From gorgeous cities like Lisbon and Porto to islands like Madeira, Portugal is a totally stunning country to explore! it’s a country that’s filled with stunning spots, and the Algarve is no different. Perched on the south coast of the country, the region is a gem to visit – especially with all the gorgeous coastal towns, beaches and history. Honestly, you’ll be spoilt for choice when looking for all the best places in the Algarve to visit on your next trip!
Over the years, we’ve popped over to Portgual quite a bit! It’s a country that’s so diverse and has the most incredible culture and food that make it a perfect holiday spot.
Not only that, being a more popular holiday region in Europe means that it’s well-equipped for visitors. From local airports, plenty of restaurants and amenities that make it all too easy to visit.
So, to help you get the most out of your time in the Algarve, I wanted to share some of the top places to visit that we totally loved.
Take a look, below, at the best places in the Algarve to visit. Have an epic trip when you visit Portugal.
Lots of times, Faro is seen as the gateway to the Algarve due to its airport; but it’s much more than that. It’s got centuries of history and stunning little spots that might actually surprise you.
Once here, don’t forget to spend some time exploring the Old Town. It’s one of the best places in the Algarve to visit, especially for its history.
With its pretty museums, little shops, the Cathedral of Santa Maria and Roman and Moorish walls, it’s a spot with lots to see and do.
You’ve also got the most ornate city gate, Arco da Vila that’s totally picturesque. Plus, the whole neighbourhood around the gate is just lovely to visit.
Oh, and don’t forget to visit nearby Barreta island. It’s the most southerly point of Portgual’s mainland and has one of the most pristine and unspoilt beaches (Praia da Barreta) that’s totally lovely.
It’s quite remote and underdeveloped (which is lovely if you want fewer crowds) but it does mean you should bring all you need with you.
Around a 30-minute drive from Lagos, Alvor is a coastal area that’s well worth visiting whilst exploring the wider Algarve coastline.
Of course, you’ve gotta make a pitstop at Alvor Beach which is such a sandy haven! Plus, it’s got a load of trails and boardwalks that make it a great place for a stroll.
Afterwards, spend some time visiting the historic castle of Alvor.
It’s a medieval castle with incredible Manueline architecture that’s totally epic to see. Build back in the 7th Century, it’s really easy to visit whilst in the town area.
If that sounds a bit sleepy for you, head over to the airfield just shy of the town. Here, they organise skydiving opportunities (with Air Emotions) right over the Algarve. Just make sure you pack your confidence and forget those nerves!
For me, Tavira is one of the best places in the Algarve to visit and is totally picturesque. Usually forgotten by lots of visitors to the region, Tavira is a perfect little spot for a stroll whilst exploring the Algarve in the car.
Here, you’ll get to explore the castle of Tavira (which is 1,000 years old) or visit the Tavira Museum which houses lots of exhibitions (rather than just historic artefacts). Yes, it’s small and cosy but that’s all part of its charm.
Oh, and don’t forget to head across the Roman Bridge that was founded well over 2000 years ago!
4.) Cape St Vincent
One of the most westerly points in the Algarve, Cape St Vincent is a totally dramatic natural spot to visit when in the west of the region.
Easily reached by car from Lagos (40-minutes), it’s the perfect place to visit for a stroll around the area and see the Lighthouse of Cape St Vincent, too. In fact, it’s great to partner a trip here at sunset when you’ll get some of the best views across the Ocean. It’s beautiful.
If it’s history you’re after, head into the fort of Santo António de Belixe that’s close by. It’s been around for centuries (well over half a millennia) and is steeped in history.
Finally, you’ll get one of the best beaches in the Algarve from Beliche Beach (Praia do Beliche). The sand is so pristine and beautiful, plus the rocky cliffs are incredible too. It’s just all so picturesque.
Just shy of the city of Faro, Olhão is well worth a little gander if you’re looking to explore lesser-visited spots in the Algarve.
Once here, explore the Museum of Olhão, stroll the gardens around the waterfront and take the boat to nearby Culatra Island.
It’s a small little spot with a gorgeous little town to stroll and the most incredible beach (Praia da Ilha da Culatra) that stretches the whole island. Though, don’t expect many amenities around the beach – it’s pretty unspoilt and underdeveloped on the island itself.
Oh, and be sure to gorge in some of the family-run restaurants, too. This area is known for its fishing and seafood, so make sure to grab a bite. Also, you might even catch the Olhão Seafood Festival, too. It’s the largest in all of Portugal and happens every August.
A trip to Olhão won’t take too long (unless you visit Culatra). So, maybe around 2 hours so plan it as part of a wider roadtrip.
Known as being one of the more high-end stops to make in the Algarve, Almancil is a spot that’s great to visit for a bite to eat. You see, Almancil has a number of Michelin-Star spots that you really can’t miss.
Before visiting, book a table at Henrique Leis. They have a yummy tasting menu and their lobster is caught locally at Sagres. Alternatively, grab a spot at Pequeno Mundo. The restaurant is situated within a gorgeous and historic villa and the food is just incredible. It’s a perfect evening meal kind of spot.
Afterwards, pop into São Lourenço Church, one of the most beautiful and baroque-inspired churches in all the Algarve.
Built back in the 17th century, the church’s interior is so stunning to see. This 17th-century whitewashed church is one of the most important artistic sites in the Algarve and you’ll quickly see why when you visit. The tiles of the church are gorgeous!
7.) Vila Real de Santo António
Right on the border with Spain, Vila Real de Santo António is well worth a stop before heading beyond the Algarve and into Spain.
It’ll probably be your last stop in the country before heading to nearby Seville and it’s totally worth an hour or so to look around.
As you wander the town, be sure to spot the Vila Real de Santo António Lighthouse and the little museum on fishing (Arquivo Histórico Municipal António Rosa Mendes), too. Plus, you’ll find lots of cafes and family-run shops lining the streets here.
Oh, and just out of the town is the seafront restaurant of Dom Petisco. It’s the perfect place for lunch and they have some of the best seafood in the region.
If the coastline of the Algarve isn’t your thing, head inland to spots like Loulé. You see, Loulé is a traditional Portuguese market town with many different fresh food stalls and interiors that’s well worth seeing.
Plus, you’ve got the incredible Castle of Loulé that’s been around for almost 2000 years! It’s right in the heart of Loulé and you can’t miss it.
Afterwards, take a drive up to the Quinta da Tôr Vineyard that’s around a 10-minute drive north of Loulé itself. They have some incredible wines that are great to takeaway.
A pretty popular spot, Albuferia has become of the best places in the Algarve to visit if you want a good mix of sun, sea and city.
Within the Old Town of Albufeira itself, you’ve got the most incredible little streets and cobbled walkways that are incredible to explore. Each one has heaps of cafes, little eateries and shops that are so lovely.
Not only that, you’ll get to spot the nearby Clock Tower and the Archeological Museum that’s right next to the coast.
Looking for a beach? Head across to Praia Sao Rafael a much more secluded beach that’s hugged by the most dramatic of cliffs.
This beach is the go-to place in the summer and you can even hop on some of the dolphin cruises or cave tours nearby.
The whole coastline here is incredible and the golden sand and rocky cliffs are so iconic.
Looking for more beaches near Albufeira? Pop over to the nearby Praia dos Arrifes, Praia da Ponta Grande or Praia da Coelha that are all nearby.
10.) Vale de Centianes (Seven Hanging Valleys Trail)
Want to get out and explore the best of Algarve’s coastline on foot? Then head over to join the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail that takes in some stunning scenery.
Around 12-km in length, it’s a pretty long trail that’s well worth giving a day to comfortably complete.
Starting around Praia do Vale de Centeanes and ending at Marinha Beach, it’s the perfect hiking route that goes past the iconic Benagil Caves.
Plus, Marinha Beach is stunning in its own right!
You can see the full hiking route, here. Just be sure to start your hike at daybreak. This way, you’ll avoid the intense heat at midday.
Probably best known for its golfing spots, Vilamoura is also one of the best places in the Algarve to visit for Roman history.
With thousands of years of history at the Roman Ruins of Cerro da Vila, it’s the kind of place that’s perfect to explore the wider influences that once controlled this part of Portugal.
Although in ruins, you can still get a good sense of the buildings and there’s also a museum to take a gander and learn more.
If that’s not your thing, take a stroll down to the marina and stop by some of the bars and restaurants that line the streets here. Oh, and for a beach, head to Vilamoura Beach that is totally stunning. Yes, it’s pretty popular but with good reason!
Not only that, you can easily partner a trip to Vilamoura when you visit Loulé as they’re both close by.
Pretty close to Portimão, Carvoeiro is a great place to stop whilst exploring the coastline of the Algarve. Although relatively small, it’s totally picturesque and well worth a gander, especially for an afternoon outing.
It’s got heaps of little eateries and you can also see the little fortress (Fort of Our Lady of the Incarnation) that’s got some impressive coastal views.
Fancy a stroll? Head out on the Carvoeiro Boardwalk and take in a shorter trip to see some of the viewpoints around the Algar Seco Cliffs.
13.) Bengali Caves
Easily one of the most iconic and best places in the Algarve to visit, the Bangali Caves are stunning to see.
Carved by thousands of years of oceanfront erosion, it’s totally easy to visit by boat trip.
Now, there are a number of ways to join one; either with a boat tour from Portimão or Benagil Beach. Though, to be honest, every tour operator sells some version of this boat trip and it’s pretty easy to arrange from lots of places.
It’s totally incredible to see and well worth the boat ride. Just be sure to visit first thing in the morning if you want to avoid the majority of the crowds. That being said, you get the best light around 1 pm. Though, expect this to be much busier!
One of the larger spots to visit in the Algarve, Portimão is a great stop to make for a day trip.
From here, you’ll get to explore some of the Algarve’s best beaches (like Praia da Rocha or Praia do Vau) and stop off at the Museu de Portimão for a lowdown on all things fishing!
If that’s not your jam, head over to Fortaleza de Santa Catarina which was built to secure the Algarve from hoarding pirates!
Afterwards, take a little gander around the area at Praia da Angrinha. It’s just across the water and you’ll get to explore some of the wider areas of Ferragudo and see the Fort of São João do Arade.
Perched within the west of the Algarve, Lagos was one of the last places we explored on our roadtrip down the west coast from Lisbon.
After parking up, make sure to visit the Fort of Ponta da Bandeira and the Castle of Lagos. For a tasty supper, book a table at Dom Sebastião. They have a seasonal fish menu that’s so delicious.
Oh, and for a beach, head to Praia do Camilo. It’s beautiful, though you will need to walk down a few hundred steps from the cliffs above.
Not only that, the beach at Praia dos Estudantes (With the Lagos Roman Bridge) is well worth a visit. It’s a beach haven!
16.) South-West Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park
Stretching far beyond the Algarve (from Burgau), the natural park is totally tranquil to visit and one of our favourite spots to explore by car.
Yes, you will need a few days to fully drive and explore all the spots but it’s well worth doing if you’re fancying a quieter trip.
Once here, and near the Algarve end of the park, is Cordoama Beach. It’s a dramatic and rugged coastline beach that’s perfect for the surf and stunning sunsets. You won’t be disappointed!