are endless. If you’re looking for a little adventure, why not try surfing or kayaking? You can also take a boat tour around the nearby islands or explore the area’s many caves and grottoes. There are plenty of golf courses for those who enjoy hitting a few balls as well. Or spend some time wandering through charming towns and villages to get a taste of traditional Portuguese culture and lifestyle. Not only will you get to visit the best beaches, but also have some of the best food in the best places to eat in the Algarve.
2. Go for a walk at Praia dos Tres Irmaos at low tide
Praia dos Irmãos is a must-visit in the Algarve and one of the best things to do in the Algarve. The two small islands that border it make it one of the most unique beaches in the region and create a mesmerizing landscape, making it one of the best beaches in Algarve Portugal. Its crystal clear waters invite swimmers to explore, and its jagged rocks become perfect perching spots for those looking to take in the beauty of nature.
The beach itself is quite secluded, so you should expect fewer crowds than other popular destinations in the Algarve. This means you can enjoy some quiet time and really relax without having to worry about noise from tourists or vendors on the sand. Plus, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even take a boat ride out to sea to explore nearby coves and grottos – an experience unlike any other
3. Go Surfing in Sagres
Sagres is a small town located on the southwestern tip of Portugal. It is known for its surfing, as the waves here are some of the best in the country. Surfing in Sagres is a must-do for any surf enthusiast, as the town has a number of great surf spots and surf camps.
One of the best things about surfing in Sagres is that there are waves for all levels of surfers. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you’ll be able to find a wave that suits your level. There are also a number of surf schools in Sagres, so if you’re new to the sport, you can take a lesson or two before hitting the waves.
If you’re looking for a place to surf and relax, then Sagres is the perfect destination for you. With its great waves and stunning scenery, it’s no wonder that this small town is one of Portugal’s most popular tourist destinations and one of the best places to visit in the Algarve.
4. Take a tour of the famous Benagil Cave
Visiting the Benagil Cave is on every traveller’s bucket list when visiting Portugal’s Algarve region. This magnificent cave can be accessed via a tiny beach in the town of Benagil, where visitors take a short boat ride to get there. (However, if you want to ditch the tours, you could always hire kayaks and take yourself there as Mollie did in this blog post).
Once inside the cave, visitors will find it filled with natural beauty – from its winding natural passageways and stunning arches to its turquoise blue waters and unique rock formations. The entire experience is simply breathtaking and an unforgettable sight for many visitors. It’s no wonder why this is one of the best things to do in the Algarve.
There are plenty of spots to stop and take pictures or enjoy the view, so make sure to bring your camera (preferably in a waterproof bag!).
5. Watching the sunset at Cape St. Vincent
Watching the sunset in Cape St Vincent is one of the most beautiful and magical experiences you can have in the Algarve. The sun setting over the horizon as it casts a shimmering orange light across the sky is truly breathtaking. Watching the sun dip below the horizon from Cape St. Vincent is an unforgettable experience.
So if you’re looking for a romantic way to end your day or simply want to take some time out from reality, watching the sunset from Cape St Vincent is an experience that won’t disappoint!
6. Visit one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal: Praia do Camilo
Praia do Camilo is one of the most popular beaches in the Algarve, and it is easy to see why. With its golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking views, the beach is truly a paradise. Visitors can spend their days lounging on the beach, swimming in the sea, or exploring the nearby cliffs and caves. The beach itself stretches for over 600 meters, making it perfect for a long stroll along the shoreline (although most travellers come here to set up shop for the day and lounge in the sun!).
For those looking to take a break from lounging on the beach, there are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby to explore. Here visitors can sample some traditional Portuguese cuisine and find souvenirs to take home with them. All this combined makes Praia do Camilo an ideal spot for both relaxation and exploration!
7. Go Dolphin Watching in Sagres
A visit to the Algarve wouldn’t be complete without going on a dolphin-watching tour in Sagres. As the only thing involving dolphins in Portugal, this is one of the best things to do in the Algarve!
Throughout the year, pods of bottlenose dolphins swim in these waters and can easily be spotted by visitors who take one of the many boat tours available for dolphin watching. Depending on the tour you choose, you may also get a chance to go snorkelling and get up close and personal with these majestic creatures. Even if you don’t spot any dolphins, there are plenty of other sites that will make your time at Sagres worthwhile. Be sure to bring your camera along so you can capture beautiful photos of lighthouses and picturesque beaches framed by perfect blue skies and dramatic cliff faces.
8. See the Rock formations in Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade is one of the most photographed places in the Algarve, and it’s not hard to see why. This stunning site is made up of bright red sandstone cliffs and rock formations that have been eroded by the sea into incredible shapes. The best way to explore Ponta da Piedade is by boat, where visitors can get a better view.
The lighthouse at Ponta da Piedade is an iconic symbol of the region, with its red and white stripes making it easily recognizable from afar. Visitors to Ponta da Piedade will be taken aback by the incredible views of the surrounding cliffs and ocean from atop the lighthouse.
9. Hang out in the town of Lagos
The historic town of Lagos is one of the most popular destinations in the Algarve, especially amongst millennial travellers. With its picturesque cobblestone streets, fortress walls, and pristine beaches, it’s easy to see why so many people flock here every summer. It’s a great place to explore during the day and even better at night, with plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants to choose from. During the day, you can wander around its cobbled alleyways, stopping by art galleries, antique shops and local boutiques for unique souvenirs.
As the sunsets, Lagos comes alive as its bars fill up with visitors and locals alike. There are plenty of live music venues to choose from, so you can enjoy listening to some traditional Portuguese tunes while sipping an ice-cold beer or two. The city’s vibrant nightlife is also a big attraction, so make sure to head out on the town when you’re visiting Lagos!
10. Explore the Blow Holes at Algar Seco
One of the most interesting natural features of the Algarve region is the dramatic blowholes in Algar Seco. These spectacular phenomena are created when waves crash against the rocky cliffs, forcing air and water up through channels in the rock. As the pressure builds up from below, a powerful jet of air and water shoots out from the top of the cliffs into the sky. This incredible sight can be seen all along this stretch of coastline, and it’s an unforgettable experience for any traveller visiting the Algarve.
11. Hike Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos
Hiking the coastal path of Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos is an incredible experience that should not be missed by anyone visiting the Algarve. This scenic hiking trail winds its way along the coast, offering stunning views of the sea and the cliffs below. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, making it perfect for a leisurely hike. Along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the view or enjoy a picnic lunch.
The hike can be done in a day, but if you have more time, there are several campsites along the route where you can spend the night. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a relaxing walk with incredible views, Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos is sure to exceed your expectations.
12. Explore the coastal town of Faro
Faro is a charming and vibrant town located in the Algarve region of Portugal. It is renowned for its spectacular beaches, colourful architecture, and delicious seafood. In Faro, you can explore the old city centre and admire its historic architecture dating back to the 18th century. There are plenty of places to explore, such as the Faro Cathedral and the Church of San Domingos, which are full of beautiful artworks and historical artefacts. For those looking for outdoor activities, there is an abundance of stunning beaches and breathtaking cliffs that provide countless opportunities for hiking, swimming, biking, and kayaking.
At night Faro comes alive as bars and restaurants open their doors for business. During summer months, there are often live music performances in the town square and many different festivals taking place throughout the year that are worth exploring. The beaches around Faro are also excellent destinations for swimming or sunbathing; head to Ilha Deserta beach for beautiful views over Ria Formosa Nature Park or Praia de Cabanas for a tranquil atmosphere away from it all. No matter where you go in Faro, you will surely find something to do that suits your interests!
No matter what type of vacation experience you’re looking for, there is plenty to see and do in this stunning region of Portugal. From dolphin-watching trips to exploring historic towns like Faro and Lagos, there are countless (or at least 12) things to do in the Algarve!
What are your favourite things to do in the Algarve? Anything you want to add to the list of the best things to do in the Algarve? Drop them below!
What are your favourite things to do on the Algarve, Portugal?
Where are your favourite places to visit in Portugal? Anything you’d add to this Portugal travel guide?
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