22 Best Things to Do in Algarve, Portugal

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, savouring the delicious local cuisine, enjoying the buzzing nightlife and walking along the sea cliffs, here is a list of the 22 best things to do in Algarve.

Part of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, Algarve, with a small beach with crystal-clear water surrounded by orange limestone cliffs some local vegetation covering the cliffs
Are you ready?

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 the 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, respectively.

Apart from these world-famous beaches, there are also Praia do Camilo, one of my favourite beaches in the Algarve, and Praia do Estudante.

2 – Take a boat trip to Ponta da Piedade

While in Lagos, you shouldn’t 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.

It’s a trip for the whole family and the price is very reasonable, from 20 euros per person.

Four boats sailing in the crystalline waters of Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, that's surrounded by massive ochre limestone cliffs and extraordinary rock fformations

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 favourite things to do in Algarve is beach exploring.

In Albufeira, you can walk from Praia da Galé all the way to Praia dos Arrifes (2h). Or from Praia de São Rafael to Praia da Coelha, two of the most gorgeous beaches in Albufeira.

You can also go beach exploring Lagos, where you can walk from Praia do Batata to Ponta da Piedade, and Portimão, from Praia da Rocha to Praia do Alemão.

You’ll find impressive beaches surrounded by towering cliffs, with fine golden sand and crystal-clear turquoise water, discover beaches that aren’t on the tourist radar, and take amazing pictures of the incredible views.

Pericles Rosa wearing a speedo and sunglasses of the to of a cliff on Praia da Coelha in Albufeira and in the background massive yellow limestone cliffs that surrounds the beach and people walking to beach and in the water
Such a beautiful view, isn’t it?

4 – Discover Praia da Marinha, one of the world’s most beautiful beaches

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.

Praia da Marinha, one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, according to the Michelin Guide, has amazing orange-yellowish limestone cliffs, golden sand and crystal-clear blue water.

There aren’t beach amenities, only a restaurant and toilets at the beach’s entrance.

Praia da Marinha is not only one of the best beaches in Algarve, but I would say the whole world.

Praia da Marinha, Lagoa, is bordered by massive orange-yellowish limestone cliffs has crystal-clear green water and some tall cliffs emerging from the water
Praia da Marinha, Lagoa, is one of my favourite beaches in the Algarve.

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 several times by boat and kayak, and loved it! It’s a natural wonder of the world and one of the best places to visit in the Algarve.

Pericles Rosa wearing a light blue speedo, other people and kayaks inside Benagil Cave, Portugal, which has golden-coloured walls with a round hole in the ceiling and an archway
You can’t miss Benagil!

Pro tip: Bear in mind that you can only get inside the cave if you go by small boat, kayak or SUP.

6 – Visit Praia dos Três Irmãos, the most fascinating beach in the Algarve

Located at the eastern end of Alvor Beach, in the municipality of Portimão, Prainha, also known as Prainha do Caniço, 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 its own rock arches, sea stacks and caves.

This Blue flag beach has restaurants, toilets, seasonal lifeguards and amazing views.

Prainha is one of the Algarve attractions that impressed me most! I loved 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 the 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 practising ancient agriculture and fishing traditions.

Things to do in Algarve
Costa Vicentina is a surfer’s paradise and a great place for kitesurfing and windsurfing.

8 – Walk along the seaside cliffs

Whether you’re a hiker or an occasional stroller, there are many mapped trails in the Algarve 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 da Carrapateira 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 5.7Km 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.

A man walking on the Seven Hanging Valleys trail, Portugal, that's an ocean path with some parts covered with low vegetation and has a lighthouse

9 – Take a Day Trip to Silves and Serra de Monchique

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.

Monchique, another charming and picturesque town, is 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.

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

Albufeira 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’ll find a more chilled vibe with bars with live performances and street entertainers on the pedestrianised alleys.

Some of the most famous bars and clubs in Albufeira are Matt’s Bar, Wild & Co, Le Club, Kiss Disco Club and Club Vida.

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 – 10 PM and go until 3 – 4 AM.

People walking in the evening on a square in the Old Town of Albufeira with some bars and restaurants with outdoor seating and a three-story bar with a rooftop in the middle of two streets in the background
Old Town Albufeira

11 – Dance the night away at Lick, one of Portugal’s largest clubs

Located just a few kilometres 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, a dome and even a secret garden. Top DJs and musical acts, along with theme nights, keep the party going through the end of August.

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.

People dancing at the main stage of Lick Club, Vilamoura
Lick is the place to go with friends and dance until early in the morning.

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. Drinks and food prices are a little higher though.

People having drinks and talking in a bar with outdoor tables and chairs and a large white umbrella located at Vilamoura Marina, with the marina and some boats in the background
Vilamoura Marina

13 – Go to the Beach Bars and Clubs in Portimão

In a relatively small area concentrated around Praia da Rocha in Portimão, you find many bars and clubs within walking distance.

My recommendation is Moonlight Bar, Aloha, Outro Bar, Bar Diagonal and Spot 3, which is set on the beach and provides great views.

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 if you want to spend a day at a beach club, my suggestion is undoubtedly the classy NoSoloÁgua Club, which has amazing infrastructure and vibe and hosts hyped-up festivals such as the Summer Sound Portimão music and BPM.

Pericles Rosa wearing blue sunglasses standing in the swimming pool of No Solo Agua Beach Club in Portimão, with two palm trees, some people, lounge chairs and white umbrellas in the background
No Solo Água, my favourite beach club in the Algarve!

14 – Celebrate the farewell to summer at the Festival of White Night

One of the most expected parties by the locals is Noite Branca, a massive end-of-summer street party.

Loulé White Night has become a tradition and happens every two years.

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 DJs.

Streets performers entertain the crowd, and 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.

15 – Get your cultural fix in Lagos historic centre

Visiting Lagos should be undoubtedly at the top of your list. Not only because of its stunning beaches but also of 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 harbour.

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 centre 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!

Lagos Old Town, Portugal
Lagos, one of the best places to visit in Algarve

16 – Fall in love with Luz

Located 6Km west of Lagos, Luz (Light), is an enchanting former fishing village.

It boasts charming cobblestone streets, picturesque churches, beachfront restaurants and one of the best beaches in the Algarve.

Praia da Luz is a large Blue Flag beach, and you can expect all kinds of facilities, such as wooden boardwalks, toilets, umbrellas and chairs for hire, lifeguards on duty, and wheelchair access.

You can spend the entire day exploring the village of Vila da Nossa Senhora da Luz, sunbathing, swimming, and lounging on the beach.

17 – Stand at the “end of the world”

Have you ever thought about visiting the southwestern tip of Europe?

If not, you should because it’s not only one of the best places to visit in the 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’s a picturesque lighthouse, open only on Wednesdays, and a small maritime museum, open from Tuesday to Sunday.

the dramatic sea cliffs of Cape of Saint Vincent and a lighthouse
You shouldn’t miss Sagres and Cape of Saint Vincent while in the Algarve.

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.

Umbrellas of different colours and people sunbathing on Praia do Beliche, Sagres, that is bordered by colossal limestone cliffs and has crystalline green water
You’ll pass by Praia do Beliche on your way to the Cape of St Vincent.

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.

18 – Savour the delicious Algarvian cuisine

While on 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
  • Pastéis de Nata (the famous Portuguese custard tarts).

I love Bacalhau espiritual (Spiritual Codfish), Cataplana 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 businesses in Lagos and taste around 12 different dishes, or this 3-Hour Food and Historical Center Tour in Loulé.

Cataplana de mariscos, a dish made with seafood with herbs, tomatoes and white wine, served with rice and potatoes in a restaurant in Lagos, Portugal
You must try Algarvian cuisine!

19 – 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 certainly one of the best things to do in Algarve, for kids and adults alike.

The four best waterparks in the region are: Slide & Splash, Aquashow, Zoomarine and Aqualand.

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.

A man sliding down on a long water slide at Slide & Splash, Algarve
Oh yeah, I had so much 🙂

20 – 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 courses 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.

A woman playing golf at Pine Cliffs Resort, Albufeira, Portugal

21 – 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 the 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. 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.

22 – Spend some time in Faro before flying back home

In general overlooked by most of the visitors who head to more popular Algarvian destinations, such as Albufeira and Lagos, Faro is one of the best places to visit in the Algarve.

The city is historically and culturally rich and surrounded by unspoiled island beaches and the impressive Ria Formosa nature reserve.

There are many things to do in Faro, such as wander around the Old Town, marvel at an iconic Bone Chapel, learn about Algarve’s history, and relax on deserted and unspoiled islands away from the crowds.

I revisited Faro in August 2020, 12 years after my first visit, and I loved it.

This is the reason I think that you should spend some time in the Algarve’s capital before your flight takes off. I believe you’ll like it as much as I did.

This is my list of the 22 best things to do in Algarve and below you’ll find a suggested itinerary and some tips to help you plan your trip.

Safe travels and have fun in Portugal.

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Planning a Trip to the Algarve

Where is Algarve located?

Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal (check the map here).

Best time to visit the Algarve

You can visit the Algarve from mid-May to mid-October, but the best time to visit it is definitely during the summer.

But if you don’t like crowds and heat, go early June or late September.

How to get to the Algarve?

There’s an international airport in Faro, but the most popular for 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.

You can book your flights with Skyscanner, that is the website that I use and trust.

How to get around?

The best thing is to hire a car because public transportation in the Algarve isn’t good.

Intercity buses stop running around 9 PM, or even earlier, depending on the company. Trains don’t run very often, and neither do the local buses.

You can take a transfer from Faro airport and once you’re at your destination you can use Uber, but it isn’t cheap.

Believe me, a car is the easiest way to navigate an Algarve itinerary and get around.

You can hire a car with Rental Cars here at no extra cost for you.

Where to stay in Algarve?

If you want to stay in a central location, I’d suggest staying in Albufeira, Portimão or Lagos.

In Albufeira

If you’re on a budget, I recommend that you stay in Old Town Albufeira, either at Peneco Albufeira Guesthouse or Topazio Mar Beach Hotel & Apartments.

If you want more comfort, I recommend Grande Real Santa Eulalia Resort & Hotel Spa and 3HB Golden Beach.

If you want a luxury hotel the best options are definitely Pine Cliffs Gardens and EPIC SANA Algarve Hotel.

In Portimão

The best place to stay in Portimão is near Praia da Rocha, especially if you’re on a budget.

I recommend staying at Villa Prana Guest House for budget travellers. Hotel da Rocha has a great value for money, and Bela Vista Hotel & Spa – Relais & Chateaux is the best luxury hotel.

In Lagos:

If you’re on a budget, I recommend that you stay in the city centre. Olive Hostel Lagos, is the best and coolest hostel in Lagos.

Lagos Uptown Bed & Breakfast and Don Manuel I Charming Residence if you want more privacy and still don’t want to spend much in hotels.

If you’re looking for a luxury hotel, the best options are Cascade Wellness & Lifestyle Resort, Lagos Avenida Hotel and Boavista Golf & Spa – Bela Colina Village.

Travel Planning Resources For every booking made through my site I donate US$ 1 for a charitable organization.Safe travels ☺

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