Are you planning a trip to the stunning region of the Algarve in Portugal? This southernmost region of Portugal boasts breathtaking beaches, quaint villages, and delicious seafood. We’ve curated a list of the top 10 places to visit in the Algarve to help you plan your itinerary. Whether you’re looking for scenic drives, thrilling water sports, or simply a relaxing day at the beach, Algarve has something for everyone. Let’s dive into the top attractions that should be on your must-see list when exploring this beautiful region.
The best way to explore Faro, the capital of the Algarve, is to stroll through its small Old Town, which is among the most well-liked attractions in the city. A collection of several tourist sites, the area is encircled by ancient walls constructed atop Roman foundations, which is an engaging introduction to the city’s illustrious but occasionally violent past. A nineteenth-century gateway with a Moorish-inspired portico, the Arco da Vila, offers a magnificent entrance. All highways converge to Largo da Sé, where Faro’s tall, famous cathedral stands. Cobblestoned pedestrian streets of Cidade Velha are delightful to explore on foot and are fragrant by columns of orange trees. Paço Episcopal, the priests’ palace, is located across the same area. A stroll will take you to the fascinating Museu Municipal, whose convent setting only enhances its appeal. And scattered throughout this historic district are several cafés and restaurants where tourists may unwind and take in the scenery.
Sagres’ fortress, which is enormous and intimidating, gives stunning views across the high cliffs and down the coastline to Cabo de So Vicente. According to legend, this is the place where Prince Henry the Navigator founded his navigational institute. You’ll need at minimum one hour to view everything because the site is huge. A large, intriguing stone design with a 43-meter circumference may be found inside the gate. The oldest structures in the area include a house, a cistern tower, and the tiny, white Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça, a straightforward barrel-vaulted chapel with a golden 17th-century altarpiece. The tourist center has a gift store, an exhibition area, and a cafe. The site’s perimeter is pleasant to stroll, and informational signs detail the region’s diverse ecology.
A charming border town called Alcoutim is situated on the Guadiana River, 44 kilometers north of Vila Real de Santo Antonio in the Algarve. Currently a quiet community with 3,000 or so residents, Alcoutim hosts the ancient Moorish fortress Castelo de Alcoutim, which boasts breathtaking views of the river below. One kilometer north of the settlement, this castle was abandoned between the 11th and 12th centuries. King Sancho II captured Alcoutim Castle in 1240 during the Reconquest. King Dinis rebuilt the fort around 1304. The Alcoutim Castle is bordered by flowers and has a beautiful vista. The Archaeology Museum Center, which houses the remains of the medieval castle walls together with other artifacts, is located inside the castle. There is also a display of Islamic board games there.
Benagil Cave, commonly known as the Algar de Benagil, is unquestionably one of Portugal‘s most beautiful and well-known natural attractions. It is a magnificent cave with a hole in the roof described as “the eye,” which shines sunlight through the ceiling onto the golden dunes and turquoise seas, giving a sight of the sky above. Make sure to add this stunning cave to your bucket list if you visit the Algarve. The interior of the cave can only be accessed by water. Numerous businesses along the shore provide boat rides, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals so you can explore independently. You may also see the hole in the cave’s ceiling by looking down from the hills above.
Charming Tavira is recognized among the most beautiful villages in the Algarve, nestled 30 kilometers east of Faro and within sight of the seashore. Castelo is the most well-known attraction in this area. The remnants of this Moorish castle are located atop a cobblestone slope in the old Arab neighborhood. The fortress, which dates back to the 13th century but was largely restored in the 17th century, now only has its exterior walls standing. One of the two remaining towers of the castle may be reached by climbing its walls, which provide breathtaking views over Tavira’s pyramid-shaped roofs and the faraway shore. Presently, the courtyard is a tidy garden that bursts into life in the spring.
A little barrier island called Ilha da Culatra is located on the Ria Formosa’s coast, around 10 kilometers from Faro and 6 km from Olhao. The secluded paradise island of Culatra is very well recognized and has low-lying coastal villages and nearly tropical Portuguese white sand beaches that extend in both directions. It’s a great spot to explore because there hasn’t been much construction or mass tourism here. The island is quite famous for its fantastic beaches, pure sea, and the sensation of being a solitary island. You will first encounter the little settlement in Culatra as you get off the shore. It consists of a few little cafés, cottages, and narrow walkways. The absence of traffic makes the island an extremely tranquil location where time seems to have stopped.
The Old Town is the most famous attraction in The Algarve’s historical capital, Silves. There is a wealth of heritage and history inside these streets and several tiny art galleries, artisan stores, and cafés to discover. The pace of life is significantly slower here, so you may stroll around and stop for a coffee or cold beverage at a sidewalk café. The castle and cathedral are perched at the summit of the ancient district, which is still guarded by a strong gate that directs you up the inclining Rua da Sé. Pause in front of the town hall on a posh arcaded area, where you’ll also see the pillory, a memorial to the town’s independence and the site of former public executions of offenders.
On the route to Vilamoura, a six-kilometer beach, Praia da Falesia, perfectly captures Algarve’s essence. Unbroken cliffs surround a lengthy stretch of immaculate golden sand and are covered with red and yellow limestone layers that vary depending on the sun’s direction. Praia da Falésia is a secluded, undeveloped area with just solitary apartment complexes and cliffside homes. When the tide goes out, there are vast shallow waters to play in, and kids may spend leisurely hours building sandcastles and searching for shells. The cliffs are covered in pink spiky flowers, white sand lilies, and rich green pine trees. You can enjoy a wonderful visual treat when the hues of the brilliant blue sky and the clear, glistening waters combine.
The “Point of Pity,” is a picturesque peninsula that extends out into the sea on the west side of Lagos Bay and is one of Portugal‘s most famous natural sights. Due to the striking brightness of their burnt ochre color, the impressive sandstone cliffs appear to be polished with gold as massive rock formations rise from the clear waters below. Unseen and hidden beneath the cliff faces are several caves that are a beautiful feature, well worth seeing in person to appreciate fully. You may reach the water’s edge by ascending steep stairs of 180 steps, and various twisting roads can take you to explore more of the coastline’s grandeur.
Vila Real de Santo António, a town constructed all at once following the terrible earthquake of 1755, is a marvel of 18th-century urban design. Take a stroll along Avenida da Repblica to begin. It is one of Vila Real de Santo António’s most scenic areas and is home to magnificent buildings like the Grande Hotel Guadiana. The port of Vila Real de Santo António is likewise situated along the river, and the bookings for river cruises, beach cruises, and ferries to Spain are all available here. For the less daring, a stroll along the typical Portuguese pavement offers stunning views of the river and the other side of the border. There are numerous eateries, cafés, and businesses along the shoreline. If you happen to be traveling during the summer, one of the Algarve’s top antique fairs takes place on the second and third Saturdays of each month, making the neighborhood even livelier.