Things to do in Algarve? Below you will find the best places to visit, tours and many other tips 😉
The Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and being one of the sunniest places in Europe, with up to 12 hours of sunshine per day during the summer.
Every year, from May to September, The Golden Coast and its many cities along the Atlantic Ocean such as Albufeira, Faro, Lagos, Portimão and Vilamoura receive tons of English and Southern Spanish sun-seekers and golf lovers.
I’ve been going to the Algarve regularly since 2008 and no matter how many times I visit it, I always find something new and fun to do with friends and family.
From visiting some of the world’s most breathtaking beaches, to exploring historic towns, fishing villages, savoring the delicious local cuisine, enjoying the buzzing nightlife and walk along the sea cliffs, here is a list of the 20 verybest things to do in Algarve.
20 Very Best Things to do in Algarve
1 – Enjoy worldwide class beaches in Lagos
A trip to the Algarve cannot be complete without visiting its superb beaches!
And some of the most gorgeous Algarvian beaches are in Lagos!
The city, one of the best places to visit in Algarve, also has an interesting history, a great variety of hotels, bars, restaurants and spirited summer nightlife.
The beaches in Lagos, such as Dona Ana and Ponta da Piedade, have been ranked amongst the most beautiful in the world by Condé Nast and Huffington Post.
Apart from these world-famous beaches, there are also Praia do Camilo, one of my favorite beaches in the Algarve, and Praia do Estudante, which has a very intriguing history.
I generally stay in Albufeira, but I really love going to Lagos to enjoy its stunning beaches, they’re a must-see in Algarve.
2 – Take a boat trip to Ponta da Piedade
While in Lagos, you should not miss the opportunity to take a boat trip to Ponta da Piedade.
The boat takes you on a memorable journey along the breathtaking coastline and you can get an amazing perspective of Dona Ana Beach, as well as Praia do Camilo, until you get to the spectacular rock formations of Ponta da Piedade.
On this 75min thrilling adventure, you will sail through fascinating sea caves, hidden grottos with crystal-clear water and incredible sandstone cliffs.
Taking a boat trip to Ponta da Piedade is an unforgettable experience and definitely one of the coolest things to do in Algarve.
It’s a trip for the whole family and the price is very reasonable, from 20 euros per person.
Pro tip: As it’s a very popular activity in Lagos, I do recommend that you book your grotto trip online in advance. This one has excellent reviews, and if you prefer a half-day cruise with lunch and beverage included, I recommend this one.
3 – Go beach exploring in Albufeira
I love beaches, and one of my favorite things to do in Algarve, especially in Albufeira, is beach exploring.
The great thing about Albufeira is that some of its best beaches are very close to each other and you can experience a few in one trip.
Whether you decide to explore the east or west coast, you will find impressive beaches surrounded by towering cliffs, with fine golden sand and crystal-clear turquoise water.
You can start at Praia da Galé, located around 7 Km (4.4 mi) west of Albufeira Old Town, and walk for about 2h all the way to Praia dos Arrifes. Or do the 25min walk from Praia de São Rafael to Praia da Coelha, two of the most gorgeous beaches in Albufeira.
Walking along the sea cliffs, you will discover beaches that aren’t on the tourist radar, and take amazing pictures of the incredible views.
Other places in the Algarve that are fantastic for beach exploration are Lagos (where you can walk from Praia do Batata to Ponta da Piedade) and Portimão.
4 – Discover Praia da Marinha, one of the world’s most beautiful beaches
Yet another beach to put on your “What to do in Algarve” list.
Located in the Lagoa area, a half hour drive from Albufeira, this award-winning beach has been featured in many Portuguese guidebooks and advertising campaigns.
Once you step out of the parking lot, you understand why Praia da Marinha was selected by the Michelin Guide as one of the ten most beautiful beaches in Europe.
It has amazing orange-yellowish limestone cliffs, golden sand and crystal-clear blue water.
There aren’t beach amenities, but there is a restaurant and a café at the beach’s entrance. While in Praia da Marinha, you can take a kayak to visit other beaches and the famous Benagil Cave.
Praia da Marinha is not only one of the most beautiful beaches in Algarve, but I would say the whole world.
5 – Visit Benagil Cave
Located in the little fishing village of Benagil, in the municipality of Lagoa, Algar de Benagil, is a stunning cave just around the corner from Benagil Beach.
What makes Benagil Cave so special and one of the “Top 10 coolest caves around the world”, according to Huffington Post, is the perfect combination of golden walls with a round aperture in the ceiling and two beautiful archways.
I have visited Benagil Cave by boat and kayak, and loved it both times! It’s a natural wonder of the world and one of the best places to visit in Algarve.
6 – Visit Praia dos Três Irmãos, the most fascinating beach in the Algarve
If you like beautiful beaches as much as I do, you can’t miss Praia do Três Irmãos, one of the Algarve attractions that impressed me most!
Located at the eastern end of Alvor Beach, in the municipality of Portimão, Praia dos Três Irmãos, also known as Prainha, is home to the greatest rock formation I’ve ever seen in the Algarve.
The beach, framed by huge ochre limestone cliffs, has rocky outcrops that divide it into little sandy bays each with their own rock arches, sea stacks and caves.
This Blue flag beach has restaurants, toilets, seasonal lifeguards and amazing views.
The contrast of the green water with the rocks and ochre cliffs is extraordinary.
For me, one of the most fascinating things to do in Algarve is visiting Praia dos Três Irmãos and exploring its sea arches and caves.
7 – Explore Costa Vicentina: Algarve’s best-kept secret
Lagos, Albufeira, Vilamoura, Carvoeiro, Loulé and Portimão are generally considered to be some of the best places to visit in Algarve.
But the Golden Coast, which extends for an area of 4,997 Km2 (1,929 sq mi), has many other points of interest. Among them is Costa Vicentina, an unspoiled paradise on the western coast of the Algarve.
Stretching from Odeceixe to Burgau, near Lagos, the area is a protected Natural Park with 74,000 hectares of rolling hills, marshland, imposing cliffs, rocky coves and pristine beaches.
It has over 750 species of plants, 200 different species of birds, otters, foxes, wildcats, etc.
Costa Vicentina is very different from the beach resorts between Lagos and Albufeira. You’ll encounter tiny villages practicing ancient agriculture and fishing traditions.
It’s also a surfer’s paradise and a great place for kite and windsurfing.
You can book your small group day tour to Costa Vicentina in advance here.
8 – Walk along the seaside cliffs
Whether you’re a hiker or an occasional stroller, there are many mapped trails to choose from and it’ll be easy to find some that suit you.
Some of the most popular coastal trails in the Algarve are: Trail of headlands (Lagoa), São Lourenço Trail (Quinta do Lago) and Pontal daCarrapateira Trail (Vicentine Coast Natural Park).
The best and most famous is undoubtedly the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, which is considered one of the best hikes in Europe.
On this impressive 6Km trail, you see secluded beaches, magnificent sea caves, a working lighthouse, unique fauna and flora and amazing rock formations. It’s suitable for all ages and takes between 3 – 5 hours.
Pro tip: The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is not difficult, but the heat can make it very hard. Better to do it early in the morning and bring plenty of water and a hat because there isn’t much shade along the way.
9 – Take a Day Trip to Silves and Serra de Monchique
If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Algarve, you should visit Silves and Serra de Mochique.
Silves, one of the oldest cities in Portugal and the ancient capital of the Kingdom of the Algarve, is a delightful fortified town located in the Monchique Mountains among citrus groves and vineyards.
The highlight of a trip to this scenic town is Silves Castle, an imposing red brick Moorish castle, from which the Moors ruled over the entire Algarve. Other attractions are the city walls and the Sé Cathedral, which was built on the site of a grand mosque.
Leaving Silves and driving 30min through the foothills of Serra de Monchique, you will arrive at Monchique, another charming and picturesque town, set in a pine, oak and eucalyptus forest.
After spending some time exploring the laid back town and its cobbled streets, you can head to the highest peak in the Algarve, Mount Fóia, at 902m. It provides spectacular panoramic views of the entire region and is perfect for long walks, bird watching, quad biking and hiking.
Taking a day trip to Silves and Monchique is an opportunity to admire the Algarvian countryside and see a world different to the beach resorts that the Algarve is famous for.
10 – Enjoy Albufeira’s nightlife
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Algarve on a night out, you can’t miss Albufeira!
The city has the hottest Algarvian nightlife with a plethora of bars and clubs that attract young locals and tourists in particular.
The greatest thing about Albufeira’s nightlife is that you can go to two different areas: the Strip, a 2km avenue full of neon lights, cafes, restaurants, themed bars and clubs, or the Old town, where you will find a more chilled vibe with bars with live performances and street entertainers on the pedestrianized alleys.
I personally prefer the Old Town where you can walk around and see live performances on the street with people gathering and singing along. The crowd is also a bit older and the night doesn’t get as crazy and wild as in the strip.
Both parts get busier from 9 – 10PM and goes until 3 – 4AM.
11 – Dance the night away at Lick, one of Portugal’s largest clubs
If you’re looking for nightclubs in the Algarve, I’m sure you will hear about Lick, the biggest and most impressive club of the region.
Located just few kilometers from Vilamoura, Lick is famous for its fabulous parties, great music and huge space.
The club has several different areas, from the main club and stage areas, to lounges, terraces, dome and even a secret garden.
Top DJs and musical acts, along with theme nights, keep the party going through the end of August.
Lick is the place to go with friends and dance until early in the morning.
I was really impressed with Lick’s infrastructure. The club is beautiful, with plenty of open areas surrounded by lots of plants and water points.
Make sure to check Lick’s Facebook page for a list of events before going.
12 – Have a sunset drink at Vilamoura Marina
If you’re looking for more relaxed things to do in Algarve at night, my suggestion is the Vilamoura Marina.
The largest marina in Portugal, with 1300 berths, is very modern, lively and sophisticated. It has a wide range of stores, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Although you may find the marina a bit touristy, it’s a great place for the whole family, where you can walk around, grab a seat, have a drink and relax while the sun goes down.
I’ve been to the Vilamoura Marina a couple of times and if you’re staying in a nearby city, I’d suggest you spend a late afternoon there. Drinks and food prices are a little higher though.
13 – Go to the Beach Bars and Clubs in Portimão
In a relatively small area concentrated around Praia da Rocha all the bars and clubs are within walking distance.
On the main street you can find very nice bars like Cheers Bar, Royal Teaser, On the Rocks Bar and Irelands Eye.
However, my top suggestion is to go to the ones closer to the beach such as Moonlight Bar, Aloha, Outro Bar and Bar Diagonal. Spot 3 is one of the best. It’s set on the beach and the views, ambience, music and drinks are good.
If you feel like partying all night long, Katedral Disco, the oldest club in the city, closes at 6 AM during the high season. But my recommendation is the classy NoSoloÁgua Club, which is the home for the festivals Summer Sound Portimão music and BPM.
14 – Celebrate the farewell to summer at the Festival of White Night
One of most usual things to do in Algarve by locals is the Noite Branca, a massive end of summer street party.
Loulé White Night has become a tradition and it’s amazing to see the central business district of Loulé turning into a giant party.
The streets throughout the old town and beyond are decorated with white and stages are set up for a variety of performances, from bands to DJ’s. Streets performers entertain the crowd, shops and restaurants are open until late and often provide discounts and specials for the festive evening.
In this farewell to summer, everyone is wearing white and having a great time with family and friends.
Loulé White Night only happens every two years, so don’t miss it!
15 – Get your cultural fix in Lagos historic center
Visiting Lagos should be undoubtedly one the top of your list. Not only because of its stunning beaches, but also for its rich history.
Lagos, literally “lakes”, an ancient maritime town more than 2000 years old, has been home to the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Byzantines and Moors that were all attracted by the superb location of its harbor.
The town was walled by the Moors and formed part of the much larger coastal region of al-Gharb, which eventually became known as the Algarve.
At the beginning of the 15th century, Lagos was the port that launched the Age of Discovery. It quickly became the center of Portuguese maritime exploration and eventually the gateway for the first African slaves into post-medieval Europe.
With so much history, Lagos is a must-see in Algarve, and when visiting the old town, you can observe part of the ancient city walls, the Slave Market, museums, churches and more.
16 – Stand at the “end of the world”
Have you ever thought about visiting the most southwestern tip of Europe?
If not, you should because it’s not only one of the best places to visit in Algarve, but also an important historical site.
The dramatic coastline around the Cape of Saint Vincent is superb!
Standing on top of the 60-80m tall cliffs is a fortress, constructed in the 16th century to protect the coast from pirates’ attacks.
Within the fortress there is a picturesque lighthouse, open only on Wednesdays, and a small maritime museum, open from Tuesday to Sunday.
I adored Cabo de São de Vicente. The views are breathtaking and you can also visit Sagres and some stunning beaches in the area, such as Praia do Beliche.
A visit to Cabo de São Vicente combines nature, culture and history and can be done by car or with a group tour.
Pro tip: Bring a long-sleeve t-shirt because of the strong winds and don’t get close to the cliffs edge please.
17 – Savour the delicious Algarvian cuisine
When visiting a new destination, besides the desire to see famous tourist attractions and have memorable experiences, there is also the curiosity to taste local and different dishes.
While in the Golden Coast, you must not miss the opportunity to taste Portuguese cuisine.
Some of the food you should try when visiting the Algarve are: Bacalhau à Brás (fried potatoes, codfish and parsley mixed together with eggs); Cataplana de mariscos (mix of seafood with herbs, tomatoes and white wine); Enchidos (smoked sausages filled with different ingredients); Grilled sardines and Pastéis de Nata (the famous Portuguese custard tarts).
I love Bacalhau espiritual (Spiritual Cod fish) and Pastéis de Nata, and every time I’m in Algarve I eat a lot of it.
If you’re a foodie, you can book this Algarve Classic Food Tour, where you visit 5 local business in Lagos and taste around 12 different dishes, or this 3-Hour Food and Historical Center Tour in Loulé.
18 – Take your kid to the waterparks
Have you ever been to a waterpark?
With plenty of slides, tunnels, inflatable mattresses, giant buoys, wave pools and fountains, spending the day at one of the Golden Coast waterparks is certain one of the most fun things to do in Algarve, for kids and adults alike.
Zoomarine, probably the best and most beautiful, also offers live performances, a dolphin show and interactions.
The first time I went to a waterpark was in July 2019. My family and I went to Slide & Splash and we had a blast.
19 – Play golf at some of Europe’s best golf courses
Algarve is one of the world’s most famous golfing destinations and every year golfers flock to the region to play at some of the best courses in Portugal.
There are over 30 prime golf coursers designed by legendary players scattered along the coast with unforgettable scenery.
Some of the top courses are in the area: Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, Faldo Course, Quinta do Lago, Dom Pedro Old Course, Vale do Lobo, etc.
Whether you are looking for a course with spectacular ocean views or one with lakes surrounded by pine trees, the Algarve has it all.
20 – Escape to Spain
Have you thought about taking a day trip to Spain while in Algarve?
Some of the Spanish cities that you can visit from the Algarve are: Ayamonte (just across Vila Real de Santo António), Huelva (1h30min drive from Albufeira) and Seville (2h30min drive from Albufeira).
The best and most interesting option is undoubtedly Seville!
Andalusia’s capital and birthplace of the flamingo, Seville, the 4th largest city in Spain, has a very rich history, culture and enchanting architecture.
There’s far more to see than you can cover in a single day trip, but the highlights of a visit to Seville include: Seville Cathedral, the Alcázar, Metropol Parasol and Plaza de España.
If you leave the Algarve early in the morning, you can visit these four places in one day. The best option is by car, but you can also book a Seville City Guided Tour from Algarve here.
Pro tip: I don’t recommend visiting Seville in the summer because the heat can be unbearable.
This is my list of the 20 very best things to do in Algarve and if you find some more, please leave a comment below 😉
Safe travels and have fun in Portugal.
Don’t forget to save these pins 😉
Enjoying the Best Things to do in Algarve
Where is Algarve located?
Algarve is southernmost region of Portugal (check map here).
Best time to visit Algarve
It’a definitely during the summer and particularly July and August.
But if you don’t like crowds and heat, you should go in June or September.
How to get there?
There is an international airport in Faro, but the most popular for those those who aren’t in Europe is the one in Lisbon.
From Lisbon you can take a bus or a train to the Algarve. The prices are basically the same and they take around 2h30min to get there.
Some of the companies that fly to Faro are: Easyjet, British Airways, Ryanair and TAP.
You can book your flights with Skyscanner, that is the website that I use and trust.
To get to Praia da Marinha by public transportation you need to take a bus to Lagoa and then another to Marinha Beach. If you go by car, it takes around 40min drive from Albufeira and Lagos.
I really recommend that you hire a car because the public transportation in the Algarve isn’t good.
You can hire a car with Rental Cars here with no extra costs for you.
Where to stay in Algarve?
If you want to stay in a central location, I would suggest staying in Albufeira or Lagos.
Some Algarve hotels that I recommend are:
Have you been to the Algarve? What do you think of my list? Leave a comment below 😉
- Book Your Flight Find deals on airlines on my favorite search engine: Skyscanner. Be sure to read my How to find cheap flights article.
- Rent A CarRental Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal.
- Book AccommodationBooking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. But Hotels.com and Hilton Hotels have very interesting reward programs. If you prefer to rent locals’ apartment, the best option is undoubtedly Airbnb. Here is US$ 30 credit towards your fist booking.
- Protect Your Trip Don’t forget travel insurance! I always use World Nomads for short-term trips and SafetyWing for long-term ones. Find out why Travel Insurance: Much More Than a Precaution, a Necessity.
- Book Tours in Advance Book unforgettable experiences and skip-the-line tickets with GetYourGuide or Viator .
- Book Ground TransportationBookaWay offers a stress-free experience with secure payments and no hidden fees. You pay online and receive your itinerary by email.
- Luggage Solutions Rent your luggage with Cargo or if you need to drop off your own luggage and enjoy your time without dragging it all over a city, find a LuggageHero shop here.
- Get a Travel CardRevolut Card is a pre-paid debit card that enables cash machine withdrawals in 120 countries. I’ve been using my Revolut Card for over a year and never paid foreign-transaction fees again. Get your Revolut Card with free shipping here.
- Packing Guide Check out my How to Pack a Carry-on Luggage For a Five-month Trip to help you start packing for your trip. Don’t forget your camera, chargers and other useful travel accessories.