The Algarve is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations, especially for those looking to experience a Mediterranean climate with family-friendly beaches, entertainment and restaurants and bars right on your doorstep. The region offers a range of resorts to suit holidaymakers who are looking for some rest and relaxation as well as people looking for a vibrant nightlife and plenty of things to do. For this reason, if you are considering taking a trip to the Algarve in Portugal, you need to know that the resort and area you have chosen will be the right fit for what you want from your holiday. To help you make your choice, here are some ideas to help you decide.
Albufeira is one of the most popular areas because of its lively and vibrant atmosphere, fantastic nightlife, great shopping, and gorgeous beaches. It’s the Algarve’s largest holiday resort with plenty of bars and restaurants and is busy all year round with holidaymakers looking to kick back, unwind and have a good time. For this reason, it may not be the best option for holidaymakers looking for peace and quiet, but there are quieter areas to visit, such as the old town. Here you can wander in the narrow streets and beautiful main square before relaxing and watching the world go by in local bars and coffee shops. To enjoy a truly relaxing holiday, staying in one of the luxurious Algarve Villas will provide you with a home away from home, where you can relax and unwind.
For a quieter holiday and a slower pace, Alvor may be a better choice for older visitors, families, or travelers not so keen on nightlife. The beaches are usually less busy than those in Albufeira. There are some great places to go walking in beautiful scenery with miles of the boardwalk which follows the coast and stunning rock formations on the beaches. The town itself remains largely the same as it was 50 years ago. Alvor was a small fishing village originally and, while it has been developed by tourism over the years, you can still visit the Church of Divino Salvador which is over 500 years old.
For an even more relaxed experience, consider the town of Carvoeiro in the west. It is one of the more luxurious resorts because of its picturesque location, and it has not been over-developed by tourism. The town itself is authentically white-washed and stands on a hill overlooking a beautiful beach, although this can be busy in the summer. Families will also enjoy a big water park called Zoomarine, which offers pools, restaurants and shows for all the family.
The largest resort in the east of the Algarve, Tavira is a stunning town which used to be a fishing port. Today it provides a great variety of shops and the opportunity for camping. The town is on the River Sequa, and although it does have some beaches, the best are found on Tavira Island, which is just a ferry ride away and makes a great day out.
Another resort with a great nightlife is Vilamoura. It’s not far from the airport and is popular with golfers from all over Europe because of the Oceanico golf courses. The marina is another highlight for many tourists as it is a hub of restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops. There are also two large and sandy beaches, including Falesia, which takes you all the way to Albufeira.
For an authentic Portuguese experience which is 10-minutes from the airport, the capital city of Faro is a great choice. It has been largely unaffected by tourism but is also just a 15-minute drive from beaches such as Praia de Faro. The city also has a historic old town with shops, bars, and restaurants, as well as a pretty marine. If you have time, stop off at Forum Algarve on your journey back to the airport to browse around some designer stores.
Lago is home to one of the best beaches in the Algarve, the Praia Dona Ana and also offers excellent value for money for families. The town itself is busy and around a 1-hour drive from Faro Airport, but the surrounding areas are some of the most picturesque you’ll find in the region. It is well-known for its incredible rock formations, and you can take boat trips around the rocks or even try some diving, fishing and water sports in the sea. While the town is mostly devoted to the tourism industry, you can still see some of its history in the old town and the port.
Monte Gordo is home to one of the region’s largest beaches and is the closest resort to the Spanish border. It attracts visitors all year round because of its warm sea temperatures and family-friendly sandy beach. It is an impressive 100m from the start of the beach to the water, meaning there is plenty of space for everyone. Because it is so closely located to Spain (just a few kilometers), it’s possible to take day trips over to Seville, Huelva, and Ayamonte if you have the time. You can also take a cruise trip on the River Guadiana, the Transguadiana River Cruise. At the end of a day on the beach, you can enjoy drinks and food on the promenade which is lined with palm trees.
Vale do Lobo & Quinta do Lago
For active holidaymakers with a higher budget, the resorts of Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago are ideal. Set amongst coastal pine forests, there are two fantastic golf courses as well as plenty of opportunity for water sports and walking. It is just a 15-minute drive from the airport, and you can still walk to some of the region’s best beaches.
The Algarve is not all about beaches, so if you’re more interested in history and culture, the town of Silves could be a great choice. It’s a beautiful town with a quiet atmosphere and is home to the popular tourist attraction, the Moorish Silves Castle. If you still want the option of a day or two on the beach, you’re in luck as this authentic town is just a 15-minute drive from beaches.