What to do in the Algarve: a complete travel guide
The Algarve is a dream destination, with beautiful beaches, some of them considered among the best in the world! Voted the “World’s Best Beach Destination 2021” and “Europe’s Best Beach Destination 2022” by the World Travel Awards, the Algarve is a beach destination par excellence. The sun, hospitality, beaches, golf, castles, red cliffs, little fishing communities and the wealth of fish and fresh seafood are all compelling reasons to visit this region. If you want to discover all that the Algarve has to offer, keep reading our complete guide.
The Algarve is a destination that has become increasingly popular and is currently one of the most desirable tourist destinations in Portugal. This is a place where everyone has something to do, from beach and water sports fans to those who prefer to walk around and get to know the cultural and historical side of the cities, or go in search of local handicrafts.
Where to stay in the Algarve
When deciding where to stay in the Algarve there are some points to take into consideration: the distance from the beach, the main cities and areas to visit, and also the comfort and rest that should be part of your holiday. The PortoBay Falésia is our 4-star hotel in Albufeira, with stunning views of red cliffs, abundant green vegetation and sea views. It has an excellent location and direct access to Praia da Falésia, just a few metres from the beach and the centre of Olhos d'Água.
The Algarve is full of things to see and do along the coast, so staying in the middle, as is the case in Albufeira, means that everything is close at hand; and is an excellent choice for accommodation!
Beaches to visit in the Algarve
Ah . ... so many beaches! And each one more enchanting than the next. ..
Praia do Camilo, in Lagos, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve. It is surrounded by smaller beaches which all together form this wonder of nature. One place not to be missed!
If there is one iconic beach, it has to be Praia da Marinha. It is considered one of the 100 best beaches in the world, not only for its outstanding natural scenery, but also for its wilder aspect. Before heading down to the beach, don't forget to survey the landscape from the top of the cliff.
On the West coast you will find Praia da Cordoama, which stands out for its green cliffs. It is an excellent place for water sports, such as surfing and body boarding.
Praia do Beliche is another of the better beaches and is excellent for surfers and bodyboarders, as it is sheltered from the strong winds. This beach is part of the Sagres Biogenetic Reserve and you can find some endemic plants here that are fundamental for biodiversity.
Praia da Falésia is one of the best and most beautiful beaches in the Algarve. The orange cliffs contrast with the blue of the sea to create an idyllic setting.
What you need to know before visiting the Algarve
1. Insurance first of all! You are bound to have seen some magnificent photographs while scrolling through social media and those really Instagrammable places. But don’t forget. ...many of these places can be dangerous if you are not careful. Stability when walking is key, and of course, don't go close to cliffs.
2. Hiring a car If you're the kind of traveller who loves to wander and explore, then a car is a necessity. To get to know the Algarve coast, a car is essential as the beaches and various unmissable spots are scattered all over the region.
3. The best time to visit The Algarve is a destination for beach, sun and good weather, which makes it many tourists’ first choice in the summer season. Cooler seasons like spring and autumn are ideal for those who prefer to avoid the crowds, but still be able to enjoy the beach and the fantastic weather that the Algarve has to offer.
4. The Algarve is not just about beaches Despite being one of this destination's main attractions, the Algarve has much more to offer than just the beach. You can enjoy a variety of activities, from the more radical such as buggy riding, to walks around its small villages and craft shops (and much more!)
What to eat in the Algarve
One of the best ways to get to know the places you visit is undoubtedly through the cuisine. Be adventurous and try the different dishes typical of the Algarve. Get out of your comfort zone and enjoy yourself!
The fish and seafood are the strongest points of Algarve cuisine, which excels in the freshness and richness of these ingredients. Dishes like cataplana, seafood rice, açorda or monkfish are not to be missed. Chicken piri-piri is another typical Algarve dish that you must try.
Whatever type of cuisine you’re looking for, you’ll find what you want in the Algarve, whether it’s taverns and local restaurants or Michelin-starred establishments.
If you are looking for Italian comfort food, the Il Basilico Algarve restaurant at the PortoBay Falésia is the perfect choice. With its idyllic landscape and setting, this is an experience that goes beyond the food. All the surroundings make it a must-see. Treat yourself to pizzas, risottos or pasta . ... you'll love it!
The Algarve is a huge region with a lot to see, do and visit, and it will be almost impossible to take in everything in one visit. So choosing the best places is fundamental to making the most of your holiday.
What to visit in the Algarve
Tavira is one of the Algarve’s most beautiful towns and puts paid to the myth that the Algarve is only a beach destination. Here you can enjoy walks along the riverfront and its magnificent beaches, but you should also get to know Tavira's rich cultural and historical heritage!
Vila Real de Santo António is another city that enchants visitors who are passing through. Discover the town on foot, have lunch in local restaurants, and visit the local artisan shops.
Taking in the marvellous scenery and the small boats of Ferragudo is something not to be missed. Apart from the city, you can also enjoy the beach and have fun at the boating clubs.
Continue your journey to Portimão. Take a stroll through the city centre, get to know the town and soak up the Algarve's culture. You can also take a stroll along the eight kilometres of Portimão beaches or dance the night away!
The ideal place for getting carried away and losing yourself in the narrow streets and hidden corners is Olhão! It is a welcoming town where you will find local shops and, of course, the fantastic Ria Formosa which makes for some stunning scenery. Take the boat to the island of Armona and you’ll be surprised by its endless beaches and crystal-clear waters . ... some say that this island is the Maldives of Portugal.
Faro mixes the green of its vegetable gardens and hills, a city centre full of history and cultural heritage, the Ria Formosa Natural Park and the beaches. Explore the historical centre of the city, stroll through the Vila Adentro, visit the Cathedral and climb up to the Tower to discover one of the best views over the city and the Ria Formosa.
Lagos, a large city with narrow streets, ideal for getting lost and exploring nook and cranny. Besides visiting the city and getting to know all the rich heritage it has to offer, Lagos is great for bathing at its fabulous beaches, making it one of the most sought after places in the Algarve.
What to do in the Algarve
Nothing should be higher on your list than taking advantage of the sea, but of course there is so much more! There are activities suitable for all ages and lifestyles. You can just sunbathe and cool off in the sea with a nice dip, and swim for as long as you like. But if you are the kind of person who likes to venture out and discover what else there is to do in the Algarve, then we have you 5 suggestions for you:
1. Water Sports Surfing, body boarding, jet skiing or exploring the sea caves on a paddle board. All these activities guarantee fun, adventure and entertainment while making the most of your trip.
2. Explore the caves by boat Take a boat tour and get to know the Algarve’s sea caves. This is a great way to enjoy an excursion and meet new people while discovering this wonder of nature.
3. Sail on a yacht and watch the sunset If you're looking for a more intimate and exclusive experience, you can also hire a yacht and watch the sun setting over the sea. This is undoubtedly a unique moment that deserves to be experienced. There are also boat tours options for catching the sunset.
4. Watch the sunrise on the beach For many, holidays are for resting and sleeping late. But, there is one experience that is really worth it . ... watching the sunrise on the beach. At Praia da Falésia, below the PortoBay Falésia hotel, you can enjoy this spectacle of nature, watch the sky go orange while you take in the sound of the sea and the silence around you. Have we convinced you?
5. Explore the local markets It will be difficult to leave the Algarve without taking souvenirs in your suitcase! Exploring the region's handicrafts and artisan work should be a priority. It is in these markets that you can absorb the culture of the locals and observe their daily life . ... and of course buy small souvenirs for yourself and your home. Some of the markets you should visit are Algoz Market, Monchique Market and the Saturday market in Loulé.
And of course a holiday isn't a holiday if you don't relax!
Take a day out just to rest and enjoy everything the hotel has to offer. Sip a cocktail by the pool while reading your book and enjoying the wonderful landscape over the sea and Falésia beach.
Pamper yourself and unwind at the PortoBay Falésia Spa with an extensive menu of massages and treatments to help you relax. Go to the indoor pool, relax in the jacuzzi and enjoy the sauna and Turkish bath. Everything you need for a day of total relaxation!
All these tips can be found in the PortoBay Travel Guides, compiled in partnership with Stay Classy, a Danish vlogger couple who over the coming months will explore PortoBay destinations and hotels and share their experiences.
Watch the full video and tell us the next destination you want to see on our YouTube channel!