Top 17 Reasons Why the Algarve is Worth Visiting
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The Algarve is Portugal’s southernmost region that spans a rugged coastline, turquoise hued beaches, and colorful hilltop villages. Boasting great weather year-round, scenic landscapes, and plenty of outdoor activities, the region has earned its ranking in top destinations to discover. With so much to explore throughout Portugal you may be wondering, is Algarve worth visiting? And yes, it absolutely is.
The Algarve is about a three-hour drive from Lisbon, but you can fly into the region’s capital city, Faro. Nestled throughout the Algarve sit a variety of quaint towns that each offer their own character. In this blog post I’ll highlight which ones are most popular for visiting, as well as the best activities to do while there.
Is Algarve Worth Visiting?
Whether you’re looking to surf, swim, or marvel at natural beauty, without question, the Algarve is worth visiting! Out of all the unique places to visit in Portugal, the Algarve is the country’s crown jewel of the coast.
While the region’s impressive beaches and abundant water activities dazzle tourists, its hilltop villages, wineries, and mountainous landscapes should not be missed. The Algarve’s laidback lifestyle is colored with bright buildings and vibrant florals, and truly is a destination that should be added to everyone’s list.
17 Reasons to Visit Algarve, Portugal
There are so many things that make the Algarve worth visiting. Below are the top 17 reasons why you should explore Portugal’s southern region.
1. Incredible Beaches
The beaches in the Algarve are undeniably some of the world’s best. From cliffside coves to stretches of golden sand, there’s something for everyone across the sparkling Portuguese coastline. A few beaches that shouldn’t be missed include Praia da Marinha, Praia de Dona Ana, and Praia da Falésia.
2. Surfer’s Paradise
Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, the Algarve attracts surfers from all over the world with supreme waves and laidback culture. Sagres is rated as one of the best towns for surfing, with the town of Lagos close behind it. There are also plenty of surf hostels and schools throughout the region to check out while visiting.
3. Explore Caves
One of the top attractions in the Algarve is exploring its sea caves. The most popular is the Benagil Cave, which I highly recommend checking out. There are plenty of organized tours that visit Benagil Cave via boat or kayak.
A couple of noteworthy others are the Zorreira Cave and Captain’s Cave that are all fairly close to one another.
Lagos is one of the better known towns in the Algarve, as it boasts some of the region’s best beaches and activities. A couple of sights that are a must to check out include Praia da Marinha, Algarve’s most picturesque beach, and the views at Ponta de Piedade. The town itself is worth visiting or staying in to explore its Old Town, markets, and museums.
Head to Sagres for the surf and relaxed lifestyle. This town is one of the top surf destinations in the world, and a hub for chilling out after you’ve spent your day in the sun. There’s also a slew of fantastic cafes with healthy food, live music, and laidback vibes.
Ferragudo is an old fishing village made up of narrow streets that wind through colorful, floral-lined buildings. The town sits atop the Arade River and is about an hour west of Faro. Spend a few hours here to relax, stroll charming laneways, and grab a light bite.
Just ten minutes east of Ferragudo is the quaint town of Carvoeiro. It’s a bit more lively than Ferragudo and offers several nearby beaches such as Praia do Paraíso and Praia do Vale de Centeanes. I’d recommend taking a day trip to visit these two towns and relax at the beaches in between sun-kissed strolls.
Faro is the capital city of the Algarve region and where most will fly into for their holiday. Although it’s a city that many pass through, it has a lot to see and should not be overlooked! I’d recommend spending time here to discover its Old Town, the Faro Cathedral, and historic chapels.
If you’re pressed for time but still want to see the best of Faro, I’d recommend this guided food and walking tour that takes you through locally-loved gems of the city.
Albufeira is known for its larger nightlife scene in the region, while offering great hotels, beaches, and a central location. It’s home to one of the Algarve’s best beaches, Praia da Falésia, which features red cliffs and turquoise waters (pictured below).
Albufeira is a great town to stay in for a few nights, and definitely worth exploring while in the area. If you stay here, I’d recommend this highly-rated boat cruise with a cave tour, water sports, and beach barbecue.
Silves is the Algarve’s former capital city that’s preserved its rich history and is absolutely worth the day trip. The main attraction is the Castle of Silves, which dates back to the Middle Ages and is perched on the highest hilltop in town. While there, be sure to also check out the Cathedral of Silves and the archeological museum.
Silves is nestled in front of the Algarve’s mountain range which makes the views from town even more beautiful. For a unique and adventurous activity, check out this jeep safari with historical highlights tour.
11. Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
As you head to Praia da Marinha beach, hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail beforehand. The trail is directly above the beach and offers sweeping views of Algarve’s rugged coastline and incredible rock formations. After the hike you’ll be ready to swim in the sparkling waters you’ve been admiring from above.
12. Delicious Seafood
Indulging in seafood is a must while in Portugal, but especially while in the Algarve with fish that couldn’t get more fresh. Pair your meal with a glass of wine from one of the nearby vineyards, and live as the locals do.
I’d recommend this private tour that offers seafood and wine tastings in between biking through the Algarve region.
13. Algarve Wineries
The Algarve’s mild climate is ideal for thriving vineyards, and there are several throughout the region. Home to award-winning wineries, the region is known for its flavorful red grapes. One of the most popular wineries, Quinta Dos Vales, offers this highly-rated wine tasting and art exhibition tour that’s worth checking out.
14. Scenic Landscapes
If you’re one who appreciates natural beauty and scenic landscapes, then you’ve come to the right place. The Algarve not only features stunning views of the Atlantic ocean, but also of rolling hills and rugged cliffs. One of my favorite lookouts is the Ponta da Piedade, pictured below.
15. Oceanic Adventures
One of the best ways to explore the Algarve’s caves and beaches is doing so from the water. Fortunately there are countless adventures offered throughout the coast, like kayaking, paddle boarding, or boating. I’d highly recommend doing at least one of these activities while in the Algarve!
16. Perfect for Road Trips
One of my favorite things to do while visiting Algarve is hopping in the car and road tripping across the region. As you travel between towns, the rolling views are dotted with gorgeous vineyards and hilltop villages. I’d recommend driving from Faro to Sagres and exploring beaches, towns, and quaint cafes in between so you can see all that the Algarve has to offer.
17. Great Weather Year-Round
If you’re looking for somewhere to escape to during cold winter months, the Algarve is a great place to go. The region’s average temperature in January is 61°F (16°C), with the town of Albufeira being the warmest. While it gets plenty hot during summer (on average 86°F/30°C) the coastal breezes help so it’s not unbearable.
Is Algarve Very Touristy?
Like many European coastal destinations, the Algarve can get quite crowded with tourists during summer months (high season). However, it isn’t as touristy as other popular destinations like the Amalfi Coast.
To avoid the crowds and still enjoy beach weather, you can visit the Algarve during the spring or fall months.
How Many Days Should You Spend in Algarve?
I’d recommend spending at least five days in the Algarve to get a good feel for the region. Anything less than five days may feel a bit rushed! Five or more days will allow for ample time to see the main towns that have been listed in this blog post.
Do I Need a Car in the Algarve?
I highly recommend renting a car while in the Algarve so that you can see as much as possible. Since the region combines both coastal and hillside landscapes, having a car will help you venture into those hidden gems.
If you can’t rent a car, Uber is very cheap in Portugal and there are buses that you can take in between towns.
Where to Stay in the Algarve
When looking into accommodation in the Algarve, I’d recommend staying in the towns of Albufeira, Lagos, or Sagres. Albufeira and Lagos will place you closer to the best beaches, towns, and attractions in the Algarve. Sagres will be best if you’re looking for the best surf culture and more of a relaxed vacation.
Below are a few gems I’ve found while exploring the Algarve.
Quinta Do Mel (budget)
EPIC SANA Algarve Hotel (mid-range)
Uma Casa a Beira Sol (budget)
Casa L-N-Noa (mid-range)
Mareta Beach House (mid-range)
Conclusion: Is Algarve Worth Visiting?
By now I hope you can agree that the Algarve is definitely worth visiting! No matter what time of year you visit, the Algarve is an ideal destination for relaxing, outdoor adventures, and soaking in beautiful landscapes.
For some of the best places and things to do in Portugal, check out this blog post.
I know you’ll very much love it there.