The Algarve’s capital has a more distinctly Portuguese feel than most resort towns. Many visitors only pass through this underrated city, which is a pity, as it makes for an enjoyable stopover. It has an attractive marina, well-maintained parks and plazas, and a historic old town full of pedestrian lanes and outdoor cafes.
Zambujeira Do Mar
Enchantingly wild beaches backed by rugged cliffs form the setting of this sleepy seaside village. The main street terminates at the cliff and from there paths lead to the attractive sands below. Quieter than Vila Nova, Zambujeira attracts a backpacker, surfy crowd, though in August the town is a party place and hosts the massive music fest, Festa do Sudoeste.
Costa da Caparica
Costa da Caparica’s seemingly never-ending beach attracts sun-worshipping lisboêtas craving all-over tans, surfers keen to ride Atlantic waves, and day-tripping families seeking clean sea and soft sand. It hasn’t escaped development, but head south and the high-rises soon give way to pine forests and mellow beach-shack cafes.
Popular for its long, fabulous town beach, nearby surf strands and also as a jumping-off point for the beautiful Ilhas Berlengas nature reserve, Peniche, spectacularly set on a headland surrounded by sea, remains a working port, giving it a slightly grittier, more ‘lived in’ feel than its resort neighbours.