Where to Stay in Algarve, Portugal: Best Algarve Towns

a woman wearing white and beige stands before a blue and white concrete wall overlooking Carvoeiro which is where to stay in Algarve Portugal
Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal

I know what it’s like to have endless tabs of research open on where to stay in Algarve, it can be overwhelming! Well, you’ve come to the right place. With its golden beaches, cliffside panoramas, and towns brimming with character, the Algarve is a must-visit destination in Portugal.

Having road-tripped along the Algarve coast multiple times since I started visiting in 2012, I’ve had the joy of discovering each Algarve town’s unique charm. 

From the bustling streets of Lagos, ideal for first-timers and digital nomads craving amenities and a vibrant community, to the serene beaches of Carvoeiro that beckon families and those searching for breathtaking coastal walks. 

I’ve experienced the laid-back lifestyle of Sagres, where the surf is always up and the relaxed energy is contagious. I dived into the nightlife of Albufeira, a magnet for those looking to dance the night away. These are just some of the best places to stay in Algarve.

This guide is your compass to navigating the Algarve’s best towns for your inaugural visit. Whether you’re a sun-seeker, a history buff, a foodie, or someone looking to hit the links, there’s a spot with your name on it. 

I’ll share with you not just the highlights and the best eateries but also the pros and cons of each destination, drawn from personal anecdotes and experiences. Let’s unravel the best of Algarve town by town, ensuring your visit is memorable. 

Let’s discover where to stay in the Algarve for your next epic holiday.

Where to Stay in Algarve Quick Guide

Lagos | First-Time Visitors, Amenities
Carvoeiro | Beaches, Families
Albufeira | Central Location, Nightlife
Sagres | Surfers, Younger Travellers
Vilamoura | Golfing, Beach Resorts
Portimao | Shopping

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Where I Stay in the Algarve (and Love!)

Best Places to Stay in Algarve Map

map of the best towns in Algarve where to stay for first time visitors

Understanding the Layout of Algarve Towns

Navigating the Algarve’s geographical landcapes reveals a region of striking contrasts and hidden gems, stretching from the serene eastern frontier near the Spanish border, through the lively central heartlands, to the rugged western coastline where the land dramatically meets the Atlantic.

Central Algarve

Main Central Algarve Towns | Albufeira, Carvoeiro, Lagos, Portimao

Central Algarve is the pulse of the region, where you’ll find bustling towns like Albufeira, Lagos, and Vilamoura. This area offers a dynamic mix of stunning beaches, historic sites, and vibrant nightlife.

It’s ideal for first-timers who want a bit of everything: sunbathing on golden sands, exploring ancient ruins, and enjoying the cosmopolitan dining scene.

white, red and blue buildings line a golden sand beach in Carvoeiro which is the best Algarve town for beaches and boardwalks
Carvoeiro – Where to Stay for Beaches, Boardwalks and Families

Western Algarve

Man Western Algarve Towns | Lagos, Sagres

The Western Algarve is a rugged, windswept sanctuary for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. Sagres and the Costa Vicentina are renowned for their dramatic cliffs, secluded beaches, and some of Europe’s best surfing spots.

It’s less developed and more wild, appealing to those looking for outdoor activities and a chance to connect with nature’s raw beauty.

Eastern Algarve

Main Eastern Algarve Towns | Faro, Olhao, Tavira, Vilamoura

The Eastern Algarve is a haven of tranquillity, characterized by its gently rolling hills, olive groves, and the serene Ria Formosa Natural Park. This area is a paradise for nature lovers and those seeking a quieter escape.

Towns like Tavira and Olhão boast charming historic centres and a slower pace of life, making them perfect for travellers looking to immerse themselves in authentic Portuguese culture away from the crowds.

Best Towns to Stay in Algarve, Portugal

1. Lagos: Best Place to Stay for First Time Visitors

Best for | First Time Visitors, Amenities, Digital Nomads
Algarve Region | Eastern Algarve

tiled promenade lined with lamp posts and colourful homes with greenery line one of the best places to stay in Algarve for first time visitors Lagos
The colourful homes and promenade of Lagos Old Town

Perfect for first-timers, Lagos serves as a coastal hub where the traditional Portuguese lifestyle seamlessly blends with modern comforts and amenities.

The Algarve town is a patchwork of cobbled streets, historic fortresses, and colourful market squares, all framed by the dramatic backdrop of the Atlantic. The first thing that hits you is the town’s undeniable charm, from the bustling Marina to the ancient walls that whisper tales of explorers and pirates.

For beach lovers, Lagos is one of the best places to stay on the Algarve. The coastline is a masterpiece, with Ponta da Piedade offering postcard-perfect views of towering cliffs and turquoise waters. My favourite memory involves kayaking around these rock formations at sunset, an experience that I’ll never forget.

But Lagos isn’t just about natural beauty. The town thrives on its community spirit, making it a haven for digital nomads like me. Cafes with reliable Wi-Fi and friendly locals make it all too easy to imagine setting up shop here for a while. Plus, the nightlife offers just the right mix of laid-back bars and energetic clubs to suit any mood.

The best place to stay in Lagos is anywhere around the vibrant old town centre.

Best Things to Do in Lagos, Algarve

  • Explore the historic Old Town 
  • Take a boat tour of Ponta da Piedade
  • Relax on Meia Praia‘s extensive sandy beach
  • Visit the Lagos Cultural Centre for local art and events
low bushlands cover the coastline looking towards one of the best locations to stay in Algarve Portugal Lagos

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Lagos

Pros & Cons of Staying in Lagos

Pros:

  • All the modern amenities
  • Diverse activities from beaches to history tours
  • Welcoming community, great for networking
  • Vibrant nightlife without being overwhelming

Cons:

  • Can get crowded in peak summer months
  • Parking can be a challenge in the town centre
historic white washed church sits at the back of a plaza with purple flowers and blue sky in Lagos town in Algarve
Igreja de Santa Maria de Lagos

Best Hotels in Lagos

2. Carvoeiro: Best Algarve Town for Families

Best for | Families, Coastal Walks, Beaches
Algarve Region | Central Algarve

Carvoeiro is the Algarve’s hidden gem, where the charm of a traditional fishing village meets the allure of a family-friendly holiday destination. 

Ideal for those seeking a picturesque base for coastal walks and beach days, Carvoeiro offers a more intimate setting compared to its bustling neighbours. This town is a haven for families and anyone enchanted by the idea of winding down to the rhythm of the sea against scenic cliffs.

On my last visit to this Algarve town, the highlight was undoubtedly the cliff-top boardwalk. Starting near the Algar Seco, this path offers breathtaking views of the coastline, leading to secluded beaches and natural pools that seem untouched by time. 

If you have time, take a boat tour to the famous Benagil Cave and witness the dramatic cliffs from the ocean.

Carvoeiro’s beaches, like Praia de Carvoeiro and Praia do Carvalho, are nestled between jagged cliffs, offering sheltered spots for sunbathing and swimming in crystal-clear waters.

The town centre, with its quaint square, is the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploration. Here, I found a delightful mix of local shops, restaurants, and ice cream parlours, with live music adding to the ambiance on warm breezy evenings.

Carvoeiro remains one of my favourite places to stay in the Algarve for its ability to balance the quaint charm of Portugal with the natural beauty of its coastline. It’s a destination that feels like a step back in time, where the stresses of modern life seem to wash away with the tide. 

white buildings with red roofs sit back from a golden sandy beach with blue sky is where to stay in Algarve Portugal for families

Best Things to Do in Carvoeiro

  • Cliff-top walk for stunning views and access to hidden beaches
  • Boat tours to explore the caves and grottos, including the famous Benagil Cave
  • Visit the Algar Seco for natural rock pools and formations

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Carvoeiro

a wooden boardwalk meanders along a rugged coastline in Algarve Coast on a partly cloudy day

Pros & Cons of Staying in Carvoeiro

Pros:

  • Ideal for families and those seeking a quieter getaway
  • Stunning natural scenery and beaches
  • Great base for exploring the Algarve’s coastal caves and grottos

Cons:

  • Limited nightlife, which might not appeal to those seeking a vibrant party scene
  • In peak season, the main beach and town centre can feel crowded

Best Hotels in Carvoeiro

3. Sagres: Where to Stay in Algarve for Surfers

Best for | Surfing, Younger Travellers
Algarve Region | Western Algarve

A woman wearing a black wetsuit carries a surfboard at a beach in Sagres with coastal cliffs and ocean in the distance in Sagres the best place to stay in Algarve Portugal for surfers
Looking up at the Sagres Fortress from Praia do Tonel

Sagres stands at the edge of the world, or at least, that’s how it feels standing atop its windswept cliffs, gazing into the endless Atlantic. It’s the Algarve’s wild child, a sanctuary for surfers, nature lovers, and anyone with a penchant for adventure. 

The Algarve town exudes youthful energy, making it a magnet for younger travellers and those young at heart seeking a blend of outdoor excitement and laid-back vibes.

During my stays in Sagres, I was captivated by its rugged natural beauty. The Fortaleza de Sagres, with its panoramic views, offers a glimpse into Portugal’s maritime past and provides a stunning vantage point for sunsets that seem to set the ocean ablaze. 

Surfing here is unparalleled, with beaches like Praia do Beliche (my husband’s favourite) and Praia do Tonel offering some of the best waves in Europe.

But Sagres is not just for surfers. The laid-back atmosphere extends into the evenings, with a handful of bars and restaurants serving up fresh seafood and local wines, perfect for recounting the day’s adventures.

Sagres is a breath of fresh air for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of busier destinations. Its connection to nature, combined with a strong sense of community among locals and visitors alike, makes it a unique place to stay on the Algarve map. 

a girl wearing black and beige walks on the edge of a coastal cliff with a white and red lighthouse in the distance on a sunny day in one of the best towns in Algarve Sagres
Enjoying the Farol do Cabo de Sao Vicente lighthouse in Sagres Algarve

Best Things to Do in Sagres

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Sagres

  • A Sagres for traditional Portuguese dishes in a cozy setting
  • Dromedario Bar Sagres for coffee, snacks, and a vibrant atmosphere
  • The Hangout for tasty burgers and a friendly, casual vibe
  • Three Little Birds for new-age brunch
  • Picnic for trendy coffee and baked goods

Pros & Cons of Staying in Sagres

Pros:

  • Ideal for adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts
  • Less crowded than other Algarve towns, offering a more authentic experience
  • Stunning natural landscapes and some of the best sunsets in Portugal

Cons:

  • The town’s remote location means it’s a bit of a journey from the central Algarve
  • Limited nightlife options compared to more bustling Algarve towns

Best Hotels in Sagres

4. Albufeira: Best Place to Stay in Algarve for Nightlife

Best for | Central Location, Nightlife
Algarve Region | Central Algarve

expansive golden sandy beach sits at the bottom of a red rugged cliffside with ocean and blue sky in one of the best places to stay in Algarve Portugal
Beach of Albufeira by Martijn Vonk

Albufeira is the Algarve’s beating heart of nightlife and entertainment, a town where vibrant energy pulses through its streets from dusk till dawn. It’s a central hub for those seeking a lively holiday, packed with a variety of bars, clubs, and live music venues. 

But Albufeira is not just about the nightlife, it also boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the region, catering to sun-seekers and families alike.

When considering where to stay on the Algarve coast, I’ve found that Albufeira perfectly balances its reputation as a party destination with its more serene side. 

The Old Town, with its traditional cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings, offers a glimpse into the Algarve’s past. Here, you can meander through a maze of shops, cafes, and restaurants, with the scent of grilled fish and the sound of Fado music filling the air.

For beach enthusiasts, Praia dos Pescadores and Praia da Oura are must-visits, offering golden sands and crystal-clear waters. And for those looking to explore a bit further, the nearby Algarve Shopping Mall, a 15-minute drive inland, provides a break from the sun with its array of shops, cinemas, and eateries.

Albufeira has always struck me as a town of contrasts. By day, a peaceful haven with beautiful beaches and charming streets; by night, a dynamic hotspot for entertainment and socializing. 

Best Things to Do in Albufeira

  • Dive into the vibrant nightlife in the bars and clubs along the Strip
  • Relax on the stunning beaches of Praia dos Pescadores and Praia da Oura
  • Explore the charming Old Town and its cultural sights

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Albufeira

Pros & Cons of Staying in Albufeira

Pros:

  • A wide range of entertainment options, from beach lounging to nightlife
  • Diverse dining experiences catering to all tastes
  • Central location, making it an ideal base for exploring the Algarve

Cons:

  • The town can become very crowded, especially in the summer months
  • Some may find the nightlife too intense if looking for a quiet getaway

Best Hotels in Albufeira

5. Faro: Where to Stay in Algarve to Explore the East

Best for | Base for Day Trips
Algarve Region | Eastern Algarve

historical whitewashed buildings with tiled roof and orange trees line a street in best Algarve town of Faro
Old Town Faro by Claudio Schwarz

Faro, the gateway to the Algarve, often goes unnoticed by those in pursuit of the region’s famed beaches, yet it holds a charm that deserves recognition. 

As the administrative capital of the Algarve, Faro offers a blend of historic architecture, cultural depth, and a more laid-back vibe compared to its coastal counterparts. It’s a great Algarve town for history buffs and a strategic base for explorers keen on day trips across the eastern Algarve and beyond.

Faro is the best place to stay in the Algarve for a less touristy atmosphere, allowing for a genuine interaction with local life

The Old Town, or Cidade Velha, is a highlight, bordering the Faro Marina, it’s enclosed by ancient Roman walls and filled with Gothic landmarks, including the breathtaking Faro Cathedral. Strolling through the cobbled streets, you’ll discover quaint cafes, museums, and hidden courtyards.

Faro is also the gateway to the Ria Formosa Natural Park, a series of saltwater lagoons and islands that host a diverse range of wildlife. A boat tour here is a must-do, offering the chance to explore secluded beaches and observe birds in their natural habitat.

Whether you’re delving into the Old Town’s alleys, venturing into the natural wonders of Ria Formosa, or enjoying a quiet evening at a local restaurant, Faro offers a distinct and memorable slice of the Algarve.

Best Things to Do in Faro

  • Explore the Cidade Velha and visit Faro Cathedral
  • Take a boat trip through the Ria Formosa Natural Park
  • Visit the Bone Chapel, known for its unique interior adorned with bones and skulls

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Faro

Pros & Cons of Staying in Faro

Pros:

  • Rich cultural and historical offerings
  • Less crowded, providing a more authentic Portuguese experience
  • Excellent base for exploring the eastern Algarve region

Cons:

  • The beach is not as accessible as in other Algarve towns, requiring a short journey
  • Nightlife is more subdued, which might not suit those looking for a party atmosphere
  • Not centrally located for exploring the entire Algarve coast

Best Hotels in Faro

6. Vilamoura: Best Area to Stay on the Algarve for Luxury

Best for | Golfing, Beach Resorts, Luxury Travellers
Algarve Region | Eastern Algarve

Vilamoura Algarve harbour with boats and buildings in the distance at dusk where to stay in Algarve for luxury
Vilamoura Marina by Peter Idowu

Vilamoura is the Algarve’s slice of sophistication and luxury, known for its opulent marina, world-class golf courses, and pristine beaches. 

It’s a haven for those seeking an upscale holiday experience, with golfing enthusiasts and beach lovers finding it particularly appealing. Vilamoura’s carefully manicured landscapes and high-end amenities offer a stark contrast to the Algarve’s more rugged destinations, presenting a polished, resort-like atmosphere.

Vilamoura is the place to stay on the Algarve coast for a sense of luxury and relaxation. The marina is the town’s bustling heart, lined with chic cafes, gourmet restaurants, and designer boutiques. In this town in Algarve, you can spend your days marvelling at the sleek yachts, enjoying a leisurely lunch with views of the water, or embarking on a sunset boat tour along the coast.

Golf is undoubtedly a major draw in Vilamoura, with some of the best courses in Portugal, if not Europe. The courses, like the Dom Pedro Victoria Course and The Old Course, are impeccably maintained and offer challenging play amidst stunning scenery. 

For beachgoers, Praia da Vilamoura and Praia da Falésia offer golden sands stretching for miles, perfect for sunbathing or enjoying watersports.

Best Things to Do in Vilamoura

  • Tee off at one of the many world-renowned golf courses
  • Stroll around the marina and indulge in luxury shopping and dining
  • Enjoy the beaches, particularly Praia da Falésia, for its dramatic cliffs and clear waters

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Vilamoura

  • Willie’s Restaurant for Michelin-starred dining in an intimate setting
  • Akvavit, offering a waterfront dining experience with a diverse international menu
  • Il Lamparo for marina-side steak, seafood and pasta

Pros & Cons of Staying in Vilamoura

Pros:

  • High-end amenities and luxury accommodations
  • A wide range of leisure activities, from golfing to yachting
  • Safe and clean, ideal for families and those seeking a more refined holiday

Cons:

  • The upscale nature of Vilamoura means it can be pricier than other Algarve destinations
  • It lacks the traditional Portuguese feel found in other towns, which might deter those seeking an authentic experience

Best Hotels & Resorts in Vilamoura

7. Portimão: Best Town in Algarve for Shoppers

Best for | Shopping
Algarve Region | Central Algarve

concrete peninsula pathway leads out to a red and white striped lighthouse along the coast of Portimao Algarve best towns
Lighthouse of Praia da Rocha by Nate Markarian

Portimão is the Algarve’s shopping haven, offering everything from high-street brands to charming local markets. But Portimão is not just about retail therapy, this Algarve city is also home to some of the most iconic beaches in Portugal, including Praia da Rocha, where golden sands meet dramatic cliffs in a breathtaking display of natural beauty.

The waterfront is vibrant, with the marina and riverside offering an array of dining and leisure options. Here, I’ve enjoyed some of the best seafood the Algarve has to offer, with the grilled sardines being a personal highlight. 

Praia da Rocha is not to be missed, offering not just sunbathing and swimming, but also a lively promenade filled with bars and cafes.

For those who love history and culture, the medieval Fortaleza de Santa Catarina provides stunning views over the beach and Algarve town, serving as a reminder of Portimão’s rich past. And for a deep dive into local traditions, the Museu de Portimão offers fascinating insights into the area’s fishing and canning history.

Portimão offers a dynamic Algarve experience, combining the convenience of Algarve city living with the undeniable allure of beachside leisure

busy white sand beach lines the coastline on a sunny day in Algarve Portugal
Popular Praia da Rocha in Portimao, Algarve, Portugal by Duarte Grilo

Best Things to Do in Portimao

  • Sunbathe and enjoy watersports at Praia da Rocha
  • Explore the shopping streets and local markets for unique finds
  • Visit the Museu de Portimão to learn about the town’s heritage

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Portimao

Pros & Cons of Staying in Portimao

Pros:

  • A perfect mix of urban amenities and beachside relaxation
  • Wide range of shopping and dining options
  • Rich cultural attractions and historical sites

Cons:

  • The main areas, especially Praia da Rocha, can get crowded during peak season
  • Urban development means less of the traditional Algarve charm compared to smaller towns

Best Hotels in Portimao

More Great Places to Stay in Algarve, Portugal

8. Tavira

Best for | Quiet Beach Stay
Algarve Region | Eastern Algarve

two story white building with arched pathway and red tiled roof sits behind the Tavira town square on a sunny day in Algarve where to stay
Tavira Old Town by Neil Webb

If you are searching for where to stay in Algarve Portugal for an off-the-grid relaxing beach holiday, Tavira is the spot. 

Known for its traditional architecture, slow-paced lifestyle, and stunning natural landscapes, Tavira is a haven for tranquillity seekers. Its charm lies in the Roman bridge spanning the Gilão River, historic churches, and the nearby Ilha de Tavira, offering miles of pristine sandy beaches accessible by a short ferry ride

The town’s laid-back atmosphere is perfect for unwinding and soaking up the authentic Algarvian culture.

I visit Tavira if I need to escape the hustle and bustle of Algarve city life. Meandering its cobbled streets and admiring its whitewashed buildings with their traditional tiled facades is my idea of leisurely exploration. 

A visit to the Castelo de Tavira offers panoramic views of the Algarve town and coastline, while the Tavira Island beaches provide a secluded spot for sunbathing and swimming in crystal-clear waters.

Best Things to Do in Tavira

  • Explore the historic centre and visit Tavira Castle for views
  • Relax on the beaches of Ilha de Tavira
  • Enjoy bird watching at the Ria Formosa Natural Park

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Tavira

  • Aquasul for a cozy atmosphere and delicious seafood
  • Café Porta Nova, a riverside spot perfect for a leisurely coffee
  • O Tonel, offering traditional Portuguese dishes in a charming setting

Pros & Cons of Staying in Tavira

Pros:

  • Quiet and peaceful, ideal for a relaxing beach holiday
  • Rich in cultural and historical attractions
  • Beautiful natural surroundings, including the Ria Formosa

Cons:

  • Less nightlife and entertainment options compared to larger Algarve towns
  • The beach is on an island, requiring a ferry trip

Best Hotels in Tavira

9. Ferragudo

Best for | Couples, Romantic Getaways
Algarve Region | Central Algarve

a moorish castle sits on the rugged coastline at golden hour in Ferragudo Algarve best area to stay
Ferragudo Castle by micheile henderson

Ferragudo, with its postcard-worthy fishermen’s village charm, is a romantic retreat tailor-made for couples

Nestled on the eastern side of the Arade River opposite Portimão, this quaint Algarve town offers a picturesque setting with its cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, and a waterfront brimming with cozy cafes and seafood restaurants. 

Wandering through the narrow lanes leading up to the Church of São João do Arade, my partner and I were greeted with stunning views of the river and Portimão across the water. The main square, Praça Rainha Dona Leonor, is a delightful spot to enjoy a quiet evening, sampling local dishes as the sun sets over the marina.

A boat trip along the river or a kayaking adventure to explore nearby caves adds a touch of adventure to the tranquil setting.

Best Things to Do in Ferragudo

  • Stroll through the village to the Fort of São João do Arade for breathtaking views
  • Relax on the secluded beaches of Praia Grande and Praia dos Caneiros
  • Enjoy a romantic boat tour along the Arade River

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Ferragudo

  • Fim do Mundo, known for its fresh fish and traditional Portuguese cuisine
  • Club Nau at Praia Grande, perfect for a beachside meal with live music
  • Hexagone, offering a modern take on Mediterranean dishes in an elegant setting

Pros & Cons of Staying in Ferragudo

Pros:

  • Ideal for couples seeking a quiet, romantic getaway
  • Beautiful blend of traditional charm and natural beauty
  • Excellent seafood and intimate dining experiences

Cons:

  • Very limited nightlife options for those seeking evening entertainment
  • Smaller in size, which might not appeal to those looking for a wide array of activities

Best Hotels in Ferragudo

10. Salema

Best for | Outdoor activities
Algarve Region | Western Algarve

a fisherman bends over in front of a blue and white striped boat on a sandy beach in Algarve best places to stay
Salema Beach by Kris Van Sebroeck

Salema, tucked away in the Western Algarve, is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, blending the charm of a traditional fishing village with a bounty of activities set against the backdrop of rugged landscapes and pristine beaches

This small Algarve town is a haven for those looking to immerse themselves in nature, offering everything from hiking and bird watching to water sports and dinosaur footprints discovery.

If you are a morning person like me, make sure to get up at the crack of dawn and take a stroll along the town’s beach for a unique view of the quintessential Algarve life of local fishermen preparing their boats.

The beach itself, with its golden sands and clear waters, is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and even surfing on days when the waves decide to show up.

But Salema’s real draw lies in its surroundings. The village is a gateway to exploring the Costa Vicentina Natural Park, offering trails that meander through wildflowers and along dramatic cliffs. 

For a truly unique experience, the fossilized dinosaur footprints at Salema Beach are a testament to the area’s ancient past.

Best Things to Do in Salema

  • Hike the trails of the Costa Vicentina Natural Park for stunning views
  • Discover the dinosaur footprints on Salema Beach
  • Enjoy water sports, including kayaking and paddleboarding, in the clear waters

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Salema

  • Boia Bar, with its beachfront location, is perfect for fresh seafood and views
  • Agua na Boca, offering a sophisticated menu in a cozy atmosphere
  • O Lourenço, a local favorite for traditional dishes and friendly service

Pros & Cons of Staying in Salema

Pros:

  • Ideal for outdoor activities and nature lovers
  • Quiet and away from the more crowded tourist spots
  • Rich in history and natural beauty

Cons:

  • Very limited nightlife options
  • Smaller selection of restaurants and shops compared to larger towns

Best Hotels in Salema

11. Alvor

Best for | Relaxing Holidays
Algarve Region | Western Algarve

a sailboat floats in the Salema harbour at sunset
Alvor, Algarve, Portugal by Garry Clarke

Nestled between the bustling towns of Lagos and Portimão, Alvor offers the best place to stay in Algarve for a relaxing holiday. It’s a town that has managed to maintain its authentic Portuguese charm while providing all the amenities for a perfect getaway.

The town’s narrow cobbled streets, lined with traditional white houses, lead to an expansive waterfront that’s perfect for leisurely strolls at sunset. The Alvor Boardwalk, extending over the wetlands of the Alvor River Nature Reserve, offers an opportunity to explore the area’s rich biodiversity in a serene setting.

The beaches here are some of the Algarve’s finest, with Praia de Alvor stretching into the distance, offering ample space for relaxation and beach activities. The calm waters make it an excellent spot for families and those looking to enjoy water sports in a more peaceful environment.

Best Things to Do in Alvor

  • Wander through the historic centre and explore the Alvor Boardwalk
  • Relax on Praia de Alvor or engage in water sports
  • Sample the catch of the day at the local fish market, followed by a meal in one of the town’s seafood restaurants

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Alvor

  • Restaurante Ruccula, for a fine dining experience with a focus on fresh, local ingredients
  • The SeaDeck, for relaxed beachside dining with stunning views
  • Pastelaria Alvor, a local bakery offering delicious pastries and coffee

Pros & Cons of Staying in Alvor

Pros:

  • Maintains a genuine Portuguese village feel
  • Beautiful natural settings for relaxation and outdoor activities
  • Excellent dining options, especially for seafood lovers

Cons:

  • Can become crowded in peak summer months, though less so than other Algarve destinations
  • Limited nightlife, catering more to those seeking quiet evenings

Best Hotels in Alvor

sandy beach sits at the base of a small Algarve town with whitewashed buildings and red roofs on a sunny day
Carvoeiro Town and Beach

Best Places to Stay in Algarve Portugal FAQ

What is the best time of year to visit the Algarve?

The optimal time to visit the Algarve is from April to June and September to October. During these months, towns like Lagos offer warm weather, fewer crowds, and the perfect conditions for beach days and exploring the rich cultural heritage of the region.

Which town in the Algarve is best for families?

Carvoeiro is ideal for families, thanks to its sheltered beaches, family-friendly accommodations, and activities like coastal walks and boat tours to explore sea caves, ensuring a memorable experience for both adults and children.

Where should I stay in the Algarve for the best nightlife?

Albufeira is the go-to destination for nightlife, boasting a wide array of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues that cater to every taste, making it perfect for visitors looking for lively nights out.

Best Place to Stay in Algarve for a quiet escape?

Tavira is a peaceful haven away from the hustle and bustle of the Algarve’s more crowded spots. Its slow-paced lifestyle, coupled with picturesque scenery, historic architecture, and the idyllic Ilha de Tavira beaches, make it a perfect sanctuary for those seeking tranquillity and a touch of old-world charm.

What are the best towns in the Algarve for surfing?

Sagres is the premier destination for surfers in the Algarve, boasting spectacular beaches like Praia do Beliche and Praia do Tonel, known for their consistent waves and wide appeal among both novice and seasoned surfers. The town’s laid-back vibe, combined with its natural beauty and surf schools, makes it an ideal spot for anyone looking to ride the waves in a stunning setting.

Low concrete walls of the Sagres Fortress sit at the edge of a rugged coastline on a sunny day in one of the best areas to stay in Algarve Portugal
Sagres Fortress

Where is the best place to stay in the Algarve for historical sites?

Faro, the Algarve’s capital, is a chockful of historical sites, offering a glimpse into Portugal’s rich past. From the majestic Faro Cathedral to the eerie Chapel of Bones and the scenic Old Town encircled by ancient Roman walls, Faro provides a deep dive into history and culture, making it a must-visit for those interested in exploring the historical depth of the Algarve.

Which Algarve town is ideal for couples seeking a romantic getaway?

Ferragudo offers couples a romantic escape with its quaint charm, stunning sunsets, and intimate dining experiences along the waterfront. This picturesque fishermen’s village boasts narrow cobbled streets leading to hidden gems and quiet beaches like Praia dos Caneiros, making it the perfect backdrop for a romantic retreat away from the crowds.

What are the top destinations in the Algarve for golf enthusiasts?

Vilamoura stands out as the premier destination for golfers, with its prestigious courses such as the Oceanico Victoria and the Old Course. Offering impeccable greens, challenging layouts, and luxurious clubhouses amidst scenic landscapes, Vilamoura caters to golf enthusiasts looking for world-class facilities combined with the leisure and elegance of a resort town.

Where can I find the best traditional Portuguese cuisine in the Algarve?

Alvor is renowned for its authentic Portuguese cuisine, offering a plethora of dining options that showcase the region’s rich gastronomy. From waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood to quaint taverns offering local dishes like cataplana and piri-piri chicken, Alvor provides a culinary journey through the flavours of Portugal, making it a must-visit for foodies.

Are there any towns in the Algarve that are particularly good for digital nomads?

Lagos, with its blend of beautiful beaches, vibrant community, and ample coworking spaces, is a hotspot for digital nomads. The town offers a perfect mix of work and play, with reliable internet, cafes with work-friendly environments, and a plethora of leisure activities, making it an ideal choice for those looking to balance productivity with the enjoyment of the Algarve’s laid-back lifestyle.

multi level beachfront resort in Algarve sits on the top of a rugged coastline on a clear sunny day
Tivoli Carvoeiro from the water

Where to Stay in Algarve Portugal Final Thoughts

Choosing where to stay in the Algarve depends on what you’re seeking: tranquillity, adventure, history, or nightlife.

From the serene beaches of Tavira and the romantic streets of Ferragudo to the surf-ready waves of Sagres and the golfing greens of Vilamoura, the best Algarve towns offer diverse experiences tailored to every traveller.

Whether you’re a foodie exploring Alvor’s culinary delights, a history buff delving into Faro’s past, or a digital nomad setting up shop in Lagos, this guide aims to simplify your decision on the best place to stay in Algarve for you. Ready to book?

Portugal Travel Planning Guide


What is the best way to book my Portugal accommodation?

I always use booking.com for all my accommodations worldwide, and Portugal is no exception. I stayed in some really epic places on my adventure around this coastal gem.

What are the best day tours in Algarve?

Taking a day tour in the Algarve is a great way to experience the top attractions and learn from a knowledgeable guide.

I highly recommend these Algarve tours:

► Should I rent a car in Portugal?

If you are flying in and out of Lisbon and don’t plan to leave the city, I don’t recommend renting a car. You can easily get around Lisbon by walking or by taking public transportation.

If you plan to take day trips from Lisbon around Portugal I would highly recommend renting a car in Portugal. Trams and buses are a little slower in the rural part of the country, so to maximize your holiday time, definitely rent a car at either the Porto, Lisbon or Faro Airports.

► What is the best site to buy flights to Portugal?

For finding cheap flights to Portugal, I recommend booking through Skyscanner.

► Can you drink tap water in Portugal?

Yes! You can drink straight from the tap in Portugal.

If you plan to do a lot of walking in Portugal, I recommend bringing my favourite self-filtering water bottle with you, just in case.

More Where to Stay in Portugal Guides

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