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Where to Stay and Have a Holiday in the Algarve?

Click here for an overview of the Algarve’s major resort towns

The 120km of the stunning Algarve coastline is blessed with both fantastic weather and beautiful beaches which makes the region a fantastic holiday destination. There are many varied towns along the Algarve coastline, which range from modern and bustling through to calm and traditional. This guide will identify the best resort towns for your style of holiday.


Summary of the Algarve for Different Types of Holidays

(Please click on the underlined link to take you to the destination guide )

Best Overall Destination -
Lagos, Albufeira or Praia da Rocha.


For Families -
Albufeira, Praia da Rocha, almost all of the central Algarve


History and Portuguese Culture -
Lagos, Tavira, Faro and Silves (as a day trip)


Where to Party -
Albufeira, Praia da Rocha and Lagos


Stag or Hen Do's -
The strip in Albufeira (Stag do guide here)


Relaxing Holiday -
Tavira, Alvor, Praia da Luz or Carvoeiro


Class and Exclusive -
Vilamoura or Vale Do Lobo region


Somewhere different -
Faro, Tavira or Alvor


Golfing Holiday -
Vilamoura and Albufeira


Surfing Holiday -
Sagres


For Christmas -
Albufeira, Praia da Rocha or Lagos


The Algarve is sold out or is too expensive in the summer -
Lisbon or Porto
(Lisbon and Porto both have great beaches, cheap flights and lots of accomidation, ideal for familes and couples)


Summary of the Algarve's Major Towns and Resorts

where to stay have holiday in the algarve

What's the Best Destination to Party?

1st – Albufeira

2nd – Praia da Rocha

Albufeira is the largest of the resort towns situated in the Algarve and there are two very distinct section to the town; The Old Town and The Strip. “The strip” in Albufeira town is ideal for visitors who want cheap drink, themed bars and all wild late night clubs.

The strip is where groups of young adults (equal amount of men and women) head to for a fun time and will not be turned away by night wrecking bouncers. This section of Albufeira is 2km from the pretty Old Town, just far enough not to annoy other visitors on a more conventional holiday. The Old Town in Albufeira has many bars and restaurants but is designed for slightly more mature visitors or for families.

Albufeira drinking and bars

There are lots of bars and places to drink in Albufeira

Praia da Rocha has a great reputation for lively nightlife during the summer season. Praia da Rocha has a happy mix of revellers and a cool and trendy atmosphere with a Portuguese twist. The cliff top promenade is the main hub of activity in Praia da Rocha has numerous bars, restaurants and clubs. Both Praia da Rocha and Albufeira are very busy in the summer season, so always book well in advance.

Praia da Rocha

The massive beach of Praia da Rocha

Best location for Traditional and unspoilt Algarve?

1 – Tavira

2 – Sagres

3 - Faro

Tavira is a traditional Portuguese town that has managed to retain its charming historical centre, even with the advent of mass tourism. Tavira is situated on the banks of the slow flowing Gilão River and the edge of the Ria Formosa natural park, a series of salt water lagoons that are a haven for migratory birds. Tavira has a relaxed and unhurried atmosphere and makes for a good base from which to explore the eastern Algarve.

Tavira portugal

Tavira is a pretty traditional town on the Algarve

Sagres is the small village at the very western tip of the Algarve and is the place to escape the crowds. The region surrounding the fishing village offers rugged surfing beaches, challenging coastal hikes and isolated national parks. Sagres is a very small village, and certain visitors may feel as if they are missing some of the Algarve experience by being based here, but if you want nature’s raw power, Sagres is the ideal place for you.

harbour of Sagres

The peaceful harbour of Sagres

Faro is the transport hub of the Algarve and is often over looked by the majority of visitors but the town provides a scenic old town. The old town is surrounded by 11th century city walls that were constructed but the Moors and at the heart of the old town is the ancient Sé cathedral. Faro is ideal for the first night’s stay in the Algarve as it is so close to the airport.

Where to go for a Family based Holiday?

1st - The coastline between Praia da Rocha and Albufeira

The Algarve and the Portuguese are very welcoming and accommodating for families with young children. The Algarve is a great destination for a family holiday and the coastline between Praia da Rocha and Albufeira is the most popular area with families. This section of the Algarve has purpose-built family hotels, great beaches and there are many enjoyable day trips which include “Zoomarine” and “Slide and Splash”. To read a guide for families visiting the Albufeira, please click here.

Zoomarine

The water parks at Zoomarine

Where are the Algarve’s best beaches?

1st – Lagos

2nd - Praia da Rocha

3rd – Monte Gordo

The Praia da Dona Ana beach, just outside Lagos, is regarded as the most stunning beach of the Algarve coastline. This small beach is set in a scenic location of sandstone coloured cliffs, golden sands and crystal clear waters; to read more about the beach please click here. Lagos also has a vast, flat sandy beach ideal to find space during the busy summer months and another scenic beach positioned next to the town’s fort.

The Praia da Dona Ana beach

The Praia da Dona Ana beach

Praia da Rocha has a vast beach in front of the main resort while further along the coast are a series of picturesque hidden cove beaches. Monte Gordo, in the very east of the Algarve, has the largest beach but the bland resort town has few other redeeming qualities. Albufeira has a very good beach, which is sufficiently large enough for all of the summer tourists.

Monte Gorde beach

The vast beach of Monte Gordo at sunset

The Algarve is blessed with a wonderful coastline, and no matter the location it is only ever a short journey to a fantastic beach. All of the Algarve’s beaches are sandy (there are no pebble beaches) and the sea waters are all very clean but the issue is that the water temperature is very cold even in the height of the summer.

Where to go for an Algarve golfing holiday?

1st – Vilamoura

2nd - Quarteira

3rd – Albufeira

Vilamoura was construct as an exclusive resort town, with the marina and the championship golf courses as the primary draw for Europe’s multi-millionaires. Within Vilamoura there are six golf courses, and are some of the best in Portugal (if not Europe). For a golfing holiday there is no better destination as Vilamoura provides easy access to the golf courses and there are multiple shops to hire golf clubs or to organise travel to the golf courses throughout the Algarve.

Vilamoura golf course

A wonderful golf course in Vilamoura

The down side to Vilamoura is that it is an “exclusive resort” expect to pay the top prices for hotels, meals and socilising. For a much cheaper destination consider the town of Quarteira, which is only a 5 minute drive from Vilamoura. Quarteira has a wonderful beach and provides much better value but does have a less refined atmosphere and look. Another choice for a base for a golfing holiday is the larger town of Albufeira, which is only a short drive from many of the major golf courses in Portugal. For a golf holiday to Portugal consider renting your golf clubs in Portugal instead of flying with them as this can be significantly cheaper.

Best Destination Overall

1st – Lagos

2nd - Albufeira

Lagos is a destination that has a lot to offer for a holiday, and is the ideal destination for visitors who want a bit of everything for their holiday. Lagos has an extensive history and this is reflected in the variety of historical monuments while close to Lagos are wonderful beaches and beautiful natural landscapes. There are many enjoyable day trips from Lagos and the town offers a range of restaurants cafes and bars. In our opinion Lagos is the best resort town of the Algarve, the only issue is that it is a long way from the airport.

Lagos

The traditional centre of Lagos

Albufeira is the most popular holiday destination of the Algarve and is a good choice for a holiday. Being the largest resort town, Albufeira offers the widest range of restaurants, bars and cafes but even with the huge influx of tourists the Old Town still retains its traditional appeal and character. For a beach holiday Albufeira has a massive sandy beach and excellent all-inclusive hotel complexes.

Albufeira early in the evening

Albufeira beach is suitable for children and families

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