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)
Coastal Algarve receives much exposure for its breathtaking cliffs, golden beaches, scalloped bays and sandy islands. But the letter ‘S’ (for sun, surf and sand) is only one letter in the Algarvian alphabet: activities, beach bars, castles,...
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.
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.
Caves and Dolphin Watching Cruise from Albufeira
Your Caves and Dolphin Watching Cruise begins at the new marina of Albufeira where you will board the boat "Insonia". Cruise along the Algarve coastline between to the Beach of Carvoeiro passing spectacular rock formations on the way. Stop for a swim, visit the grottos or sit back and relax on the deck.