Places to visit in Algarve! Looking for somewhere to spend your summer holiday? Portugal’s Algarve region comes near the top of the list for many Europeans. With a mild climate year round and a scorching summer, this beautiful location has a lot to offer to the many visitors who fly there each year.
Over the last few decades, the Algarve has become the premier tourist destination in Portugal. Travelers from around the world flock there not only in summer for the gorgeous golden sands, rolling hills, and breathtaking cliffs.
Square and gate by night in Faro, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Bert Kaufmann
It’s not all about the beaches, though, the quiet castle towns offer their own beauty and charm for you to take in, and the golf courses of the Algarve are world renowned.
There is really a wide variety of things to do and see from town-to-town, so let’s take a look at the best places to visit in Algarve and what they have to offer.
Port of Lagos, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Jerome Bon
Places to visit in Algarve
Known for its abundant nightlife and young crowd, Lagos has a reputation as a bit of a party town. But there is more to it than just the vibrant party atmosphere.
The stunning coves and beautiful, sweeping beaches attract surfers in to catch the amazing waves and then hit the clubs and bars when the sun goes down. Picturesque homes and cobblestone streets, along with a rich history, are a must for sightseers, and Lagos is known for being an excellent destination for backpackers as well.
Lagos, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Glen Bowman
Tavira is referred to as the Venice of Portugal, thanks to the Rio Gilao running through its center and the elegance of the homes and buildings within. That’s not all that Tavira has to offer for those seeking beauty and history in architecture!
There are castle ruins, 37 churches, and a multitude of 16th-18th-century buildings to be seen. Finally, the Igreja da Misericordia, a renaissance monument built in the 1540s, is a must-see with its striking arched, carved doorway that is topped with magnificent statues.
A church in Tavira, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Timo Newton-Syms
This gorgeous town is centered in Serra de Monchique, Algarve’s forested mountain range. It’s a nice contrast to the coastal regions that the Algarve is known for.
It is known to be a great region for hiking, horseback riding, and cycling. But it also features lesser known but no less rewarding experiences in hidden spas and a private zoo for endangered species. It really is a great region to visit if you are looking for a more laid back and relaxing experience in the Algarve.
Monchique, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by muffinn
Silves’ two biggest attractions are the Castle and the Museu Municipal de Arqueologia. The Castle, restored in 1835, has a fantastic view over the town and nearby countryside.
As you walk around its sandstone walls, you can see the site’s Roman past in the unfinished archaeological digs throughout. The Castle is believed to have been built in the 11th century and shows evidence of its Moorish occupation with its deep well and water cistern.
Silves Castle, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Saskia Bosch van Rosenthal
The Museu Municipal de Arqueologia was founded after a Moorish well, over three times as deep as the one in the Castle, was discovered, along with numerous archaeological sites in the area.
The museum displays pieces from prehistoric, Roman, and Moorish times, and has one glass wall that displays a supporting fort wall of the building.
Silves castle, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Rui Ornelas
Located on the southernmost end of the Algarve, the Faro is a great place to visit if you are looking for entertainment and nightlife, with a little sightseeing and history thrown in. If you are a younger traveler, the Rua do Prior features multiple bars and clubs with students from the area keeping them going every night, especially on weekends.
The Taverna da Se is an in-crowd bar that you will also find to be going strong every night of the week. If you are looking for a more low-key bar, A Capelinha is a beautiful outdoor bar centered around a fountain where you can enjoy excellent sangria while browsing the internet on the computers they have supplied.
Streets in Faro, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Husond
As to the entertainment aspect, you can find drama, music, and dance at the Teatro Lethes, a building that was built in 1603 and adapted into a theater in 1874. If football is your thing, Faro has its own team, the SC Farense, and you can catch one of their games at the 30,000 seat Estadio Intermunicipal do Algarve.
Finally, if you want to do some sightseeing, be sure and check out the Se. The Se was finished in 1251 on the site of a former Roman temple and Visigoth cathedral.
It features several of the old chapels and gate, as well as beautiful tile work, a baroque organ, and beautiful carvings. You also can climb on to the rooftop and get a magnificent view of the surrounding town and countryside.
Faro Cathedral (The Se), Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Glen Bowman
Let’s continue with the beaches. There are plenty to choose from, whether you like your beaches bustling or prefer something more secluded. There are beaches with sand as far as the eye can see and others which are just sheltered coves.
The busiest area is the central Algarve region, home to popular resorts such as Albufeira. The eastern area has long stretches of beach while the western Algarve is thought to have some of the most beautiful beaches. Praia da Marinha or Praia Dona Ana Beach springs to mind.
Praia Dona Ana Beach, Lagos, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Cris
More Things to do in Algarve
Away from the beach, if you time your visit right, you will get the chance to enjoy some of the region’s fabulous festivals. Summer sun seekers will enjoy checking out local arts and crafts at the Alcoutim Fair in July.
Also in July is a festival celebrating the region’s history – the Moorish Knights. The Algarve is known for its seafood; try some at the Seafood Festival in August. And for something a bit different, check out the Medieval Fair – ever fancied dressing up in historical gear?
Algarve Seafood festival, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Curtis Foreman
The International Sand Sculpture Festival Pera, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Glen Bowman
There are lots of ways to explore the region, and these include some top Algarve attractions. Take a bike trek over demanding terrain with Quad Ventura, Rooster Quad Day Tours or try the Algarve Buggy Tour in Luz.
If you prefer to stretch your legs the Alvor Boardwalk allows you to explore a fishing village and estuary, while enjoying stunning seaside views. Need a family attraction? One of the best is Zoomarine Algarve, which has activities for children of all ages, as well shows with dolphins and other marine animals.
Zoomarine Algarve, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by William Warby
If you’re looking for another way to explore the region, try a boat trip with Alvor, proud owner of the first solar powered cruiser in Portugal. It’s a great way to explore the coast.
Alternatively, you could take to the air with Barlavento Balloons and fly over the western Algarve. If you want to be more active, kitesurfing, paddleboarding and more are available.
Boat trip Algarve, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Jerome Bon
There’s no shortage of things to do in the Algarve at night. Alvor, Lagos and Albufeira have some of the top rated night spots in the Algarve, with the latter taking the lion’s share of the glory.
Bars and karaoke bars abound. However, the best nightspot on the island at the moment, according to TripAdvisor, is the Alvor Sports Cafe, famous for its party nights.
Where to stay in Algarve?
The south coast of the Algarve is not very wide (Lagos and Tavira are separated by only 1h30 of road), there is not really an ideal place to stay during your holidays in the South of Portugal. Certainly, some villages are to privilege more than others… However, one thing is sure, renting a holiday home in the Algarve is perfect to discover easily the region. Find your base point and visit everyday a new part of this magnificent territory. You will be so much more free and comfortable than in hotels full of tourists, that you will have an excellent stay.
Enjoy your trip to the Algarve!
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