Introducing The Algarve
Love it or hate it, the Algarve is Portugal’s premier holiday destination, with pretty beaches, brash resorts and picturesque whitewashed towns that flood with foreigners when summer arrives. While the party atmosphere isn’t for everyone, the setting is undeniably beautiful: breathtaking cliffs, wide golden sands, natural bays, scalloped beaches and long sandy islands with waves lapping at the shore. Outside the touristy enclaves, there are quiet castle towns, flower-covered hillsides and enchanting stretches of shoreline still untouched by development.
The towns themselves aren’t as varied as the coastline, but still offer a wide range of personalities. Lagos, with its cobbled streets, young crowd and abundant nightlife, is the carnival queen of the Algarve. Monchique is a quaint town with fine views over the steep wooded countryside. Tavira, set along a peaceful river, remains elegant and laid-back, with a history dating back to the Romans. The capital of the region, Faro, has a more Portuguese feel than some, and a fascinating medieval quarter. Out on the rugged west coast, small, charming towns like Sagres and Carrapateira attract a surf-loving crowd, while cliffside Albufeira sees a wider mix of travellers.
If you’re not keen on crowds and high-season prices, avoid coming from July to mid-September. This is when most Portuguese and other Europeans take their holidays: spring and autumn are lovely alternatives (though the water will be a bit nippy).
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Best places to stay in the Algarve
Portugal - The Algarve (Chapter)
This is the Algarve chapter from Lonely Planet's Portugal guidebook. Coverage includes: Faro & the Leeward Coast, Faro, Milreu & Estói, São Brás de Alportel, Olhão, Tavira, Vila Real de Santo António, Castro Marim, Loulé, Serra Do Caldeirão, Albufeira, Carvoeiro, Silves, Portimão, Praia Da Rocha, The Windward Coast & Costa Vicentina, Lagos & around, Sagres & around, Monchique and Alcoutim.
The other side of the Algarve
The arrivals hall of Faro airport is flooded with golf club-toting tourists every day, and multimillion-dollar yachts bob in the resort-style harbour of Vilamoura. But a more authentic Algarve lies just beyond the shiny sphere of cruise ships and weekend package deals.
The Algarve destination guides
Algarve’s capital has a more distinctly Portuguese feel than most resort towns.
Best of Spain & Portugal
Dynamic culture, compelling history, to-die-for cuisine—the Iberian Peninsula really is an embarrassment of riches for every sense and interest.
4-Day South Portugal Tour from Lisbon: Lagos, Algarve Coast, Sagres, Évora, Beja and Setúbal
Discover the beautiful southern region of Portugal on this 4-day trip from Lisbon! Visit the charming villages of Lagos, Sagres, Évora, Beja and Setúbal with your guide and enjoy free time to discover more on your own. Enjoy guided visits of Sé de Évora Cathedral and St Francis Church in UNESCO World Heritage-listed Évora, and tour the Sao Vicente Fortress in Sagres.