Things to do in Algarve: Attractions and places to visit

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The popular Algarve holiday region is located in the very south of Portugal. This Portuguese region with its fine sandy beaches, the turquoise blue sea, cozy bays and picturesque white fishing villages promises paradisiacal holidays for sun worshippers. About three thousand hours of sunshine a year ensure a pleasant, mild climate – at any time of the year.

The rocky coast with its imposing rock formations has made this destination famous. Besides a breathtaking nature, there is also a rich cultural heritage to discover. The name Algarve is of Arab origin and means “the West”. In the southernmost region of Portugal there are numerous luxury hotels, picturesque golf courses, various hiking trails and great beaches also for surfers.

Of course, the Algarve also has a lot to offer in terms of culinary delights. One can taste of the traditional and homemade dishes. The dishes Cataplana and Xarém, for example, are well known. The first is a stew with fish and seafood, the second is a corn soup with clams and sausages.

Below we present the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in the Algarve.

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1. Cabo de Sao Vicente near Sagres

Cape Sankt Vinzenz is located near Sagres and used to be called the end of the world. It forms the southwestern tip of Europe and is washed by the rough waves of the Atlantic Ocean. With its lighthouse, the cape is a popular destination for excursions.

The lighthouse is about thirty metres above sea level. From the steep coast one has a fabulous view of the Atlantic Ocean – an excellent place to watch wonderful sunsets.

2. Ponta da Piedade near Lagos

The “peak of piety” rises into the sea near Lagos as a promontory with its wild, rugged cliffs. From this peninsula you can see far over the Atlantic Ocean. High rock formations alternate with hidden bays and sandy beaches. Also at this cape there is a lighthouse. Two hundred steps lead from the lighthouse to the sea and down to the rocks

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One distinguishes scenically between the rock Algarve and sand Algarve. The rock salgarve is a spectacular rugged coast with high cliffs and numerous caves in the west. The Sandalgarve with its flat coast and kilometres of sandy beaches and dunes is located in the east of the region.

3. Mountain world of the Serra de Monchique

The Serra de Monchique is a mountain range in the western Algarve and very popular with hikers. The mountain region and rural surroundings form a contrast to the southern Portuguese beach life. The highest point of these mountains is the 902 meter high mountain Fòia.

Fòia is the highest mountain in the Algarve. Those who climb the summit will be rewarded with a fantastic panoramic view of the Portuguese south coast. Monchique is a small town. Its surroundings attract holidaymakers with forests, mountains, springs and orchards who want to enjoy the rural seclusion, tranquillity and beauty of the countryside.

4. Fishing village Olhão and Ria Formosa Nature Park

The city of Olhão is located on the Sandalgarve between Faro and the Spanish border and is a bustling fishing village. Here you can visit the biggest harbour of the Algarve. You can watch how the fishing boats return to the port with their catches and how fresh fish and seafood are offered at the port on the Mercado de Olhão. The city enjoys the reputation of being the culinary stronghold of the region. In the numerous fish restaurants, lovers of fish and seafood specialities will find what they are looking for.

The annual seafood festival takes place in August, during which people feast and celebrate in the open air for six days. Olhão has an interesting historical centre with baroque churches and a seventeenth century fortress. Near Olhão there is also the beautiful nature park Ria Formosa, which was chosen as one of the seven natural wonders of Portugal.

5. Costa Vicentina near Aljezur

The coast of Vicenza is part of the largest natural park on the Portuguese coast. Here you will find an Algarve far away from tourism. There is still a largely untouched nature with a species-rich flora and fauna. Numerous amphibians and reptiles and about two hundred bird species live in Costa Vicentina.

White storks nest on the sea cliffs and otters also feel at home here. Nature lovers can undertake extensive hikes in the nature park. In addition to untouched nature, you can also experience the cultural sights of the Algarve in the historic town of Aljezur.

6. Albufeira – between romance and turbulent nightlife

Albufeira is a former fishing village. Today, the municipality with around twenty thousand inhabitants is probably the most lively holiday resort in the Algarve. Holidaymakers will find numerous cafés and restaurants and an extensive nightlife to party through the nights. In Albufeira there are two popular beaches and also some historical sights in the old town.

Albufeira is not only a holiday resort for party-goers, but also for couples and families with children. Because there is a great old town as a separate part of town next to the party piste, so that the party people and holidaymakers seeking relaxation don’t get in each other’s way. In addition, great luxury resorts such as the EPIC Sana Hotel have settled near the city.

7. Faro – the charming capital city

Faro, the capital of the Algarve, is also worth a visit. The city has its own port and not far from the city centre the International Airport, where most Algarve travellers land. The most famous sights are the Nossa Senhora do Carmo church, the Sé cathedral and the Museu Marítimo maritime museum.

The historic old town of Faro is comparatively small. It is surrounded by a thirteenth century medieval fortification and the alleyways are covered with white tiles. In a garden there is the bone chapel Faros, the Capela dos Ossos. During the construction of the chapel thousands of skulls and bones were embedded in the walls. Visitors are greeted at the entrance with the Portuguese inscription “We, the bones that lie here, are waiting for yours”.

8. Dream beach Praia de Falésia

The Praia de Falésia in the district of Albufeira is one of the most famous beaches in Portugal. Some even call it the most beautiful beach in Portugal. The six-kilometre-long cliff-coast beach impresses with its fine sand and clear water. It is a popular destination for tourists and locals, especially in summer.

The bay is famous for its red sandstone rocks, which surround it and are lushly covered with pine trees. The sea is here mostly comparatively calm and well suited for bathing. The best way to reach Praia da Falésia is by rental car. Coming from Albufeira, follow the turn-off for Olhos de Água and then follow the signs.

9. The Moorish castle of Silves

Above the town of Silves there is a well preserved Moorish castle on a hill high above. It is the largest and best preserved castle in the Algarve and is surrounded by eleven towers and massive walls. The castle bears witness to Muslim architecture of Islamic culture, as it once existed in Portugal in the eleventh century.

The landmark of Silves is the red sandstone Castelo dos Mouros. The old ruin lies in the vast forests of Serra De Sintra and is part of the Sintra cultural landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the end of the 19th century, after increasing decay, the rampart was extensively renovated.

10. Hike along the Via Algarviana

On the almost 330 km long Via Algarviana you can enjoy the beauty of the Algarve with all your senses. The centuries-old pilgrim path leads from the east of Portugal to the southwest cape of Europe. They wander between lonely country lanes, fantastic cliffs and picture-book landscapes and are always accompanied by pleasant smells like the almond blossom.

Of course, there are numerous spectacular vantage points along the route that leads from the coast through the interior of the country. The Via Algarviana is divided into a total of 14 stages, which include between four and eight hours of walking at normal speed. The longest stage of the day is 30 kilometres. An unforgettable experience!

More things to do and activities for your Algarve holiday

Best time to visit Algarve

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Algarve:

May, June, July, August, September, and October

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Algarve.

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