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19 Top Places & Best Things to Do in Algarve (+Map & Insider Tips)

19 Top Places & Best Things to Do in Algarve (+Map & Insider Tips)

Planning a trip to the Algarve in southern Portugal and wondering what there is to see and do in the region? In this guide, we highlight the top places to see and the best things to do in Algarve. Whether you are planning a relaxing vacation, are interested in sightseeing, or a combination of both, Algarve will not disappoint.

The Algarve region is mainly known for its stunning coastal scenery and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. But this area also has a centuries-old history, interesting cultural sights, and delicious food.

In addition, Algarve has over 300 days of sunshine per year. Combine sunshine with fantastic beaches, waterparks, golf courses, and countless fun attractions for all ages, and you have a top vacation destination for all sorts of travelers!

After numerous visits to the region, I can tell you that there is so much more to see and do in Algarve than it looks at first sight. In fact, every time we go, the list of places we want to visit and things to do next time just gets longer… So listing all the lovely beaches, interesting towns, natural landmarks, and tourist attractions of the Algarve could easily fill an entire website…

But if this is your first visit to the Algarve, the chances are that you will never find the time to see all those places. So in this guide, we only focus on the MUST-SEE places and VERY BEST things to do in Algarve for first-time visitors.

Praia da Bordeira, Costa Vicentina - best things to do in Algarve Portugal
Praia da Bordeira, Costa Vicentina.
 

Because we want to show you how diverse the region is, in this article, we highlight a mix of natural as well as cultural landmarks of the Algarve, focusing on the top places in Algarve that are worth your time the most.

In addition, we also share some of the most popular attractions and activities that will make your visit more memorable.

Good to know: For each of the top places to visit in the Algarve mentioned in this guide, we include some useful information and our experience-based tips to help you plan your visit. At the bottom of this article, you’ll also find a map indicating the exact locations of all the must-sees, as well as some additional tips for your trip.

TIP: If you are looking for even more ideas for nice places to visit, you may also want to check out our guides to the most beautiful beaches of the Algarve and the best towns to visit in Algarve.

   

These are some of the most beautiful places to see and the best things to do in Algarve:

1. Cabo de São Vicente

Cape St. Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente) is the southwesternmost point of continental Europe and one of the must-see places in Portugal.

The cliffs of São Vicente are surrounded by water on three sides and it’s mesmerizing to just sit there and watch big waves hit the shore under your feet. 

In the past, Europeans thought that this was the end of the world. And indeed, standing here you can understand that feeling, especially if you visit on a windy day in the winter…

There is a lighthouse here – Farol do Cabo de São Vicente, with a small café, a gift shop, and bathroom facilities. At the car parking, you’ll also find souvenir stands and food trucks. One of them sells ‘the last bratwurst before America’ and even gives you a certificate when you buy a sausage.

Good to know: You can’t visit the lighthouse itself, just the site around it. It’s open daily except on Mondays. But don’t worry if the entry to the site is closed because the views around it are just as good, and you are really not missing much.

TIP: Be sure to walk around the coastline on both sides of the cape and also check out the scenery at the nearby fortress, Fortaleza de Santo António do Beliche. The views are stunning! Just as nearby Ponta de Sagres, Cape St Vincent is also a nice place to be at sunset.

Cape St Vincent (Cabo de Sao Vicente) - best places to visit in Algarve Portugal
Cape St Vincent.
Fortaleza de Santo Antonio do Beliche near Cape St Vincent, Algarve Portugal
Fortaleza de Santo Antonio do Beliche near Cape St Vincent.
 

2. Ponta da Piedade

Ponta da Piedade is a stunning coastal site and is absolutely not to be missed in Algarve. It’s also one of the most famous natural landmarks in Portugal.

Located in Lagos, a short drive (or even walk) from the old town, a visit here gives you easy access to some of the most impressive coastal rock formations with sea caves and grottos that Algarve is famous for. The scenery here is breathtaking, and it’s even more beautiful at sunset.

There is a lighthouse here, Farol da Ponta da Piedade, but – just like most of the lighthouses in the Algarve – it cannot be visited. Instead, you can explore the area via various coastal paths. Most of the trails are high on the cliffs offering breathtaking views of the surroundings. In addition, there is also a steep staircase that takes you down to the sea where you have a closer look at the grottos.

TIP: One of the best ways to appreciate the Ponta da Piedade area to the fullest is from the water. There are various boat tours from Lagos. If you are visiting in the warmest months, you can also explore the coastline by kayak.

Good to know: If exploring on foot, wear sensible shoes. Also be careful around the edges since the area is not fenced.

Ponta da Piedade, Algarve
Ponta da Piedade.
Ponta da Piedade - best places to see in Algarve Portugal
Ponta da Piedade.
 

3. Benagil Cave

The Algarve coast is just as stunning when seen from the sea as it is from the shore. So we really recommend that you take a boat tour to explore the stunning coastal features. And there is no better way to do it than taking a boat trip to the famous Benagil Cave.

Benagil Cave is the biggest and best-known sea cave in the Algarve. It can only be accessed from the water and is so big that several boats can enter inside at the same time. But there are many more amazing coastal features in the area that make a visit here an absolute must-do in Algarve!

The whole area here is dotted with sea saves and is simply stunning. Most boat tours visit multiple sea caves on the way to/from Benagil Cave.

There are many ways to visit Benagil Cave, including kayaking. But the most popular are speedboat tours and they run from all the bigger towns in the region (from Faro, Vilamoura, or Albufeira in the east to Portimao and Lagos in the west).

Good to know: Keep in mind that entry to the caves is never guaranteed as it depends on the waves. So the captain decides on the spot if it’s safe enough to go inside. Also, even if you cannot enter some (or even any) sea caves, a boat tour here is absolutely worth it and the scenery is breathtaking. Sometimes you may also get lucky and spot dolphins as well.

TIP: Book your boat tour at least a few days in advance, especially in the high season. Benagil Cave is the most popular excursion in Algarve and even though there are tons of companies organizing tours, they usually sell out.

For more information and practical tips, please see our detailed guide via the link below.

LEARN MORE: How to Visit Benagil Cave

Benagil Cave boat trip is one of the most popular things to do in Algarve Portugal
Benagil Cave.
Benagil Cave is a must-see in Algarve
Benagil Cave.
 

4. Praia da Falésia

Praia da Falésia is one of the most unique beaches in the world and another must-see in Algarve.

This wide golden-sand beach stretches for over 6 kilometers (4 miles) between Vilamoura and Albufeira (Olhos de Agua). It’s best known for its impressive red sandstone cliffs that change colors depending on the weather and the light. The scenery here is breathtaking and it’s worth a visit in any season.

In the summer, it’s a popular bathing spot and several parts of the beach have all the facilities you need. If you walk a bit further from the main access points, you can enjoy a relatively quiet beach even in the peak summer holiday season when it’s crowded everywhere.

This is also one of the best beaches for surfing in central Algarve, although it’s not really comparable to the surfing conditions at the beaches closer to Sagres and on the Atlantic coast in the west.

TIP: The nicest stretch of Falésia Beach is in the west, closer to Olhos de Agua. We indicated it on our map further below. If you have a few hours, you could walk the entire length of this beach. Use a taxi/Uber/Bolt to get around because parking isn’t easy. Even in the low season, it’s not always easy to find a parking spot close to the main access to the beach.

Algarve top places - Falesia Beach
Falésia Beach.
Algarve top places - Falesia Beach
Falésia Beach.
 

5. Algar Seco

Algar Seco is yet another unique coastal area that we highly recommend visiting in Algarve. It’s located in the picturesque village of Carvoeiro, in central Algarve.

Algar Seco boasts a series of remarkable caves, grottos, and limestone cliffs created by rain and sea over millions of years. No pictures do justice to this unique place – you really have to experience it for yourself!

You can enjoy nice views using a series of boardwalks, so it is accessible to everyone (also with a wheelchair or a stroller). However, if you are feeling more adventurous, we highly recommend getting closer to the rock formations via pathways and staircases that are carved between the rocks.

The whole area feels a bit like a maze and you can easily spend an hour exploring all the pathways, caves, and hidden corners here. If you just stay on the boardwalks, you won’t experience how special it is. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes, watch your step, and keep a close eye on your kids!

TIP: In addition, be sure to also walk down the stairs at the very end of the car parking (toward the seasonal restaurant below). Here, you can find the most beautiful cave with two natural ‘windows’ overlooking the coast. Also the Forte de Nossa Senhora da Encarnação just nearby is worth a quick look. Looking west from this 17th-century fort, you can see the entire coastline of Algarve all the way from Carvoeiro to Sagres.

Good to know: Just like many of the most popular places in Algarve, this area is best explored in the low season. It can get really busy in the summer, so if you are visiting in the peak season, try to come very early in the morning or late in the afternoon. In the peak season, it can also get busy around sunset.

Algar Seco - top places to visit in Algarve Portugal
Algar Seco.
Algar Seco in Carvoeiro (Algarve Portugal)
Algar Seco.
 

6. Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha is another beach that you absolutely have to see in Algarve. In this case, not that much for the beach itself (which is really nice too), but for the stunning surroundings (which are spectacular).

The views here are sublime and will likely look very familiar. This is because many guidebooks and travel brochures feature images of this area. It’s the typical Algarve coastline that you see on postcards.

TIP: The best way to enjoy the scenery here is to take some time to walk around on the clifftop paths overlooking the beach. There is a viewing platform close to the car parking, but for the nicest scenery, you have to walk westward for a few minutes. This is also the start of the Seven Hanging Valleys hiking trail (more info about it below).

In addition, if you have some extra time and don’t mind doing some stairs, walk down to the beach itself. Praia da Marinha is surrounded by steep limestone cliffs and feels quite secluded. If you come here in the low season, it’s magical, and you’ll likely only run into a couple of seagulls. It’s a totally different picture in the summer since the beach is very popular.

Good to know: There is a big parking area at Praia da Marinha. However, it fills up very quickly, not just by beachgoers in the summer but also in the shoulder season because many people come to hike here. Either way, it’s worth a trip, just try to avoid the peak hours in the warmest months.

Algarve best places - Praia da Marinha Beach
Marinha Beach.
Praia da Marinha beach - top places to see in Algarve Portugal
Praia da Marinha.
 

7. Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is the most popular coastal hike in Algarve. It follows the coastline between Praia da Marinha and Praia do Vale de Centeanes. On the way, you also pass Benagil Cave, Benagil Beach, Carvalho Beach, and Alfazina Lighthouse, to mention just the main highlights.

This hike gives you easy access to one of the most scenic stretches of the Algarve coast. So if you are looking for the very best things to do in Algarve, Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is not to be missed.

Good to know: The hike can be done one way, in which case it’s about 5.7 km (3.5 miles) and takes about 2.5-3 hours. If you want to, you can come back the same way too, but it’s simple enough to find transportation to the starting point if you are driving there by car.

Seven Hanging Valleys trail is not very difficult and it is family-friendly. However, don’t underestimate it. Good walking shoes are a must. Plus, there is hardly any shade. So if you are visiting in the summer and want to go hiking here, start as early in the morning as you can!

TIP: It is also possible to see the nicest scenery and some of the main highlights without doing the entire hike. For more information and tips for this hike, please check our detailed guide via the link below. You will find many more pictures in that article as well.

LEARN MORE: Seven Hanging Valleys Hike

Algarve best things to do - hike Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
The scenery along Seven Hanging Valleys Trail.
Algarve coastal cliffs near Praia da Marinha
Scenery near Praia da Marinha, at the start of the hike.
 

8. Ponta de Sagres

Ponta de Sagres is a rugged headland located at the southwestern tip of Portugal and can be found just next to the town of Sagres. It’s in the same area as Cape St. Vincent mentioned earlier, just a few minutes drive from each other.

This windswept cape is steeped in history, with a fortress dating back to the 16th century, a lighthouse, and an old church overlooking the endless ocean. It was in this area that some of the first big Portuguese explorers started their journey in search of the New World.

The best way to explore Ponta de Sagres is to visit the historic site of Fortaleza de Sagres. It can only be accessed during the opening hours and there is a small fee to enter. It’s a huge site that encompasses an old fort with a museum, a church (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça), and a lighthouse. You can visit the church and the museum inside. While it’s rather small, the museum is really well done and is absolutely worth a few minutes.

In addition, be sure to walk around the entire Cape of Sagres, following the paths around the lighthouse. This area offers breathtaking views of the sea and the surrounding landscape. You can’t visit the lighthouse, but next to it, there is an interesting sound installation called ‘A Voz do Mar’. Inside, you can hear the sounds of the ocean coming from the underground sea caves deep below.

Practical info: Sagres Fortress is open daily the whole year round, from 9.30 am to 5.30-8 pm depending on the season. You can find more information on their website. Most of the site is accessible so you can visit with a stroller or a wheelchair as well. There are also bathroom facilities inside.

Good to know: Cape Sagres offers spectacular views over the coast and is an amazing place to be at sunset. It’s also very popular among surfers and water sports enthusiasts, thanks to its consistent waves and strong winds. If you want to try surfing in Algarve, this is the best place to be.

TIP: Wear comfortable shoes and – depending on the season – you may want to wear a light sweater/jacket. The area is very windy and rocky.

Cape of Sagres, Algarve Portugal
Coastal scenery as seen from Ponta de Sagres in the direction of Cape St Vincent.
Ponta de Sagres - top places in Algarve Portugal
Ponta de Sagres.
 

9. Tavira

Located in the eastern Algarve, Tavira is one of the most authentic of all bigger towns in the region. If you are interested in culture and history or simply want to visit a less touristy traditional town, it’s really worth a visit.

The city was built around its medieval center, where you will find most of its historic landmarks.

Don’t miss the Castelo, the remains of an old Moorish fort, and the Roman Bridge which you will see in all postcards of Tavira. The portal of Igreja da Misericordia with 18th-century azulejo tiles is also very impressive too, and you can also climb the church tower for some nice views of the city and its surroundings. For another unique view of the city, check out Camera Obscura located inside an old water tower.

Good to know: The old town of Tavira is quite compact and is very walkable. Tuk-tuk tours are available too and are especially good if you only have limited time and just want to get a quick introduction to the main landmarks. Ideally, plan at least 2-3 hours for Tavira town, plus half a day for the nearby beaches.

The coastline near Tavira is part of Ria Formosa Nature Park (more about it further below), so if you have some extra time, you may want to visit a few beaches nearby. The beaches here are flat with white-sand dunes, not comparable to the other popular places in the Algarve.

TIP: The most popular and very easy to visit is the island Ilha de Tavira. It can be reached by ferry or taxi-boat from the city center. Also Praia do Barril nearby is worth a short visit.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Tavira

Tavira town in eastern Algarve, Portugal
Tavira old town.
Tavira Castle - popular places to visit in Algarve
Tavira Castle.
 

10. Lagos

Lagos is one of the most charming towns in Portugal. Even if you are mainly interested in the natural landmarks of the Algarve, we highly recommend including at least a few hours in Lagos to your itinerary. And not just because of its beautiful surroundings!

Located in the western part of Algarve, Lagos is a lovely historic town with white-washed buildings, cobbled streets, and a cozy atmosphere with traditional touch. The old town is rather compact but has a lot to offer, including a few historic landmarks, small but interesting museums, and a lively local market.

Plus, it’s simply a nice place to just walk around, soak in the atmosphere, explore local shops, and enjoy some delicious Portuguese food…

Good to know: Lagos is a small town so you can see the main attractions in a couple of hours. In addition, be sure to visit the most impressive coastal areas nearby. The musts include Ponta da Piedade (mentioned higher above) and the most scenic beaches of Lagos such as Praia do Camilo or Praia Dona Ana.

Good to know: Lagos is most enjoyable in the shoulder season (April-May and September-October) and can get crowded in the summer months. In the high season, arrive early to avoid parking problems. Or simply take a train – Lagos is one of the few places in this guide that can be easily reached by public transport.

TIP: If you want to do any boat trips (e.g. to Ponta Piedade or Benagil Cave), book in advance!

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Lagos

Roman Bridge at Praia dos Estudantes in Lagos Algarve
Roman Bridge at Praia dos Estudantes in Lagos.
Lagos - top places to visit in Algarve Portugal
Lagos old town. Photo A.Antanovich/Depositphotos.com
 

11 – 12. Praia do Camilo & Praia de Dona Ana

Praia do Camilo and Praia de Dona Ana are the nicest beaches in Lagos and among the most beautiful beaches in Algarve. They are located about halfway between the old town and Ponta da Piedade (mentioned earlier) and just next to each other, so if you come to this area, be sure to see them both. That’s also the reason why we mention them together.

The stunning coastline here is a must-see in Algarve. The scenery here looks a bit like the famous Great Ocean Road in Australia. But if I’m completely honest, the Algarve coastline is even more spectacular.

Praia do Camilo is a tiny beach that can be accessed via a steep staircase. The views from the top are amazing, so it’s worth coming here even if you don’t want to or can’t do that many stairs. But if you can, be sure to walk down to the beach as well. It’s divided into two separate areas connected by a short tunnel carved inside the rocks and is incredibly scenic!

Good to know: Camilo Beach is really small (even more so at high tide), so it can get very busy during the day, especially in the warmest months. If you are mostly interested in sightseeing, try to visit here early in the morning or late in the evening. In the low season, you can sometimes have the beach all to yourself and it’s as good as it gets.

Algarve coastal scenery at Praia do Camilo in Lagos
Coastal scenery at Praia do Camilo.
Praia do Camilo beach - best of Algarve Portugal
Camilo Beach.
 

Praia de Dona Ana is another gorgeous beach just nearby that is also worth a visit if you have some extra time in this area. It’s surrounded by steep colorful cliffs and crystal-clear blue water.

This beach is a bit closer to Lagos and there are a couple of big hotels nearby, so it’s even busier here.

Good to know: Dona Ana Beach is rather well protected from the wind and is, therefore, a beloved bathing place for tourists and locals alike. In the summer, the parking fills up very early in the morning.

Dona Ana Beach in Algarve Portugal
Dona Ana Beach.
Praia da Dona Ana in Lagos Algarve
Dona Ana Beach.
 

13. Costa Vicentina

Costa Vicentina (Vicentina Coast) is a less-visited part of the Algarve region, but it’s also one of the most beautiful areas. This name refers to the southern part of the Alentejo – Costa Vicentina Natural Park, mainly the coastal stretch between Odeceixe and Burgau.

The coastline here is totally different than what you’ll see around Albufeira or Lagos, and could probably only be described as wild and majestic. The beaches are bigger, the cliffs are steeper, and the ocean is wilder. There are also no big towns or tourist resorts here, so you can experience the beauty of nature without the crowds.

There are too many beautiful beaches and viewpoints in this area to mention them all here. Plus, it’s nice that some of those places remain undiscovered and quiet so we wouldn’t want to send everyone to the same place while there are so many others that are just as nice…

The best-known beach on Costa Vicenrina is Praia da Bordeira, a popular spot for surfing. But you can take any of the small roads leading to pretty much any beach or viewpoint in this area and you will not be disappointed. The scenery is magnificent!

TIP: You will need a car to visit this area. Some secondary roads are gravel and not always in the best condition. So you may want to check if your car rental insurance covers gravel roads if you are planning to explore more of this area beyond the most popular beaches. Otherwise, just stay on paved roads and you will still find plenty of amazing views.

Torre de Aspa viewpoint on Costa Vicentina in Algarve Portugal
Costa Vicentina.
Miradouro da Cordoama on Costa Vicentina - top places to see in Algarve Portugal
Costa Vicentina.
 

14. Faro

The capital city of Algarve, Faro is another nice place to visit in the region. Just like all Algarve towns, it’s rather small, cozy, and the atmosphere is laid-back.

You won’t find any huge landmarks here, but there is plenty to see to fill a couple of hours. Don’t miss the old town with Faro Cathedral where you can also climb the tower for some nice aerial views of the city and its surroundings. Be sure to also pay a visit to Igreja do Carmo where you can see a Bone Chapel (Capella dos Ossos).

Our favorite area in Faro is around its Marina and public garden Jardim Manuel Bivar. On weekends, you can find a crafts- and souvenir market here. There are lots of nice restaurants and shops in the city center too, and is really compact. So simply walk around and explore its picturesque streets and cozy squares.

TIP: One of the nicest things to do in Faro is to take a boat trip to Ria Formosa Nature Reserve just nearby. More info – below.

Faro Marina - best places to see in Algarve Portugal
Faro Marina.
Faro - the capital city of Algarve Portugal
Faro.
 

15. Ria Formosa

Ria Formosa Nature Park is a series of barrier islands and peninsulas located in the Eastern Algarve. This protected nature stretches for over 60 kilometers (40 miles) and encompasses over 18,000 ha.

The islands serve a bit like a natural barrier from the ocean creating beautiful coastal lagoons and wetlands that are a paradise for birds. But you’ll also find saltpans, white sand dunes, and beautiful long beaches here.

There are several small fishermen’s villages on these islands as well. Very quiet in the winter, they come to life when tourists flock here in the summer. But it’s still a good place to experience a more local side of the Algarve and catch a glimpse of what life was like in the region in the past.

The scenery here is yet completely different from all the other places in Algarve. So if you want to see as many different facets of this incredibly diverse region, you won’t want to miss Ria Formosa!

Good to know: There are many ways to visit Ria Formosa. But unless you have several days for just this area, we recommend taking a boat tour from either Faro or Olhao. There are lots of options and most tours take about half a day and visit 2-3 islands. Here is the most popular tour from Faro and here is one from Olhao.

We recently visited in the low season when there were not many tours running yet and did this tour from Olhao. It stopped on two islands – Culatra and Armona. It felt a bit rushed but gave us a good introduction to the area.

Spring flowers in Ria Formosa Nature Park in Algarve
Spring flowers on the beaches of Ria Formosa.
Aerial view of Ria Formosa Nature Park in eastern Algarve.
Aerial view of Ria Formosa Nature Park in eastern Algarve.
 

16. Albufeira

Albufeira is the most popular tourist resort in southern Portugal. It definitely deserves a mention on any list of best places to see in Algarve because it has something to offer for all types of travelers.

Plus, Albufeira is one of the most popular places to stay in the Algarve and is centrally located for sightseeing. Here you will also find the biggest variety of excursions and sightseeing tours all over Algarve.

Whether you are looking for scenic coastlines, long sandy beaches for a relaxing vacation, or a charming old town with traditional regional architecture, Albufeira has it all. Plus, there are countless excellent restaurants, cafes, and busy bars for all tastes and budgets, and lots of fun activities for young and old. Compared to most other places in the region, Albufeira remains relatively lively in the low season as well.

Some of our favorite spots in Albufeira include the old fishermen’s neighborhood, the old town (especially the part located on top of the cliffs), and the most beautiful beaches of Albufeira such as Praia dos Arrifes or Praia Sao Rafael to mention just a few.

One of our favorite things to do in Albufeira is simply walking along the coast, get a cocktail at one of the beach bars, and try a new restaurant every time we’re in town. Recently, we also went kayaking at St Rafael Beach and it was a great experience as well. In the summer, kids love parasailing!

Good to know: Albufeira is quite a big (long) town and many sights and attractions are located relatively far from each other. It’s nice to walk between different areas following the coast, but it does take a lot of time. So what you can see and do depends a lot on your interests and how much time you have here.

TIP: If you are visiting Albufeira for just a few hours and want to get a better impression of what it has to offer, you may want to consider a sightseeing tour by tuk-tuk. Even if you have more time, these tours are a good way to get a better idea of where everything is, and you can then decide which areas you want to explore further.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Albufeira

Albufeira Beach - Algarve, Portugal
Albufeira Beach in the old town.
Algarve places to see - St Rafael Beach in Albufeira
St Rafael Beach in Albufeira.
 

17. Silves

Silves is the old capital city of the Algarve, usually overlooked by first-time overseas visitors. It would be unthinkable to publish a guide to the very best places in Algarve without mentioning it. (And if you have a couple of hours to spare, definitely pay a visit!).

It’s just a short drive away from the bustling coastal resorts but couldn’t be more different. Located inland, Silves is a typical medieval hilltop village with a castle sitting right at the top, overlooking the wide surroundings. In the past, the town was really important and some sources say it was as impressive as Lisbon. But – just like the rest of the region – Silves was heavily destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.

The partially-restored old castle is one of the few remaining structures from its glory days, and the main attraction in town. Just next to it, be sure to visit the Silves Cathedral. Another must-see is the Archeological Museum, just near the main town square Praça do Município.

Silves is just a simple traditional little town where you can experience the more authentic side of the Algarve. Walk around its cobbled streets, have lunch at one of the local restaurants, and – if you have some time and depending on the season – you can also visit some orange orchards or vineyards nearby.

Good to know: The best way to get to Silves is by car or with a tour. There are also lots of tours that visit here, usually in combination with a vineyard or a few other nice places like Monchique, the highest village in Algarve.

TIP: One of the nicest ways to get to Silves is by this small-group boat tour from Portimao. You get about 1.5 hours of free time in Silves which is enough for its main landmarks.

Silves - top places to visit in Algarve
Silves.
Silves Castle, Algarve Portugal
Silves Castle.
 

18. Algarve Water Parks

Being one of the most popular summer vacation destinations in southern Europe, Algarve has a lot more to offer beyond its natural beauty and historic landmarks. So if you are looking for some ideas for fun things to do in Algarve, you’ll be glad to know that the region has lots of really nice water parks.

Good to know: Most water parks in Algarve are only open in the high season, May – October. Some others open a bit earlier, in March – April. There are also indoor water parks that are open the whole year round.

Here are just a few of the biggest water parks in Algarve:

  • Aquashow Park in Quarteira is the largest water park in Portugal. The indoor part is open the whole year.
  • Zoomarine near Albufeira offers a combination of a water park and a sea park with marine wildlife, birds of prey, etc. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Algarve and is considered a must-see if you are visiting with kids.
Aquashow water park in Algarve Portugal
Aquashow water park.
 

19. Boat Trips & Water Sports

And finally, no guide to the best things to do in Algarve would be complete without mentioning boat trips and water sports. After all, most people come here for the beaches and the ocean!

Also here, there are too many options to mention them all, and a lot depends on the place where you are staying and on your interests.

For example, west Algarve and the Atlantic coast is the best area for surfing. Whereas Albufeira is one of the best places for pretty much any type of boat tours or fun water activities in Algarve. There are also plenty of options from Lagos, Portimao, Vilamoura, and many other towns.

Here is a small selection of some of the best boat trips and water sports in Algarve:

  • Benagil Cave boat trips. Benagil Cave is the most popular excursion in the Algarve, and you’ll find all kinds of boat tours. The best way to visit is with a speedboat, or by kayak. See the complete selection of tours here. We recommend booking a trip from either Albufeira or Portimao. This highly-rated speedboat + kayak tour gives you the best of both worlds.
  • Kayaking/ SUP. There are many places where you can go kayaking or paddleboarding in Algarve. The most popular kayaking location is Benagil, followed by Ponta da Piedade in Lagos. But if you prefer a quieter experience, pick one of the less-popular locations. We recently did this kayaking tour from St Rafael Beach in Albufeira and I can highly recommend it. See here for the complete selection of kayak tours in Algarve.
  • Surfing. The area around Sagres is the best place to be for surfing in Algarve. There are many surf shops in town, some offer surfing lessons. But you’ll also find surf lessons in central Algarve, mostly in and around Albufeira. See here for some options.
  • Parasailing and jet skiing. If you are visiting Algarve in the summer and are looking for some thrills, you may enjoy parasailing or jet skiing.

These are just a couple of examples. You’ll find so many more. Many beaches have water bikes, banana boats, and similar.

TIP: We recommend booking these activities in advance. Many of them sell out, especially in the peak summer season. Benagil Cave tours are best booked at least a few days in advance in pretty much any season.

READ ALSO: Best Places to Go Kayaking in Algarve

Best things to do in Algarve - kayaking
Kayaking is a really nice way to explore the beautiful Algarve coast. This picture is from our kayak tour in Albufeira.
 

Map of the best places in Algarve

As promised, here is a map indicating all the top places to visit in Algarve. It will give you a better idea of where everything is located.

Further below, you can also find some recommendations on where to stay, depending on what kind of trip you are planning.

How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.

 

Where to Stay in Algarve

Further below, you can find some practical tips and useful information for planning your trip. But first, some info about where to stay.

Algarve has so many towns and villages with countless accommodation options. The best places to stay really depend on your overall itinerary, your interests, and how much time you have.

Here are some recommendations:

If you are looking for one central location for sightseeing and easy access to all the best places in Algarve, stay in the center of the region. Pretty much anywhere between Lagos and Albufeira is good. If you are renting a car, you have even more options. Without a car, Lagos is better accessible by train whereas Albufeira has more options if you want to take tours.

If you are making a road trip or if Algarve is just part of a bigger trip in Portugal, then it’s probably best to stay in a different place every day so that you can see more of the region in a short time. For that, everything depends on your overall itinerary. In that case, ideally, you spend at least 3 nights in the region – one in the east (Faro – Tavira), one in the center (Albufeira – Lagos), and one in the west (Sagres).

If you are visiting Algarve for a beach holiday, a lot depends on what your interests are and whether you plan to rent a car. Without a car, you are a bit more limited in how much sightseeing you can do. On the other hand, there are also plenty of tours, companies offering private transfers, and taxi/Uber/Bolt is also not expensive for smaller distances.

As you can imagine, with so many possible itineraries and thousands of accommodation options all over Algarve, it’s difficult to give personalized recommendations.

Nevertheless, here are some of our favorite seafront resorts in different areas of the Algarve:

TIP: If traveling between May and October, be sure to book your accommodation well in advance!

READ ALSO: Where to Stay in Albufeira

NAU Sao Rafael Atlantico Hotel pool and palm trees - Albufeira, Algarve
One of the pools at NAU Sao Rafael Atlantico in Albufeira.
 

Practical Info & Tips

Here are a couple of things you may want to know when planning a trip to Algarve:

Getting there. Algarve has its own airport, located in Faro. You will find direct flights to Faro from many destinations all over Europe, and many more options in the summer months. If you are coming from overseas, you can also fly to Lisbon, which is just about 2.5 hours drive from Algarve.

Getting around. As you can see, the region is big and there is a lot to see and do in Algarve. So by far the easiest way to see all these places is by car. We always rent a car in Portugal using this car hire website. However, if you are visiting the Algarve in the high season, keep in mind that traffic will be busy and parking is really limited in many places, so if you are here for a summer beach holiday, renting a car is probably not the best option. Algarve also has good public transport connections, plus taxi/Uber/Bolt is very popular and affordable too, and there are many local companies that offer private transfers all over the region.

Best time to visit. Algarve is truly a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your interests. The high season is between May and October; that’s when everything is open and it’s busy and hot. July, and especially August are the peak months and it’s crowded everywhere. The shoulder season (spring and autumn) is the best time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds and the biggest heat. Check out our guide to Algarve in April to get a better idea of what it’s like to visit in the spring.

What to wear/pack. This depends on the season, but swimwear, sun protection, and good walking shoes should always be in your luggage. In the summer, you’ll need very little as it can get really hot. But Algarve can be quite windy too, so a sweater is always a must as it can get colder at night. In the shoulder season and in the winter, you’ll definitely need some warmer clothes and a windbreaker or a rain jacket.

How much time do you need. We recommend at least 3-4 days for the Algarve region. This will give you enough time to see some of the musts. You can easily fill a week or even two if you want to see and do everything from this list at a more relaxed pace. We’ve been to Algarve countless times, for weeks in a row, and still find new places to visit and things to do every time we go… Not even to mention the rest of the country…

READ ALSO: Best Towns to Visit in Portugal

Colorful plates at Artesanato A Mo pottery store in Sagres Algarve
‘Artesanato A Mó’ pottery store in Sagres.
 

So, this is our guide to some of the nicest places to visit and things to do in Algarve. I hope that this list gives you a better idea of how diverse the region is and inspires you to explore deeper and stay longer.

As already mentioned, there is so much more to see and do in Algarve and we only feature the top places that are worth your time the most even if you are traveling from the other side of the world. If you are visiting Algarve for the first time and want to experience the very best that the region has to offer, this list should help you do that.

Have a great trip!

TIP: We have been to Portugal countless times and have tons of articles on our blog to help you plan your trip. Take a look at the featured selection below or check our Portugal travel page for a complete overview.

Some travel inspiration for Portugal:

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Things to do in Algarve - top places to see for first time visitors
Most beautiful places to visit in Algarve Portugal
 

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Patti

Thursday 1st of June 2023

Hello Jurga! I always enjoy your trip reports, thanks so much for sharing. This report comes at a very good time. My husband and I are thinking of a trip to Portugal during our Thanksgiving week, late November. I have read many thoughts on that time of year, especially to go no further north than Lisbon. Also, that the possibility of rain in the Algarve is not too bad to those who say it is terrible, don’t go then. With your experience, is it worth the risk or should we look for another destination?

Greetings, Patti Alabama, USA

Jurga

Tuesday 6th of June 2023

Hi Patti, there is really no way to know in advance how the weather will be. Some examples. We were in Algarve last year in November and had great weather (even went swimming in the ocean). This year, we visited in April when it's supposed to be a bit more rainy and we had gorgeous warm weather for weeks in a row (also went swimming every day). Whereas in May, when it's supposed to be beautiful and sunny, the weather has been a lot more unstable and they even had a few days of some serious rain. So you really can't predict it. I wouldn't let a possibility of some rain stop me from visiting Algarve at any time of the year. It's a wonderful destination and even if it rains, it doesn't rain long. Plusm you can still find plenty to see and do in any weather. Hope this helps.

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