Enclosed by soaring ochre cliffs, powdery golden beaches, and turquoise water, The Algarve is a sight for the sore eyes!
Its natural beauty draws millions of tourists to its shores every year.
There’s so much in the area to admire that it is easy to miss on the most beautiful towns.
Therefore, here is a well-curated list of the best towns in the Algarve region.
If you are not sure where to start your dreamy beach vacation, then here is a clue to that.
These towns are more than just natural, coastal paradises.
They are also a haven for surfers and golfers.
Towns welcome tourists into splashy water parks, ancient hidden coves, and offer so much variety that every day will be memorable.
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Best tips for your Algarve Road trip
Here is an overview of the most important things to know before traveling to the Algarve.
What to see:
Check out our amazing Algarve itinerary for 7-10 days.
Where to stay:
Further in this post, we share some amazing vacation rentals and hotels. If you are traveling with your family, check out these wonderful Algarve family resorts.
Renting a car:
If you plan on making a road trip through the Algarve, you will definitely need a car.
We advise you to check out Discover cars. This is a website where you can quickly and easily compare the prices of different rental companies. All rates include the CDW and I like that the deductible is already clearly shown on the comparison page. The fuel policy included mileage and the cancelation policy is also clearly stated. Most cars are cancellable up to 2 days in advance without any fees. In some cases, a fully refundable deposit is taken at the time of booking.
We recommend booking popular tours such as the Benagil cave tour upfront. Especially when traveling during peak season.
Don’t forget to get travel insurance. Drawing up a travel insurance policy may seem expensive at first but it can potentially save you a significant sum, significantly more than the small insurance fee. Good travel insurance covers things like medical expenses, trip cancellation, overseas medical costs, evacuation, baggage damage or loss, and theft.
If you still need to take out insurance, have a look at World Nomads
The best towns in the Algarve
Wondering where to go in Algarve? Topping the list of best Algarve cities are the following:
Albufeira is a stunning fusion of energetic nightlife and a wide choice of beach activities.
No wonder the sought-after town tops the list of best towns in Algarve.
It’s even one of the best beach towns in Portugal.
Between Albufeira and Vilamoura, you will find the 6km-long award-winning beach of Praia da Falésia. Watchful cliffs with red and yellow limestones add eye-popping colors to the landscape.
The entry to the beach is through steep stairways along these cliffs.
Take a long walk on its soft sand, collect shells, build sandcastles, and drink its secluded, untouched quality.
The town also boasts another, equally stunning beach, Praia de São Rafael.
Dotted with scattered cliffs, funnels, and boulders, it has a spotless rugged quality. Looking for a place even more secluded? Head to the Praia dos Salgados.
Between the beaches is a coastline strewn with hidden caves.
The only way to enter these fascinating rock formations is by kayaking, canoeing, or stand-up paddleboarding.
The town itself is teeming with historic sites like Museu Municipal De Arqueologia De Albufeira and outdoor activities like quad-biking, ziplining, rope bridging, and more.
If you are looking for a fun family activity, check out the Minigolf Adventure Park.
Wondering where to stay in Albufeira?
This resort lies in a wonderful location next to the beach. Guests love the heated outdoor pool, outstanding breakfast, and free parking. The hotel also offers a free shuttle into town.
This is a great place for a relaxing holiday!
4-star: PortoBay Falesia
PortoBay Falesia is a wonderful place for a resort holiday. The hotel lies in a beautiful location, you will stay in a comfortable room, and enjoy a tasty buffet-style breakfast in the morning.
3-star: Alfagar village
Alfagar village lies on a clifftop from where you have amazing views of the ocean. Friendly staff, amazing restaurants, and a good breakfast. There is even a supermarket on the premises. Some guests say the Wi-Fi isn’t reliable and that the apartments are a bit outdated.
Overall it offers good value for money!
Prefer staying in a house or apartment? Check out this post in which we share some amazing Albufeira Airbnbs.
How to get there:
Albufeira lies 257 km from Lisbon. The nearest airport is Faro. From here it’s 46 km to Albufeira.
Here you can find everything you need to know about renting a car in Portugal.
Vilamoura is an action-packed town in Algarve.
If you were looking for an effervescent resort town in the region, then Vilamoura is the way to go.
From high-speed jet boating to massage and foot reflexology, the town offers it all to its guests.
The emerald waters brimming the coast of Vilamoura are perfect for SUP rides, jet skiing, paragliding, dolphin safaris, water skiing, and wakeboarding.
Looking for more experiences to splurge on? Hire and ride a private yacht.
Sprinkled across the entire town are also multiple greensward golf courses. If you will be swinging for the first time, you learn the basics and play at the Golf Integrated Academy.
Where to stay in Vilamoura?
5-star: Hilton Vilamoura
Experience a comfortable pampering getaway or a fun-filled family vacation at Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa, a 5-star hotel that is among the best family-friendly hotels in the Algarve. This stylish, modern Algarve hotel is set on 5 acres of beautifully groomed gardens in the center of Portugal’s sun-drenched Algarve region.
Find out more about our stay at the Hilton Vilamoura.
4-star: Vila Gale Marina
Vila Gale Marina is located near all of Vilamoura’s shopping, cafés, bars, and public transit. The rooms are charming and designed with a nautical theme. There is also an outdoor swimming pool with a pool bar, sun loungers, and parasols. On the sandy beach, deck chairs and parasols are available.
Lovely hotel in a great location.
How to get there:
Vilamoura lies 263 km from Lisbon and 23 km from Faro. Faro is also where you can find the closest airport.
An Algarve travel blog list is never complete without Lagos.
It is, hands down, one of the best cities in the Algarve region.
What makes Lagos so busy and popular among tourists is its spotless beaches with photogenic cliffs and boulders.
The gorgeous headlands that stretch across Lagos’ coast include Ponta da Piedade, Praia do Camilo, Praia de Dona Ana, and Meia Praia.
Most of these beaches are bordered by soaring cliffs that protect them from gushing winds and scorching sunlight.
Guarded against the wind, the waves are also calmer on these beaches, thus making excellent spots to go swimming, deep diving, and snorkeling.
Rocky coves, huge arcs, grottos, cliff-hugging stairways, forts, and unspoiled nature await you on the sandy beaches of Lagos.
In addition to being a stunning coastal paradise, Lagos also boasts several cultural venues, especially in the Old Town.
Stroll the streets to admire elegant 16th-century walls, a slave market, a diverse zoo, historic churches, and museums.
Where to stay in Lagos?
This 5-star tourist resort offers magnificent villas with views of lush landscaped gardens and the beautiful scenery of Lagos Bay. Bela Colina Village provides amazing duplex apartments with elegant furnishings, two balconies, and a modern kitchen in each lodging unit. The spa services, which include a private pool, sauna, steam room, bathtub, and gym, are all free to use.
Great stay in a beautiful resort.
4-star: Tivoli Lagos
Tivoli Lagos beach resort in the Algarve is a great choice for perfect vacation weekends and family trips. It is just a stroll from the town center and the marina and just a few kilometers from some of the best golf courses in the Algarve.
Learn more about our experience.
3-star: Baluarte da Vila Apartments
Baluarte da Vila Apartments is a fantastic choice for visitors to Lagos. The condominium apartments serve as your “home away from home,” with ac, a fridge, and a kitchen, as well as free internet access. The hotel also has a pool, which will make your trip to Lagos even more enjoyable.
You will have a great time in Lagos.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Lagos also has some amazing houses and Airbnbs.
How to get there:
Lagos lies 300km from Lisbon and 90 km from Faro. Faro is also where you can find the closest airport.
The prettiest of all, Tavira is among the best places to go in the Algarve and one of the best small towns in Portugal.
This seaside gateway has taken the modern tourist in its stride while maintaining its old charm.
Enveloped by Praia do Barril and Praia da Ilha de Tavira, the town flexes its coastal beauty.
At the same time, it also takes pride in its old-world character with numerous historic places to explore.
Wayfarers should begin their walking tours at the Praça da República. The elegant buildings here are sure to impress you.
Lording the town is its eponymous, Tavira Castle which is fortified with walls dating back to the Almoravid dynasty in the 1000s. Inside the town, you will also find a classic Renaissance-style church, Igreja da Misericordia.
Walk over to the River Gilão to admire the 12th-century bridge called Ponte Antiga Sobre o Rio Gilão.
Wondering where to stay in Tavira?
4-star: Vila Galé Albacora
This hotel lies in the middle of Ria Formosa a bit outside Tavira ( 5minutes by car to the city center). Here you will stay in a unique, historical setting. The hotel is a restored tuna fishing camp. We found the rooms quite small and dark but the hotel certainly has a unique look to it. There is a good breakfast selection and a nice pool area. We also loved the small spa with a jacuzzi and sauna.
Tavira Monte is a wonderful alternative for visitors to Tavira, providing a family-friendly setting as well as a variety of essential services to make your stay more enjoyable. You’ll like the calm rooms with an air conditioner, and you’ll be able to stay online throughout your stay thanks to Tavira Monte’s complimentary internet. Patio and beach chairs are available at the guest apartment. Tavira Monte also has a pool, which is a nice way to unwind after a long day.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Have a look at these amazing Tavira Airbnbs.
How to get there:
Tavira lies 302 km from Lisbon and 39km from Faro. Faro is also where you can find the closest airport.
Yet another one of the nicest towns in the Algarve, Silves is a treasured medieval municipality in Portugal.
Wedged between citrus groves and vineyards, it exudes quintessential European beauty.
Accenting the coast of this pretty town are the golden strips of Praia de Armação de Pêra and Praia Grande de Pêra. While on one beach you find amenities like kiosks and beach bars, on the other you find Salgados Lagoon and sand dunes.
Away from these powdery patches is the Slide & Splash Waterpark which offers a variety of rides for all ages. Although the pools are lined with inviting restaurants, the park allows its guests to bring their own food as well! Slide, splash, lay back on a sun lounger, and enjoy a snack or two.
A perfect recipe for an unforgettable vacation!
Tired of beaches and pools? Why not get some equestrian action by riding a horse down low hills, go wine tasting, sample local seafood, or explore the Old Town!
Where to stay in Silves?
“Gato Preto de Silves” is a four-room luxury B&B in Silves, bordered by an orange grove valley and just miles from some of Europe’s most stunning beaches.
The guesthouse provides the ideal setting for outdoor activities such as long walks, hiking, or biking, as well as a tranquil and pleasant vacation.
3-star: Bibé House
Casa BIBÉ is a home away from home that provides guests with a charming room with a balcony. The guest house is located in an area where guests may enjoy adventure activities, surfing, and swimming.
Great place in the heart of Silves.
How to get there:
Silves lies 253 km from Lisbon and 63 km from Faro. Faro is also where you can find the closest airport.
The second-largest city in Algarve, Portimão, is a sprawling ground with lots to explore and experience even during winter.
Beyond its beautiful Praia da Rocha and eclectic food scene, the place is also known for its cruise ships that sail to-and-from its international port.
The city’s vibrant waterfront is also strewn with verdant gardens and scenic squares lined with al-fresco cafés. It has the modern European charm you expect from a cosmopolitan.
Gourmets rush to the northern tip of the promenade where several boutique restaurants are.
Portimão also offers satiating shopping experiences with rows of lively pedestrianized streets.
Meanwhile, culturally-curious can head to the Museu de Portimão, Nossa Senhora da Conceição, and Alcalar.
If you are traveling to Portugal with an ambition to explore more than one town, then Portimão can serve as a great place to stop over.
Here you will find many guided boat tours take will take you on an excursion to the Algarve Coastline and the famous Benagil cave or read our full guide on the best Benagil cave tours.
If you are traveling with small kids, a cruise with this pirate ship cruise is a fun thing to do. You will enjoy the Algarve coastline and transfer on a smaller boat to see the Benagil cave. Highly recommended.
You can also take day trips to nearby villages and other towns like Silves.
Where to stay in Portimão?
Bela Vista offers boutique lodging on the cliffs of Praia do Rocha, housed in a beautiful historical property. Guests at this facility will have direct access to the beach area. The majority of the bedrooms have views of the Atlantic Ocean from private balconies and are furnished with a nautical theme. In the evenings, alfresco dining is available on the restaurant’s terrace, which faces the setting sun. The cuisine consists of traditional Algarvean and Portuguese dishes, which are accompanied by a diverse wine list.
4-star: Jupiter Algarve hotel
The Jupiter Algarve Hotel is a trendy ocean-themed 4-star beachside hotel on the Algarve’s Praia da Rocha. There are 183 guestrooms with views of the sea or the land. A pool, café, lounge, spa, gym, conference rooms, car park, and music performances are among the hotel’s amenities. Begin your day with a full breakfast buffet served in the restaurant, then explore the wonders of the area.
Consider this hotel the ideal choice for people looking for a memorable stay.
3-star: Clube Vilarosa
The Clube VilaRosa is a nice condominium complex situated close to the lovely golden beach of Praia da Rocha in the Algarve. The Clube VilaRosa features two adult pools, a kid’s pool, tennis courts, a children’s adventure park, a Day Spa with massage space and Turkish shower, and a mini-market. The master bedroom (double bed) comes with a personal quiet balcony and ensuite bathroom.
This is a lovely place for an unforgettable vacation.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Have a look at these incredible Portimão Airbnbs.
How to get there:
Portimão lies 282 km from Lisbon and 70 km from Faro. Faro is also where you can find the closest airport.
Once a small fishing village, Carvoeiro is today a bustling tourist spot in Portugal.
With picturesque villages, blissful beaches, and an abundance of natural beauty, it has made it to our list of best places to go in the Algarve.
It is one of the best places in the Algarve if you love thrilling water activities.
You can take a boat to explore rocky caves, ride a kayak in the Atlantic, paddle a SUP, or surf over the foamy waves.
Feeling to spend a swanky day on the waterfront? Head to the lush and challenging faraway of the Vale da Pinta or Gramacho golf courses. Later ride to the award-winning Quinta dos Vales wine estate to taste delicious wines.
Both overlook the ocean while sitting on a high cliff and offer wonderful views.
Where to stay in Carvoeiro?
5-star: Tivoli Carvoeiro
Tivoli Carvoeiro is resurrected in the lovely village of Carvoeiro, on Vale Covo beach, where the blue sea carves out cutouts in the high cliffs, and the fine sand contrasts with the green of the golf courses.
This distinctive area of architecture, aired and open to the horizon, reflects the Tivoli brand’s world-class standards and level of service, and demonstrates to be the ideal option for the perfect vacation.
4-star: Placid village
Placid Village provides self-catering flats with air conditioning. The large rooms are furnished in neutral hues and include a seating space with cable Television. A 20-minute walk will get you to Carvoeiro’s cafes, pubs, and stores.
This is a family-friendly accommodation near the beach.
3-star: Castelo Guest House
Castelo Guest House, shaped like a palace and set on a cliff above Carvoeiro Beach, gives incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean and the fishing community of Carvoeiro.
All apartments have ac, cable television, and WIFI. Some of the accommodations have stunning views of the ocean.
The bars and stores of Carvoeiro are all within strolling proximity.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Here is an overview of amazing apartments and vacation rentals
How to get there:
Carvoeiro lies 275 km from Lisbon and 65 km from Faro airport.
Not too touristy but a sight like no other, Olhão undoubtedly deserves to be a part of this list.
Nestled on the Ria Formosa lagoon, it impresses with its ocean and shellfish beds. But its real beauty is its non-commercial appeal, Moorish riverfront houses, and local fish market.
Isolated from the world, the town has a Natural Park that traces 60 km of the coast and inhabits exotic birds like storks, shanks, flamingos, and osprey.
It is possible to take a guided tour for terrapin spotting.
There are plenty of sightseeing attractions that dot the town. Some are found in the bustling center like the City Museum, while others sit on the edge of the island and are only accessed by nature trails, like Quinta de Marim.
However, it is not just the tourist attractions that impress. The town will also charm you with its bustling main avenue, the Avenida da Republica.
Where to stay in Olhão?
5-star: Real Marina Hotel & Spa
Real Marina Hotel & Spa provides a romantic atmosphere as well as a variety of services tailored to the needs of tourists like you. The rooms come with a flat-screen TV, ac, and a fridge, as well as unrestricted internet access. There is also an indoor pool and spa. Nearby you will find lots of amazing restaurants.
Great value for money.
4-star: Monte das Perdizes
Monte das Perdizes lies 2 kilometers from Praia dos Cavacos and features a swimming pool, a communal bar, and nicely decorated rooms with a terrace. Guests love the peaceful surroundings. Very friendly owners!
3-star: Pure Formosa Concept Hotel
The Pure Formosa Concept Hotel features an outdoor pool, a lounge, and a clubhouse for guests. This facility features family rooms as well as a sun deck for guests. A 24-hour front desk, airport shuttles, a concierge service, and internet access are available throughout the resort.
How to get there:
Olhão lies 286 km from Lisbon and 15 km from Faro airport.
Armação de Pêra
Armação de Pêra is an old fisherman’s village that nestled in the Silves area.
Being an old Portuguese parish, it carries typical Algarvian essence. Yet, there are many fine hotels, inviting cafés, and restaurants lining the town, turning it into a lively beachfront resort. A juxtaposition of two very different imagery!
Lording its beachfront is a 17th-century fort that was built to guard the village against pirates and corsairs. Housed inside it is a chapel dedicated to Santo António. The views from this fort are panoramic. You can watch the entire stretch of golden sand with rocks and caves, wedged between the Senhora da Rocha and Praia de Galé.
You can visit the caves and coastline on a boat tour, or try exhilarating water sports such as jet skis, water skiing, or flyboarding!
Walk towards the town and you will come across the Largo da Igreja or Church Square. Nearby you will also find Zoo marine, Krazy World Zoo, and Aqualand water park.
In short, when in Armação de Pêra, you will never run out of things to do.
Where to stay in Armação de Pêra?
5-star: Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa
Vila Vita Parc is a beautiful and lush beachfront resort that celebrates the greatest of Portugal. Portugal’s finest five-star resort is the ultimate escape to a pampered world of personalized and diverse experiences. The different apartments convey an air of elegant, refined elegance and are all ringed by a stunning park setting with beautiful scenery.
Amazing 5-star experience.
4-star: Holiday Inn Algarve
The Holiday Inn Algarve is an excellent pick whether you want to lay back in the sun, go for a walk on the beach, or do stuff more adventurous.
The hotel is located on a superb beachfront location with spectacular beautiful landscapes over the beach of the Algarvean village of Armaçao de Pera and is just steps away from shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.
Guests can enjoy stunning ocean views of the glittering Atlantic from practically every viewpoint.
3-star: Hotel de Charme Capela das Artes
Capela das Artes is a heritage hotel located in the center of a 6-hectare olive grove, just ten min from the Algarve’s most stunning beaches.
The intimate hotel, with only 26 rooms and a private patio on a 6-hectare estate, will provide you with a genuine Algarve experience.
The gorgeous saltwater pool, encircled by the Mediterranean garden, is just a few feet away and invites relaxation and well-being.
How to get there:
Armação de Pêra lies 263 km from Lisbon and 54 km from Faro airport.
Perched atop a hill along the coast, Loulé is a quaint town in Portugal. Making it one of the best cities in the Algarve is its monuments and folk festivities.
Its distinguished landscape is nothing you can find elsewhere in the region. There are grasslands, cliff-less beaches, and nature walks.
Pegged in the distinct town is a grand fortress, reminiscent of the fortresses in Scotland. Inside the walled edifice is a whitewashed castle that works as a viewpoint to admire a bird-eye view of the town.
When talking about ancient whitewashed monuments, one can’t miss mentioning the gorgeous Igreja de São Lourenço de Almancil. Get a little more taste of the medieval times by strolling through the Old Center and its main site, a 17th-century chapel called Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição.
It is obvious, that the town is a haven for history buffs!
Where to stay in Loulé?
4-star: Downtown Loulé
Downtown Loulé is located in Loulé and offers panoramic views and free Internet access. It is 400 meters from the Loulé Municipal Market, a must-see while in Loulé. Air conditioning and a satellite flat-screen TV are standard in every unit.
Great gem in Loulé town center.
3-star: Loulé Jardim Hotel
Loulé Jardim Hotel provides 52 luxury accommodations with attractive décor in the heart of Loulé’s lovely city.
On the third floor, they have a saltwater pool with a spectacular view of Loulé and the Algarve Coast.
With its casual and welcoming ambiance, is perfect for a family getaway or a serene vacation.
How to get there:
Loulé lies 265 km from Lisbon and 18 km from Faro airport.
The capital city of Algarve lacks nothing.
It has gorgeous beaches, eternal sunshine, delicious seafood, tippler’s bars, and historic architecture.
With its classic Portuguese feel, the city offers a fitting intro to the region. Inside Faro, you will find well-tended gardens, lively plazas, and parks.
Located in the heart of the city is its cobbled Old Town, ringed with medieval walls.
The labyrinthine streets of the Old Town are lined with museums, churches, cathedrals, al-fresco cafés, and even an intriguing bone chapel.
A further stroll will take you to ruins of beautiful architecture such as the Milreu Roman Remains.
It’s definitely one of the most beautiful towns in the Algarve to explore.
Where to stay in Faro?
5-star: 3HB Faro
3 HB Faro is a stunningly modern hotel. Have a delicious breakfast in the morning. Enjoy stunning views from the rooftop bar and infinity pool or just relax in the spa. You will definitely have an unforgettable holiday.
4-star: Golden Beach Guest House
Golden Beach Guest House is located in an amazing location next to a quiet beach. Step onto the beach from the hotel. You will stay in a spacious room with a flat-screen TV. Enjoy wonderful views from the rooftop bar. Horseback riding, windsurfing, sky surfing, and cycling are just a few of the activities available in the area.
3-star: Lemon Tree Stay
Lemon Tree Stay lies in a great location with access to wonderful restaurants and sights, making it simple to enjoy the best of Faro. You’ll like the peaceful rooms with air conditioning. Guest love the delicious breakfast. Good value for money.
How to get there:
Faro lies 278 km from Lisbon.
The secret is out now!
Portugal’s nicest towns are in Algarve.
Fringed with refreshing powdery beaches and flanked with rugged cliffs, every inch of these towns reiterates natural beauty.
Whether you are a holidaymaker, a traveler, an explorer, or a surfer, there will be something interesting in stock for you at each of these Algarve destinations.
You can climb the cliffs and watch the golden sunset behind the horizon, run into the waves and surf to heights, and even head to the nearest water park for splashing fun.
These towns are the best places to visit in Algarve that couples will find romantic, solo travelers will find fascinating, and a family will find full of enjoyment.
So, pack your flip-flops, a mason jar for all the seaside treasures, and a fully charged camera!
Your beach vacation this year is going to be unforgettable and scrapbook-worthy.
Looking for an overview of the most amazing Airbnbs in the Algarve, click here.
Or check out this post in which we share the best places to stay in the Algarve.
See the web story that accompanies this post.