If you have ever wondered where this carefree, sun-soaked feeling of the south comes from, you will find it in our recommendations “Algarve – The Most Beautiful Places” and should definitely dedicate your next trip to Portugal’s enchanting south coast. Here, where the azure sea meets golden sandy beaches and time sometimes seems to stand still, a rhythm of life unfolds that captivates every traveller.
Our journey of discovery through the Algarve begins in the west and meanders leisurely towards the east. What is immediately noticeable is the warm hospitality of the locals, who open their doors and hearts wide to welcome visitors with a warm-heartedness that is rarely found. “Bem-vindo!” – that’s the sound of the Portuguese welcome, which is not just a phrase here, but a real invitation to become part of the community.
But the Algarve is not only a place of hospitality. It is a melting pot of cultures, history and traditions. With every step you take, you feel the rich cultural heritage that manifests itself in the Moorish influences, the old fortresses and the colourful markets. A visit to one of the historic towns takes you back to the time when sailors and explorers set out from here for unknown waters.
However, the Algarve is by no means anchored in the past. Everywhere it bubbles with modern life and attractive offers for every age group. Whether surf enthusiast, gourmet lover or culture vulture – everyone will find their personal paradise here. From vibrant festivals to relaxing yoga retreats in secluded bays: The Algarve inspires with its versatility.
There are places that dig deep into a traveller’s heart and leave an unforgettable impression. Lagos in the Algarve in Portugal is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places. The picturesque beaches of this region have already gained worldwide recognition. Who could resist the seductive Meia Praia in the east or the dreamy Praia Dona Ana in the west? But Lagos is more than just sand and sea.
From the first step into the heart of this charming city, you are welcomed by an atmosphere of life and culture. In the extensive pedestrian zone, you wind your way through a labyrinth of narrow streets lined with small cafés, first-class restaurants and individual boutiques and galleries. This is the real Portugal – authentic, warm-hearted and full of passion.
And when the sun slowly sinks towards the horizon, Lagos really comes to life. The vibrant nightlife in numerous clubs and bars attracts both locals and visitors and offers a perfect mix of traditional sounds and modern beats.
But it is not only the lively present that makes Lagos so appealing. At the riverside market hall, where traders offer fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat every day, you can feel the heartbeat of the city. The marina opposite, with a footbridge leading to it, presents an impressive spectacle of boats of all sizes. Fascinating excursions to the hidden caves and beaches of the surrounding area also start from here.
But Lagos also looks back on a long and eventful history that goes back to the times of the Phoenicians and Romans. The mighty city walls and the Ponta da Bandeira fort are silent witnesses to a time when Lagos played a key role in the Portuguese discoveries.
The impressive Santa Maria Church, where Henry the Navigator once found his final resting place, and the municipal museum, where magnificent azulejos can be admired, invite you to travel back in time. Not to be forgotten is the Igreja de Santo António, a magnificent masterpiece decorated with abundant gold.
When people think of the Algarve, they often imagine kilometres of sandy beaches and golf resorts. But hidden among the tourist hotspots, slumbers a place that seems to come from an old Portuguese fairy tale: Alvor.
From the first walk through the winding paths of the village, it becomes clear that Alvor is more than just a fishing village. The whitewashed buildings tell stories of a time when the Arabs called this place home and gave it the name “Albur”, which means “white glow”. While the world was changing around them, the streets of Alvor preserved a silence and a heritage that can still be felt today.
The old town truly hides historical treasures. On the one hand, there is the impressive Igreja Matriz, whose walls bear witness to deep piety and tradition. Not far away sits the castle of Alvor, a silent testimony to the rich history that has left its mark on this region.
Those who crave culinary delights will not be disappointed in Alvor. Charming restaurants serving fresh seafood line the old fish market. The smell of grilled fish wafts through the alleyways, attracting locals and visitors alike.
But Alvor would not be complete without its impressive nature. A walk along the long wooden jetty leads to the extensive sandy beach – a place to unwind and listen to the rhythm of the waves.
The Ria de Alvor nature reserve is also something special. This area, located at the mouth of the river Alvor, is an oasis for nature lovers. Birdwatchers can discover over 200 bird species here, while botanists will find their happiness among the over 600 plant species. At low tide, another wonder reveals itself: the Ria de Alvor transforms into a breathtaking mudflat landscape where storks, flamingos and other wading birds wade majestically through the shallow water. Shellfish collectors? Here you can live out your passion to the full in this expansive landscape.
Anyone who has been lucky enough to set foot on the golden sands of the Algarve has surely heard of Praia da Rocha. But anyone who has visited the neighbouring town of Portimão knows that this pearl on the Portuguese coast has much more to offer than just breathtaking beaches.
Strolling through the old town, Portimão reveals its true heart. It pulsates in the narrow streets where the air is filled with the smell of grilled sardines. Here, among old buildings, you come across small, charismatic restaurants with chefs grilling sardines over charcoal in their forecourts – a scene so authentic it seems straight out of an old Portuguese film.
Portimão’s history is deeply rooted in the sea. Once it was fishing and boat building that made the little town a thriving trading centre. A tribute to this time can be found in the municipal museum, which has found its place in a former canning factory. This museum, a jewel in the cultural landscape, was named the best museum in Europe by the Council of Europe in 2010, and not without reason.
But back to the sardines, the “bread and butter fish” of the locals. Every August, the city celebrates its beloved Sardine Festival, an event that attracts both locals and visitors from all over the world.
In addition to culinary delights, Portimão also enchants with its historical heritage. The church Nossa Senhora da Conceição, an impressive building, invites you to an inner contemplation. And for the adventurous, those who don’t shy away from the short but intense climb to Fortaleza de Santa Catarina will be rewarded with a panoramic view over the vibrant harbour.
For motorsport enthusiasts, the hinterland of Portimão also has something special to offer: The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. Top international drivers race around the track here in car and motorbike races, including prestigious Formula 1 races. And if you want to feel the adrenaline rush yourself, you can put your racing skills to the test at the neighbouring go-kart track.
All in all, Portimão offers a fascinating mix of history, culture and modern life – a must for every visitor to the Algarve. It is more than just a beach paradise; it is one of the beautiful places that tells stories and creates memories. It is just waiting to be discovered by you.
There are places that you immediately take to your heart. Silves, nestled in the picturesque Portuguese countryside, is undoubtedly one of them. Even as you approach, the city announces itself with an impressive landmark: The mighty red sandstone castle, perched high on a hill, bears witness to a rich history that dates back to the time of the Roman occupiers.
More than a millennium ago, in the 11th century, Silves was much more than a picturesque small town. It was the pulsating heart of the region, the cultural centre of the province of Al-Gharb, as the Moors affectionately called it. Today, every corner, every narrow alley tells of this impressive past. The whitewashed houses give Silves a special charm, while life pulsates in the street cafés and restaurants.
A special highlight is the smell of freshly baked desserts, which often feature oranges. And for good reason: the surrounding area of Silves is considered a stronghold of citrus fruit cultivation. Oranges grow here under the Portuguese sun, and their juiciness and sweetness are incomparable.
But not only nature, but also architecture attracts visitors from all over the world. A must-see for anyone visiting Silves is the 13th century Gothic cathedral. In its Capela do Santíssimo, you will find impressive azulejos – Portugal’s elaborate blue and white ceramic tiles – and gilded carvings made by masterful hands.
For history buffs and romantics, Silves offers a unique experience in August: the Medieval Festival. Here the Middle Ages come to life. Knights show their skills, jugglers make visitors laugh, bards tell stories of days gone by, and artisans present their wares.
But Silves also has a lot to offer for lovers of modern pleasures: The annual beer festival is an Eldorado for craft beer fans. Here they can taste beers from all regions of Portugal and enjoy the evening in a cosy atmosphere.
On an ordinary day, Loulé, a picturesque town of around 70,000 inhabitants, is a place of peace and quiet.
But those who want to experience the true essence of this enchanting city should make a note of a Saturday. On this day, Loulé comes to life and shows its liveliest side. Every Saturday, as if by magic, the otherwise quiet town transforms into a vibrant centre of local culture and commerce. Producers from the surrounding area make a pilgrimage to the big country market in droves. Here, tradition and modernity merge, while the stalls overflow with an abundance of food: From the freshest fish and juicy poultry to crunchy vegetables and fruit, almonds and olives that carry the scent of the region. On this day, the offer in the magnificently renovated, neo-Moorish market hall seems almost inexhaustible and the number of visitors reaches its peak.
But Loulé has more to offer than just its market. A walk through the narrow, cobbled streets takes you straight to the heart of history. The architecture tells stories of the former Moorish occupiers who once lived and worked here. And amidst this historic backdrop, the classic craft continues to flourish. Whether it’s the coppersmith creating a new work of art with skilled hands or the leather maker patiently working on his next masterpiece, traditional crafts are more alive than ever in Loulé.
Another highlight of the city is the church of São Clemente, which is well worth seeing. Its characteristic bell tower, probably made from the remains of a former minaret, bears witness to a rich Moorish heritage.
But what would a city be without its festivals? Loulé definitely knows how to party. The colourful carnival parade attracts thousands of visitors year after year, while the Jazz Festival with its first-class artists and the MED Festival, which delights with its varied world music, provide musical highlights.
Loulé is more than just a city; it is an experience, a journey into the past and a celebration of life in the here and now.
If you think Faro is just an airport destination on the way to the Algarve’s popular beaches, think again. Because behind the everyday locks of tourism, hidden in the gentle curves of the cobbled streets, lies the heart of a city just waiting to be discovered.
You feel it as soon as you arrive – that tingle of curiosity. Instead of moving on immediately, why not linger for a moment and immerse yourself in the vibrant life of Faro? The first thing that strikes you is the understated elegance of the shopping streets, where local traders hawk their wares alongside trendy boutiques. But the real treasure lies a little further on: in the winding old town. Here, every corner whispers of times gone by, of stories from the 17th and 18th century, which come to life in the historic town houses.
The magnificent Arco da Vila entrance gate, an architectural masterpiece through which you enter the old town, gives a taste of the magic that lies hidden in Faro. You can’t miss the storks building their nests high up here – a peaceful spectacle in the midst of the urban hustle and bustle.
A highlight not to be missed is the ascent to the bell tower of the Sé Cathedral. The effort is rewarded: a breathtaking panoramic view over the city centre and the busy marina awaits you. When you feel like relaxing afterwards, the cosy street cafés and first-class restaurants are the perfect place to enjoy the region’s culinary delicacies. Here, the passion for typical regional specialities such as the hearty stew caldeirada or the tempting rice with seafood is celebrated.
For culture lovers, Faro offers two museums that provide a deeper insight into the history and cultural heritage of the region: The Museum of Archaeology and the Ethnographic Museum. From ancient artefacts to local art and traditional craftsmanship, the city’s rich heritage comes alive here.
And if you think Faro is far from the beach, let us prove you wrong. Ilha de Faro and Ilha Deserta are just a stone’s throw away and offer paradisiacal sandy beaches where you can unwind.
So, next time you land in Faro, take a moment. Discover the hidden gem that lies dormant behind the walls of this impressive city. It could be your most beautiful place in the Algarve.
When you stroll through the winding streets of Olhão, you feel as if you have been transported to another world. Hidden in the middle of the Algarve, this charming town breathes the vibrant heritage of the Moors. The impressive whitewashed cubic buildings, often crowned by characteristic domed roofs, speak a silent yet eloquent language of their historical roots.
Indeed, Olhão’s old town, a labyrinth of narrow, heritage-listed streets, takes travellers on a nostalgic journey. Nestled between these old walls are tiny cafés where you can enjoy the traditional Portuguese bica, an intense black coffee. A few steps further and you might come across an artfully crafted souvenir in a boutique that carries stories of the place.
Another highlight of this fascinating place is the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário, where the azulejos – those typically Portuguese, hand-painted ceramic tiles – shine in splendid artistry.
But Olhão is not only history and culture. Situated right on the shores of the picturesque Ria Formosa, the town offers direct access to some of the Algarves hidden island gems: Culatra, Armona and Farol. These almost untouched paradises can be reached by small ferry boats that leave from the busy port of Olhãos.
While listening to the gentle murmur of the water, your gaze inevitably meets Olhão’s impressive landmark: the spacious market hall, an architectural masterpiece from the hands of the renowned French architect Gustave Eiffel. Two halls in structure, but each with its own charm. While one hall is home to the best fish market in the Algarve, the other attracts visitors with a variety of fruit, vegetables and meat lovingly presented by regional farmers and butchers. A feast for the senses that makes gourmet hearts beat faster.
Discover Olhão, a magical mosaic of history, culture and culinary delights, nestled in the enchanting panorama of the Algarve. A place that inspires, enchants and invites you to linger.
Walk in the footsteps of a dreamy past when you visit Tavira – a picturesque town tucked away at the mouth of the Rio Gilão into the sparkling sea. What was once known as a vibrant centre of tuna fishing now presents itself as an idyllic holiday destination that enchants with its historic charm.
You can spend hours strolling through the winding streets of the old town and feel the breath of history. The magnificently renovated town houses bear witness to a proud heritage, while the many churches worth seeing, such as the medieval Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo, whisper their stories. The azulejos – hand-painted tiles – of this church are a true work of art, and its impressive bell tower rises majestically into the sky.
For those who like to add a touch of timelessness to their travels, the seven-arched Ponte Romana is a must. Originally built in 1655 and lovingly rebuilt after the earthquake of 1870, this bridge is not only a witness to architectural history, but also a popular photo motif for Instagram enthusiasts. The view from the hill of the castle, built in the 13th century, is simply breathtaking.
But that’s not all: just a few steps away, the Camera Obscura in the former water tower beckons, offering a 360° view of the city – an experience not to be missed!
But Tavira also surprises with its modern touch: when the old market hall on the Gilão was bursting at the seams, the city thought innovatively. Instead of leaving it to decay, it has been transformed into a lively centre full of charming cafés and boutiques that blend in perfectly with the historic ambience.
And if you answer the call of the sea, take one of the shuttle boats from the Cais das Quatro Águas to the Ilha de Tavira. This kilometre-long sandy beach promises a quiet spot even in high season – an insider’s tip for all those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Tavira is undoubtedly a place that will remain in the memory of every visitor for a long time with its combination of history, charm and nature. It’s time to discover the Algarve’s most beautiful places for yourself.
Vila Real de Sto. António
In 1755, when the earth shook beneath the feet of the Portuguese and a catastrophic seaquake left many parts of the country in ruins, a visionary created a city from scratch. The Marquês de Pombal, then Prime Minister under King José I, opted for a bold and swift response. Within just five months, he had a city built on the banks of the Guadiana in the design of a chessboard. This pattern, with all streets running through each other in a rectangular network, characterises today’s cityscape.
Strolling through the dead straight streets, you realise that not only the streets are a testimony to those times. The houses themselves reveal a harmonious architecture that testifies to uniformity and clarity. But the heart of the city is undoubtedly the Praça do Marquês de Pombal. The arcades that line this square provide shade on hot summer days and are the vibrant centre of Vila Real de Sto. António. The clinking of coffee cups, the laughter of locals and the lively hustle and bustle make it a popular meeting place for old and young.
The proximity to Spain is not only noticeable geographically. A ferry shuttles regularly between the two banks of the Guadiana, opening the doors to our Spanish neighbours. However, those who prefer to explore the secrets of the river can join one of the boat tours that lead into the picturesque hinterland.
Just a stone’s throw away, Monte Gordo beach beckons those who want to feel the salty taste of the Atlantic on their lips. Fine sand trickling through your fingers and the gentle sound of the waves provide the perfect contrast to the city steeped in history.
Aber Vila Real de Sto. António is not only a paradise for sun worshippers.
In the nature reserve Parque Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo António, a completely different world opens up. Here, the salt marshes and salt pans provide an oasis for numerous bird species. Armed with binoculars, nature lovers can observe rare birds in their natural habitat here – an unforgettable experience.
Images © Algarve Tourism Bureau