Alvor Portugal tourism guide - Updated for 2018
Alvor is a pretty Portuguese fishing town that has developed responsibly into a relaxed and mature holiday destination. The town is situated on the banks of the Odiáxere River and is within walking distance of one of the largest sandy beaches of southern Portugal. Alvor has a distinctively Portuguese appearance with traditional white washed houses, narrow cobbled streets and small fishing boats pulled up along the banks of the river.
For tourists the town centre is filled with a wide range of restaurants, cafes and bars, able to cater for all styles and tastes. There is a lot to see in the Alvor region, as it is only a short bus ride to the lively resort town of Praia da Rocha or to the historic city of Portimão. Overall, Alvor makes for a fantastic holiday destination and this article will provide an introduction to Alvor and the surrounding region.
Why have a holiday in Alvor Portugal?
Alvor is close to some of the finest beaches of the western Algarve, while the town has retained its traditional charm and character. Considering the comparatively small size of Alvor there is a large variety of restaurants and an extensive selection of hotels and self-catering apartments. A stay within Alvor can be much more than just a beach holiday, as there are many interesting day trips to the surrounding region, all of which can be easily reached via the inexpensive bus network.
Who should visit Alvor?
Alvor is suited for visitors who are looking for a simple, calm and inexpensive beach holiday. Alvor may not have the history or vast number of tourist attractions but the town boasts Portuguese charm and a pleasant laid back ambience.
Generally, Alvor caters for the slightly mature visitor, who does not want a town full of rowdy drunks looking to party all night long. As Alvor is calmer than many of the other resort towns in the central Algarve it is equally suited for families with young children and children will be welcomed throughout the town. Families with teenagers may prefer to be based within the central Algarve region, which is closer to the major theme and water parks.
Alvor for Summer 2018
The Algarve is currently experiencing an unparalleled rejuvenation; new businesses are opening, hotels are being refurbished of and there is a sense of confidence and optimism about the region. Alvor is expecting an impressive summer season for 2018 and this follows the sell-out summer of 2017.
This does mean that to secure the best prices, accommodation and flights must be booked far in advance. Fortunately many of the hotels reserved via the larger booking websites do not require a deposit, therefore negating any monetary penalty if plans are change. Our advice is, if you are seriously considering a holiday to Alvor book accommodation now as the best places will sell out, for a summary of the best hotels in Alvor please click here.
Last minute deals are rare for Alvor, but if there are any found by Booking.com they will be displayed in the box below:
The weather of Alvor and the central Algarve
Alvor and the Algarve have long hot summers, pleasant spring and autumn seasons, and mild but unpredictable winters. July and August are the height of the tourist season and when the sun is at its most intense. The weather in southern Portugal is suitable for spending time on the beach from mid-May through to the end of September.
The best time of year to visit Alvor is during the spring or early autumn months, the weather at this time of the year is pleasantly warm and the region does not feel overrun with tourists. Alvor closes down for winter in October and reopens for Easter, during the closed season the town will feel very quiet as there is not a large permanent population or large ex-pat community.
The average weather of Alvor Portugal
The sea temperature of Alvor is always cold, as the waters are fed by the Atlantic Ocean not the warmer Mediterranean. Even in the hot summer months the sea water only reaches a chilly 18C, if you planning to spend a lot of time in the water (surfing) bring a wet suit.
What’s the Best Attraction in Alvor?
Alvor’s unique tourist attraction are the elevated walkways that cross the sand dunes and mud flats of the Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve. These pathways provide pleasant walks with scenic views over the estuary, which is a haven for bird life. The paths are wide enough to cycle along and as of 2016 they have been extended eastwards along the main beach.
What are some of the popular day trips from Alvor?
From Alvor it is very easy to visit the towns of Portimão and Praia da Rocha, as these two destinations are connected by the inexpensive local bus network. Portimão is a large residential city that has excellent shopping, a historic centre and a pleasant harbour. Praia da Rocha is a busy and hectic resort town that is situated on a beautiful coastline. Praia da Rocha is the place to head to for a big party night out as the town is crammed full with themed bars and late night venues.
Portimão is a major transport hub and from here it is possible to catch further buses to the historic towns of Silves and Lagos. Silves was the ancient capital of the Algarve and contains the Algarve’s best preserved castle along with other monuments which reflect the glorious history of the town.
Lagos is a much larger city and was the centre for Portugal’s glorious 14th century age of exploration, Lagos’ attractions including a fort, city walls, decorative churches and even a former slave market. Within walking distance of Lagos are the highly weather cliffs of the Ponte da Piedade, which are regarded as best natural feature of the Algarve.
Related articles: Portimão guide - Praia da Rocha guide - Lagos guide
Does Alvor have good beaches?
Alvor has a vast and pristine beach that is within walking distance of the town centre. The sandy beach stretches for over 3.5km, from the sand dunes of the Odiáxere natural park in the west to the sandstone cliffs of Prainha in the east. The beach has an unspoilt atmosphere, as there is very little tourist development directly on the beach front, apart from the odd beach bar, restaurant and new raised footpaths.
Restaurants, Bars and Food in Alvor
There is a wide selection of restaurants in Alvor, that cover all styles of cuisine and dining. Restaurants include Portuguese, English, Indian, Chinese, Italian and Spanish. Eating out is significantly cheaper than back at home and the evening meal is an important part of the Portuguese day, therefore meals tend not to be rushed. Tipping is not compulsory but it is often expected as it helps to boost the meagre wages of the waiting staff.
Airports and hotel transfer
The main international airport is Faro airport and this is located 70km to the east of Alvor. Faro airport is a major international airport and has direct flights covering the whole of Europe. All of the major low-cost airlines fly into Faro, which can provide great value flights, if booked far enough in-advance.
For the onward connection from Faro airport to Alvor, it is recommended to pre-book a transfer as the journey by public transport is difficult and time consuming. The route from Faro airport to Alvor by public transport requires two buses and one long train journey and, depending on connections can take more than four hours. Private transfer are in the range of €70-80 while a shared transfer by coach will be around €20-30 per person. If you are in a large group, it is often more cost effective to hire a private transfer. A taxi hired from Faro airport will be significantly more than a private transfer.
Related articles: Faro airport to Alvor.
Will language be a problem in Alvor?
Everyone who works within the tourist industry speaks English fluently and English is the second language used in the Algarve (in the airport, on buses etc). All restaurants will have English menus.
Is Alvor an expensive location for a holiday?
Portugal is a comparatively inexpensive country; with food, accommodation and transport much cheaper than many of the other established holiday destinations, especially when compared to Greece, or the Balearic islands. The prices in Alvor reflect that tourism is the main industry and are more expensive than the rest of Portugal but will still be cheaper than back at home.
Do I need a rental car?
A rental car is not needed for a holiday to the Algarve but it does make exploring the region significantly easier. If you intend to solely have a beach holiday, with a couple of day trips to Portimão or Praia da Rocha then a rental car is not needed and will be more hassle than it’s worth due to the limited car parking in the centre of Alvor.