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The Algarve is Portugal’s premier coastal destination. With its string of fun-loving beach resorts, towns packed with history and dramatic natural scenery, there’s a lot to keep you entertained in this region. And then there’s the food, glorious food to consider.

Figuring out where to stay in the Algarve is all important for a smooth trip. Some places are totally heaving with tourists in summer, while others are quiet; some places are nestled in the mountains, others perched on cliffs by the sea. This guide is here to help you find the base that’s right for you.

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Where To Stay In The Algarve

where to stay algarve beach and cliffswhere to stay algarve beach and cliffs
Image via Unsplash by Anthony R.

Whether you’re traveling solo, as a family or with your other half, there’s no doubt you’ll find somewhere that’s right for you. The beauty of this region is the varied towns and cities (both big and small) that you have to choose from. 

The main neighborhoods of the Algarve

  • Lagos — One of the largest cities in the Algarve and a good choice for first-timers.
  • Albufeira — This is possibly the best place to stay in the Algarve for families; activities galore.
  • Sagres — Want to get off the beaten track? Head to Sagres to see some of the region’s better beaches.
  • Faro — If you haven’t got long in the Algarve, Faro’s airport means you’ll waste no time getting to your hotel.
  • Carvoeiro — A charming town that’s perfect for couples, Carvoeiro is home to some of the best hotels in the Algarve.
  • Tavira — Easygoing Tavira has a slower pace of life and is the ideal jumping off point for exploring the eastern Algarve.
  • Monchique — Hikers and outdoors enthusiasts should make Monchique their Algarve base.
  • Portimao — Don’t overlook the region’s second-largest city; it has great eateries and plenty of history.

Algarve travel tips

New to this slice of Portugal? Here are a few travel tips to help you plan your trip to the Algarve.

How to get around 

Working out how to get around the Algarve depends entirely on the type of trip you’re going to take. For most people, however, having your own set of wheels will be the easiest way to get around.

Roads in the region are well maintained and fairly easy to navigate, and the distances between destinations are relatively short. The price of renting a car in the Algarve is generally affordable, but you should still make sure to book your hire car in advance so you don’t get disappointed. 

The only major downside of renting a car in the Algarve is working out a place to park once you’ve arrived at your destination.

Besides driving, there is public transport to get you around the region. First of all, there are trains. Lisbon is connected to the Algarve by train, which arrives in the town of Tunes. From here you can catch a number of local trains; the network is useful for getting to towns like Tavira and Faro.

Unfortunately, train stations aren’t always located in the center of towns, which means you’ll have to figure out how to get from the stations to your accommodation.

Then there are buses. Use the local bus network around towns and cities to get to most major sights. There’s also an extensive bus service that newly opened in 2021. This is called Vamus Algarve, and basically heads to every major and smaller town in the region.

You can purchase tickets for Vamus Algarve online in advance, or even through a dedicated app. There are also summer routes that operate seasonally.

The Algarve Pass is useful as it gives you unlimited travel on the bus network for either 3 or 7 days ($37.50 and $48 respectively).

Neighborhood map

the algarve neighborhood mapthe algarve neighborhood map
Image via wanderingportugal.com

Plan your trip

Hire a bike – Cycling in the Algarve is beautiful and can really open up the region. You can hire bikes in most towns of the Algarve — ideal for pedaling the more than 40 cycling routes in the area.

Plug adaptors – Make sure you have the right plug adaptor for your trip. Europe uses the two pronged rounded outlet.

Go in shoulder season – The Algarve can get seriously crowded in summer. If you want to avoid the hordes of tourists, head there in May or September for similar weather and fewer people.

Pack layers – The weather in the Algarve can be changeable. Pack a few light layers, especially for the evening (at night it can actually get pretty chilly).

Get an Algarve Pass – If you don’t want to rent a car or cycle, getting the bus is the best way to connect the towns of the Algarve. This pass makes it all pretty affordable.

Take a boat – The coast of the Algarve is beautiful. Opt to take a boat trip or just hop on one of many local ferries to see it in all its glory.

Book restaurants in advance – The food scene in the Algarve is booming. If you’ve got a particular place in mind for dinner, make sure you book in advance before you go to avoid being disappointed (peak times are between 7 and 9 p.m.).

1. Lagos

castelo de lagos fortress behind palm treescastelo de lagos fortress behind palm trees
Image via Wikipedia by Oleksii.Mykus

What’s there and why visit

Located on the Algarve’s western coastline, Lagos captivates with a mix of history and beach resort. Combine this with a touch of a local life and it’s a comprehensive vacation destination. 

Lagos isn’t only about beaches — it’s also about enjoying days eating at any number of eateries, trying out water sports, and hopping on day trips to destinations further afield.

As one of the most visited cities in Portugal, it’s the best area to stay in the Algarve for many travelers. The historic core in Lagos is made up of charming white-washed buildings, cobbled streets and several interesting sights (think squares and churches). All of this is surrounded by the city’s original 16th-century defensive walls.

The city itself is a mix of old and new, with many traditional bars and eateries sitting alongside more modern, tourist-oriented establishments. There’s just about something for everyone going on in Lagos.

Suggested hotels near Lagos

BUDGET

where to stay algarve dom pedro lagos pool view at night from hotelwhere to stay algarve dom pedro lagos pool view at night from hotel

Dom Pedro Lagos

This hotel has apartment style rooms, consisting of private bathroom and balcony and either a kitchenette or kitchen. It is a close walk to Meia Praia Beach and a short drive to the Lagos center. It offers an outdoor pool and children’s pool, a bar and a garden where guests can go to relax!

MID-RANGE

marina club lagos resort bedroom and balcony marina club lagos resort bedroom and balcony

Marina Club Lagos Resort

“Fantastic location, spotlessly clean, short walk to the old town where there are gorgeous restaurants and bars. Quiet at night time. No problem getting a sunbed at the pool. Staff very kind and pleasant. Have already booked for next year!”

MID-RANGE

vila gale lagos rear hotel and poolvila gale lagos rear hotel and pool

Vila Gale Lagos

This hotel is located right on the Meia Praia Beach and the marina is just a quick drive away. It features an indoor and outdoor pool, a spa center, 3 tennis courts, restaurants and a Kids’ Club. With the many beaches nearby, watersports are plenty. Book any number of them at the marina!

LUXURY

iberostar selection lagos algarve suite bed and soaker tubiberostar selection lagos algarve suite bed and soaker tub

Iberostar Selection Lagos Algarve

This 5-star hotel is located within walking distance to Meia Praia Beach, as well as the Meia Praia Railway Station, making it simple to get around the city. It features an outdoor pool with amazing views, a spa, fitness center and restaurants. Premium suites come with their own private pool and panoramic ocean views.

Things to see near Lagos

Ponta da Piedade – At just over two kilometers to the south of the city is the golden headland that is Ponta da Piedade. Below it you’ll find a curve of white sand lapped by turquoise waters. Come spring, the surrounding cliffs come alive with wild orchids. Egrets also nest here too. It’s a great spot for nature lovers and photo opportunities alike.

Igreja de Santo António – A gem of Lagos’ historic core, Igreja de Santo António is a beautiful Baroque church. It dates back to 1707 but was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. A little plain on the outside, its interiors are richly decorated with wood carvings and gilded detailing that are sure to wow. There’s also a connecting museum where you can learn about the history of the church. 

Meia Praia – Stretching for 4.5 kilometers, the wide sands of Meia Praia comprise the largest beach in Lagos. There’s enough space for hundreds of locals and tourists alike to descend upon the beach in peak season. Backed by a number of bars and restaurants, it can be hard to tear yourself away from it all.

Castelo dos Governadores – With 10th-century roots placing its origin in the city’s Moorish era, this stronghold was later re-conquered by Portuguese forces in the 13th century. Also simply known as the Castle of Lagos, successive leaders have added their own touches to the fortress, resulting in a reflection of the city’s history as a whole. Not much remains of the medieval castle today, but the gateway is still impressive.

Getting there

Ponta da Piedade – A 15-minute taxi ride can easily take you to Ponta da Piedade. Walking the coastal path there is also easy, taking around 30 minutes.

Meia Praia – Walking to Meia Praia is the easiest way. It takes around 10 minutes from the center of the historic center of Lagos.

Castelo dos Governadores – Lagos train station is the nearest transport hub. It’s then a 20-minute walk from there to the castle.

Suggested activities in Lagos

Slide & Splash Water Park Entrance Ticket – Enjoy a fun day out during your vacation with a day at the water park. What better way is there to cool off?

Benagil Caves Speedboat Adventure – Get out of the city and see one of the Algarve’s most famous natural sights on a speedboat jaunt to remember.

2. Albufeira

praia da falesia beach tourists in albuferiapraia da falesia beach tourists in albuferia
Image via Unsplash by Martijn Vonk

What’s there and why visit

Albufeira is a raucous vacation hotspot that has long since shed its quiet, fishing-village roots. Instead of fish, today the town lands vacationers on package deals. That said, this could be the best area to stay in the Algarve for families — or if you don’t mind overlooking the tourist traps in favor of convenience.

Even though the tourists come here in their droves, Albufeira remains an attractive town. It features white-washed, flat-roofed houses that cling to the sides of a rocky outcrop. There’s even an old town with Moorish-influenced architecture.

That’s not to mention the whole host of beaches (and resorts to match) right on the doorstep. Many of these have been mercifully undeveloped, however, and are backed by dramatic cliffs and rock formations. 

Away from the family-friendly enclaves, nightlife in Albufeira is notorious. This is where to stay in the Algarve for party-lovers. The Strip features everything from British pubs to nightclubs and late-night drinking holes that don’t truly get going until the early hours of the morning. It’s definitely a city with two sides.

Suggested hotels near Albufeira

BUDGET

the patio suite hotel main lobbythe patio suite hotel main lobby

The Patio Suite Hotel

“Fantastic hotel, spotlessly clean and staff couldn’t do enough for us. Drinks were all branded. Food was absolutely amazing and fantastic selection. Room was huge with big balcony, kitchen and full size bath. Shuttle bus that ran back and fore the beach was a good bonus and we did beach yoga one day which was fab (provided by the hotel).”

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portobay falesia pool and ocean view from hotelportobay falesia pool and ocean view from hotel

PortoBay Falesia

Fabulously located to Falesia Beach, this hotel offers dorect access to the beach front. It features a lagoon-style pool and indoor pool, 2 restaurants and a bar, a wellness center, tennis courts and a putting green. There are many eateries and bars close by that guests can easliy get to on foot as well.

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3hb clube humbria aerial view of pools and hotel3hb clube humbria aerial view of pools and hotel

3HB Clube Humbria

This resort is perfect for families! It offers outdoor swimming pools for adults and children, a couple bars and restaurants, a children’s playground, a mini aqua park for children and a kids’ club. There is a convenience store on site, so you can always find what you need without having to leave the hotel!

LUXURY

where to stay algarve eden resort private pool and living quarters where to stay algarve eden resort private pool and living quarters

Eden Resort

 “Loved everything. Food was great, entertainment was great, we based ourselves here for our wedding in Portugal and we had family stay with us in different apartments, it was fantastic all around. Kids loved it. We got ready for the wedding in the apartment plenty of space. It was a brilliant holiday.”

Things to see near Albufeira

Praia da Falesia – This is one of the region’s most famous beaches, and one of the main reasons that make Albufeira one of the best places to stay in the Algarve. It runs for over 6 kilometers and is backed by golden cliffs (its name actually translates to “Beach of Cliffs”). Ample vendors offer sun loungers to hire for the day, while water sports as much as eateries are also available.

Praia da Galé – Praia da Galé is an ideal alternative to the more crowded beaches on the doorstep of Albufeira. Situated around 9 kilometers from the town itself, the 5-kilometer stretch of sand feels more off-the-beaten-track when compared to other beaches. The sand is scattered with interesting rock formations, and is particularly stunning at sunset. A good option for families thanks to the lifeguards.

Museu Municipal de Arqueologia – There’s more to Albufeira than beaches. On display at the city’s archaeological museum are various artifacts that have been excavated from the surrounding region. The museum charts everything from prehistoric to the 16th century. Its collection includes a Neolithic vase that dates back to 5,000 BC and a Roman mosaic. Entry is €1.

Largo Duarte Pacheco – This is the main square in Albufeira’s old town. Throughout the year it’s a busy spot to see local life playing out, but in the summer months it’s where crowds come in the early evening to meet and find a place to eat. Restaurants and bars can be found on all four sides of the square. It’s an ideal spot to sit for a while for people-watching. Sometimes the square hosts an art exhibition or live music.

Getting there

Praia da Falesia – At 10 kilometers from the center of Albufeira, the best way to reach this beach is to drive or take a taxi. It takes around 20 minutes by road.

Praia da Galé – This beach lies around a 15-minute drive from Albufeira. 

Museu Municipal de Arqueologia – Albufeira bus station is a 15-minute bus ride from this museum.

Suggested activities in Albufeira

Albufeira Beach BBQ with Caves and Coastline Cruise – Head out to see the dramatic coastline of Albufeira from the sea itself, complete with caves, cliffs and rock formations.

Historical Algarve Region Tour – Enjoy the historic sites of the region with this comprehensive small group tour.

Albufeira 2 hour Off-Road Tour Quad Adventure Tour – Get out into the wild landscape surrounding the town on your very own quad bike.

3. Sagres

sagres fortress fencing on cliffsagres fortress fencing on cliff
Image via Unsplash by Joao Teixeira

What’s there and why visit

Located far out on the western edge of the Algarve, Sagres is a destination with a far-flung feeling. Here visitors will be greeted by waves crashing on remote beaches, dramatic cliffs and a windy shoreline. 

It’s this wind that comes across the Atlantic that keeps Sagres relatively cool during Portugal’s otherwise very hot summers. 

The town differs from others in the region, because it’s still very much a working fishing community. Its architecture may not be classically pretty as other towns in the Algarve, but there’s still a lot to keep visitors coming.

You may not find the best hotels in the Algarve here, but you will find budget-friendly guesthouses for backpackers, stylish hostels and family-run hotels. There’s also a keen surfing scene, so expect a laid-back atmosphere with surfers from around Europe attracted here in the summer.

At its core is the quaint Praca da Republica — the cobbled town square, edged by eateries. This is where big celebrations take place throughout the year. It’s a good place to find yourself in the evening, when the terrace cafes and restaurants are busy with people.

Suggested hotels near Sagres

BUDGET

sagres time apartamentos bed and desksagres time apartamentos bed and desk

Sagres Time Apartamentos

This hotel is made of self-catering apartments that include private balconies overlooking the ocean, free WiFi and a living area. The hotel offers a heated, outdoor salt-water pool and on-site parking. It’s close to many beaches and less than a 5-minute drive from Cape São Vicente.

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where to stay algarve pousada de sagres bedroom and balconywhere to stay algarve pousada de sagres bedroom and balcony

Pousada de Sagres

This hotel is located on top of a cliff that overlooks Sagres forte, which is a quick drive away, and the lighthouse of Cape St Vicent, as well as beautiful ocean views. Enjoy the outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, fishing and restaurants while staying at this hotel.

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memmo baleeira bedroom and balconymemmo baleeira bedroom and balcony

Memmo Baleeira Hotel

This hotel is located within the Costa Vicentina Natural Park and is within walking distance to the historical center of Sagres and both Tonel and Martinhal Beach, while the Sagres forte is a short drive away. The hotel features an indoor and outdoor pool, a spa, a Kids’ Club and a restaurant that is highly rated for its pizza that’s cooked in a wood-burning oven!

LUXURY

martinhal sagres beach resort hotel aerial view of pool, beach and oceanmartinhal sagres beach resort hotel aerial view of pool, beach and ocean

Martinhal Sagres Beach Resort & Hotel

“Outstanding facilities for toddlers. Really great accommodation (garden house) that has every thing you need, with a nice private terrace and garden. impeccable cleaning, and generally very friendly and helpful staff. Great pools, especially the main pools where there is a bar service and a children’s pool.”

Things to see near Sagres

Sagres Fortress – With its picturesque location clinging to the cliffs overlooking the coast, Sagres Fortress is a formidable sight. Built in the 15th century, it was intended to protect the town from marauding invaders from the north. Its connection to Henry the Navigator has ensured its continued importance among Portugal’s monuments dedicated to the Age of Discovery. Entry is €3.

Praia do Beliche – Backed by rugged cliffs, Praia do Beliche is one of the most popular beaches in Sagres (it’s the closest one to the town). The beach is thankfully unspoiled by development and, with its powdered gold sand and crystal clear waters, it’s a beautiful place to relax for the day. Unless you’re here for the surfing, the downside is cold water and big waves. The cliffs block the beach itself from most of the wind though.

Cabo de Sao Vicente – A few kilometers outside of Sagres itself lies this dramatic headland. It’s most famous for being the location of Farol de Sao Vicente, an iconic lighthouse. There’s been a lighthouse here since 1520. Attached to the lighthouse there’s a museum that tells the story of the maritime history of the region.

Praia do Martinhal – Praia do Martinhal boasts a wide, sandy shoreline just a couple of kilometers from the center of Sagres. This beach is particularly popular with surfers who come to test out their skills on the waves. But it’s also just a pleasant spot to spend the day, soaking up the sun and enjoying the beachy vibes.

Getting there

Sagres Fortress – Walking is a good way to get to Sagres Fortress, taking around 30 minutes. You could also take a taxi (the drive takes around 5 minutes).

Praia do Beliche – A bus connects Sagres town with Praia do Beliche. It takes around 10 minutes and costs a few euros. The walk takes just over 30 minutes.

Praia do Martinhal – It’s a 22-minute walk or a 5-minute drive to Praia do Martinhal.

Suggested activities in Sagres

Sagres Natural Park: Sunset Tour by Jeep – Seeing a dramatic sunset from Sagres is good, but being whisked there by Jeep without having to lift a finger is better.

Sunset Tour – Take in the beautiful landscape of the Sagres area by jumping on this sunset tour which takes you out to the cliffs surrounding the town. 

4. Faro

where to stay in the algarve faro city behind marina where to stay in the algarve faro city behind marina
Image via Unsplash by rashid khreiss

What’s there and why visit

Faro is the capital of the Algarve. While many travelers simply land at its international airport and then quickly head on to a destination elsewhere, there’s a good reason to stick around and make Faro your base instead.

For one thing, the city’s pretty old town is edged by original medieval walls, inside which you’ll find winding pedestrianized alleyways and buzzing squares. It’s all done in a variety of different architectural styles, testament to the earthquakes and invasions through the centuries. 

Faro is the best area to stay in the Algarve if you’ve only got a short amount of time. Aside from exploring the old town, there’s also the modern marina, a number of contemporary plazas and parks. All in all, it’s an attractive city. And that’s without mentioning the beaches. 

Suggested hotels near Faro

BUDGET

stay hotel faro centro double bed by window stay hotel faro centro double bed by window

Stay Hotel Faro Centro

This hotel is within walking distance to Santo António Street and the popular Manuel Bivar Garden and Faro Marina, as well as the historical center and its cathedral. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, a continental buffet-style breakfast and a bar available to guests.

MID-RANGE

ap eva senses faro aerial view of hotel and marinaap eva senses faro aerial view of hotel and marina

AP Eva Senses Hotel

This hotel is in a central location of Faro, being just a quick drive from the airport and beach. It offers a seasonal rooftop pool and bar, 2 additional bars, a restaurant and a health club. The marina sits right in front of the hotel and the train station is a short walk away, making getting around super easy!

MID-RANGE

hotel faro beach club suite bedroomhotel faro beach club suite bedroom

Hotel Faro & Beach Club

“Lovely stay for our first visit to Portugal. Great hotel – room and breakfast were fantastic! Loved the roof top bar, for breakfast and in the evening. Fab location – very central for everything. All staff were lovely, helpful and friendly. Definitely recommend a stay here.”

LUXURY

where to stay algarve 3hb faro indoor pool & pool loungewhere to stay algarve 3hb faro indoor pool & pool lounge

3HB Faro

This 5-star hotel sits close to the airport, Carmo Church & Bones Chapel, Faro Marina and Cathedral of Faro. It features 2 restaurants, a bar, a terrace with city views, an infinity pool and an outdoor fireplace. Family rooms are available to book and a buffet-style breakfast is offered to guests.

Things to see near Faro

Parque Natural da Ria Formosa – Clocking in at almost 18,000 hectares, this enormous coastal reserve encompasses a whole array of ecosystems. Here you’ll find salt pans, sand dunes and marshes, hosting all manner of migrating birds. The nature reserve is an ideal spot for birding and anybody who enjoys spending time in the wilds of nature. Boat tours of the area are a must.

Praia de Faro – Faro’s beautiful beach is made up of a long stretch of golden sand. Set to the west of the city center, here in the peak of summer it overflows with visitors and locals alike. There’s much opportunity to try out kitesurfing or windsurfing thanks to the many vendors at the beach. Eateries and bars also abound.

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo and Capela dos Ossos – This elaborate church was completed in 1719 but was damaged in the 1755 earthquake. Restoration was funded by riches from Brazil. As such its interiors overflow with golden detailing and graceful carvings. Don’t miss the Capela dos Ossos — this chapel is decorated with the bones of a thousand or so monks as a memento mori (reminder of the brevity of life). Entry is €2.

Faro Cathedral – Faro’s very own cathedral is an intriguing blend of architectural styles from Renaissance to Gothic and Baroque. Built in 1251, like many historic sights in the country it took heavy damage in the great earthquake of 1755. Head up to the cathedral’s tower to take in views out across Faro’s old town and towards the sea. Entry is €3.

Getting there

Parque Natural da Ria Formosa – The nature reserve is 30 minutes by car from Faro.

Praia de Faro – Buses 14 and 16 leave Faro bus station for the beach. It takes 20 minutes and costs €2.30.

Faro Cathedral – Walking is the easiest way to reach this centrally located landmark. From the center of town it’s around a kilometer.

Suggested activities in Faro

Ria Formosa Faro Islands Catamaran Tour – See the beautiful nature reserve at Ria Formosa in all its glory from the comfort of a catamaran.

Hop On Hop Off City Tour by Tourist Train – If you’re strapped for time this hop on hop off tour allows you to see Faro’s historic sights at your leisure.

5. Carvoeiro

carvoeiro algarve town houses and buildingscarvoeiro algarve town houses and buildings
Image via Unsplash by Bettina Heinrich

What’s there and why visit

Charming Carvoeiro is one of the prettiest towns in the Algarve region. It may be small, but this town still attracts hordes of tourists in the summer season, who come to spend sunny days on its beautiful beaches.

Because of that, this former fishing village has developed into something of a resort, with some prime accommodation in the Algarve to choose from here. Many come on day trips, but staying here means enjoying a bit more of a laid-back atmosphere.

After you’ve finished exploring the small streets of Carvoeiro there are a number of sights an easy day trip away. Silves, for example, boasts a Moorish castle (easily reached by boat along the Arade River). Elsewhere there’s the nearby Benagil Caves — one of the most popular attractions along this portion of the Algarve.

When it comes to eating and drinking, don’t let Carvoeiro’s diminutive stature fool you. There’s an array of restaurants and bars ready to serve your nightly meals. Leading up towards the town from the main beach, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

Suggested hotels near Carvoeiro

BUDGET

pestana palm gardens shaded seating by poolpestana palm gardens shaded seating by pool

Pestana Palm Gardens

“We had a very good stay here. Its a 5-10 minute walk to an outstanding beach. We appreciated the free on site parking, the pool was excellent and the facilities were super nice. Extremely beautiful grounds and everything was well-kept. The apartment was spacious and comfortable.”

MID-RANGE

where to stay in algarve mirachoro carvoeiro bedroomwhere to stay in algarve mirachoro carvoeiro bedroom

Mirachoro Carvoeiro Hotel

This beachy hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool, surrounded by palm trees and coconut trees. It includes a sauna and hot tub, a sun terrace and a bar and restaurant. Bike and car rental services are available here. The hotel is a short walk away to Carvoeiro Beach, Vale Centianes Beach and the rock formations of Algar Seco.

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vila alba resort apartment living and dining areavila alba resort apartment living and dining area

Vila Alba Resort

This hotel is located in a unique location, at the top of a cliff, offering picturesque views of the ocean below. It offers direct access to the remote Albandeira Beach. The hotel features an infinity pool, spa, garden center and a bar and restaurant. Rooms are apartment style, including a kitchen and living room.

LUXURY

tivoli carvoeiro bar area terrace over sea at dusk tivoli carvoeiro bar area terrace over sea at dusk

Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort

This 5-star hotel overlooks the Vale Covo, offering stunning views all around. The hotel offers a few restaurants all serving different styles of cuisine, bars, indoor and outdoor pools and a spa. A a free shuttle service to the nearest beaches is offered to guests in the summer season. Vale de Milho Golf Course and Slide and Splash are both a short drive away.

Things to see near Carvoeiro

Benagil Caves – This large, natural sea cave attracts visitors from across the Algarve. The interior of the cave, illuminated by sunlight that streams in through a hole in the ceiling, is accessible only by sea. There’s a long list of companies that run tours here — no matter if you want to kayak there, SUP or simply catch a boat. A cliff walk allows you to peer into the caves from above.

Carvoeiro Boardwalk – This 570-meter boardwalk runs along the cliffs from outside Carvoeiro towards the Algar Seco caves. Clinging to the craggy cliffside, the short walk is easy to traverse and offers up beautiful views along the coast. Make sure to bring your camera as you’ll probably want to snap some photos along the way. Tip: there’s a bar at the base of the cliffs for a refreshing drink after your walk.

Praia do Carvalho – Although this is a fairly small beach, it’s a postcard-perfect destination that’s a must-visit if you’re in the area. It’s accessed through a tunnel carved into the cliff itself. Come to this beach prepared to spend the day, as there are no amenities to speak of. It’s well protected from the elements thanks to the surrounding cliffs and the water is deliciously inviting.

Praia da Marinha – This beautiful sandy beach is lapped by calm turquoise waters. It makes for an ideal spot for families to spend their day. Running alongside the beach are soaring limestone cliffs, which have been eroded over time into weird and wonderful formations. One of the most famous is a double arch on the western end of the beach — an icon of photography in the region.

Getting there

Benagil Caves – Best reached on a tour, which can be arranged online or via your accommodation.

Carvoeiro Boardwalk – Walking (around 8 minutes) is the best way to reach this coastal stroll from the center of Carvoeiro.

Praia da Marinha – Taking a taxi is the easiest way to get to this beach if you aren’t renting your own wheels.

Suggested activities in Carvoeiro

Carvoeiro and Silves Private Full-Day Tasting Tour — The region around Carvoeiro is known for its wine, so a wine-tasting tour is a good way to experience the local tipple.

Carvoeiro: Benagil Caves Paddle-Boarding Tour — See the Benagil Caves up close and personal with by SUP with this memorable tour option.

6. Tavira

tavira algarve overlook of neighborhoodtavira algarve overlook of neighborhood
Image via Wikipedia by Panarria

What’s there and why visit

(Praia da Rocha)

Beautiful Tavira is packed full of charm. This is the kind of place you should stay if you’re looking for an easygoing slice of the Algarve. Here you can spend days exploring its captivating maze of cobblestone streets, stumbling across leafy squares and devouring long lunches by the sea.

The attractive town straddles the banks of Rio Gilão. It is dominated by the crumbling remains of a castle that overlooks its Renaissance and Gothic churches. You’ll also find a Roman-era bridge here (still intact).

Elsewhere the town’s fishing port is still very much active, and is a fascinating spot to see everyday life play out. For those with itchy feet, you’ll be pleased to know this is the best place to stay in the Algarve for exploring the eastern portion of the region. For one thing, Tavira Island is just offshore — home to some of the Algarve’s nicest beaches.

Suggested hotels near Tavira

BUDGET

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AP Maria Nova Lounge Hotel

This adults only hotel is just a short walk away from the town center, the train station and Tavira Castle. It features indoor and outdoor pools, drink and snack bars and a restaurant. All rooms include a balcony with views of the mountain or city. Free continental breakfast is available for guests.

BUDGET

where to stay algarve ozadi tavira hotel bedroomwhere to stay algarve ozadi tavira hotel bedroom

Ozadi Tavira Hotel

The most amazing hotel I’ve ever stayed at. Wonderful rooms, great staff. We had a faulty shower that was fixed the day we mentioned it. Amazing food. Beautiful gardens and pool. So relaxing. Bus service available into Tavira and Cabanas. This was the second time we have stayed at the Ozadi and I can’t wait to go again.

MID-RANGE

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Vila Gale Albacora

This resort is considered to be an eco hotel, having transformed former houses, workshops and warehouses into beautiful and comfortable rooms and suites. The resort features restaurants, heated indoor and outdoor pools, a spa and wellness center, and a children’s playground.

MID-RANGE

pousada convento de tavira suite bedroom and stairspousada convento de tavira suite bedroom and stairs

Pousada Convento de Tavira

Set in the courtyard of the 16th-century St. Augustine’s Convent, this hotel is just a few minute walk from the Roman Bridge over Gilão River. It features a beautiful pool in the center of a garden, a restaurant, and plenty of lounging areas within the courtyard, where breakfast from the daily buffet can be enjoyed!

Things to see near Tavira

Castello – With roots in the Neolithic era, the castle building that remains overlooking the town was the work of the Phoenicians. With the Moorish invasion Islamic influences came to the castle. Most of what you see today dates from the 17th century. Inside, visitors can explore the botanical garden and glimpse views out over the town from its soaring octagonal tower.

Igreja da Misericordia – The incredible facade of this church is so skillfully carved that many describe it as one of the gems of the Algarve. Completed in 1551, the Renaissance masterpiece boasts a breath-taking arched doorway, and ornate interiors complete with a Baroque altar and carvings of cherubs. Today it’s known for its fado performances as much as its architecture. You can learn more about the building at the museum situated behind the church.

Tavira Island – Three kilometers from the center of town, and just a short boat ride away, is Tavira Island. Stretching for 11 kilometers, the island is a picture-perfect paradise with some excellent beaches to its name. It makes up part of the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve. With its sun-drenched sand and sparklingly clear water, the island attracts a steady stream of vacationers looking to bliss out on the beaches.

Praia da Rocha – Located around an hour’s drive from Tavira proper, this beach resort is a fun day trip if you’re looking for a slice of classic Algarve atmosphere. Once a fishing village, the resort area built up in the 1980s and is home to big hotels and cliffside dwellings. But the star of the show here is the beach. This wide stretch of golden sand is the reason it’s all here.

Getting there

Castello – You can take the small tourist train to get to Castello; this runs around the main sights in town, including the Roman bridge as well (the loop takes around 45 minutes).

Tavira Island – Boats bound for Tavira Island leave every hour from the main harbor.

Praia da Rocha – The best way to get here is to drive. It’s just under 100 kilometers away and takes just over an hour to reach it.

Suggested activities in Tavira

Tavira: Tuk-Tuk City Tour — If you don’t have long and you want to fit in all the top sights of Tavira in one day, this tuk-tuk tour is perfect.

Tavira: Hop-On Hop-Off Tourist Train — Get around the main tourist sites with ease by catching this tourist train.

7. Monchique

monchique historical region viewmonchique historical region view
Image via Wikipedia by Bextrel

What’s there and why visit

Monchique is the place to get to grips with the natural scenery of the region. Uniquely for one of the best places to stay in the Algarve, this place isn’t even on the coast. But that isn’t a bad thing at all.

The town is tucked away in the Serra de Monchique mountain range. These boast the highest points in the whole of the Algarve. The peak of Foia rises up to 2,959 feet above sea level; from the top you can see both the south and west coast of the Algarve.

Life in Monchique itself is set around its market. It feels a long way from the tourist strewn beach resorts of the coast. The slow-paced town is laced with cobbled streets and features a Franciscan monastery among other sights. Surrounded by verdant forests and valleys, it’s a haven for hikers.

In short, if you’re an outdoors enthusiast looking at where to stay in the Algarve, head to Monchique.

Suggested hotels near Monchique

BUDGET/LODGE

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Vinha do Gaio

“The guest house has 6 rooms which are excellently and ecologically designed with modern amenities. Set amidst an organic farm with fruit trees, chickens and 2 donkeys, it was quiet and peaceful yet in close proximity to the beaches and commercial areas of Algarve.”

MID-RANGE

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Monchique Resort & Spa

This resort features restaurants, 2 outdoor pools, a spa and a program of activities that guests may enjoy for free. Suites offer a separate bedroom, large living room, two bathrooms and a balcony or terrace with outdoor furniture where you can take in the stunning views of the Algarve coast.

MID-RANGE/GUEST HOUSE

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Vilafoia

This eco-friendly guest house features a library, an outdoor solar-heated pool and spacious accommodations. It’s situated on a mountain top and offers several trails around for mountain hiking. Other activities that can be enjoyed include horseback riding and canoeing.

LUXURY

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Wild Oasis Algarve

“It’s definitely a little paradise in the mountains. After an adventurous drive up hill you will find yourself in a wonderful spot. It’s super pretty with an eye for the details. The rooms are lovely, cozy and authentic. The service was extraordinary, friendly and helpful.
All in all it was great stay and we‘ll definitely come back.”

Things to see near Monchique

Caldas de Monchique – This much-loved Roman-era spa town has been attracting visitors to Monchique for thousands of years. The balmy waters of the hot springs are believed to help rheumatism and respiratory ailments. There are a number of private spas you can visit to experience it for yourself. 

Foia – Algarve’s highest peak, Foia, can be hiked by adventurous travelers. The route leads up through pine and eucalyptus forests before opening up to views over the mountain range, and out across to the sea. The eight mile hike is easy to follow but challenging (especially if you’re not used to steep climbs). An alternative route weaves a loop around the summit.

Igreja Matriz – This 15th-century church was sadly damaged in the 1755 earthquake, but has since been restored to its former glory. The architecture here is particularly magnificent and includes a Manueline style porch on the exterior. The interiors are simple, but the eye-catching 17th-century side chapel is decorated in gleaming glazed. In the basement you’ll find a small museum.

Jardim das Oliveiras – Take yourself away for some incredible eats at this hillside eatery. Here diners can enjoy meals in a rustic setting, complete with open fireplaces, antique farming tools and photographs telling the story of the property. Hearty specials are cooked over coals or in the wood-fired oven.

Getting there

Caldas de Monchique – It’s six kilometers away from the middle of Monchique. Either drive (around 10 minutes) or take the local 94 bus, which takes 15 minutes.

Foia – If you don’t feel like hiking up to the summit of Foia, a number of tourist buses connect Monchique to the peak. 

Jardim das Oliveiras – Located three kilometers from the center of town, the best way to get there is to drive yourself (takes around 5 minutes). Alternatively, take a taxi.

Suggested activities in Monchique

Small-Group Day Tour of Silves and Monchique with Wine Tasting — While Monchique is known for its mountain scenery and hiking, the surrounding area is also famed for wine, and this tour will whisk you to various vineyards of the region.

Birdwatching day in the Monchique hills — The mountains of Monchique are abundant with birdlife, so any keen bird watchers should take this tour.

8. Portimao

portimao algarve overlook of canal, beaches, marina and buildings of cityportimao algarve overlook of canal, beaches, marina and buildings of city
Image via Unsplash by Rita Candeias

What’s there and why visit

Portimao is a big, busy city that often gets overlooked by travelers to the region, en route to the nearest beach resort town. But this is the Algarve’s second biggest city and has a history that dates back to the Phoenicians.

It may not be the postcard-perfect Algarve of the tourist brochures, but it’s beachfront, history and nearby sights make it a great place to base yourself. If you’re wondering where to stay in the Algarve and you prefer an alternate hub to the usual tourist traps, Portimao may be your best bet.

The city grew up as a center for sardine fishing, canning and shipbuilding. It still has a down-to-earth atmosphere that reflects these industrial, working class roots. Its location on the River Arade provides it with a number of sandy shores and calm, warm waters.

What’s more, there’s an awesome food scene waiting to be uncovered here. Local dishes are best found in the many eateries that cluster around the waterfront, close to the docks. Portimao is also used by those catching boat trips further afield.

Suggested hotels near Portimao

BUDGET

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Jupiter Marina Hotel

This hotel is located a very short walk away from the Marina, Praia da Rocha beach and Portimão’s Museum. The hotel is geared towards couples, featuring a rooftop infinity swimming pool surrounded by beach sand, a rooftop bar, on-site restaurant and a spa. There are a number of other dining options as well as bars, cafés and public services close by.

BUDGET

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NH Marina Portimao Resort

This resort is a short drive from the Alto Golf Country Club and within walking distance to Praia Grande Beach. It features two salt water pools, a children’s swimming pool, a playground and two restaurants. A buggy service is available to guests to get around the resort or to even get to and from the beach.

MID-RANGE

where to stay algarve rr hotel da rocha portimao suite where to stay algarve rr hotel da rocha portimao suite

RR Hotel da Rocha

“Very nice hotel, excellent location. Best breakfast we had in Portugal. Lots of variety. Friendly staff. Parking only 10 euro/day. Clean hotel with nice, modern design, walking distance to beach and many restaurants. Small market close by. Room had small kitchen.”

LUXURY

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Bela Vista Hotel & Spa

This boutique hotel is set within a historical building and has direct access to the beach area. It features an outdoor pool, spa facilities, restaurant and bar. You can rent bikes to explore the beautiful sights, including the new Marina of Portimao.

Things to see near Portimao

Museu de Portimão – This is the place to go in Portimao to learn more about the city’s heritage of sardine fishing and canning. For one thing, it’s set inside a 19th-century former cannery itself. Here, as well as old production lines, you can also learn about the region’s archaeology and discoveries from below the waves.

Igreja Matriz – Located overlooking the north of the town center, much of the church was completely destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. But what remains of the original is nonetheless impressive: a 15th-century Gothic doorway, complete with a gruesome looking gargoyle.

Praia do Vau – Though Portimao isn’t known for its beaches, head west to Praia do Vau to find this two-kilometer stretch of sand. When the tide goes out, the beach gets even wider and is an idyllic spot to spend a few hours sunning yourself. Hidden coves and rock formations provide ample exploration either on foot or by kayak.

Fortaleza de Santa Catarina – Originally intended to protect Portimao from pirates and invasions, this 17th-century fort still looks out over the sea at nearby Praia da Rocha to this day. For some of the best views of Portimao at sunset and dusk, as the city lights up, head up to the fort.

Getting there

Museu de Portimão – Located in the center of town, the easiest way to get here is to walk (for example, it’s a 7-minute stroll from the cruise ship dock).

Praia do Vau – The best way to get to Praia do Vau is to take the bus. Bus 14 from the center of Portimao takes around 20 minutes to reach the beach.

Fortaleza de Santa Catarina – Again, the bus is your friend here. Take number 33 from the center of town to the fort (takes just over 10 minutes).

Suggested activities in Portimao

Benagil Caves Tour from Portimao — Explore the area’s famous caves on a day trip that leaves from Portimao.

Portimao: 1.5-Hour Dolphin Watching Excursion — Watch dolphins at play on this fun day trip that has you hitting the high seas.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully by now you have got a good idea about the best places to stay in the Algarve. Being a region, you have a whole lot of choice about where to base yourself for your trip. 

If you’re still feeling a little confused the best thing you can do is work out what you want from your trip. Maybe you rather spend your time being active? Perhaps you want to explore small towns or simply spend days sunning yourself on the beach. Then you can set your sights on the area of the Algarve that best fits your needs and build your ideal trip from that starting point.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to get around the Algarve?

The Algarve offers many options of public transportation, such as trains and buses. However, some regions of the Algarve don’t have many train or bus stations close by, so it is recommended to rent a car of your own if you plan on exploring multiple areas of the Algarve.

When is the best time to visit the Algarve?

Since the Algarve is on the coast and popular for many of its beaches, you’ll want to travel there in its dry season. This is considered to be during the warmer months of April through October.

What is the best neighborhood to stay in the Algarve on a budget?

Considered a neighborhood that hosts more locals than tourists, Sagres is known for it’s affordable accommodations, like guest-homes or hostels, rather than the pricier hotels in other areas.

What you should read next

Travel Resources For Your Next Trip

If you’re in the process of planning your trip and putting together your itinerary, these are genuinely the best resources that the Going Awesome Places team stands by 100%.

Flights: Of all the booking search engines, Skyscanner is the most helpful and easy to use thanks to their Everywhere feature.

Car Rental: If you’re looking to save money, these car rental coupon codes will be a true game-changer. Otherwise, DiscoverCars and RentalCars are great places to start.

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Airport Parking: You’ll need a spot to leave your car at the airport so why not book a spot at a discount. Use code AWESOME7 to get at least $5 off at Airport Parking Reservations or Park Sleep Fly packages.

Data: We’ve been a huge fan of wifi hotspot devices like PokeFi because their rates are so good and you can use it globally but recently, we’ve really loved using eSIMs. The best one is Airalo. Save money by getting region-specific eSIMs and use referral code WILLIA9500 to get $3 USD credit on your first purchase. Ubigi is another one that we’ve had success with where they uniquely offer 5G coverage. Use code AWESOME10 to save 10% on your first order.

Hotels: Our go-to is Booking.com because they have the best inventory of properties including hotels and B&Bs plus they have their Genius tier discounts. The exception is Asia where Agoda always has the best prices. TripAdvisor is also useful for reviews and bookings.

Vacation Rentals: Your first instinct will be to check Airbnb but we always recommend checking VRBO as well if you’re looking for a vacation rental.

Travel Insurance: Learn how to buy the best travel insurance for you. This isn’t something you want to travel without.

  • Insured Nomads – Popular insurance provider for frequent travelers and comes with great coverage and special perks.
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  • InsureMyTrip – Best for seniors, families, and those with pre-existing conditions.

If you need more help planning your trip, make sure to check out our Travel Toolbox where we highlight all of the gear, resources, and tools we use when traveling.



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