There are many great things to do in Algarve! From tourist attractions in Lagos or swimming with dolphins to golden beaches near Albufeira!
Looking for the best things to do in Algarve Portugal? From watching the sunset in Cape St. Vincent, swimming with dolphins to Algarve’s best beaches – there are many stunning places to visit in Algarve.
The southern tip of Portugal is a land carved by the Atlantic waves and the turbulent history of the intersection of European and North African cultures. Algarve, once off the beaten track, a little isolated and misunderstood by the inhabitants of the rest of the country closer to Lisbon, it has been experiencing a tourist boom for several decades, yet offering peace and authentic colours in many places.
What is Algarve Portugal known for?
Almost 200 km of wonderful coast with over a hundred wide sandy beaches (about 50 honoured with the Blue Flag!), Amazing rock cliffs and the wild charm of the Atlantic – some of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe are based here!
Excellent marinas and ports for sailors, dozens of respected golf courses and the world’s best surfing spots. Great wild nature of coastal backwaters and sandy islands need also be named as the reasons Algarve is famous for. All this could not be kept away from tourists for a long time.
In addition, a very mild climate with over 300 sunny days. In summer the temperature can reach 35 degrees Celsius and there is basically no rainfall. In winter, the average temperature is 15-18 degrees C making Algarve one of the best winter sun destinations in Europe.
Facts about Algarve:
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Hotel da Rocha
Where is Algarve located?
This stunning and sunny region is located just on the edge of Europe, in southern Portugal. It’s been a very popular holiday destination among Brits for several years.
Algarve coast, with its beautiful beaches and surrounded by picturesque red cliffs, is considered as one of the most beautiful regions in the world – and we totally agree with that! 🙂
If you are thinking about visiting Algarve, you will definitely love this stunning region of south Portugal! Golden sand and many little towns and cities (like Albufeira, Lagos or Carvoeiro) are really worth to visit. In addition, they are all surrounded by the best beaches in Algarve Portugal.
Just book a ticket and fly to Faro airport – your gate to Algarve in Portugal!
Best time to visit Algarve
You can easily consider Algarve, and the whole of Portugal, as the all-year-round holiday destination. Yes! – winter is also a great time to visit Portugal 🙂
But the best time to visit Algarve will be between April and October. The high season is from mid-June till the end of August – this is also the hottest and most crowded time of the year. So, if you prefer to have more golden sand to yourself visit Algarve in September, just as we did 😉
Weather in Algarve Portugal:
The weather in September was very pleasant with the temperature reaching 27-30 Celsius and many hours of sunshine 🙂
The average temperature in Algarve per month:
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Definitely, the weather forecast will not disappoint you during your September holiday in the Portuguese region of Algarve.
Rent a car to explore Algarve!
It is worth to say that a car is the best option to travel in Algarve Portugal! It will give you much more flexibility in organising your days – so exploring less crowded places will be much easier.
Nothing against buses in Algarve, as they go to many places as well, but unfortunately don’t run too often.
If you want to explore hidden beaches and get to places that can’t be reached by bus – travelling by car will work perfectly! Algarve is one of the best regions in Europe for a road trip.
(read our guide to renting a car in Europe)
As always, we booked a car via rentalcars.com before our trip – we have collected it at the Faro airport 40 minutes after we landed in Portugal 🙂
And the adventure began! 🙂
THINGS TO DO IN ALGARVE
You probably know where to go in Algarve to find the best places to visit, right? In case you don’t, we have put a list of the main Algarve’s tourist attractions and activities. From hiking in Algarve’s coast to all the top places of interest in the Algarve.
So, what to do in Algarve Portugal? See below 🙂
Albufeira is one of the most crowded and lively cities on the coast, filled with tightly arranged hotels and numerous bars, restaurants and clubs.
We will definitely not find a peaceful vacation here, but we will find many captivating beaches.
For example, Praia da Falésia, which is one of the most beautiful on the Algarve coast – wide, sandy, stretching for kilometres. This place is extremely popular among tourists, so it is worth moving away from the wooden descent to the beach. Particularly impressive are the red cliffs, which, in an interesting way, contrast with the light sand and crystal clear water of the Atlantic. A must-see during your holiday in Algarve!
Faro is known as the gateway to southern Portugal, and it is the largest city in the Algarve. With beautiful coastal views, shallow lagoons and an abundance of nature, the area is not one to be missed during a trip to the Algarve. Not only is it a stunning location, but it has a rich history that will capture your imagination.
Faro was known to the Romans as Ossonoba and monuments dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries stand within the old town walls. As a visitor to Faro, you will be met with an abundance of traditional restaurants, various attractions and local shopping.
3. Farol da Ponta da Piedade
Ragged rock formations of Ponta da Piedade rising 20 meters above the azure waters are probably the most recognizable place on the Algarve coast.
One of the most beautiful places in Europe – cape Ponta da Piedade. It’s full of small caves and bays, which are definitely worth seeing either from the top of the cliffs or during a cruise by motorboat 🙂
Taking a stroll around Ponta da Piedade was absolutely amazing – ahh those breathtaking views! 🙂 The sights were just stunning, we really recommend walking there. There are many great walking trails to explore, so you can easily spend a few hours over there.
It really is one of the best places to visit in Algarve… especially for hiking lovers!
4. Surfing in Lagos
Surfers of all abilities will rejoice at taking to Portugal’s warmest waters in Lagos. Stretching across the southern coast of the Algarve, along to the South West of the Alentejo Region, Lagos has surf beaches for everyone. The warm climate of Portugal makes it a year-round destination for surfers, and the stunning beaches of the National Reserve parkland are a firm favourite.
Some of the best surf beaches in Lagos include Porto do Mos, Praia da Luz and Meia Praia, and surf schools are available all across the area.
5. Praia da Marinha
If we had to name one place, only one best thing to do in Algarve it would be visiting Praia da Marinha – one of the best beaches in Europe!
It is famous not only for its breathtaking location but also for crystal clear water. Praia da Marinha, surrounded by 30-meter rocks, often appears on travel folders and postcards and is a beautiful showcase of the town of Carvoeiro.
After spending a day on the beach, it is also worth taking a walk on the upper edge of the cliff – the views from there are amazing!
6. Snorkelling along the Algarve coast
Snorkelling is one of the best ways to experience everything that the Algarve has to offer under its blue waters. There is an abundance of beautiful wildlife around the Algarve beaches just waiting to be discovered by visitors.
Because the area is lucky enough to have translucent waters and pleasant weather all year round, it is very popular among keen snorkellers and first-timers. There are so many beaches to explore, many with calming sea reefs and underground caves.
7. Algar Seco
Wow! Amazing rock formations providing a perfect setting for photos 🙂
We visited Algar Seco early in the morning, which was a great thing to do. There were only two other people – so we had plenty of time to appreciate the caves and beautiful scenery!
Make sure you go through a tunnel carved into the rock to see Gruta da Boneca – the eyes are watching you! 😉
It’s one of our favourite places in Algarve we visited during our holiday and possibly one of the best things to do in Algarve Portugal.
8. Krazy World Zoo
Families of all ages will love a trip to Krazy World Zoo during a stay in the Algarve. Located next to Silves, the zoo is easily accessible no matter where in the Algarve you are staying. There are over 62 species to explore, including reptiles, alligators and lemurs.
The must-see creature is an 8.5m snake which is the biggest snake in all of Europe. Young children love getting up close and personal with the animals in the petting zoo, and as well as this, there is a large swimming pool and an 18 hole crazy golf course.
9. Praia Do Camilo
Considered one of the most iconic beaches in all the Algarve, Praia do Camilo should be on every visitor’s itinerary. It’s the crystal clear waters and luscious golden sand that has made it so popular among locals and tourists. Getting down to the beach is via 200 wooden stairs which wind down the stunning orange cliffside. These cliffs can also be thanked for making this beach a true suntrap and safe area for swimming, as they shelter the space perfectly.
No visit to Praia do Camilo is complete without taking a short walk towards the south to Ponta da Piedade. Here you will find a beautiful series of sandstone rock sea stacks and arches just off the coast of the most southerly headland in Lagos.
Tavira is probably the most authentic and least crowded part of the Algarve coast. The town, dating back to the times of the Romans, was once the capital of the region and an important port.
This part of Algarve is full of charm with its small churches and the most recognizable Moorish castle. Ilha de Tavira is one of the few sandy beaches located on the island of the same name. In total, it stretches for 11 km, which creates a perfect area for long walks along the Atlantic shore.
11. Visit Zoomarine & swim with dolphins!
Out of this world experience! One of the tops on our bucket list 🙂
Dolphins are one of the most amazing and clever animals in the world. Just having the opportunity to swim with them makes your day very special – honestly! If you go to Algarve, make sure to book this amazing experience: swimming with dolphins – you will love it! The price is a bit high, €125 per person, but it’s worth it! 🙂
You, together with ~6 other people, will get the opportunity to learn about dolphins and spend around 30 minutes in the water with them. During that time, you will be introduced to the dolphins and get to perform two figures with them (e.g. dance with a dolphin!) – simply STUNNING experience. It really is a contender for the best things to do in Algarve.
The whole experience was really amazing! Apart of one lady from the shop, who was kind of rude to us as we wanted to buy only digital version of the pictures (yes, you have to pay for them on top of the entry fee).
But hey, you go there for the dolphins, not people 😉
12. Dolphin Watching
Many friendly dolphins call the Algarve home, and it is an incredible destination for watching these majestic creatures. Dolphin watching tours take place all across the Algarve and are the best ways to see these playful creatures up close. Visitors can see Bottlenose, Striped, Habor Porpoise and Risso dolphins, as well as Orcas, sharks and sea turtles.
13. Fortaleza de Sagres
A very enjoyable walk along cliffs with amazing views. The parking was free.
We visited Fortaleza on the way to Cape Saint-Vincent and spent there one hour admiring the magical view of the surrounding landscape.
Perfect place for just chilling out or watching the surfers at Praia do Tonel. It really is one of the best places to visit in Algarve.
14. Scuba dive near Albufeira
Whether you are a seasoned diver or never tackled scuba diving before, Albufeira is the perfect place for it. There are many scuba schools in the area offering diving sessions for all abilities.
The Algarve is one of the best scuba diving spots in the whole of Europe, and Albufeira provides some great experiences. There are reefs, caves, wrecks, wildlife and much more to discover under the water.
15. Discover Algarve on a quad
One of the best ways to discover the untouched landscapes and picturesque villages on the Algarve is by quad bike. There is over 55km of rural off-roading tracks and paths that are thrilling for even inexperienced riders.
Many companies offer high-quality quad bikes for hire across the Algarve and can advise you on the best routes to take to get the most out of your trip. This is the perfect activity for adventure lovers and thrill-seekers who want to explore every corner of the Algarve.
Lagos has been exceptionally generously endowed with magnificent cliffs and beaches, so it is surprising that it is also very touristic.
This is probably one of the most vibrant cities in the south of Portugal, so if you are looking for quiet places in Algarve, this isn’t one of them. 😉
However, Lagos owes its popularity mainly to fantastic landscapes and beautiful beaches.
The beaches are also enchanting, among them, Meia Praia or the small Praia do Camilo surrounded by rocks, to which there are characteristic wooden stairs known from photos. Everybody has seen this place on Instagram, right? 🙂
17. Cape Saint-Vincent
Best sunset spot in Europe. You can’t get further southwest in continental Europe than to Cape Saint-Vincent! The biggest attraction is the impressive and breathtaking views of the vertical cliffs washed by ocean waters. You could easily name it as one of the best cliffs in Europe!
It is definitely worth coming here to see the lighthouse from 1846 and watch the sunset. On both sides of the cape, Cabo de São Vicente offers amazing views! Just make sure you have time to admire the astonishing landscape of the high cliffs that fall steeply into the dark-blue water of the Atlantic.
The best place to watch the sunset in Portugal?
Well… end of Europe of course!
But don’t even think that you will be the only one who has that idea!
No! There will be probably 100s other people waiting for the sun to go down 🙂 Well, this must be then one of the most romantic places in Europe!
Don’t worry – there is enough space in Cape Saint-Vincent for all of them 😉 You will still be able to take a few amazing pictures. We fell in love with this place straight away and it’s really up there with the best things to do in Algarve.
18. Stand up paddle (SUP) boarding
Stand up paddleboarding is a unique way to find your way around the waters of the Algarve. With so many caves and coves to discover, there is no better way than on a stand-up paddleboard.
Benagil Cave is a popular spot for this activity in the Algarve, because of its beautiful fossil rock formations, hidden beaches and unbeatable sights.
19. Serra De Monchique
Serra de Monchique is a rolling mountain range that rises up between the Algarve and Alentejo. It is the highest point of the Algarve standing at 902m. At the peak, you can enjoy breathtaking views across the south and west coasts, and on a good day, you can see all the way to Cabo de São Vicente.
Not only that, but the historic market town of Monchique is set amongst unique pine, eucalyptus and oak forest making a stunning place to explore.
20. Eat local
If you are a big fan of pastel de nata (as Gosia is) – you probably think that Algarve is heaven! 😉
Good news! You can buy the Portuguese Custard Tarts almost everywhere in Portugal.
There are many great little cafes and bars in Algarve. If you are in Lagos make sure you go to Al-Bravo Cafe & Shop for a lunch:
In Lagoa, Tapas no BUCHO is a must on your list!
21. Castle of Alvor
Alvor is a lovely harbour village located in the middle of Portimão and Lagos. Part of the village’s rich history is the Castle of Avor, which is a 13th-century Moorish castle which today is made of diminished stone.
Much of the stone from the castle was used to rebuild the rest of the village following the devastation of the 1755 earthquake. However, you can still visit the castle site, but it is not as extensive as you might expect!
22. Ria Formosa
Stretching across 60km from Garrao beach in Faro to Manta Rota beach in Cacela, Ria Formosa Natural Park should not be missed. The area became a natural park back in 1978 and is home to an abundance of fauna and flora across its labyrinth of islands, canals, sandbanks and swamps.
23. Boat trip to Algar de Benagil
A HIGHLIGHT of the Algarve coast! 🙂
Benagil Cave, with a sandy beach hidden inside, is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. it’s definitely true! The vault of this rock cave once collapsed in one place, resulting in a round hole.
The grotto is only accessible from the ocean, but you can rent a motorboat or a kayak to explore the Benagil Cave.
We went on an organised boat trip which did cost us €25 each. 70 minutes of exploring the coastline and many other caves (not only the Algar de Benagil) was definitely worth it! 🙂 But yes, you are right, the Benagil Cave is the highlight of the boat trip 🙂
Make sure you reserve your ticket earlier as the guys as super busy in the high season. All you have to do is booking online a spot for a specific day – you will pay on the day of your trip but make sure you take cash with you!
Olhão is just 10 minutes from Faro and is the largest fishing port in all of the Algarve. Many beautiful islands can be reached by boat from Olhão, including Ilha da Armona which has miles of unspoiled white sand beach. Foodies will love Olhão for its local cuisine, mainly consisting of fresh clams, shellfish and fish.
In the western side of the Algarve is Portimão. It is one of the largest towns on the Algarve coast and has a rich history, including being severely damaged in the 1755 earthquake. It only started being known as Portimão in 1924, and before that was named Burj Munt and Porcimunt. Visitors can enjoy the abundant fishing port and plenty of local shops and markets.
26. Costa Vicentina
Costa Vicentina is a 100-kilometre long coastal strip stretching from the border with Alentejo in the north to Cape St. Vincent. Thanks to its protection by Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, it avoided the invasion of investors and has kept his cosy atmosphere to this day.
Those who are looking for almost pristine beaches, high waves and traditional restaurants will certainly not be disappointed. It is definitely worth visiting Praia de Odeceixe – a stunning, extensive beach, which is flooded by the ocean from the west, and the Seixe River stops from the east.
Costa Vicentina is really one of the best areas to visit in Algarve and is a particularly popular place among surfers and paragliders – all due to the high waves.
27. Arco da Vila
Faro’s old quarter is entered via the grand Arco da Vila, which is a famous monument and meeting point. It was built in 1812 and designed by Francisco Xavier Fabri, the Genoese architect. The arch is famed for the statue that is set within a recess, which is a figure of the 13th-century Italian religious scholar, St Thomas Aquinas.
Algarve Portugal FAQ:
Visiting the Benagil Cave is one of the most unique things to do in Algarve!
Where to stay in Algarve Portugal?
Whether you are planning a short break in Algarve or all-inclusive holiday in the south of Portugal, you will find a huge range of accommodation.
The hospitality is very advance in Algarve and you can find them one of the best resorts and hotels in Portugal.
In our opinion, Lagoa is the best area to stay in Algarve. It’s located just in the middle of the region so will need max one hour by car to get to all the top attractions in Algarve. We have stayed in the Lagoa Hotel in Lagoa – yes, we know – they were not very creative with the name 😉 But we had a very nice duplex apartment with a parking space underneath and buffet breakfast! All at a very reasonable price.
As we always advise, check the latest deals and book your favourite type of accommodation 🙂 It’s OK to book a 5* hotel in Algarve if you can afford 😉
Fun fact: Did you know you can wash your clothes at a bus stop?! 🙂 – we love Algarve 🙂
Is Algarve worth visiting?
Algarve is very much worth a visit! With many low-cost flights from most European cities, there is no excuse. It really is worth making the effort. The Algarve is one of the most popular holiday destinations to visit in Europe right now – and for very good reason – stunning beaches in Algarve! Yes, this southern region in Portugal can get crowded but it’s more affordable than Spain so it makes sense to visit Algarve 🙂
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