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Portugal - the Algarve region

Portugal's southern playground


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There are two Algarves, the Algarve of the high-density tourist resorts, the Portuguese Costa del Sol with large hotels, apartment rentals, theme parks, and bars and restaurants for all tastes and no taste; and the rest.
    The former, the package tour Algarve, stretches along the south coast from the Spanish border in the east, to Praia de Luz in the west, with tourism most heavily concentrated in the area between Faro, Albufeira and Portimao. The "rest" includes the southwest tip of Portugal, the West coast of the Algarve, and the hinterland.
    In a Which? (UK consumer magazine) survey of major European seaside resorts in 2023, the three main resorts of the Algarve all finished in the bottom ten (out of 44) for general ranking and for attractiveness. By contrast, up-market Tavira, away from the main resorts, was in the top ten.  
    In its favour, as coastal areas go, the south-facing Algarve coast has a lot of long sandy beaches, like Mediterranean beaches with tides. Low lying in the east, the coast becomes rockier towards the west, but with plenty of beaches. West of Lagos, the coastline is wilder and less built up, towns are on a smaller scale, and there is hardly a high-rise building to be seen.

Away friom the popular beaches and resorts on the south coast, the west coast of the Algarve, stretching north from Cape St. Vincent, offers some wild and rugged coastline with sandy coves, black cliffs and wonderful views. The rugged west coast is the southern part of Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park, which includes much of Portugal's west-facing Atlantic coast and is much less developed, but with equally stunning views and black cliffs. 

Inland from the south coast, the Algarve region is rural, with a mix of farmland hills and forest.  For hikers, the Via Algarviana, the Portuguese GR 13 hiking trail, crosses the region from east to west (or the reverse, as you wish) from Alcoutim on the river Guadiana, on the Spanish border to Cape St. Vincent in the southwest. 

The Algarve can be easily reached by air, and the regional airport at Faro is well connected with the rest of Europe (See How to get to Portugal). The region is easily reached by train from Lisbon, and a rail line runs all along the coast from Vila Real de Santo Antonio at the mouth of the Guadiana river, as far as Lagos in the west, and connects all the main resorts.

Via Algarvensis hiking trail
The other side of the Algarve - Hiking on the Via Algarviana

Map from OpenStreetMap

Photo top of page.-  Carvoeiro

Algarve hotels

Find and book hotels in the Algarve region. Or check out all the options with Booking.com
The About-Portugal.com selection
Hotels for all budgets and all needs

Selection criteria: location, value, user reviews, facilities

★★★ Vale d'oliveiras resort hotel and spa
Carvoeiro - Five-star  sustainable tourism resort  - free parking, two pools.

★★ Porto Bay Falesia 
Albufeira- Four-star  sustainable tourism hotel in spectacular clifftop location east of Albufeira.

Vila Algarvia
Smart 3-star hotel in old Albufeira. Traditional Portugal. 150m from the beach..
★★ Quinta Jacintina my secret garden
Ten miles from Faro airport, a mile from sea. Villa hotel in landscaped gardens. Pool, bike hire.

Casa Sol hostel
Backpacker hostel in Portugal's far west. Isolated areas in San Vincente natural park, close to beach and cliffs.

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.Sagres - Cape St. Vincent
.Cape St. Vincent - Sagres.
Europe's Land's End.


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Photo top of page by Franky1st
Cape St. Vincent by Olleaugust

Photo of Via Algarviana by AEMTG
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