Places to visit in Algarve – Things to do in Algarve

Boat trip Algarve, Portugal
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Places to visit in Algarve! Looking for somewhere to spend your summer holiday? Portugal’s Algarve region comes near the top of the list for many Europeans. With a mild climate year round and a scorching summer, this beautiful location has a lot to offer to the many visitors who fly there each year.

Over the last few decades, the Algarve has become the premier tourist destination in Portugal. Travelers from around the world flock there not only in summer for the gorgeous golden sands, rolling hills, and breathtaking cliffs.

Square and gate by night in Faro, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
Square and gate by night in Faro, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Bert Kaufmann

It’s not all about the beaches, though, the quiet castle towns offer their own beauty and charm for you to take in, and the golf courses of the Algarve are world renowned.

There is really a wide variety of things to do and see from town-to-town, so let’s take a look at the best places to visit in Algarve and what they have to offer.

Port of Lagos, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
Port of Lagos, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Jerome Bon

Places to visit in Algarve

Lagos

Known for its abundant nightlife and young crowd, Lagos has a reputation as a bit of a party town. But there is more to it than just the vibrant party atmosphere.

The stunning coves and beautiful, sweeping beaches attract surfers in to catch the amazing waves and then hit the clubs and bars when the sun goes down. Picturesque homes and cobblestone streets, along with a rich history, are a must for sightseers, and Lagos is known for being an excellent destination for backpackers as well.

Lagos, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
Lagos, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Glen Bowman

Tavira

Tavira is referred to as the Venice of Portugal, thanks to the Rio Gilao running through its center and the elegance of the homes and buildings within. That’s not all that Tavira has to offer for those seeking beauty and history in architecture!

There are castle ruins, 37 churches, and a multitude of 16th-18th-century buildings to be seen. Finally, the Igreja da Misericordia, a renaissance monument built in the 1540s, is a must-see with its striking arched, carved doorway that is topped with magnificent statues.

A church in Tavira, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
A church in Tavira, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Timo Newton-Syms

Monchique

This gorgeous town is centered in Serra de Monchique, Algarve’s forested mountain range. It’s a nice contrast to the coastal regions that the Algarve is known for.

It is known to be a great region for hiking, horseback riding, and cycling. But it also features lesser known but no less rewarding experiences in hidden spas and a private zoo for endangered species. It really is a great region to visit if you are looking for a more laid back and relaxing experience in the Algarve.

Monchique, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
Monchique, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by muffinn

Silves

Silves’ two biggest attractions are the Castle and the Museu Municipal de Arqueologia. The Castle, restored in 1835, has a fantastic view over the town and nearby countryside.

As you walk around its sandstone walls, you can see the site’s Roman past in the unfinished archaeological digs throughout. The Castle is believed to have been built in the 11th century and shows evidence of its Moorish occupation with its deep well and water cistern.

Silves Castle, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
Silves Castle, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Saskia Bosch van Rosenthal

The Museu Municipal de Arqueologia was founded after a Moorish well, over three times as deep as the one in the Castle, was discovered, along with numerous archaeological sites in the area.

The museum displays pieces from prehistoric, Roman, and Moorish times, and has one glass wall that displays a supporting fort wall of the building.

Silves castle, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal 2
Silves castle, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Rui Ornelas

Faro

Located on the southernmost end of the Algarve, the Faro is a great place to visit if you are looking for entertainment and nightlife, with a little sightseeing and history thrown in. If you are a younger traveler, the Rua do Prior features multiple bars and clubs with students from the area keeping them going every night, especially on weekends.

The Taverna da Se is an in-crowd bar that you will also find to be going strong every night of the week. If you are looking for a more low-key bar, A Capelinha is a beautiful outdoor bar centered around a fountain where you can enjoy excellent sangria while browsing the internet on the computers they have supplied.

Faro streets, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
Streets in Faro, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Husond

As to the entertainment aspect, you can find drama, music, and dance at the Teatro Lethes, a building that was built in 1603 and adapted into a theater in 1874. If football is your thing, Faro has its own team, the SC Farense, and you can catch one of their games at the 30,000 seat Estadio Intermunicipal do Algarve.

Finally, if you want to do some sightseeing, be sure and check out the Se. The Se was finished in 1251 on the site of a former Roman temple and Visigoth cathedral.

It features several of the old chapels and gate, as well as beautiful tile work, a baroque organ, and beautiful carvings. You also can climb on to the rooftop and get a magnificent view of the surrounding town and countryside.

Faro Cathedral (The Se), Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
Faro Cathedral (The Se), Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Glen Bowman

Beaches

Let’s continue with the beaches. There are plenty to choose from, whether you like your beaches bustling or prefer something more secluded. There are beaches with sand as far as the eye can see and others which are just sheltered coves.

The busiest area is the central Algarve region, home to popular resorts such as Albufeira. The eastern area has long stretches of beach while the western Algarve is thought to have some of the most beautiful beaches. Praia da Marinha or Praia Dona Ana Beach springs to mind.

Praia Dona Ana Beach, Lagos, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
Praia Dona Ana Beach, Lagos, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Cris

Where to stay in Algarve?

The Crest villa, Algarve, PortugalAs you can see, no matter what kind of holiday you have planned, the Algarve has something to accommodate you.

The Algarve villas are amongst the best type of holiday accommodation available in the region and there are really a lot for you to choose from.

More Things to do in Algarve

Festivals

Away from the beach, if you time your visit right, you will get the chance to enjoy some of the region’s fabulous festivals. Summer sun seekers will enjoy checking out local arts and crafts at the Alcoutim Fair in July.

Also in July is a festival celebrating the region’s history – the Moorish Knights. The Algarve is known for its seafood; try some at the Seafood Festival in August. And for something a bit different, check out the Medieval Fair – ever fancied dressing up in historical gear?

Algarve Seafood festival, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
Algarve Seafood festival, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Curtis Foreman

The International Sand Sculpture Festival Pera, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
The International Sand Sculpture Festival Pera, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Glen Bowman

Attractions

There are lots of ways to explore the region, and these include some top Algarve attractions. Take a bike trek over demanding terrain with Quad Ventura, Rooster Quad Day Tours or try the Algarve Buggy Tour in Luz.

If you prefer to stretch your legs the Alvor Boardwalk allows you to explore a fishing village and estuary, while enjoying stunning seaside views. Need a family attraction? One of the best is Zoomarine Algarve, which has activities for children of all ages, as well shows with dolphins and other marine animals.

Zoomarine Algarve, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
Zoomarine Algarve, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by William Warby

Tours

If you’re looking for another way to explore the region, try a boat trip with Alvor, proud owner of the first solar powered cruiser in Portugal. It’s a great way to explore the coast.

Alternatively, you could take to the air with Barlavento Balloons and fly over the western Algarve. If you want to be more active, kitesurfing, paddleboarding and more are available.

Boat trip Algarve, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal
Boat trip Algarve, Places to visit in Algarve, Portugal by Jerome Bon

Nightlife

There’s no shortage of things to do in the Algarve at night. Alvor, Lagos and Albufeira have some of the top rated night spots in the Algarve, with the latter taking the lion’s share of the glory.

Bars and karaoke bars abound. However, the best nightspot on the island at the moment, according to TripAdvisor, is the Alvor Sports Cafe, famous for its party nights.

Enjoy your trip to the Algarve!

Julius

I am someone who left his open-spaced cubicle after spending there 8 years of his life. Someone who started to live more outside! :) I am in travel blogging since 2010 and with Traveltipy I am going to conquer the world :)

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2 Responses

  1. Munzir says:

    Hello Julius. First off, your blog is amazing. I am stunned at the details.

    You have left the cubicle for open space. Thats something I have been contemplating for years….but still stuck. Hopefully will get some inspiration from you.

    I would be really grateful if you could help me out with an itenarary.

    I will reach Madrid on September 11 and return from Rome. My initial plan was to visit Spain, Portugal and eventually spend a few days in Rome and return.

    But right now, I am thinking whether this would be an overkill. Will I be able to pull it off.

    I have got 3 kids – 5 years, 2 years and an infant would be 9 months old by then. What would be your suggestion ?

    I am more interested in places which would be of Natural beauty and something which my kids wont crib about. I dont want to visit any churches or Vatican (not that I dont like, but the kids irritate so much, that I am never able to enjoy. The moment I step into such monumental places, the first thing my kids ask is, when do we get out of this place.

    I have 3 main queries :-

    a) Whats the best Itinerary I can think about ?
    b) Whats the best mode of transport ?
    c) Do I have to cancel Portugal or Rome ? I mean, if needed, I can still change my return flight destination.

    Looking forward to your reply

    • Julius says:

      Hi Munzir,

      thank you for your kind words regarding my site. The main reason why I left open space is that I was not able to sit there anymore and I hope not to turn back to open space ever again (check “Open Space” movie, there is one great sentence: “So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.” This is why I left it 🙂 However, I am back to work again (working from 9-5), but not in open space, fortunately! 🙂

      I also have two kids, 6 and 1 year old, so I can understand your worries 🙂 I would suggest avoiding Rome on your trip. As I was already in Rome I can’t imagine being there with so little kids. It is so noisy and crowded… I would rather choose some smaller towns or cities which are quiet and more baby-friendly. You can visit these mega cities 10 years later with them…

      How long is your holiday? Maybe I would pick one place and try to visit all the interesting places around (within just a short distance). So that kids are not frustrated from travelling too much, and that they see more than just one place.

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