Top attractions in the Algarve

Can’t decide how to spend your time in Algarve? Start with this list of the most popular attractions to get started planning your trip.

The Algarve is Portugal’s most popular holiday destination due to the clean beaches (approximately 200 km of them), the cool, unpolluted water, and the facts that it is relatively cheap and very safe. English is spoken at most resorts.

Waterfront in Lagos, Algarve

Waterfront in Lagos. Photo by Lacobrigo

The Algarve is rich in culture and diversity. If you are looking for fast paced resorts or a calm tranquil setting either is attainable. The entire region is approx.5400sq km and is graced with over 100 different beaches, each unique in its own way. If you are into nature the choices are many from the Ria Formosa to Monchique mountain, in fact there are over 30 hiking trails (as per offical Turismo de Portugal guide books). If you are a golf lover then you have come to the right place with over 30 golf courses doted throughout the region. Although the permanent residence population is under 500,000 the area receives more than ten fold that in tourism each year. The busiest times of year tend to be July/August. Come and explore the region further, discover a new place to visit, a different beach to swim in, annual events you may want to attend.

Praia da Marinha is one of the most beautiful and emblematic beaches of Portugal. In 1998 it was awarded the distinguished “Golden Beach” award by the Portuguese Ministry of the Environment because of its outstanding natural qualities. Furthermore, pictures of the beach have often been used in promotional material and “Guides to Portugal” distributed around the world.

Praia da Marinha, Algarve

General view of the world famous Marinha Beach with the blue sea and rock outcroppings (situated in Caramujeira, near Lagoa). Photo by Ricard12

Praia do Burgau, located in the town of Burgau, is a small but frequent beach during the summer. Because of the hills surrounding the beach, it is protected from the frequent north wind in this area of Algarve making it very pleasant for most of the people.

Praia da Rocha (Rock Beach) is the beach and built up area on the Atlantic Ocean which is the southern section of the municipality of Portimão.

Praia da Rocha beach

Praia da Rocha. Photo by Steven Fruitsmaak

The majestic rock formations, cliffs and the scenic beach with sandy coves and crystal clear waters are just some of the attractions that have lured local, foreign tourists and photographers to visit Praia da Dona Ana. This picturesque little beach is located at the most south tip of the city of Lagos, only a half an hour walk from the town centre.

Caldas de Monchique is a spa town in the Monchique Mountains in the Algarve region of Portugal. It has been famous for its waters, which supposedly have healing properties, since Roman times.

Paderne Castle, a hill fort built by the Moors in the second half of the 12th Century. It is approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the Algarve resort of Albufeira. It is situated on a bend on the River Quarteira close to the village and civil parish of Paderne. It is 7.5 Km (4.7 miles) North from the coast.

For a taste of the Algarve of old a trip to the Castle of Silves (Castelo de Silves) is a must. Built between the 8th and 13th century, the castle is one of the best preserved Moorish fortifications in Portugal. The imposing red sandstone walls dominate the Silves skyline and show the former glory of this city which used to be capital of the Moorish kingdom in southern Iberia.

The Sagres Point (Ponta de Sagres, from the Latin Promontorium Sacrum or Holy Promontory), is a windswept shelf-like promontory located in southwest Algarve region. Only 4 km to the west and 3 km to the north lies Cape St. Vincent (Portuguese: Cabo de São Vicente) which is usually taken as the southwesternmost tip of Europe.

Cape of São Vicente, Portugal

View of the Cape of São Vicente over the coast. Photo by Nize

The Ria Formosa lagoon is a system of barrier islands that communicates with the sea through 6 inlets. Five of these inlets are natural and have mobility characteristics. The 6th is an artificial inlet that was opened with the purpose of allowing easier access to the port of Faro.