Algarve is one of the most visited regions in Portugal. It was the origin of many voyages during the Age of Discovery and from where Gil Eanes in 1434 become the first to round Cape Bojador off northwest Africa, then the limit of the known world. Nowadays is the sunniest place of Portugal and one of the best places to enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
Living in Portugal for so many years allowed us to explore all region, from historical towns like Lagos to the almost deserted islands of Faro. Algarve is a region for everyone that loves sun, beach and good food. Although good food is everywhere in Portugal, in Algarve you will be specially delighted with grilled fresh fish and authentic seafood. And you can enjoy all this in a terrace with sea views.
Some of our favorite places in Algarve are:
1. Odeceixe beach - Of all beaches in Portugal (and not just only in Algarve) this is our favorite. It is located in the west coast of the country (in the border with Alentejo region) and it was almost a deserted beach until 10 years ago when it started to be discovered by surfers, campers and families. You will need a car to explore this beach and other amazing beaches around like Amoreira, Bordeira or Carrapateira (all amazing names!). Aljezur is a nice town around where you could find nice restaurants, coffees and shops with typical handicraft shops.
2. Sagres town / Cape São Vicente - Sagres is the most historical place in the region, where D. Henrique, the Navigator, built a fortress, a shipyard and a school to study the sea and the sky to launch the expeditions across the world. The Cape São Vicente is the mainland Europe's most southwesterly point and the lighthouse has a 95 km range (the most powerful in Europe!). The beaches around Sagres are beautiful with its cliffs and views but too windy (at least for me!).
3. Lagos - Lagos is a vibrant city and the old town is covered with pedestrian streets full of restaurants, shops and people. The city seafront has a fort from the 17th century from where you can admire the views of the bay and the town.There are several beaches around Lagos but our favorites are Dona Ana beach, Luz and Burgau.
4. Carvoeiro town & beach - Carvoeiro was a traditional fishing village but it has become very popular among tourists because of its central location and beautiful beaches - perfect for families! The main beach is inside the village so you can walk everywhere. The cliffs that surround the beach offer plenty of walks and you can enjoy great views. There's plenty of good restaurants around with daily fresh fish grilled which is the local specialty. There are also some other lovely beaches around, including Marinha, Benagil, Albandeira and Centianes.
5. Galé beach - Galé is one of this typical beaches with plenty of sand but also with some picturesque rocky coves. You can walk for kilometers and there is also space for your towel. It is also a beach with several facilities around including sunbeds and great restaurants and coffees with sea views. It is one of the premium places in Algarve, specially close to Salgados beach and there is several hotels and resorts around.
6. Albufeira old town - Albufeira is one of the most visited places in Portugal attracting thousands of visitors each year. The old town is lovely, rounded by cliffs and white houses, with several pedestrian streets full of restaurants, bars and shops. It is also full of people and street events, which makes the town a little bit noisy (perfect for you people looking for things to do in the evenings!). The two main beaches in Albufeira are the Pescadores (Fishermans) beach and the Tunel beach. They are lovely but always full. Close to Albufeira there are also other typical lovely beach towns, like Oura and Olhos de Agua. Our favorite beaches around Albufeira are Sao Joao, Santa Eulalia and Maria Luisa.
7. Tavira & around - Tavira town has a mix of Roman, Arab and Christian architecture which results in an original place surrounded by historical buildings from different eras and cultures. Plenty of good restaurants and places to stay but less crowded than Albufeira or Lagos, Tavira mixes this cultural heritage with fantastic beaches, islands and nature. The most beautiful beaches are not easily acceded since you need to catch a boat or a train, but it compensates when you find this huge beaches in the middle of a natural park (Ria Formosa natural park) and the ocean. Another advantage of the beaches around Tavira is that the sea water is less colder since it is closer to the Mediterranean sea. Santa Luzia, Luz and Fuseta are the must-visit beaches around Tavira.