So you’ve decided to visit the Algarve in Portugal but are not sure where to stay in the Algarve? Keep on reading our ideal guide to find the best places to stay in the Algarve!
The Algarve coast in Portugal is a beautiful region dotted with unique and charming small towns. It is full of things to do and see that are ideal for all types of travelers.
From historic areas and architecture to bustling city centers to relaxed beaches for swimming and surfing, the Algarve has it all.
Here we will explore the best places to stay in the Algarve for all types of vacations.
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
Where to stay in the Algarve-Quick guide
If you don’t have time to read the whole guide, check out this quick guide.
Here we will share some suggestions about the best places to stay in the Algarve when you have specific interests.
Just read through this small list, we covered all these options and more.
Later in the article, we will discuss each city in detail to give you a good idea of the pros and cons of each of them.
- Where to stay in the Algarve for the first time: Lagos
- Where to stay in the Algarve for families Lagos
- Where to stay in the Algarve with a toddler: Carvoeiro; Alvor, Luz
- Where to stay in the Algarve for couples:
- Where to stay in the Algarve for surf: Sagres
- Where to stay in the Algarve without a car: Albufeira, Lagos, Vilamoura, or Portimao
- Where to stay in the Algarve off the beaten track: Tavira, Vicentine Coast, Olhão
- Where to stay in the Algarve for hiking: Carvoeiro or Vincentine Coast.
Best place to stay in Algarve
Where to stay in the Algarve for the first time
Wonder where to stay in the Algarve for the first time. We got you covered.
Here we share a list of places that are perfect for first-time visitors.
Lagos is a great option for first-timers to the Algarve as it provides a good all-rounder experience.
Lagos is a very popular resort town in the Algarve. It is touristy and lively.
Don’t expect a traditional charming Portuguese fishing village. It does however boast a cozy holiday atmosphere and it is not overly crowded or busy, allowing for visitors to enjoy a relaxing beach vacation.
Some of the most beautiful beaches and cliff formations are located in the Lagos area. This makes Lagos a great choice for seeing the best the Algarve coast has to offer without having to drive too much.
Some top picks of places to see in the area include the rocky formations of Ponta da Piedade, an area of beautiful limestone arches and unique caves and grottoes.
The lighthouse at Sagres and the boardwalk at Carvoeiro are also worth a visit.
It’s also a great place to start your Algarve road trip. If you are looking for an Algarve itinerary, click here.
Best places to stay in Lagos
Apartments and vacation homes
There are many Airbnbs and vacation rentals available in Lagos.
Many are villas or apartments, often close to the beach or city center.
Quite a few of these rentals also have a pool, either private or shared and many offer sea views.
Hotels and resorts
There are also many hotels and resorts in the town, most of which also come with a pool and often have other recreation facilities as well.
Resorts often provide beautiful views and comfortable rooms. It is common for hotels to include free Wi-Fi and breakfast.
When we visited Lagos last time, we stayed in the Lagos Tivoli hotel.
This centrally located hotel is within walking distance from the Marina and Lagos old town, an area with many restaurants and bars.
They serve a good champagne breakfast buffet and you can park your car in the free outside parking. Covered parking is also available for a fee.
We liked the signature restaurants.
The only thing we disliked is that the hotel is quite big and needs a little refurbishment.
But overall good price value.
Where to stay in the Algarve for families
Lagos is an ideal place to stay in the Algarve for families.
The unique mix of culture, history, and beach relaxation means that there are places to go and things to do that suit both children and parents.
The amazing beaches of Lagos are a great start for a family vacation.
Popular beaches tend to get crowded in the peak season but there are also many quiet beaches in the wider Lagos area, perfect for visiting with a family.
There are also some great waterparks in the Algarve to provide an exciting alternative to the many beaches.
Where to stay in the Algarve with a toddler
Traveling with a toddler can be a difficult experience and often requires very personalized places to stay and ways to spend the day.
Carvoeiro is a great choice for those traveling with toddlers as it is a very relaxed, calm yet charming beach town.
It is considered a very family-friendly resort town due to its relaxed pace of living and lack of loud and busy nightlife.
However, despite its quiet atmosphere, there are still many things to do in Carvoeiro.
The Carvoeiro Boardwalk is one of the most popular, as a wide, easily accessible, 600m walk.
It is also customizable to you and your children’s energy levels, with regular offshoots from the boardwalk to various cliffs to explore.
One of these is Algar Seco, a series of intricate caves, tunnels, and even a natural pool.
However, the natural pool can be a bit rough. It is nice to view but you could easily hurt yourself if you take a dip in the cool water.
The natural beauty of the place makes for an amazing experience for both parents and children.
Carvoeiro also lies only 10 minutes from the Slide and Splash waterpark and a 30-minute drive from Zoomarine.
Slide and Splash has several slides that are perfect for toddlers and we are sure they will enjoy the shows at Zoomarine as well.
Best places to stay in Carvoeiro
Apartments and vacation homes
There are many family-friendly accommodation options in Carvoeiro, including various apartments and vacation homes.
There are villas, luxury apartments, and beach houses.
Most are in convenient locations and come with private pools and balconies with great views.
Hotels and resorts
If you prefer staying in a hotel or resort, check out Booking.com.
Alvor is a beautiful, relaxed seaside town overlooking the protected marshlands of the Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve.
This makes it a lovely area for enjoying the surrounding nature, beaches, and charming Portuguese ambiance.
The town, albeit touristy, has maintained many aspects which make it quaint and charming – the cobbled streets, white-washed buildings, and historic center.
A majority of restaurants and pubs is concentrated in 1 walking street in the old town. This may give the town a slightly too touristy atmosphere for some, but if you explore the town a little further, you will find countless charming corners.
The Alvor boardwalk is with 6 kilometers one of the longest found in the Algarve. It goes deep into the Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve. This place is usually never too crowded and it is an easy hike for the whole family, doable with strollers and bikes as well.
The beautiful atmosphere and plentiful restaurants make it a great experience for adults, while the many beaches, relaxing environment, and peacefulness make it family-friendly.
Best places to stay in Alvor
If you are looking for a place to stay in Alvor, Booking.com has a large selection of hotels, resorts, apartments, and villas.
Praia da Luz is located just 6km from the center of Lagos, yet has an even more relaxing and peaceful atmosphere.
It was once a small fishing village, as part of a calm bay, protected from the more wild winds and seas of some other areas.
There are now many tourist developments, but they maintain the charm of the town.
There are many beautiful, calm beaches which are perfect for visiting with young children, and cafes and restaurants are abundant and varied.
Best places to stay in Praia da Luz
If you are looking for a place to stay in Luz, Booking.com has a large selection of hotels, resorts, apartments, and villa’s in that area.
Best places to stay in the Algarve for couples
Faro for city trips
Faro is the capital city of the Algarve and the location of the closest airport. It has a long history which is reflected through its historic streets and architecture.
The cobbled streets of the old town hold many historical buildings and are ringed with medieval walls, still intact in many places.
There are many amazing museums, churches, cathedrals, and even a bone chapel.
The Paço Episcopal Palace and beautiful Arco da Vila gateway are also top choices of places to see in Faro.
Beyond the old town, there are also many bustling shopping streets and lively nightlife.
It is also not short on nature, with beautiful beaches and the absolutely stunning Ria Formosa Lagoon nearby.
Best places to stay in Faro
There is a huge range of vacation homes available in Faro, as is expected of a capital city.
Towards the center of town, there are many apartments and townhouses, while further out there are more villas, beach houses, and apartments.
Most rentals have a nice balcony and are conveniently located.
Albufeira for partying
For couples looking for more of a party atmosphere, Albufeira is the ideal choice.
As one of the largest cities in the Algarve, Albufeira has a bustling city nightlife in conjunction with its historic old town.
In the new town, a popular party place is “The Strip”, a street full of themed bars, clubs, and restaurants.
This is the ideal place for bar-hopping and experiencing a range of Portuguese nightlife.
There are beautiful beaches in Albufeira, such as Praia de Sao Rafael, as well as historic museums and architecture.
However, the bustling nightlife is what sets Albufeira apart from its many counterparts on the Algarve coast.
Best places to stay in Albufeira
Apartments and vacation homes
When staying in Albufeira, vacation homes are a great option.
They are often conveniently located to either the old town or the new town (and these are only 2km apart anyway).
There are some beautiful apartments and villas which allow you to enjoy both the beaches and quaint atmosphere of Albufeira as well as the fun nightlife of the area.
For more information on the top picks for Albufeira, see our previous post here.
Hotels and resorts
Vilamoura and Quinta do Lago for a luxury holiday
For something a bit different and a bit more luxurious, there is the region of Vilamoura on the Algarve.
Unlike most other towns on the Algarve, Vilamoura was created for the purpose of tourism, rather than being a fishing village originally.
It was designed to attract a high society audience, and the town has wide boulevards, a marina where you can admire luxurious yachts, perfectly maintained gardens and buildings, huge villas and resorts, and many amazing golf courses.
Next to Vilamoura, you will find Quinta do Lago.
Quinta do Lago is a luxury community nestled against the beautiful Ria Formosa lagoon and surrounded by many amazing golf courses.
Many of the villas in the community are owned by international celebrities and bike or Segway celebrity home spotting tours are available.
The town of Vilamoura or the gated community of Quinta do Lago are perfect for a luxury holiday.
Best place to stay in Vilamoura
Apartments and vacation homes
As is expected from a luxury town, many of the vacation homes available cater to the same audience.
There are many luxury villas, beach houses, townhouses, and apartments in Vilamoura available, each with an extensive list of features and amenities.
Many of these are conveniently located close to the popular Marina of Vilamoura or the beach.
Hotels and resorts
Ferragudo is a delightful little fishing village located at the mouth of the Arade River.
Surrounded by steep cliffs and beautiful beaches, it is considered one of the most picturesque towns of the Algarve.
The local charm of the town is very present and it generally has fewer tourists than many other towns in the region. Ferragudo is an ideal option for a relaxed, peaceful holiday with an amazing ambiance.
There are many pretty cobbled streets, a bustling town square, coastal lighthouses, amazing rock formations, and of course, the beach.
Despite being a quiet and peaceful town, there is no shortage of things to do while in Ferragudo.
Where to stay Ferragudo
If you are looking for a hotel or resort in Ferragudo, click here.
Where to stay in the Algarve for honeymoon
Odeceixe is a small village in the northwest of the Algarve.
It is well-known as part of the Costa Vicentina natural park but is often overlooked as it is such a small town.
However, it is very beautiful with charming restaurants, cafes, and shops.
There is also a local wine museum which is delightful to visit.
It is close to the famous beach of Praia de Odeceixe and is a great starting point for exploring the natural park.
There are also many hidden beaches, rivers, and picnic spots in the area.
This makes it ideal for a relaxing and beautiful honeymoon surrounded by the stunning nature of the Algarve.
Where to stay in Odeceixe
If you are looking for a hotel in Odeceixe, click here.
Where to stay in Algarve for nightlife
Albufeira is one of the liveliest and most energetic towns of the Algarve with a bright and vibrant nightlife.
Previously we mentioned “The Strip” of the new town in Albufeira but the old town also doesn’t disappoint with its own share of unique bars and nightlife.
With this combination of nightlife styles, Albufeira is perfect for experiencing the best nightlife in the Algarve.
Albufeira is also not short of exciting things to do during the day, with many water sports and other activities available, including dolphin watching, snorkeling, diving, and more.
Praia da Rocha
Another option for those looking to enjoy the nightlife of the Algarve is Praia da Rocha.
The town of Praia da Rocha is often considered a party hub and so has a vibrant, international atmosphere.
The Tomas Cabreira avenue in Praia da Rocha has many bars, clubs, restaurants, karaoke bars, and more.
It is perfect for experiencing a range of nightlife options.
The casino in Praia da Rocha is also popular with shows being hosted nightly.
The Praia da Rocha nightlife is easy to explore as everything is within walking distance, making it easy to find a place that suits you.
Where to stay in Algarve for surf
For those looking for more of a surfer vibe, the small village of Sagres is perfect.
It is located at the south-western point of the Algarve and so has consistently strong winds. With these winds and strong currents, the beaches are not too popular with swimmers and sunbathers but are perfect for surfers.
There are many surfing schools and opportunities to learn how to surf in Sagres, as well as spots for more experienced surfers.
The natural beauty of Sagres is rugged and unkempt, showing a wild side to the often-sheltered nature in the area.
The town is relaxed and laidback, with a strong surfer atmosphere.
For those traveling with surfing enthusiasts, there are also some more secluded beaches with fewer winds which are more suited to swimming.
Best place to stay in Sagres
Apartments and vacation homes
As a smaller, more spread-out town, Sagres has a lot of full houses, villas, and Casas available, which are ideal for surfers who may need space for surfboards, etc.
Some of these do require cars as they may be further out, but there is also a range of options conveniently located close to the beach.
To see some of the options for vacation homes in Sagres, see our post here.
If you prefer hotels or resorts, take a look here.
Where to stay in the Algarve for beach lovers
Lagos is a great choice if you are looking for a primarily beach-focused holiday on the Algarve coast.
While almost all the towns on the Algarve are well-known for their beautiful beaches, Lagos has some of the most popular, most convenient, and most varied options.
Lagos has some smaller beaches which can feel crowded during peak season, but many of the beaches are larger and never feel too busy. This includes Meia Praia and Praia Dona Ana.
The soft powdery sand and turquoise waters are perfect for relaxing on the beach.
Some beaches require a small amount of walking or hiking to get to but are often worth the effort as they are beautiful, secluded, and peaceful.
There are also many water activities available in Lagos for those who want to try out something different.
For our listing of the best beaches in Lagos, see here.
Portimao is the second-largest city in the Algarve and is home to many beautiful beaches and places to see.
As a large city, Portimao encompasses some of the areas previously mentioned in our guide and so some familiar names will come up. One of these is Praia da Rocha.
While it is known for its nightlife, Praia da Rocha is also one of the most famous and most beautiful beaches of the Algarve. The dramatic rock formations and steep cliffs make Praia da Rocha a unique and interesting beach to visit.
There is also the famous Benagil Cave, one of the most beautiful sea caves in the world.
The stunning details of the cave with the deep turquoise waters of the sea make this area just as amazing in person as it is in photos.
Best place to stay in Portimão
As Portimão is a large, sprawling area, there are many vacation homes available in a range of areas. This means it is easy to choose accommodation based on what is more convenient for you.
There are many apartments located close to the beaches, the city, or the marina.
There are also some beautiful private villas and townhouses.
For more information on the best apartments and vacation homes in the area, see our post here.
If you are looking for a hotel or resort, click here.
Where to stay in Algarve for golf
As mentioned before, Vilamoura was designed as a luxury location on the Algarve for a high-class clientele. With this came the creation of many amazing and extensive golf courses.
There are six 18-hole golf courses. Luckily they each do an effort to reduce their environmental impact in a region that is mainly dry.
This allows visitors to come into contact with the Algarve’s natural beauty while also enjoying a game of golf.
Vilamoura is considered an elite golfing center and its courses are of international quality.
The Anantara Vilamoura Resort is an equally good choice with a golf course that borders the property.
Nearby Quarteira is one of the original Algarve ‘tourist towns’.
It is home to a beautiful beach promenade, bustling markets, interesting shops and cute cafes.
It is also one of the most popular destinations for Portuguese tourists, rather than international tourists.
Quarteira is also considered a great option as a base for a golfing holiday, as it is close to a number of the top golf courses, without having to pay luxury prices.
It is convenient for visiting the top-class Vilamoura golf courses without the top-price Vilamoura cost.
As a more scaled-down town, it also maintains a bit more of its original charm, which is great for those days off from golf.
Best place to stay in Quarteira
If you are looking for the best place to stay in Quarteira, click here.
Where to stay in the Algarve without a car
The Algarve Coast has quite limited public transport, meaning it is highly recommended to have a car when visiting the Algarve.
For those who can’t visit by car, it is best to stay in one of the larger, more popular cities, as these are more likely to have at least some public transport.
Boat tours that offer sightseeing cruises of the beautiful coastline and visits to the Benagil Cave are also going from these cities.
Lastly, hotels in these cities often have shuttle buses and land-based tours include pickups from these areas.
There are some trains, and a bus network connects many of the towns, however relying on either or both of these methods will still require a lot of careful planning and a lot of walking.
Where to stay in the Algarve off the beaten track
Tavira is a small seaside town located on the less-explored eastern side of the Algarve coast.
It is full of Olde World charm, with its 12th Century bridge, Ponte Antiga Sobre o Rio Gilao, and the large castle overlooking the town.
The riverfront markets of the River Gilao and quaint cafes and restaurants give the town a unique charm and have led to it sometimes being referred to as the Venice of the Algarve.
There are many historic buildings and museums celebrating the long and interesting history of the area. Going out of town, there are also beautiful, nearly untouched beaches to enjoy and it is close to the Ria Formosa natural park.
Best place to stay in Tavira
Apartments and vacation homes:
Despite being a quieter, more secluded spot on the Algarve coast, Tavira still has many options when it comes to accommodation.
There are many apartments and townhouses available as vacation homes. These are often conveniently located in the town center or close to the beach.
There are also some large and beautiful beach villas available which would be a great option for group holidays.
To see some of the best choices for accommodation in Tavira, please see our post here.
We stayed a couple of days in Vila Gale Albacora.
This hotel lies in the middle of the Ria Formosa, just 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, steam bath, and sauna.
Check prices and availability:
Vila Gale Albacora
Portugal’s Vicentine Coast
The Vicentine Coast is part of the longest stretch of protected land in Portugal and is one of the best representations of the true natural beauty of the area.
With wild forestation and rugged cliffs, the Vicentine Coast is an amazing area to explore for a more ‘off the beaten track experience.
The natural park encompasses almost 61000 ha of land and extends from Sines in the north all the way to Sagres in the south.
There are many secluded, hidden beaches and views to explore, making this area exciting for those who enjoy nature at its best.
Where to stay near the Costa Vicentina
For an overview of the best places to stay in the Costa Vicentina area, click here.
Olhão is home to one of the largest fishing ports in the Algarve and is a perfect base for visiting some of the most secluded yet pristine beaches in the area.
It is often considered the gateway to the islands of Farol, Armona, and Culatra, which have some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal.
The islands are a short boat ride from Olhão, yet they can offer a unique tranquil experience as they are often overlooked in favor of more convenient beach locations.
The town of Olhão is also charming and quaint with a historical town center and many architecturally historic buildings.
These historic buildings are not as old as many of the other towns (dating from around the 1700s) and so are often considered ‘less than, but are still beautiful and maintain the quintessential Portuguese style and charm.
Here is an overview of more charming towns in the Algarve.
Best places to stay in Olhão
Here is an overview of amazing places to stay in Olhão.
Where to stay in the Algarve for nature lovers
For any nature lover visiting the Algarve, Ria Formosa is a must-see spot.
The large coastal lagoon is home to a wide variety of bird species and other native wildlife. There are also many unique and beautiful sandbars, islands, saltmarshes, and sand dunes.
It is now protected as a national park and its native marine and bird life are flourishing.
There are many unique aspects to the Ria Formosa, meaning it holds appeal for all nature lovers.
The town of Faro is often considered the starting point to the Ria Formosa and so is an ideal place to stay for those looking to further explore the nature of the area.
At the other end of the Ria Formosa is Olhão, often referred to as the gateway to the Ria Formosa. Many boat tours and guided tours leave from Olhão, due to its large port.
Staying in Olhão is a perfect way to have a quiet, surrounded by nature, holiday exploring the beauty of the Ria Formosa.
With over 60km of coastline, you’ll never get tired of exploring the area and coming across new and interesting sights.
The wildlife, native flora and fauna, and beautiful environment are unique attractions for all nature lovers.
Where to stay in the Algarve for hiking
Carvoeiro is a great location for a hiking/walking holiday in the Algarve.
With many local walking trails, there is a great amount of area to explore. The large limestone cliffs provide dramatic views of the sea crashing below.
Moving west, you can walk from Carvoeiro beach directly to Ferragudo and the Trail of Headlands. In the other direction is the Carvoeiro boardwalk which connects up to the Seven Hanging Valleys trail.
This is a 6km coastal trail that is considered one of the most popular hiking trails in the Algarve.
The trail moves around many of the stunning cliff tops with views of many popular scenic beaches and other sites, such as the Benagil Cave.
Portugal’s Vicentine Coast
The Vicentine Coast is a very beautiful, unsullied area of the coast of Portugal and so is ideal for hiking.
It is also home to the Fishermen’s Trail, part of the Rota Vicentina network of hiking trails. The Fishermen’s Trail is a stunning hike of about 226km that starts at the Praia de São Torpes and follows the coast all the way to Lagos.
It is the most popular part of the Rota Vicentina due to its stunning coastal views.
It is walked in multiple stages. 13 stages have been defined, however, this is of course customizable. Fast hikers could do it in less time, while more casual hikers may choose to just do 1 or 2 of the stages.
The trail has beautiful scenery all the way with amazing photo spots.
Luxury hotels in the Algarve
There are many amazing luxury hotels located all throughout the Algarve coast.
Many of these are in the larger cities and towns, especially Vilamoura, but there are also luxury options in the smaller areas.
During our visit to the Algarve, we stayed at the Hilton Vilamoura and had the luxury hotel experience for ourselves.
From the spacious rooms to the extensive and beautiful spa next door, the Hilton Vilamoura definitely lived up to its luxury status.
For more information on our stay in the Hilton Vilamoura, check out our previous post here.
We also stayed at the Anantara & Tivoli Victoria Residences. A cluster of hotels a little outside of Vilamoura. They have comfortable rooms overlooking the golf courses and upscale facilities including a heated outside pool.
The Tivoli Victoria Residences are well-appointed luxury apartments. Guests staying in the apartments can use all the facilities of the Anantara hotel next door.
Other luxury accommodations:
- Conrad Algarve in Quinta do Lago
- Pine Cliffs Hotel in Albufeira. A luxury collection resort
- Anantara Vilamoura Algarve resort (or book direct with NH for 5% off)
- Tivoli Victoria Residences in Vilamoura (or book direct with NH for 5% off)
- Wyndham Grand Algarve in Quinta do Lago
Cheap places to stay in the Algarve
Throughout this guide, we have mentioned a number of amazing towns and cities with beautiful places to stay. However, this doesn’t mean travelers on a budget are excluded from staying on the Algarve coast.
Each of the towns we have mentioned has cheap options available, whether it be a more budget Airbnb or a smaller, simpler hotel or hostel room.
The Algarve coast is an amazing area of Portugal to visit for a number of reasons. Its stunning beaches, historic towns, vibrant culture, and beautiful nature are all strong attractions for a range of travelers.
Here we have explored some of the best places to stay on the Algarve, no matter what style of holiday you’re aiming for.