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Where to Stay in Algarve (2024): Best Towns, Hotels & Tips

Where to Stay in Algarve (2024): Best Towns, Hotels & Tips

The Algarve region in Portugal is one of the most popular vacation destinations in southern Europe. With over 300 days of sunshine per year and mild weather, it’s a great place to visit at any time of the year.

However, the Algarve region is rather big, with approx. 200 km of coastline (+-150 km on the south and about 50 km on the west). Furthermore, there are thousands of resorts, hotels, guesthouses, and privately rented accommodations scattered all over the region.

So deciding where to stay in Algarve may look like a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time in the area. A lot also depends on what kind of trip you are planning and the season when you are traveling.

In this guide, we highlight some of the best towns to stay in Algarve for all kinds of travelers. Whether you are planning a quick visit and are mostly interested in sightseeing, are coming for the summer holidays, or maybe want to spend the entire winter in the Algarve, this guide should give you a good idea of what to expect and where to stay.

TIP: If you don’t have the time to read the entire article, here are our personal favorites, some of the nicest seafront resorts in central Algarve:

  • €€€€€+ Pine Cliffs in Albufeira (luxury hotel at the most beautiful beach – Praia da Falésia).
  • €€€€ W Algarve in Albufeira (fantastic, modern luxury hotel, not directly but very close to Castelo Beach).
  • €€€€ Tivoli in Carvoeiro (best views).
  • €€€+ NAU Sao Rafael Atlantico in Albufeira (stunning location and especially great value in the low season).
  • €€ AP Oriental Beach in Portimao (fantastic value on the famous Praia da Rocha).

All of these hotels are located by the coast in the center of the region and are therefore excellent for any kind of trip. Whether you are interested in a beach vacation, sightseeing, or a combination of the two, you can just stay in one place and use it as a base to make day trips all over the Algarve.


Good to know: Algarve has countless little towns and thousands of lodging options. Needless to say, it would be impossible to feature even a small part of all these places.

So in this guide, we only focus on some of the main areas, the most popular places to stay in the Algarve. If you are visiting Algarve for the first time, you will have plenty of options to choose from as it is.

To help you decide, we also include practical information and insider tips for things to consider when looking for a place to stay in Algarve.


Things to consider when deciding where to stay in Algarve

Before we look at the best areas to stay in the Algarve, here are a couple of useful tips and things you may want to consider when deciding where to stay.

  • Decide what you want to see and do. There is so much to do in Algarve – more than you can ever cover in one trip (see our list of the top places in Algarve for some inspiration). On the other hand, maybe you are mostly interested in a beach holiday and the views and hotel facilities are more important than convenience for sightseeing.
  • How much time do you have? This is another important factor that might influence your decision on where to stay. If you are visiting Algarve as part of a road trip, you’ll likely have different criteria for your accommodation than people who plan to spend a week or two here. Also, many hotels in the Algarve have a minimum stay requirement of 3-4 nights. Some privately rented accommodations are only bookable per week.
  • The season when you travel. Visiting Algarve in the winter months is a totally different experience than traveling in summer. In the summer, everything is open but it’s also very busy. Whereas in the low season, you may want to stay in a bigger town where you can be sure to find some nice restaurants beyond your hotel buffet.
  • Consider how you’ll travel around – public transport, taxis/private transfers, or by car. If you are planning to rent a car, book in advance, and make sure that your accommodation has parking. We always use the RentalCars website and we always take full insurance through them since some companies are notorious for trying to trick you into paying for any tiny scratch that may or may not have been there when you got the car.
  • Your mobility. Some parts of the Algarve coast are rather flat while others are quite hilly. So while you can find plenty of nice long beaches for leisurely stroll, keep in mind that there are many quite steep areas as well. For example, many of the most scenically located hotels in the Algarve have lots of stairs between the main area and the beach. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an obstacle and there are many places where this isn’t a big issue at all, but if your mobility is somewhat limited, you may want to pay attention to this when looking for a place to stay.
Hotel pool at sunset - Porto Bay Falesia Hotel in Albufeira
The pool at Porto Bay Falesia Hotel at sunset.

Some useful tips

  • Book your Algarve accommodation in advance! The earlier you book, the more choice there is, and the prices are much lower. In the summer, the best quality/price/location options sell out months in advance, and what’s left is really expensive. Also in the low season, you can find some amazing deals for really nice accommodations if you book well ahead.
  • If you can, travel in the lower season. It’s not as warm, not as busy, and accommodation prices are much lower. For example, the same hotel room can cost 350-450 euros per night in July or August, 200 euros in September, 150 euros in October, and just 70-80 euros in November. Your budget can stretch much further in April-May and September-October than in the summer, plus, it’s not as hot and much less busy. We stayed at some of the best 5* resorts in the Algarve in the low season at very affordable prices.
  • If you are on a lower budget, look for accommodations further away from the coast. You can get a lot more for your money that way (but consider the other aspects such as transportation costs, especially if you are planning to spend lots of time at the beach). But also by the sea, there is a big difference between the prices you pay in the most popular towns or the smaller ones that are lesser known.
  • If you are planning on doing lots of sightseeing and just want one central base location (not necessarily by the coast), you may want to stay in the center of the Algarve coastal region and closer to the main roads. In that case, check out the hotels around Lagoa. The prices here are much lower than on the coast and you are close to the main highway which makes it easy to get around.

READ ALSO: Recommended Algarve Itinerary for First Trip

TIP: Once you decide on the town where to stay using our tips below, you can also use this accommodation map to compare the best hotel and self-catering lodging options in Algarve. Simply insert your travel dates, place, and group size, and you’ll see the best deals for your stay.


These are the best towns to stay in Algarve:

1. Albufeira

Stay here for stunning beaches, shopping, dining, nightlife, and a big array of activities for all ages. Plus, there are many options for sightseeing tours and excursions (including day trips to Lisbon or Seville). Some of the best water parks in Algarve are located nearby too. Albufeira is also home to many of the best seafront hotels and beach resorts in Algarve.

Location: Albufeira is located in central Algarve, about 40 km/40 minutes drive west of Faro airport. It’s a bit over 2 hours drive from Lisbon.

Albufeira is the most popular area to stay in the Algarve region. Whether you are looking for a beach holiday in the summer, a lively place to celebrate Halloween or New Year, or a centrally-located area for sightseeing and exploring, Albufeira is one of the best areas to stay in. It’s also our personal favorite.

Albufeira is also one of the best places to stay in Algarve in the low season. While many smaller towns are deserted in the winter months, Albufeira remains relatively lively throughout the year. However – just like the rest of the Algarve – the town gets extremely busy in the summer. Especially in July and August, when its population increases tenfold.

Albufeira’s lively nightlife scene attracts lots of young people, so you may sometimes hear it’s too busy or not suitable for families. That’s complete nonsense! First, the only ‘party’ areas are The Strip and one or two bar streets in the old town, and you can easily avoid them altogether if you like. Plus, they are only really busy in the summer months.

What we also really like about staying in Albufeira is that there are hundreds of restaurants for all tastes and budgets (see a small selection of our favorite restaurants in Albufeira). Plus, there are tons of things to do in and near Albufeira, and it’s right in the center of the region, so you’ll never get bored here.

Albufeira - the most popular tourist resort to stay on vacation in Algarve
The main beach in Albufeira. The big white building on the left is Hotel Sol E Mar.

Good to know: Keep in mind that Albufeira municipality is quite big and there is a huge difference in what you can expect when staying in different parts of the town. The area is also very hilly – offering stunning views from many locations, but also quite some exercise for your heart and legs.

So a lot depends on the exact location of your accommodation. You may have amazing views but have to do tons of stairs to reach the beach from one hotel, while the other one – just nearby – is located right on the beach. So be sure to check the map, photos, and read customer reviews before you choose a place for your holiday.

Here are our recommended hotels in Albufeira:

€€€€€€ Pine Cliffs – a luxury resort directly above Falésia Beach (outside of town).
€€€€€ EPIC SANA – a slightly more affordable luxury, great value in the lower season (outside of town).
€€€€ Hotel Sol E Mar (an adults-only hotel right on the main beach in the center) or NAU Sao Rafael Atlantico (outside of town and very close to some of the most scenic beaches).
€€€ Auramar (amazing and quiet seafront location in town) or PortoBay Falesia (in Olhos d’Agua, outside of the main town).
€€ INATEL (great value hotel at the beach very close to the center).

All these hotels are very close to the beach (or right on it), but they are all located in different parts of town and its outskirts. If you are looking for more information about all the different areas of Albufeira, take a look at our detailed guide via the link below.

LEARN MORE: Where to Stay in Albufeira

Where to stay in Algarve - Falesia Beach in Olhos d'Agua Albufeira
Falésia Beach in Olhos d’Agua, Albufeira. You can see Portobay Falésia Hotel on the right of the picture.

2. Lagos

Stay here for the stunning coastlines, scenic beaches, and a cozy historic old town. Lagos is well located for sightseeing and exploring in central and western Algarve. Plus, it has a railway station (but trains are rather slow in Algarve and have strange schedules).

Location: Lagos is located in western Algarve, about 90 km/1 hour drive from Faro airport.

Lagos is one of the nicest towns in Algarve. It’s a place that has all the ingredients for a perfect vacation – a cozy historic old town, a nice waterfront promenade, and a lively marina. Some of the most beautiful beaches and the impressive coastline of Ponta da Piedade are located just nearby.

The location is also excellent for those who are mostly interested in sightseeing. There is a lot to see and do in Lagos itself. Plus, some of the most beautiful places and coastlines in the Algarve region are within easy reach from here too. Sagres is just half an hour’s drive from Lagos, Slide & Splash water park as well, Benagil Cave is about 45 minutes, etc.

Lagos is also a good place to stay in the low season as most places in town remain open throughout the year.

Lagos, one of the best towns to stay in Algarve for sightseeing
Lagos old town.

Lagos will appeal to all types of travelers, but also here, a lot depends on which hotel/area you choose. There are not as many seafront resorts here as in the Albufeira area, but there are plenty of smaller hotels, guesthouses, etc.

TIP: If you are looking for a beach vacation, be sure to check that your hotel is actually located close to one of the beaches. Otherwise, if you are staying in town, it’s quite a trip to most beaches.

Whereas if you are coming by train or are mostly interested in sightseeing, you may want to stay in the old town, close to the marina.

Here are some of the best hotels in Lagos:

€€€€€ Boutique Hotel Vivenda Miranda – a luxury seafront hotel outside of town.
€€€€ Belmar Spa & Beach Resort – great value studios and apartments very close to the beach.
€€€+ Lagos Avenida Hotel – a modern 4* hotel in town, overlooking Lagos Marina.
€€€ Tivoli Lagos – the most popular hotel in town, or Carvi Beach Hotel – close to Praia Dona Ana, one of the nicest beaches in the Algarve.
€€ Hotel Mar Azul – a very nice budget hotel.

LEARN MORE: Where to Stay in Lagos

Praia Dona Ana coastline in Lagos Algarve
Praia Dona Ana beach in Lagos.

3. Portimão

Stay here for a more local, bigger-town atmosphere and a central location for exploring the Algarve coast. The city has a railway station and good transport connections and is a favorite among digital nomads.

Location: Portimao is located in western Algarve, about 70 km/ 1 hour drive from Faro airport.

Portimao is situated very centrally: about halfway between Faro and Sagres, and halfway between Albufeira and Lagos. It has an excellent location, pretty much in the middle most scenic part of the region – perfect if you want to do lots of sightseeing.

One of the best water parks in the Algarve – Slide & Splash – is located just 15 minutes drive from the center. The most impressive coastline around Benagil Cave is also nearby, with various boat tour options, including a cruise on a pirate boat.

This is one of the biggest towns in Algarve so it remains lively the whole year round. But it’s also not the nicest town, with lots of concrete blocks and uninspiring architecture… However, the old town quarter is ok and, most importantly, there are some really nice beaches – Praia da Rocha and Praia dos Três Castelos. The area around these beaches is by far the nicest place to stay in Portimao.

Accommodations in Portimao tend to be a bit cheaper than in many other popular seaside resorts in the Algarve, and that makes it a popular choice among younger people. But that depends on the area – if you stay at the beach, it’s comparable to Lagos or Albufeira too.

Good to know: Many expats and digital nomads choose to settle in this area because of its central location, good transport connections, and big-town facilities such as a hospital, schools, etc.

Here are our recommended hotels by the beach in Portimao:

€€€€€ Bela Vista Hotel & Spa – Relais & Chateaux.
€€€€ RR Hotel da Rocha.
€€€ AP Oriental Beach.
€€+ Algarve Casino Hotel.

Portimao - one of the biggest towns to stay in Algarve
Portimão Beaches – Praia da Rocha to the right and Praia dos Três Castelos to the left.

4. Faro

Stay here for the proximity to the airport, bigger-town facilities, and a historic old town. It’s also a good place to stay if you are primarily interested in sightseeing in the eastern Algarve and have to rely on public transportation or organized excursions.

Location: Faro is located in eastern Algarve, about 10-15 minutes drive from the airport.

Faro is the capital city of the Algarve region and one of the biggest towns in southern Portugal. It has a cozy old town with many historic buildings and a small marina. There is quite a lot to see and do in Faro and the town has tons of restaurants. It’s a nice but simple place that feels a lot more authentic and less touristy than many other towns in the Algarve.

Good to know: What makes Faro different from any other town in this selection is that it doesn’t have easy access to the beach. The city is located on a lagoon that is part of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, but you’ll need to take a boat or a car to get to the nearest beaches.

This is one of the reasons why accommodations in Faro tend to be quite a lot cheaper than in the popular tourist resorts nearby. There are also no big resorts here, but smaller city hotels, B&Bs, etc.

Faro has an airport, a railway station, and good access from the main highway. All this makes it a good base for those who are primarily interested in sightseeing, especially if you are relying on public transportation.

There are also some organized tours allowing you to explore a bit of Algarve without having to worry about the practicalities. The most popular are boat tours to the nearby islands of Ria Formosa, but you can also find boat tours to Benagil Caves, etc.

Here are some of the best-rated hotels in Faro:

€€€€€ 3 HB Faro – a modern 5* luxury hotel, the nicest hotel in Faro.
€€€€ Hotel Faro & Beach Club – great value mid-budget hotel with a wonderful rooftop.
€€€ AP Eva Senses – the most popular hotel in the city, located right at the marina.
€€€ Roots Hotel – excellent price/quality ratio.
€€ Hotel Sol Algarve by Kavia – a very nice lower-budget hotel close to the station and the old town.

Where to stay in Algarve - EVA Senses hotel at the Marina in Faro
Faro Marina and EVA Senses Hotel.

5. Carvoeiro

Stay here for the most beautiful coastlines of the Algarve and a smaller town feel.

Location: Carvoeiro is located in central Algarve, about 60km/1 hour drive from Faro airport.

Carvoeiro is one of the nicest coastal towns right in the middle of the Algarve region. It’s located pretty much halfway between Lagos and Albufeira, and just a few kilometers from the famous Algar Seco rock formations and Benagil Cave. The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail can also be found nearby.

Good to know: There are a few things that you should keep in mind if you decide to stay here.

First, the roads in this area are rather small and narrow, so it takes more time to get anywhere. This makes Carvoeiro (and the surrounding villages) a good choice for a longer beach vacation or for a 1-2 night stay when road-tripping in the Algarve. However, it’s not the best base if you want to do a lot of sightseeing and are planning on doing lots of day trips in the area.

Second, Carvoeiro can get quite busy in the main season (April to October), but it’s rather sleepy in the winter. Many seasonal businesses will be closed from November to March. Exactly how busy or quiet it is will also depend on the accommodation that you choose.

And finally, there are just a few hotels/resorts that overlook the sea. But if you don’t mind staying more inland, you can find some very nice options too.

Here are some of the best hotels in Carvoeiro:

€€€€ Tivoli Carvoeiro – by far the nicest hotel in this area with the most scenic seafront location.
€€€€ Monte Santo Resort – a huge resort with big (multiple-bedroom) suites, located inland.
€€€ Villa Welwitshia – a very highly-rated mid-budget hotel in town.
€€ Hotel Carvoeiro Plaza – a very nice lower-budget hotel located in the heart of the village and just next to the main beach.

Carvoeiro - one of the most scenic places to stay in Algarve

6. Alvor

Stay here for the central location, gorgeous scenery, beach resorts, and – in season – also entertainment for all ages.

Location: Alvor is located near Portimao in western Algarve, about 75km/ 1 hour drive from Faro airport.

Located just west of Portimao, Alvor is a smaller town that could be a nice alternative to the most popular vacation resorts in the Algarve. It offers a mix of a bit of everything from Algarve in one place:

The main beach – Praia de Alvor – looks a bit like the beaches in the eastern Algarve, whereas the beaches of Praia dos Três Irmãos and Praia da Prainha have the most stunning rock formations that make the Algarve coast famous.

There is also a big lagoon with similar scenery to that at Ria Formosa Natural Reserve close to Faro and Tavira.

Alvor’s old town is quite charming too – a bit like a smaller version of Faro or Lagos, and the main Strip has plenty of restaurants, bars, and nightlife entertainment similar to Albufeira…

So if you cannot choose where to stay in Algarve, Alvor might be just the right place for you. An added benefit is that it’s quite centrally located in the most scenic coastal region, which makes Alvor a good base for sightseeing as well.

Good to know: Also in Alvor, a lot depends on where exactly you choose to stay. Closer to the beach, you will find some really nice holiday resorts, but also big multi-storey hotel blocks. In the meantime, accommodations in the town itself are much smaller (and budget-friendlier).

Here are some of the best-rated hotels in Alvor:

€€€€€ Tivoli Alvor – the newest all-in luxury resort in Algarve.
€€€€ Pestana Alvor Praia Premium Beach & Golf Resort – the most breathtaking location, at Tres Irmaos Beach. The smaller hotel Foz Club has an even more spectacular setting (but limited availability).
€€€ Pestana D. João II Beach & Golf Resort – a modern 4* beachfront hotel within short walking distance of the town center.
€€ Wyndham Residences Alvor Beach – excellent price/quality ratio for the location.

Alvor town and Praia Tres Irmaos aerial view - Algarve Portugal
Praia dos Três Irmãos, Praia da Prainha, and Alvor hotels.

7. Vilamoura

Stay here for golf, long flat beaches, and a more luxurious town feel with upmarket restaurants.

Location: Vilamoura is located in the center of Algarve, about 25 km/30 minutes drive from Faro airport.

Vilamoura is another popular seaside town to stay in the Algarve region. It has a bit more polished look with lots of trees and green lawns (which is something that is quite unusual in the region where it doesn’t rain much).

The center of the town is concentrated around Vilamoura Marina which is full of luxury yachts and is lined with upmarket restaurants.

Vilamoura also has a golf, lots of biking possibilities, and easy access to long flat beaches. One of the best waterparks in the Algarve – Aquashow – is also located nearby.

This part of the coast is rather flat and has a totally different scenery than western Algarve. If you like to go biking or are looking for long sandy beaches where you can walk for hours, then definitely consider staying here. This is also one of the reasons why Vilamoura is popular with older people and families with little kids.

Here are some of the best hotels in Vilamoura:

€€€€€ Domes Lake Algarve – by far the nicest hotel in Vilamoura, with easy access to the beach, golf, and marina.
€€€€ Tivoli Marina Vilamoura or Crowne Plaza – 5* luxury beach resorts.
€€€ Vila Gale Ampalius – mid-budget hotel in the center and right on the beach.
€€ Hotel Praia Sol – a lower-budget town hotel.

TIP: Quarteira, just a few kilometers further east (but also on the coast) is a lot more budget-friendly than Vilamoura. For example, Dom Jose Beach Hotel is located right on the beach and costs half the price compared to similar hotels in Vilamoura.

Vilamoura - best towns to stay in Algarve
Vilamoura aerial view. The large white building on the right is Hotel Tivoli. Vila Gale Ampalius and Crowne Plaza are behind it, further down the beach.

8. Tavira

Stay here for a bigger-town feel with a more authentic atmosphere. The area also has some beautiful, kilometers-long white-sand beaches.

Location: Tavira is located in the eastern Algarve, not far from the Spanish border, about 40 km/30 minutes drive from Faro airport.

Located in the eastern Algarve, Tavira is one of the nicest towns in the region. It’s often praised for its authentic atmosphere, something that is often hard to find in the most popular tourist resorts in the Algarve (and even more so in the summer season).

If you are looking to stay in a true Portuguese town and are mainly interested in sightseeing in eastern Algarve, then you’ll love Tavira. It’s also OK as a destination for a beach holiday IF you don’t mind having to take a boat or a car to the beach.

We personally find that Tavira is a good 1-3 night stop when road-tripping in the Algarve.

The Tavira Island Beach is beautiful, with white sand dunes and miles-long flat beaches. Just keep in mind that the scenery here is totally different than the typical Algarve coastlines with the towering cliffs that you find in the west of the region.

Good to know: Eastern Algarve is quite a lot warmer since there is much less wind here. It’s often at least a few degrees warmer in Tavira than in Albufeira or Lagos. Plus, the wind makes it feel even cooler in the west. This could be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on the season when you travel and the type of holiday you are looking for.

In general, accommodation in Tavira tends to be cheaper than in the western Algarve, so you get more for your money here. But just like everywhere, a lot depends on the actual hotel and the season, though.

Here are some of the nicest hotels in Tavira:

€€€€€ Pousada Convento de Tavira – a luxury boutique hotel located in an old convent in the town center.
€€€€ AP Maria Nova Lounge – a beautiful adult-oriented city hotel with great facilities.
€€€ Vila Gale – a big resort located on the site of an old fishing camp at the banks of Ria Formosa Nature Reserve.
€€ Residencial Mares – a nice lower-budget city hotel located very close to the Tavira Beach ferry.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Tavira

Tavira - one of the best towns to stay in eastern Algarve
Tavira town. You can see the Tavira Island and the beaches in the distance.

9. Sagres

Stay here for surfing, yoga, mountain biking, and stunning coastlines with rugged beaches. Sagres is a tiny town with a relaxed quiet feel.

Location: Sagres is located at the westernmost end of Algarve, about 120 km/1.5-hour drive from Faro airport.

Sagres is located at the southwesternmost point of the Portuguese – and European – mainland. In the old days, people believed that the Cape of St. Vincent nearby was the end of the world. Indeed, the area around Sagres still has that kind of vibe, especially if you visit in the quiet season.

The main highlights here are the Cape of Sagres with an old sea fort and the Cape of St. Vincent, so many people just visit Sagres for a few hours and move on. But Sagres is a popular vacation destination as well. Surfers come here in search of the perfect waves, but the town also attracts (mountain) biking enthusiasts, yoga lovers, and families in search of a quieter vacation in the Algarve.

There is actually a lot more to see and do in Sagres than it looks at first sight. It’s a really nice area to spend a few days, especially if you like a quieter, more relaxed vibe, and wild, rugged coastlines of the Atlantic Coast.

Sagres is a little town with just a few nice resorts, but it also has lots of smaller hotels, guesthouses, etc.

Here are some of the most popular hotels in Sagres:

€€€€€ Martinhal Sagres Beach Resort – this is a luxury, family-oriented resort.
€€€€ Pousada de Sagres – stunning views!
€€€ Memmo Baleeira – a very nice design hotel, the most popular hotel in Sagres.
€€ Mareta Beach – a very highly-rated boutique B&B.

Cape St Vincent in Sagres, one of the best towns to stay in western Algarve
Cape St Vincent, Sagres.

Our Experience

We have been to the Algarve countless times and stayed in different places.

The first time we visited, it was just for a few days, as part of a longer trip. On that trip, we stayed near Carvoeiro and in Sagres and only visited the western side of the Algarve.

On another occasion, we made a longer road trip staying in several different areas in the east, center, and south.

Nowadays, we always stay in the Albufeira area since it truly has something for everyone including the nicest scenery, tons of amazing restaurants, and a big array of activities for all ages. It’s also quite central in the region, so we just do day trips when we feel like visiting other places in Algarve.

Some of our personal favorite hotels in Albufeira are NAU Sao Rafael Atlantico at the beautiful Sao Rafael Beach (great for couples) and Alfagar Village in the Santa Eulalia area (great for families).

However, keep in mind that there is really not one ‘best’ place to stay in Algarve that fits every trip and every type of vacation. So if you are still hesitant about where to stay, see our final thoughts below.

Stairs from NAU Sao Rafael Atlantico Hotel to Sao Rafael Beach in Albufeira at sunset
This staircase leads from NAU Sao Rafael Atlantico to Sao Rafael Beach. We saw some of the most beautiful sunsets here every night when staying at this hotel in November.

Best Places to Stay in Algarve – Conclusion

To summarize:

If you are mostly interested in sightseeing and have just a few days, consider staying in Lagos. It’s one of the most charming towns of Algarve, with a good mix of historic sites and stunning scenery, but also a few very scenic beaches and lots of excursion possibilities. Lagos is centrally located for exploring the most impressive coastlines that the region is famous for.

If you are making a road trip and have at least 4-5 days in Algarve, you could split your stay between several different areas of the region. For example, spend a few nights in Tavira, Carvoeiro, and Sagres. If you rather not change hotels at all, stay anywhere between Albufeira and Lagos and make day trips to the other places.

If you rely on public transport, stay in a town that has a railway station. In that case, Faro and Tavira are the best choices in the east, and Lagos or Portimao are the best choices in the west. Albufeira’s station is located far away from the old town, but the town has good bus connections, also to Lisbon.

If you are looking for a place to stay for longer holidays/beach vacations and want to be in the place that has it all, consider staying in Albufeira. It’s the most popular tourist resort in the Algarve offering stunning beaches, lots of dining options, good nightlife, and plenty of options for fun activities, excursions, and sightseeing. Even in the low season, there is plenty to see and do here. However, it’s also the most touristy place and it’s quite hilly.

In the summer, Alvor or Praia da Rocha in Portimao are also good options for a beach holiday. Both have very nice beaches and lots to do. Frankly, if you are planning to spend most of your time at the pool of your hotel or at the beach, then you can’t go wrong with pretty much any bigger resort anywhere between Vilamoura and Praia da Luz.

If you are looking for a more upscale resort, like to golf, or have mobility concerns, stay in Vilamoura (or Quarteira just nearby). Alvor is also a good option with a nice golf as well.

If you are interested in surfing or yoga, then Sagres is the place to be. It’s also a nice little town to get away from the hustle and bustle. Especially in the lower season, it feels like the end of the world here.

If you are looking for a more traditional place and a local-town feel, then consider Faro or Tavira. The latter has better beaches (and easier to access). They both have a railway station and make a good base for exploring eastern Algarve. Also, it’s not as busy here as in the coastal resorts in the western Algarve, but it also gets much warmer in the summer (less wind than in the west).

READ ALSO: Best Places to See & Things to Do in Algarve

Salgados Golf Course and VidaMar Resort Algarve
Salgados Golf Course and VidaMar Resort Algarve in Guia, Albufeira.

So, this is our guide on some of the main towns to stay in the Algarve.

As already said, there are many more options. But if you are visiting the region for the first time and are not sure where to start, I hope that this guide gives you a better idea of what to expect and helps you choose a perfect location for your trip.

TIP: We have tons more articles with travel inspiration and tips for various destinations and activities in the Algarve and the rest of Portugal. You can see some highlighted articles below, and find the complete overview on our Portugal travel page.

More travel inspiration & information for the Algarve region:

Some of our favorite places in Portugal:

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Best places to stay in Algarve Portugal

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Paul D

Monday 23rd of October 2023

Hi Jurga, thanks for all the information. I was wondering if you can help me in deciding where to stay for 4-5 weeks in January-February. I was thinking Lagos or Ferragudo. Thoughts?


Tuesday 24th of October 2023

Hi Paul, Ferragudo is really quite deserted in the winter, whereas Lagos is lively the whole year round. So if you want to have more action and some people around you, Lagos is definitely a better option. There are also many more restaurants open, etc. and Lagos is still quite central for sightseeing. That said, if you want to be more in the middle of the region, Portimao can also be a good option since it's a big town, and it has a lot more going on in the winter than in Ferragudo. My personal choice for a winter stay in Algarve would be Lagos or Albufeira.

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