Where to stay in Algarve, Portugal, by travel type

Out of all popular places to visit in Portugal, the southern Algarve region maintains its reputation as one of the most beloved holiday destinations in Europe. The fact that it’s home to some of the best beaches in Portugal definitely adds to the Algarve’s attraction but that’s not its only charm. From historic cities, spectacular hikes, intriguing castles, thrilling surfs, top-rated golf courses, creepy chapels, towering cliffs and mouth-watering dishes, you’ll find them in the Algarve. With so many interesting must-sees and must-do’s in this vast region, it can be confusing to pick out the best place to stay in Algarve. After all, finding that perfect travel base depends on your personal interest and travel type. That’s where this blog post comes in: In order for you to actually keep your cool, we’ll save you the trouble of figuring out where to stay in Algarve.

Map of the Algarve, Portugal

For your convenience, we’ve created a map indicating all the best places to stay in Algarve that are mentioned in this article. Most of the featured hotels and resorts fall under the 4* and 5* category. All our personal suggestions about accommodation in the Algarve are linked to the Booking.com website.

The Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, covers an area of about 5 000 km2 (or 1,930 mi2) and boasts no less than 200 km (or 125 mi) of Atlantic coastline.

  • The south coast of the Algarve ranks as the country’s most popular holiday destination and is home to almost all tourist resorts.
  • The west coast is part of the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park and shows off the Algarve’s wild side.
  • Serra de Monchique is the name of the mountain range that forms the heart of this gorgeous region.
  • Historic gem Faro is the capital of the Algarve since 1755, when then-capital Lagos was destroyed by a massive earthquake. Faro is also the gateway to the Algarve since Faro Airport is the only international airport in southern Portugal.

Where to stay in Algarve by travel type

– Best place to stay in Algarve for couples

Are you looking to spend some quality time with your loved one? Then you’ll be delighted to learn that the Algarve is more than just a family travel destination. These are plenty of more secluded locations in the Algarve that are perfect for couples.

The Tavira area is the one of the best places to stay in Algarve for couples
Tavira and the Deserted Islands are one of the best places to stay in Algarve Portugal

Especially the coastal towns of Olhão or Tavira, located in the eastern Algarve, are perfect for a tête-à-tête. Go for long beach walks in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, a romantic picnic on one of the Deserted Islands (Ilhas Desertas), a stroll through Olhão’s old medina barrio or a scenic bike tour to the Moinhos da Rocha (Pego do Inferno) waterfall. No fancy resorts here but small and intimate retreats. Here’s our selection of the most wonderful places to stay in Algarve’s eastern corner:

With the many romantic hotels in the area, Carvoeiro and Gerragudo are some of the best places to stay in Algarve Portugal

But you’re also spoiled with choice if you prefer a classy resort in the livelier part of the Algarve. Spend the day exploring the fishing villages of Carvoeiro and Ferragudo, discovering the spectacular Benagil Cave, enjoying a scenic cliff hike to the Senhora da Rocha chapel and watching the world go by from a shaded terrace in Portimão. These romantic Algarve hotels and resorts are perfectly located for you to alternate cocooning with sightseeing in the nearby cities:

– Best place to stay in Algarve for families

Algarve is one of Europe’s most beloved family travel destinations. And with good reason, thanks to its sunny and mild climate, gorgeous beaches, convivial cities, welcoming locals and… its excellent family-friendly resorts. We stayed in the Algarve with our kids on several occasions and found Vilamoura and Lagos to offer the most child-friendly setting. You’ll find miniature golf, water parks, tourist trains, quaint ice-cream shops and a wide selection of water activities. These are our favorite child-friendly Algarve resorts:

If you're wondering where to stay in Algarve Portugal with kids then consider the Pestana Blue Alvor where our girls had a blast

But the Algarve’s other, quieter regions too have plenty to offer. If you prefer to spend your family holidays away from the crowds, in a fabulous hotel that goes above an beyond for even the littlest of guests. Your family will feel right at home in these family-friendly Algarve resorts:

One place not to consider for your family vacation is Albufeira. We even regret heading there for what was supposed to be a lovely afternoon… which we ended up spending in Carvoeiro instead. Continue reading to find out why. There is, however, one family-friendly resort that does give some luster to Albufeira and that’s the Epic Sana Algarve. Combine a stay in this hotel with some excursions in nearby fishing villages – close to Albufeira yet worlds apart in terms of atmosphere – and you’ll have an epic family holiday.

– Best place to stay in Algarve for active travelers

If you're wondering where to stay in Algarve Portugal as an active traveler then consider the Aljezur area
If you're wondering where to stay in Algarve Portugal for active travelers then the Bordeira region is a good choice

Remember the Algarve’s wild side? The Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park offers a sublime setting for active travelers. No beach resorts here, rather boutique retreats that blend in perfectly with the spectacular environment. This area is known for its excellent surfing conditions, scenic hiking trails, deserted beaches, downhill mountain biking, colorful wildflowers and unique wildlife. The Natural Park stretches out from Sagres in the south and even crosses the Algarve – Alentejo border in the north. It’s home to several gorgeous white-washed villages such as Aljezur and Odeceixe. These are our top-picks:

– Best place to stay in Algarve for jet-setters

If you're wondering where to go in Algarve for some exclusivity then Vilamoura with its fancy marina is an excellent choice

The Golden Triangle sounds like music to your ears? Then the area where you’ll want to head evolves around the towns of Almancil and Vilamoura, including the renowned gates communities of Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago. The Golden Triangle features palm-fringed lanes, sparkling yachts anchored in the Vilamoura marina and the towering cliffs of Falesia beach. It’s dotted with luxury hotels, high-end villas and four Michelin starred restaurants (Gusto, Henrique Leis, São Gabriel and Willie’s). Of the many luxury hotels and resorts in the Golden Triangle, here are our recommendations:

– Best place to stay in Algarve for eco-lovers

Tavira is the best place to stay in Algarve Portugal for eco-lovers

If a pure and natural retreat in a pristine environment is what you’re looking for, then an escape towards the outer corners of the Algarve is your winning strategy.
The area around Tavira offers plenty of natural delights, from uninhabited islands to lagoons and marches in the Ria Formosa natural reserve. It’s an area that’s free of high-rise, instead dotted with warm and inviting small-scale retreats that are in line with the environment. Here are an eco-lover’s best places to stay in the Algarve region around Tavira and Olhão:

  • Agroturismo Quinta dos Perfumes amidst an orange grove, featuring a salt water swimming pool and biological garden.
  • Ecological Casas da Ria houseboat in the heart of the Ria Formosa Nature Park.
  • Well-equipped Barco Casa Fuzeta houseboat, also located within the reserve.

If you prefer a destination near a livelier city, then the Casa Vale Da Lama Eco Resort in Odiaxere might check your sustainable boxes. It’s located inland yet close enough to Lagos to enjoy the best of both worlds.

– Best place to stay in Algarve for party people

Albufeira is the place to be to dance the night away, especially at The Strip in the Montechoro district. But, that’s about it. It was the only Algarve town that disappointed us when exploring southern Portugal. We were aware of its reputation as the party capital of the Algarve but still expected to find some local charm during the day. Albufeira is home to some beautiful beaches nearby and enjoys a privileged location in the heart of the Algarve’s south coast, after all. So setting-wise, this is a lovely city. But the overload of cheap souvenir shops, tacky bars and drunks kind of ruined the experience for us. Then again, we’re not the city’s target audience either. If pub crawls, karaoke and dance clubs are what you’re after, then you’ll find them in Albufeira. Just don’t expect the fanciest party scene.

If you’re looking for an alternative with a lively party scene that does have more to offer on the side, then Praia da Rocha is a good choice. Spot 3 and NoSoloÁgua are said to be the places to be. The Caniço Club near Alvor enjoys quite the reputation too. And even Vilamoura offers plenty of nightlife, as well as a casino.

Best places to stay in Algarve by activities

– Where to stay in Algarve for sightseeing

The two main cities in Algarve are Faro, the region’s capital, and Lagos, the region’s former capital. Both are incredibly charming and have a lot to offer. We dedicated an entire post to Lagos and the Faro one will be published soon. Here’s where to stay in the Algarve’s main cities:

– Where to stay in Algarve for beach bumming

Carvoeiro and Lagos are where to stay in Algarve if you like beaches

With such a stretch of coastline, the region is home to some of the best beaches in Portugal. The – in our opinion – most interesting and picturesque beaches are located near Carvoeiro, Lagos and in the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park. These form the perfect travel base to go beach-hopping in Algarve. Here are some of the best hotels and resorts to do so:

– Where to stay in Algarve for golfing

The Golden Triangle is the best place to stay in Algarve Portugal for golfers
Source: Dom Pedro Hotels & Golf Collection (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Algarve is one of Europe’s leading golf destinations and the courses are open year-round. Most renowned are the golf courses in the Golden Triangle, dominated by Dom Pedro Golf in Vilamoura with the Victoria, Old, Millennium Golf Course, Laguna and Pinhal golf courses. Also Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo are a golfer’s paradise thanks to their ocean views. Then there’s the Monte Rei Golf and Country Club, tucked away in the hills between Tavira and the Spanish border. Other gems are located in the western Algarve, such as the Espiche golf course, the Sir Henry Thomas Cotton Championship Course (Penina) and the Onyria Palmares golf courses in the Lagos – Portimão area. Some of the best places to stay in Algarve for golfers are:

– Where to stay in Algarve for hiking

That’s a no-brainer, since the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park is home to the Rota Vicentina network of trails. It’s a hikers paradise with unpaved roads, green hills, endless beaches and plenty of wildflowers. And why not alternate you hiking adventures with other outdoor activities such as cycling or horse-riding? This is where to stay in Algarve’s hiking paradise:

– Where to stay in Algarve for surfing

For surfers the area of Sagres is where to stay in Algarve Portugal

Surf’s up! Portugal offers some of the best surfing conditions in all of Europe. And again, the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park is the place to be. Especially the stretch between Sagres / Vila do Bispo and Aljezur is a surfer’s paradise with beaches such as and Zavial, Tonel, Amado, Bordeira, Arrifana, Monte Clerigo and Odeceixe.

Our preferred places to stay in Algarve

What we love about Algarve is the diversity: beaches, green hills, whitewashed villages, lagoons, wildflowers… The ideal Algarve itinerary offers a bit of everything, making it hard to pick just one favorite place. Our personal interests include sightseeing, easy hikes, beaches and a hint of luxury. Therefore, to us, these Algarve destinations stand out as the perfect travel bases to explore the wider area.

  • Lagos, because it’s located in between the overwhelmingly beautiful natural park and the best beaches in the Algarve. We also found the historic center to be irresistibly charming and the Ponte da Piedade cliffs truly spectacular. It’s also perfectly based for day trips, such as a visit to Silves Castle, and the marina offers plenty of boat excursions.
  • The Golden Triangle, because it’s located near the Ria Formosa Natural Park and therefore near the beautiful deserted islands and the sleepy village of Olhão. Yet, it’s ideally located to explore historic Faro and quaint Loulé in the morning and then enjoy the coastline from a chartered yacht in the afternoon. The vicinity to Faro Airport, the gateway to Algarve, is a bonus.

Our least favorite would be Albufeira. We found it to be overly touristy and tacky. It’s not the kind of place where we would like to spend our holiday. Then again, we’re probably not the city’s target audience either. But to us, Albufeira certainly lacks the luster that makes other Algarve cities and towns so charming and inviting.

Where will you stay in Algarve?

When you’ve come this far in the article, then A: Kudos to you, you’ve earned yourself a treat and B: You’ll probably have a good idea on where to stay in Algarve. If so, then we’d love to hear all about your upcoming stay. If not, then let us know what piece of the puzzle is still missing from this article so we can perfect our Algarve travel advice. Either way, the comment box is all yours.

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