Things to See & Do

With its beautiful coast, hills and acres of fertile orchards the city provides an immense variety of activities including water sports, dolphin watching, off-road jeep safaris, ‘big game’ fishing in the Atlantic and so on. In the ’60s the Algarve became a very popular destination for tourists, mainly from Britain. It has since become a common destination for Germans, Dutch and Irish people who are looking for cheap all inclusive holidays. 

Praia da Marinha, Algarve

Beautiful beach of Praia da Marinha between Carvoeiro and Armação de Pêra. Photo by Klugschnacker

In addition to the natural beauties and plenty of beaches, the Algarve has invested in the creation of a network of golf courses. Well-known beaches in the Algarve range from Praia da Marinha to Armação de Pêra. Praia de 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. A well known spa town is Caldas de Monchique

The history of Faro is there for all to see if you visit this lively town. Some of the old town is still surrounded by the old Roman walls that date back to the 9th Century.

Vilamoura is the biggest touristic complex in Europe. It has a Marina, a Golf Academy, 6 Golf Courses, a casino, several Clubs, a tennis club, a diving club, other leasure facilities, a big beach and several 4 and 5 stars hotels.

With a cliff-lined coast of 23 golden beaches, and lively nightlife, Albufeira is the tourist capital of the Algarve, attracting holiday-makers in their thousands every year.

Beach of Bryn, Albufeira, Algarve

The Beach of Bryn at Albufeira. Photo by Ed Kitaura

Lagos is one of the most visited cities in the Algarve and Portugal, due to its variety of tourist-friendly beaches, bars, restaurants, and hotels, renowned for its vibrant summer nightlife and parties. The beaches are great for exploration. Beaches outside of town are long desolate stretches of sand with tall cliffs that are excellent for privacy. Many sea caves can be explored during low tide. Praia da Dona Ana is probably the beach most frequented by tourists, and for good reason.

Portimao is a busy town and perfect for the family who just don’t want to run out of anything. One of the most well known beaches in the Algarve – Rocha (“Praia da Rocha“), meaning “Rocky Beach” – is very close to Portimao, and there are numerous others nearby.

Visit Silves to see the red sandstone castle that stands proudly against the skyline. The road there is narrow and winds through some rural areas, but it is definitely worth a half day trip if you like castles. Near Albufeira you’ll find the Castle of Paderne, a hill fort built by the Moors in the second half of the 12th Century.

Castle of Silves, Algarve

The imposing citadel as seen from below in the surrounding district of Silves. Photo by amaianos

The Sagres Point 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.

The Algarve’s Ria Formosa Lagoon known as the Parque Natural de Ria Formosa is one of Portugal’s most beautiful natural harbours. It is a system of barrier islands that communicates with the sea through 6 inlets.

There are many activities to do in the Algarve, such as mountain biking, jeep safaris, SPA, but the Algarve is mainly strong with maritime tourism, offering beautiful boat trips along the Algarve coast, wild dolphin watching tours, trip to the caves of Ponta da Piedade, Kayak Tours, Diving at the spectacular Ocean Revival Park, Sailing, Windsurf, Surf lessons, Kite Surf, wake board or just a fast ride on the ocean. Recently, SeaBookings allows tourists to search, compare and buy online the best maritime activities in the Algarve.

The west coast provides perfect conditions for surfing. There are various schools for beginners, including Sagres Natura which picks you up and takes you to whichever beach has the right conditions for the day. Waterskiing can be done in the calmer waters off Quinta do Lago.

The Algarve is the only place in Europe where you can interact with dolphins, swimming in the pool and learning some basic communication with these fascinating creatures. Zoomarine park, the biggest attraction in the Algarve runs Dolphin Emotions Experience packages which generate memories that last a lifetime. At Zoomarine you can enjoy plenty of great sea themed presentations with dolphins and sealions, with a strong education and conservation message.You can also opt to take a boat trip along the coast from one of the many marinas and catch up with dolphins in their natural environment.
To see sea life in its natural habitat, head to Mar Ilimitado at Sagres, which specialises in marine wildlife-watching. Accompanied by a couple of marine biologists, guests go out in a RIB and are likely to see sea turtles and porpoises as well as storm petrels, shearwaters and gannets.

It’s hard to miss the water parks in the Algarve, as several of them are landmarks. We have found that children absolutely love them and have spent entire days there.

Vilamoura's Marine, Algarve

Vilamoura’s Marine at night. Photo by Ricard12

Local pottery makes an attractive souvenir to take home. The best choice and most beautiful workmanship can be found at Porches Pottery, on the main N125 near Lagoa. Plates in all shapes and sizes are hand painted with flowers, fish, dragonflies and more in blues, turquoises, greens and yellows. Coffee and tea sets, lamps, butter dishes, soap dishes, plant pots and candle sticks can all be shipped home if required.