Popular Holiday Resorts of the Algarve
This page provides a guide to some of the most popular holiday resorts in the Algarve.
Albufeira is the best known resort in the Algarve, and is considered by many to be a young people's destination - but there is plenty for older people and families to do, and the resort is much quieter outside the busy summer season. The beaches are fantastic, and in the evening head for the Old Town and The Strip (the sea front area). There are plenty of restaurants and bars and night clubs along the strip and in the old town. The town is effectively 2 parts - the strip and the old town with its cobbled streets, shops, bars & resturants all based around a pretty town square.
Albufeira is also a good winter destination, with plenty of winter acitivities such as golf, fishing, boat trips and walking.
A few kilometres to the west of Albufeira is some of the most unspoilt scenery of the Algarve. The beaches at Gale and Castello Everista are good locations for bird watching (particularly in winter and spring). There are coastal paths at gale and Castello Everista which offer spectacular views.
Recommendation: Many of the Albufeira bars have "Happy Hours" during which drink prices are reduced significantly. Be careful as measures are a lot larger than in the UK.
Is a short distance from Albufeira old town (about 15 minutes) on the little train that takes you around the resort. The resort is lively in summer, and there are lots of Irish bars, especially up near the Montichoro Hotel. In winter the resort is very quiet, tending to be frequented by older people.
Recommendation: Wild & Co bar/nightclub - excellent atmosphere.
Vilamoura is one of the closest resorts to Faro Airport (about 30 minutes by car). The resort is centred on vilamoura Marian which has plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. There are beaches to the east and west. Vilamoura is very popular with golfers and boat owners. Quarteira is located a couple of kilometres to the east of Vilamoura (you can walk there along the beach). Quarteira has the renouned Aqua Show water park which is very popular with children, as well as some of the best beaches in the Algarve. Recommendation: Pinhal do Sol Hotel, Quarteira (very reasonably priced)
Alvor is a traditional Portuguese fishing village located on a sheltered natural lagoon which opens out into the sea. The town is a maze of narrow cobbled streets, with an old parish church at the centre. There are plenty of restaurants in Alvor serving a variety of cuisine, catering for most tastes. The quayside restaurants provide fresh sea produce at very reasonable prices. Fish stews and grilled sardines are local specialities.
Deep sea fishing and boating trips are available at the harbour. Although this ancient coastal village is now a very popular holiday location the enclosed narrow streets have restricted the advances of developers, and much of the towns original charm is preserved. Many of these cobbled streets have bars with live music and different types of restaurants
Portimao is one of the most densely populated cities in the Algarve, and is the largest town on the Barlavento/Western area of the Algarve.The city has a harbour and a small airfield.Praia da Rocha & Vau are nearby beaches where you can relax in the sun. The coastline around Portimao consists of sandy beaches and stunning colored rock formations.
The Caves of Estombar are well worth a visit, as is the mosaic floor of the Roman villa at Figueira. Inland from Portimao, the scenery and traditional villages are also not to be missed.
Heading west from Albufeira and Portimao, the landscape and scenery becomes more rugged and spectacular, with cliffs replacing the gentle slopes to the sea. Lagos is famous for its spectacular rock formations, Lagos Castle and the historical old town.
If you are interested in visiting spectacular scenery, walking, cycling or you are an experienced surfer then head for the far south western tip of the Algarve. Sagres is around a 2 hour drive from Faro, and resembles Wales. The beaches here can be dangerous due to the huge waves, and a number of unsuspecting people have been swept away in recent years. Sagres Fort is set on cliff tops above the sea and is a great place to view the fantastic landscape. Recommendation: For some spectacular scenery visit Sagres Fort. Ideal for walking and taking spectacular photographs (can be windy in winter)
As you head east from Faro towards the Spanish border are the resorts of Tavira and Monte Gordo. Tavira has been developed significantly in recent years, but retains much of its original charm. A visit to the Old Town is recommended with its historic church and beautiful medieval houses with Gothic windows and doorways.
There are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to idle away the time. The best beaches require a short ferry ride out to Tavira Island, but there are smaller beaches around the town which are great for kids.
Formerly a fishing village, Monte Gordo was one of the first tourist destinations on the Algarve and one of the first hotels in the area was built here in the sixties. One of the most beautiful areas of the Algarve is Monte Gordo beach which has fantastic scenery.
Monte Gordo is also a place of good gastronomy. In the town there are a great number of bars and restaurants where you can taste the best of the traditional Algarve cuisine. Recommendation: The Restaurant Marisqueira Monte Gordo is a favourite destination for tourists.