22 Places not to be missed in the Algarve

The Algarve is a region that needs no introduction. Its beautiful beaches and pleasant climate all year round, are decisive factors for it to continue as one of the most visited destinations in Portugal .

But the Algarve is not reduced to so little. It is best to rent a car and explore the region, discovering the villages, the fishing villages, the archaeological sites and natural parks . The Algarve is also a world of experiences : cycling , hiking , surfing , canoeing , diving , boat trips and many other activities related to nature. Learn more at officiates site l of the Algarve Tourism .

From my full 4-day itinerary , I chose a list of  22 places not to be missed in the Algarve . Shall we visit them?

1 – City of Faro

With over one hundred thousand inhabitants, Faro is the capital of the Algarve region. This city offers the best of both worlds: the Ria Formosa Natural Park and a historic center filled with buildings of great architectural and cultural value, where the old Sé Catedral stands out , a monument dating from the 19th century. XIII and reformulated in the centuries. XV and XVI. The Town Hall , the Episcopal Palace and the Arco da Vila are other points of interest to visit. Outside the historic center, you can explore leisure areas such as the marina or the Jardim da Alameda João de Deus .

Best places to visit in Faro

  • Faro Cathedral
  • Walls
  • Arch of Rest
  • Garden of Alameda João de Deus
  • Faro Marina
  • Manuel Bivar Garden
  • Lieutenant’s House
  • Ria Formosa
  • High School Forest
  • Town Hall
  • Portugal’s bank
  • Civil Government
  • Municipal Museum
  • Arab Door
  • Porta da Vila
  • Captaincy of the Port of Faro
  • Convent of San Francisco
  • Episcopal Seminary of San José
  • Lethes Theater
  • Old Jewish Cemetery
  • House of Figures
  • Ria Formosa Natural Park
  • Algarve Shopping

2 – Gardens and Palace of Estói

The Palácio de Estói is a monumental complex composed of a palace and landscaped spaces, located in the village of Estói, municipality of Faro. It is a unique example in the Rococo architectural style, dated between the second half of the century. XVIII. The main body occupies the upper part and is framed by large gardens , divided by levels where there are lakes, fountains and statues. The staircases are decorated by tiles and nearby busts of political, literary and historical characters are visible . In 1977 it was classified as a Property of Public Interest .

Best places to visit in the Estói Palace
  • Palace
  • Gardens
  • Chapel

3 – Roman ruins of Milreu

A little over 700m from the Palace of Estói are the Roman ruins of Milreu . This archaeological complex is one of the most important in the entire Algarve. The ancient traces tell us the story of an enormous agricultural property, headed by a 19th century manor house. III, known as villae . From the various archaeological excavations carried out, residential buildings , a temple and a spa were discovered , in addition to several sets of mosaics . During the Islamic period, this space would have been used as a cemetery and later abandoned. At the entrance to the complex there is a small museum center. The Roman ruins of Milreu have been classified as a National Monument since 1910 .

Best places to visit in the Milreu Ruins
  • Museum nucleus
  • 16th century house
  • Rural house
  • Temple
  • Residential traces

4 – Estói Village

visit estoi - algarve

Estói is a town with about three thousand inhabitants, located about 11 km north of the city of Faro. This town is known for the Roman ruins of Milreu and the Palace of Estói . However, you can also visit the historic center, which has beautiful examples of residential architecture.

Best places to visit in Estói
  • Gardens and Palace of Estói
  • Roman ruins of Milreu
  • Mother Church
  • Estói Cemetery
  • Historical nucleus

5 – City of Lagos

It was from the sea port of Lagos , with the Infante D. Henrique, that the adventure of the Discoveries began, in the middle of the century. XV. In Lagos you can visit a series of examples of military architecture such as the Ponta da Bandeira Fortress , the Governors’ Castle and the line of walls . Given its geographical position, this is one of the destinations in the region with the greatest offer of beaches: Meia Praia , Praia da Batat a and Praia Dona Ana are some of the sands where you can enjoy sunbathing. Lagos is also one of the most vibrant cities in the Algarve. There are many cafes, bars and restaurants that guarantee tourists days and nights of pure entertainment.

Best places to visit in Lagos
  • Meia Praia
  • Slave Market
  • Town Hall
  • Mother Church
  • Pillory
  • Praça Infante D. Henrique
  • Celtic ruins of Lacóbriga
  • Governors’ Castle
  • Ponta da Bandeira Fort
  • Praia da Luz
  • Students Beach
  • Dona Ana Beach
  • Pinhão Beach
  • Church of São Sebastião
  • Avenida Municipal Market
  • Replica of the Caravela Boa Esperança
  • Statue of El Rei Dom Sebastião
  • Lagos Marina
  • Convent of Nossa Senhora do Carmo
  • Lagos Walls 
  • Batata Beach
  • Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse
  • Ponta da Piedade walkways

6 – Batata Beach

The Batata Beach is located in the city of Lagos, not far from the Fortaleza da Ponta da Bandeira. For lovers of a more urban and not so isolated beach, this is a good option. It is surrounded by small cliffs which, despite having an interesting natural aesthetic, represent some danger for beach users.

Best places to visit in Praia da Batata
  • Batata Beach

7 – Ponta da Piedade

One of the most beautiful natural areas in the Algarve, formed by cliffs and other rock formations is Ponta da Piedade located 4 km south of Lagos. Its geographic characteristics make it a pleasant place for photography and more recently for walks, since wooden walkways were recently built.

Best places to visit at Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse
  • Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse
  • Ponta da Piedade walkways
  • Barranco do Martinho Beach
  • Balança Beach

8 – Ponta da Piedade walkways

With just over 2 km in length, the Ponta da Piedade Walkways are one of the most recent attractions in the municipality of Lagos. The trail starts at Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse and ends at Canavial Beach . The walkways run along the coastline, close to the cliffs, in a landscape of contrasts between the sea and rock formations that leaves us speechless. If you leave the route, either to take pictures or to enjoy the scenery, always pay attention to the danger of falling.

Best places to visit on the Ponta da Piedade Walkways
  • Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse
  • Ponta da Piedade walkways
  • Canavial Beach
  • Viewpoint

9 – Vila de Alvor

Alvor is a small town located between the Ria and Praia de Alvor, in the municipality of Portimão . The origins are lost in time, but it is from the period of Arab rule that some traces remain, such as the castle and the morabitos . The colorful houses of the historic center, the market , the church and the walkways are other points of interest that you can explore in Alvor. The economic activity of Alvor mainly involves tourism and fishing.

Best places to visit in Alvor
  • Alvor Walkways
  • Castle of Alvor
  • Ria de Alvor
  • Alvor Market
  • Mother Church
  • Torralta Alvor Complex
  • Church of Mercy
  • Morabito of São João
  • Praia do Vau
  • Tourist Office
  • Três Irmãos Beach
  • Morabito of São Pedro
  • Alvor Beach
  • Marina

10 – Alvor walkways

Opened in 2016, the Alvor Walkways are the largest pedestrian path of this kind in the whole of the Algarve. They are about 6 km long that connect the Ria de Alvor to Praia dos Três Irmãos . This project results from the requalification of this area, which was very degraded. The area is also served by two car parks.

Best places to visit on the Alvor Walkways
  • Alvor Walkways
  • Ria de Alvor
  • Alvor Beach
  • Três Irmãos Beach

11 – Albufeira


Located between Faro and Portimão, the city of Albufeira is one of the favorite destinations of the Portuguese during the summer season. The strong impact that tourism in Albufeira ended up transforming its urban landscape, with the flourishing of numerous hotel units, luxury resorts and local accommodation. The marks of the Arab past are still present in the historic center, located in the highest part of the city, visible in the narrow alleys and archaeological remains of the centuries. XII-XIII at Praça da Republica. The marina and beaches are other places to consider in Albufeira.

Best places to visit in Albufeira
  • Liberty avenue
  • Albufeira Public Garden
  • Clock tower
  • Municipal Museum of Archeology
  • Archaeological ruins
  • Peneco Beach
  • Fisherman’s Beach
  • Albufeira Marina
  • Peneco Elevator
  • Museum of Sacred Art
  • Viewpoint of Pau da Bandeira
  • Sant’Ana Church

12 – Peneco Beach

The Peneco Beach is one of the beaches most crowded of Albufeira. The long sandy beach and more temperate waters are very appealing to tourists eager for bathing in the sea and sun. Access to this space is made through the city tunnel, hence it is also called Praia do Túnel . On the west side, access is by elevator or staircase.

Best places to visit in Praia do Peneco
  • Peneco Beach
  • Peneco Elevator

13 – Olhão

Olhão is a small town located in the heart of the Ria Formosa, with a network of lagoons, canals, salt flats and sands separated from the Atlantic by a set of islands. The strong connection to the sea and the fishing of this land is visible in the large municipal market , a set of two buildings from the beginning of the century. XX, dedicated to the trade of fish and fruits and vegetables. According to what they say, this is where the best seafood in the Algarve is eaten.

Best places to visit in Olhão
  • Ria Formosa
  • Olhão Market
  • Jardim Pescador Olhanense
  • Garden Patrão Joaquim Lopes
  • Olhão Marina
  • Mother Church
  • Municipal Museum
  • Historic center

14 – Ria Formosa

The Ria Formosa Natural Park is a protected area that extends from Quinta do Lago to the west until Cacela Velha to the east in an approximate length of 60 km. Most of the animal species in this sanctuary are difficult to observe, with the exception of birds. Ria Formosa is of crucial importance, as it represents a resting area for migratory birds, a wintering place for waterfowl and a nesting place for those that arrive in the spring or make this place their permanent habitat. 

Best places to visit in Ria Formosa
  • Marim Environmental Education Center 
  • Barreta island walking trail
  • Pedestrian path of the island of Tavira
  • Interpretative route of the Nécton Salt Flats
  • Quinta do Ludo
  • Quinta do Lago
  • Culatra Island
  • Lighthouse
  • Barrel
  • Tavira Island
  • Forte do Rato
  • Armona Island
  • Barra da Fuzeta
  • Cabanas Island
  • Fort of São João da Barra or Conceição
  • Pedestrian trail of S. Lourenço
  • Torre d’Ares  
  • Ria Formosa

15 – Tavira

For those who like quieter destinations, Tavira is the ideal choice. Here the presence of tourists is not as felt as in other urban centers, which ends up having some influence on how it still preserves its historic center. The main places of tourist interest are the castle , the mother church , the municipal museum, the medieval bridge and the Gilão River that divides the city. Enjoy the tranquility of this river in one of the many terraces that are found along the waterfront.

Best places to visit in Tavira
  • Mother Church of Tavira
  • Tavira Castle
  • Municipal Museum
  • Ria Formosa
  • Gilão River
  • Medieval bridge
  • Public garden

16 – Cacela Velha Village

Cacela Velha is a village located in front of the Ria Formosa and the sea. With ancestral origins, this village has a mother church,fortress  and some  traditional houses  that give it a picturesque look. If you like lesser known destinations and off the beaten path, you shouldn’t miss Cacela Velha.

Best places to visit in Cacela Velha
  • Cacela Velha Fortress
  • Cacela Velha Beach
  • Mother Church
  • Parish Priest
  • Tanker
  • Ria Formosa Natural Park
  • Islamic Quarter and Christian Necropolis
  • City Hall

17 – Manta Rota Beach

Located in the bay of Monte Gordo, municipality of Vila Real de Santo António,  Praia da Manta Rota  is one of the most famous and popular beaches in the entire Algarve. In the vicinity you can visit the huge square where the market and the arts center are located . The enclosure is served by car parks, cafes and restaurants. Access to the beach is through a wooden walkway.

Best places to visit in Praia da Manta Rota
  • Manta Rota Beach

18 – City of Silves

It is next to the EN124 that the city of Silves is located , about 15 km north of Portimão. Built under a hill next to the Arade River, Silves was once an important civil, commercial and cultural center enjoying the status of Algarve capital , extending its influence across borders. The castle of reddish tones, built in the century. XI by Muslims, is the great reference of the city. It is the largest castle in the Algarve. At its entrance is the famous bronze statue of D. Sancho I , the monarch who freed Silves from the Moors. If you want to know a little more about the history of Silves, visit the Municipal Museum of Archeology and theIslamic Heritage Interpretation Center . Do not miss the opportunity to enter the Sé Catedral , a Gothic style temple, influenced by the Monastery of Batalha.

Best places to visit in Silves
  • Silves Castle
  • Cathedral
  • Municipal Museum of Archeology
  • Silves Bridge
  • House of Islamic and Mediterranean Culture
  • Silves Islamic Heritage Interpretation Center
  • Municipal Library of Silves
  • João de Deus House Museum
  • Armação de Pera Beach
  • Pedagogical Farm

19 – Alte Village

Alte is a  village  located at the foot of Serra do Caldeirão, at the northwest end of the municipality of  Loulé , district of Faro. It is a  typical Algarve village  with a  well-preserved historic center , full of whitewashed residential buildings  and narrow streets and staircases  paved with  Portuguese pavement  . Alte jumped into the limelight in 1938 when he was a finalist in the contest  “A Aldeia Mais Portuguesa de Portugal” . Nowadays it has been called  the tourism capital of the interior .

Best places to visit in Alte
  • Mother Church
  • Cascade Fall of Vigário
  • Small Fountain
  • Fonte Grande
  • St. Louis Chapel
  • Portuguese Flag

20- Queda do Vigário Waterfall

The waterfall  Queda do Vigário  is one of Alte’s must-see places. With a height of about  24 meters , this waterfall falls with great vigor over a  beautiful lagoon . During the summer, many bathers enjoy the fresh, clear waters. Next to the waterfall, the surrounding area was upgraded with the creation of a  green space  where picnic tables and support infrastructure are available. The access is made from the cemetery of Alte and you can walk through a trail (shortest route) or by path.

Best places to visit at Cascata Queda do Vigário
  • Cascade Fall of Vigário

21 – Vilamoura Beach and Marina

The Vilamoura Marina is one of the biggest tourism developments in the region with about 1300 berths. Modern and sophisticated space, it is the ideal place for leisure , whether for drinking a coffee or dinner or for shopping. Here, nightlife is guaranteed. There are plenty of bars , clubs and the  Casino to liven up Vilamoura’s hot nights. In this enclosure you can book various activities related to nautical tourism , such as boat trips, jet-ski among others. The beach is a few meters away, in a sand that extends to Quarteira.

Best places to visit in Vilamoura
  • Vilamoura Marina
  • Vilamoura Beach
  • Roman ruins Cerro da Vila
  • Vilamoura Lighthouse

22 – Quarteira Beach

One of the biggest beaches in the Algarve, with about 2 km of sand, is Quarteira Beach . Once a fishing village,  Quarteira  lives almost exclusively on tourism and restaurants. Enjoy the morning or late afternoon to walk on the Calçadão , the long and busy waterfront that accompanies this beach.

Best places to visit in Quarteira
  • Quarteira Beach
  • Trafal Beach
  • Loulé Velho Beach
  • Almargem Beach
  • Forte Novo Beach
  • Boardwalk

Read also: