Are you planning an Algarve holiday?
Where Should I Go for the First Time in the Algarve?
If you are looking for somewhere with lovely beaches, lots of buzz, and nightlife then Albufeira is a good choice. If you are looking for somewhere with a great beach, lush green resorts, golf courses and a little quieter than Vilamoura is a great option.
You should – it’s a wonderful destination.
The Algarve is located along the Southern edge of Portugal. It has a fabulous coastline, huge sandy beaches, great places to visit and it’s very easy to travel to from UK.
The Algarve is suitable for family holidays, solo trips, golfing holidays, beach, activity and spa holidays. There really are lots of options available.
Here’s all you need to know to plan your trip.
Algarve Holiday – Getting to the Algarve
Faro Airport is the main airport that serves the Algarve. The airport is located on the Eastern side of the Algarve region.
There are direct flights from the following UK airports to Faro;
- Destinations in the Algarve
- London Gatwick
- London Luton
- London Stansted
- London Heathrow
Faro Airport is located just to the Western side of Faro itself.
One of the reasons the Algarve is so popular is the weather. It enjoys a nice climate.
Here’s the average daily and nightly temperatures for Albufeira
Here’s the average hours of sunshine in Albufeira
Here is the average number of days rain in Albufeira
Getting Around the Algarve
Exploring By Car
It is very easy to drive around the Algarve if you want to get out and explore all this region has to offer. The main A22 motorway runs along the Algarve. To travel on this motorway you need to pay a toll. If you are hiring a car you can pay extra for an electronic tag which collects the charges automatically and these are then added onto your bill when you return your car.
There are several car hire companies in and around Faro airport.
I wouldn’t recommed Goldcars at Faro Airport, having had a poor experience hiring a car with them previously. I would recommend OK Mobility. They are located just outside the airport so run a shuttle bus to their depot. The bus leaves from the left hand side of the Travellers restaurant which is outside the front of Faro airport (that’s the left hand side with the airport behind you).
Exploring By Train
There is a coastal railway line that runs from Lagos to Vila Real San Antonio, connecting all the resorts along the coast including Albufeira, Tavira and Monte Gordo.
Another line runs from Faro to Lisbon. The quickest trains get to Lisbon in 3 hours and 15 minutes from Faro.
Destinations in the Algarve
Located 45km to the West of Faro this is one of the most popular destinations in the Algarve. There are a wide selection of hotels in Albufeira, alongwith a pretty old town. There is also a lovely wide sandy beach. This is probably one of the busiest resorts in the Algarve and it is quite geared towards the British market. There are plenty of full English breakfasts available, alongwith British style food.
Albufeira probably has the largest selection of bars and nightlife in the Algarve.
(Check out my review of the Sol E Mar Albufeira – a great hotel right on the beach)
Check out hotels on Tripadvisor in Albufeira or use the map search below.
Located 27km West of Faro this is a popular resort, especially given the number of golf courses in the area. Vilamoura is set around a pretty marina. It is more spread out and greener than Albufeira and a little less busy. There is a great selection of hotels and it also has a lovely sandy beach.
(Check out my review of a fabulous Vilamoura Holiday including things to do and two great hotels)
Check out hotels in Vilamoura on Tripadvisor or use the map search below.
This pretty town is located on the coast 90km West of Faro. It has a nice old town with cute cafes, shops and a couple of interesting museums. Being located in Lagos gives easy access to the most Western points of the Algarve such as Sagres.
Check out hotels in Lagos on Tripadvisor or use the map search below
Located 38km East of Faro Tavira is a pretty white town with a lovely town centre set around a central square and river. There are lovely cafes and shops to enjoy as well as a fabulous daily market located to the outside of the town. Tavira is located inland a little bit but there are some beautiful beaches within easy reach of the town, including the main nudist beach for the Algarve too. Rio Formosa is a stretch of land that runs between Tavira and the coast. It’s a nature reserve and also a popular spot for activities such as paddleboarding.
Check out the hotels in Tavira on Tripadvisor or use the map search below
Located 58km to the West of Faro Monte Gordo is a resort that is mainly aimed at Portuguese holidaymakers. There are lots of holiday apartments in the town. Set alongside a beautiful wide sandy beach and with a lovely promenade there is a range of hotels to enjoy in Monte Gordo. It is also close to the Spanish border and the pretty town of Vila Real San Antonio.
(Check out my review of a holiday in Monte Gordo including things to do)
Things to See and Do in the Algarve
If you are planning to get out and explore the Algarve area there is plenty to see. Boat trips exploring the coastline are available from most resorts. There are plenty of golf courses, great birdwatching trips, food tours, paddleboarding, kayaking and much more!
Albufeira’s main attractions are the beaches. There are however some great boat trips along the coastline including dolphin and whale watching trips, BBQ cruises and trips to explore the caves.
Check out all the things to do in Albufeira on Tripadvisor
Vilamoura has the remains of a Roman villa to explore (around 1 hour is probably plenty). There are also lots of boat trips available from Vilamoura including to the Benagil cave which is very popular. There are also plenty of golf courses to enjoy.
Check out all the things to do in Vilamoura on Tripadvisor
As with other Algarve resorts there are plenty of boat trips available from Lago. The coastline here is dotted with sea stacks and rugged cliffs making it very dramatic and worthwhile exploring. There are a variety of ways to explore including private boat charter, boat trips and kayaks.
Not only does Lagos have a stunning beach and dramatic coastline (think sea stacks and sea arches) it has a pretty old town. There is some grim history too as this was previously a slave market. There is a museum telling the history of this gruesome trade.
Check out all the things to do in Lagos on Tripadvisor
Given it’s location close to the Rio Formosa it’s no surprise that Tavira offers a host of birdwatching tours. There are also a variety of Tuk Tuk tours including to a chocolate factory and a tuna factory! Don’t forget to check out Tavira market which is open every Monday to Saturday 7am to 1pm. Get there earlier for the best selection and to see the local fish.
Check out all the things to do in Tavira on Tripadvisor
At the Western most point of the Algarve Sagres has huge cliffs and often some impressive waves too. It is a popular windsurfing spot.
Sagres was also the base for Henry the Navigator’s school of navigation and you can visit some of the remains on the headland and learn about the history of early Portuguese exploration.
There are lots of private day tours available from Sagres exploring the Southern and Western coast of Portugal.
Check out all the things to do in Sagres on Tripadvisor
Set inland from the Algarve coast Loule has a large market hall with a much bigger market in the streets around the town on a Saturday also. It’s a lovely town to stroll through with pleasant cafes and streets as well.
There are some lovely churches to explore in Loule, and of course tours that include the market and tasting tours as well as boat trips and private tours.
Check out all the things to do in Loule on Tripadvisor.
The outskirts of Faro are quite busy but the town centre itself is a nice collection of cobbled streets with a pleasant promenade area. There is a little tourist train that runs around the town centre, some museums and art galleries, alongwith some nice cafes and spots to people watch. Storks also nest on several of the buildings in Faro too. There are also boat trips that leave from Faro to explore the Rio Formosa.
Faro has plenty of attractions including museums, a brewery, the lovely Estoi palace, boat trips and wildlife trips too.
Check out all the things to do in Faro on Tripadvisor
This is a small fishing town which has a pleasant area around the market building on the coastal side of the town. The town is protected by the Rio Formasa islands and this is also a great spot to go and explore them from.
There are some great things to do in an around Olhao including exploring the Rio Formosa and several small islands that dot the coastline. There are plenty of boat trips including solar powered boats.
Check out all the things to do in Olhao on Tripadvisor.
Vila Real De Santo Antonio
This long narrow town stretches alongside the Guardiana river which forms the border between Spain and Portugal. It has cafes and gardens overlooking the river. Set back from the river is a town with cobbled streets, pretty shops, squares and cafes. It is definitely worth a stroll. You can also drive down the sea wall to get a great view across the ocean and across to Spain. However, there are so many potholes it might be safer to walk if you have a hire car!
Vila Real has some nice churches to explore, and lots of tour options including cruises along the Guadiana river.
Check out all the things to do in Vila Real de Santo Antonio on Tripadvisor
Package Holidays to the Algarve
The Algarve consistently offers great package holiday deals. It’s popularity makes it competitive. It’s a great choice for last minute holidays and all inclusive options.
Click below to find some great package deal options for your travel dates.
Algarve Holiday – Conclusion
- The Algarve is a great value destination that is very easy to reach from the UK
- There are a wide range of destinations to choose from, lots with amazing beaches
- Weather in the Algarve means it’s a great option for off season breaks which are even better value
Algarve Holiday FAQs
What is the Best Month to Visit the Algarve?
February and November can be mild during the daytime. March, April, and October can be warm. May through to September can be hot with little rain, although temperatures can reach the high 30 degrees during the height of summer.
Is the Algarve in Portugal Expensive?
The Algarve is consistently great value, although prices and demand tend to be higher in the summer months. An out of season break in the Algarve can be great value with a wonderful choice of hotels available and warm temperatures.
Other Articles You Might Like
If you have found this Algarve Holiday article useful you might also like;
Vilamoura Holiday – including things to and a great circular drive in the hills behind the Algarve
Monte Gordo – including things to do and places to eat
Hotel Sol E Mar Albufeira – review of this great beachside hotel
Vidamar Resort Algarve – a fantastic resort with everything you need on the edge of a stunning beach
You can find more trip reports, reviews, and guides on my Travel Inspiration page
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