The Algarve in Portugal is a popular destination with loads of wonderful places for visitors to explore. So, if you’re planning a trip here soon, then this post is for you!
The Algarve is an area of natural beauty with so much to see and do. What makes it such a great place is its scenic landscapes, stunning beaches, and some of the world’s best golf courses. If that doesn’t sound like enough, then there are also some excellent restaurants and bars too. This destination is perfect for active travelers, couples, and families alike!
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Algarve, and I absolutely loved it! It’s a fantastic place for travelers looking to get away from everything, relax on the beach, explore ancient monuments or just enjoy some good food. In this post, I will give you my list of the 14 Best Things to Do in the Algarve. Enjoy!
Things To Do In the Algarve
Tavira is one of the most interesting tourist attractions in the Algarve. It’s a great place from every angle: from the peaceful, picturesque landscape to discovering its secrets, which have been hidden for centuries!
This city was founded by the Phoenicians and then ruled by Moors before the Reconquista. Tavira has a wonderful historic center that must be explored on foot, with narrow streets and shops where you can buy various tourist souvenirs.
Tavira’s importance was boosted around the 15th century when it became a center for salt production and trade. You can still see the sign of this activity: huge saline pools.
The highlight of this town is visiting The Church of Santa Maria. Built at the end of the 13th century during Moorish rule, it still impresses with its extraordinary architecture, including an exquisite tower covered with azulejos!
This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Algarve. But what makes it stand out are the locally made ceramics which are used as decorative elements throughout the church.
I also recommend taking time to explore other historical monuments like Castelo de Tavira (Tavira Castle), Igreja da Misericordia (Church of Mercy), or Praca da Republica. All of them mark Tavira’s history and show how significant this town has always been.
And you can feel its atmosphere while wandering through its pretty, narrow streets where you might be approached by street vendors offering their local products.
Read More: 12 Best Beaches in Algarve
Faro is the capital of the Algarve, with a population of about 50,000. It is located in southern Portugal on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
It was important for me to include this beautiful city in my list of top tourist attractions in the Algarve because it’s an amazing place to visit! There are many historic buildings that have been restored over time, revealing their stunning architecture.
For instance, I enjoyed visiting Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assuncao (Convent of Our Lady of the Assumption), one of the most notable buildings in Faro that date back to 1593.
There are also other wonderful examples that allure tourists from around the world: Capela d’Almas (Chapel of Souls), Capela do Santissimo Sacramento (Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament), and so on. It is always interesting to discover various architectural styles in these places, which is why I think they are worth visiting!
Faro also has many beautiful beaches that are perfect for sunbathing or just walking around exploring the coast. Faro beach itself is nice, but it can get really crowded during weekends, so I would recommend going there at a different time.
All in all, Faro was one of my favorite cities in Algarve because it had some amazing sites that were undoubtedly worth seeing!
Silves is one of the most charming towns in the Algarve that I Visited. The first things I noticed here were cobbled streets, hilly terrain, and traditional houses with tiled roofs. It’s like traveling back in time! The winding roads make this town absolutely unique; it seems like there are no straight lines anywhere! Anything but boring.
It’s worth checking out the Moorish castle built by the Moors in the 11th century. The castle offers magnificent views over Silves and its surroundings. But if you really want to know all about how this settlement came to be, I would recommend visiting an archaeological museum where you can see some amazing finds from the city’s history.
Another place to visit is the 13th-century Se Catedral de Silves. This is a church with a wonderful portal decorated with finely sculpted interlace patterns and a finely carved main doorway, another great example of Moorish influence.
If you want to wander around the center of Silves or just relax on a beautiful beach, then this historical gem has something for everyone. There are also various lovely restaurants offering delicious regional dishes as well as many accommodation options from which you can choose!
I found Silves to be one of the most exotic Algarve attractions! You will be able to learn about its past whilst at the same time experiencing some Middle Eastern atmosphere! I would recommend visiting this place without any hesitation!
Read More: 22 Best Things to Do in Portugal
Alcoutim is a small but very beautiful town located in the Algarve. With white houses and colorful window boxes, this place charmed me from the beginning. This picturesque village stands about 60 km from Tavira.
One of the things that made it even more interesting was a Roman bridge that crosses a stream next to the main road going into Alcoutim. It is said that there were other bridges on this spot before, but they were destroyed by invading armies over time.
The highlight of this town was visiting the 14th-century castle known as Castelo de Alcoutim. It is one of the best-preserved fortresses in Portugal. The battlements, merlons, and crenels are just some of its beautiful features that I was able to admire.
But the chief attraction here is the view from the castle: it offers breathtaking scenery of the surrounding countryside and beaches! There is also a small archaeological museum by the main gates where you will find various objects from different periods.
If you are truly passionate about exploring this area, I would recommend hiring a boat to sail throughout the Guadiana River, enjoying all these picturesque landscapes. The best time to visit Alcoutim is during springtime because of its beautiful flowers and green hills.
Overall, this historic city of Alcoutim is a must-see in Algarve! I would recommend it to anyone who wants to spend some time surrounded by beautiful nature!
Sagres is a small town located in the very southwest of Portugal, about 30 km from Lagos. It’s so far away from other tourist destinations that it feels almost secluded. But this makes this place even more attractive because you can enjoy some peace and quiet after exploring busy beaches during the high season.
The most famous thing about Sagres is how it was chosen by Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) as a location to teach sailors many years ago. Even today, there are two massive fortresses that date from the 17th-century and remind us of his time at Sagres. They are situated right next to each other on top of the hill above the town center.
It’s an amazing feeling to walk around these castles, imagining what life was like back then. The view from the top is breathtaking! You can see a large area of the Algarve coast, as well as mountains and cliffs around you.
Another point of interest here is the Lighthouse of Cabo de Sao Vicente. There used to be another lighthouse nearby, but it was destroyed by the sea in 1917. However, this lighthouse has been here since 1474, and it is still used for navigation purposes today.
There is also the small chapel of Nossa Senhora da Graça. It was built around 1763 on a very high cliff right next to the ocean. If you are afraid of heights or have some problems with your balance, I would not recommend visiting this place. But if you are not afraid of anything at all, you will be rewarded with incredible views!
Sagres might be small, but it offers so much. I would really recommend that you visit this place if you are looking for historical sites and the best attractions in Algarve!
Portimao is the second-largest city in Algarve, but it’s also one of the most popular tourist resorts in Portugal.
This beautiful coastal town offers various tourist attractions, perfect for relaxing holidays by the sea. For example, take a walk along the harbor to admire its many boats and traditional Portuguese fish restaurants.
The beach strip in Portimao is one of the longest ones in the Algarve, so you will definitely find an area to suit your needs!
Another place worth visiting is Aqua Portimao Shopping Centre. This large shopping center has all kinds of stores selling different goods. After walking around this mall, I recommend heading towards The Old Town where you can take some amazing pictures of the marina and city walls.
Portimao is full of life, especially during the summer months when many people gather here to enjoy a drink or delicious seafood meal.
So, if you are looking for a holiday with endless activities and sunny beaches, look no further than Portimao! This town is sure to amaze you with its natural beauty and culinary delights!
Lagos is the tourist capital of the Algarve. Located on a bay, it is a modern town full of life and tourist attractions. So if you are looking for lots to do in this region, then look no further!
The most popular attraction here is obviously its beaches where you can relax after a long day or just have fun with your family. There are numerous beautiful beaches that offer great views, so be sure to pick one depending on your preferences!
I would recommend Ponta da Piedade. It not only offers amazing views, but also features some great caverns and amazing rock formations. It is one of the most touristy beaches in Lagos.
If you want something more adventurous, then head over to Praia Do Camilo. Here you can try a variety of water sports and take a boat tour around the marina.
Another tourist attraction in Lagos is the Castle of Lagos, located just on top of a hill and overlooking the town and surrounding countryside. Standing there, you will be able to admire Lagos from above and see all its tourist attractions below!
One thing not to miss is the nightlife in Lagos. It offers an amazing mixture of lively bars and restaurants with great food, but also more touristy clubs. It is perfect for night owls, but keep in mind that the city’s streets can get pretty busy, especially on weekends!
This town has lots to offer that will suit everyone’s preferences! I would highly recommend checking out Lagos if you want to explore most of the tourist attractions in the Algarve.
Read More: 11 Best Things to Do in Lagos
8. Vila Real de Santo Antonio
Vila Real de Santo Antonio has a unique design that is closely related to the Age of Enlightenment. The city was strategically located on a bay where ships from India and Brazil would dock.
The reason for this town’s location was because of its port facilities that were necessary for Portugal at the time. I found it fascinating how the Portuguese aristocracy would travel from here all the way to Brazil!
Vila Real de Santo Antonio also had amazing markets filled with spices, teas, fabrics, and other goods from distant places around the globe. And because of this connection to trade routes, I found Lisbon’s influence on the architecture of this city to be quite strong.
The streets are quite narrow, but they do have a particular charm that makes people come back again and again. In fact, I personally enjoyed walking through these beautiful streets to admire each building!
Today, Vila Real de Santo Antonio is a popular tourist destination for those who enjoy discovering new places with unique histories behind them.
And since it’s also located close to the sea, you can visit beaches like Farol de Santa Maria after exploring here. No matter your age or what you’re into, there’s something for everyone in Vila Real de Santo Antonio!
Alvor is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Algarve with its charming beaches, seafood restaurants, and colorful houses.
This place is located in the east part of the Algarve, only 10 km away from Portimao. It has several tourist attractions that make it one of the favorite tourist spots in Portugal!
One of my personal favorites was visiting Alvor beach. This beautiful white sand beach offers breathtaking views along with crystal clear waters perfect for swimming and surfing (in summer).
Just across the beach, you will find Praia dos Tres Irmaos. It is an area that attracts surfers and people who love swimming in calm waters amid natural surroundings. What makes this place ideal for families with kids is its shallow water which gradually deepens. The combination of various shades of blue gives it a postcard-like quality!
Families with younger children can also admire Misericordia Church. I would recommend taking a walk through its beautiful gardens full of flowers with various scents. You can also visit its interior, which is adorned with many paintings and sculptures.
Overall, visiting Alvor is one of the best things to do in Algarve since it offers different attractions perfect for spending quality time with your loved ones surrounded by nature.
Read More: 17 Best Things to Do in Porto
10. Serra de Monchique
The mountain of Monchique is located in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. It is one of the best tourist attractions in the Algarve that you must visit while you are there.
This natural park is a must-go if you are traveling to the Algarve. It’s located in the middle of the mountains and is perfect for those who want to explore nature, as it has many great trails and landscapes. It is a popular destination for hikers during all seasons, especially spring and summer, when temperatures are more tolerable for this kind of activity.
As earlier said, you can choose from several tracks to explore the Serra de Monchique. And in my opinion, visiting Foia, the highest point in the Algarve at 900 meters, was a great experience. This is because it offers beautiful natural landscapes and many activities such as biking or hiking trails around the park.
This place also attracts many nature lovers, so if you want to go for a walk in the afternoon and enjoy the sights alone, then it’s best that you just go before sunset. There is nothing more amazing than admiring this vast landscape while listening to chirping birds and looking at wildflowers!
This place offers various touristic packages which you should consider if you want to enjoy your trip to the fullest. One of them is a visit to Caldas de Monchique Spa & Wellness, which will definitely help you relax and recharge your batteries after all this outdoor activity!
All in all, Monchique is one of the tourist attractions in Algarve that must be visited by anyone who loves nature walks or hiking.
Olhao is one of the most tourist towns in the Algarve. It offers beautiful beaches, tourist attractions, and delicious fish and seafood! The first thing you should do here is to find a nice beach to relax and enjoy its clear water and soft sand. I would recommend spending some time at Avenida da Rublica because it has all these features!
But if you want something less crowded, take a short boat ride away to Ilha Deserta! This island surrounded by transparent waters will make your day perfect as you enjoy this picturesque view.
If that was not enough, after exploring Olhao’s coast, try visiting two tourist attractions: Museu da Ria Formosa (Ria Formosa Natural Park) and The Craft Market of Olhao. Both are located near the harbor, so it’s easy to reach them on foot.
The first place shows you how important tourism is for Olhao! It includes nature trails where you can discover a wealth of wildlife. But if you prefer shopping over tourist attractions, I would also recommend visiting The Craft Market of Olhao, where you will find various handmade souvenirs that would make a perfect present for anyone! So don’t miss this place either!
Overall, I would definitely recommend visiting Olhao because the combination of its natural attractions and tourist spots will make you feel like in heaven! So next time you’re in Algarve, come to Olhao and spend some time there surrounded by nature and fun activities! You won’t regret it!
The tourist area of Vilamoura is located 30 min north of Faro, the capital city of the Algarve. It’s a very popular place to stay among tourists because it is one of the most modern tourist resorts in the Algarve. It has broad beaches with large waves and golden sand.
This tourist resort attracts many visitors in the spring, summer, and autumn months due to its impressive tourist facilities that include various hotels, bars, restaurants, and shops. I was lucky enough to be visiting this beautiful town during late fall when everything was still green.
This resort also provides guests with many entertainment options, including an 18-hole golf course along with excellent nightlife venues open until very late hours. I would recommend anyone to spend a few days at this tourist resort because it offers a great entertainment package, as well as other tourist attractions and places worth visiting!
Overall, Vilamoura is one of the tourist attractions in the Algarve that stand out in Portugal. This is due to its modern range of tourist facilities and excellent locations for practicing a variety of sports, especially water-related activities.
Albufeira is one of the top attractions in Algarve, which should be visited at least once. My first impression was that it’s a very lively place with lots of nice restaurants, bars, and clubs! And I still think so because Albufeira has everything you need to have fun.
Albufeira is considered to be Portugal’s party capital, and most people come here only to enjoy the nightlife. The bars and clubs are always full at weekends so if you want to avoid overcrowded streets, visit this city during weekdays instead.
I would recommend staying overnight right next to its beautiful beach, Praia da Oura. It’s not that expensive, and there are lots of open-air activities available. You can have fun trying out archery or horse riding on the beach! In addition, if you are a fan of swimming and sunbathing, there is everything here for you.
I personally like its food market! Shop owners prepare specialties from all over Portugal, and it’s full of life every morning when locals come here to buy fresh produce for their daily meals.
14. The Algarve’s Waterparks
Finally, Algarve has certainly gained a reputation as the waterpark capital of Portugal. This is due to its many options and quality services, which are sure to provide an unforgettable vacation for your family or friends!
The most popular tourist waterpark in Algarve is Aqualand. It has everything you might need during your stay with kids: restaurants, waterparks with various levels of difficulty, and playgrounds. There are also smaller pools for children that will entertain them all day long.
Adults can go to another part of the park where they’ll enjoy plenty of slides full of adrenaline. And after being exhausted by sliding down waterfalls and climbing on rocks, you have several restaurants where they can chill out and drink cold drinks.
This waterpark is not just ideal for adults but also for kids. They can have fun at the special pools or join their older friends in more adventurous parts of the park! And if your kid would like to make new friends, there are plenty of activities organized there too.
If you want to relax during your holiday without leaving an amusement park behind, then head over to Zoomarine Algarve. Here you can visitors enjoy various shows with dolphins, sea lions, and even penguins!
The latter participate in the daily parade, which is available up close since they walk along a special glass path! Other than that, there are plenty of rides for adults and children. You can also spend time in one of the many restaurants where you can eat typical tourist food while watching the animals.
I was really impressed with this tourist attraction in Algarve because it combines family fun with what nature has created. Another nice thing is that it’s not crowded at all! I recommend both waterparks equally since they are perfect for any kind of vacation!
I hope you found this list of 14 top things to do & places to visit in the Algarve region helpful. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or want to take advantage of any holidays coming up, these destinations will make your trip memorable! If you have any questions about what I’ve listed here, don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to help answer your questions and plan out a vacation that fits all of your needs.