Guide to the Algarve

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The Algarve is one of the most stunning areas of Portugal, with pristine beaches, endless cliffs, and old fishing towns that will make you enjoy a lovely holiday surrounded by sun, culture, and Portuguese gastronomy.

With a coastline of 240km long, the Algarve has more than enough beaches for everyone, and the landscape is characterized by huge cliffs of limestone and crystal-clear water. But the region has a lot more to offer, which is why we want to help you plan your holidays to the Algarve, so you don’t miss the best spots in the area, but just a reminder, don’t forget the sunscreen at home!

Before I talk about my favourite places, you might ask yourself, how am I going to get to the Algarve? Well, the good news is that there are daily flights from and to a number of airports around the UK.  Here at Oxwich Travel we have options all the way from Aberdeen down to Newquay, and plenty of airports in between, so we can tailor your trip to depart from your local airport.

Once you arrive at Faro Airport, you can choose what type of holiday are you looking for, maybe a surf break to explore the nature or a party holiday with friends, or just a relaxing beach holiday enjoying the sun?

Praia de São Rafael, Albufeira, Portugal
Praia de São Rafael, Albufeira
The place to have fun: Albufeira

Albufeira is undoubtedly the most popular destination in the Algarve, located 30 minutes away from the airport it used to be a tiny fishing village, but due to the tourism industry it has become a city where you can find anything you need for your holidays: great beaches to swim, endless bars and restaurants, shopping malls, golf courses and even a water park for the little ones.

Albufeira is well known for its nightlife with plenty of clubs and discos to dance after a beach day, however, if you are not in a party mood you should visit Benagil beach, the most impressive natural attraction of the Algarve, located 30km away from Albufeira.

This beach has a popular cave with a hole on top that looks like a dome of a cathedral made by the erosion of the ocean. You can get to the cave either swimming, renting a kayak or on a boat tour.

Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
View to the coast in Lagos
Back to medieval times: Lagos

If you are looking for a cultural touch mixed with a night atmosphere in your holidays, then Lagos is your place!

Lagos is a small city surrounded by amazing beaches and with a beautiful historic centre, where you can find medieval walls, castles, churches, and defensive forts by the ocean built in the 15th century. It is great to get lost on it’s white streets full of boutiques and typical restaurants. At night, the city has a great atmosphere with plenty of bars for all tastes, from surfer bars, to Irish pubs, or late night clubs.

A must visit in Lagos is Ponta da Piedade, located on the west edge of Lagos, where the cliff coastline starts raising up to 20 metres high. You can observe the effect of erosion with the appearance of caves, pinnacles, and arches on the water. Among them there are small stone coves, but it is difficult to access by foot.

In fact, although the best way to enjoy Ponta da Piedade’s beautiful scenery is from the sea, by kayak, SUP (Stand Up Paddle) or boat tours that depart daily from Lagos. Praia Camilo is one of the examples of the special geology of the region with caves, arches, and thin golden sand.

We recommend you visiting this beach during low tide, so you have a wider area of sand to lay, and longer beach walks.

Sunset from Sagres, Portugal
Sunset at Tonel Beach, Sagres
The end of the world: Sagres

Sagres is a small town also called the end of the world, and that is because it is the furthest south-west point in the peninsula, and looking at the horizon you can see nothing but ocean.

Cabo de San Vicente it is where the South Coast and West Coast connect which makes it the windiest place around, however, if you take a jacket with you, you will be delighted by one of the most beautiful sunsets of Portugal.

There is a lighthouse on the cape that you can visit and a small terrace where you can have a beer, specifically, a Sagres, the most popular beer in town.

Sagres is a laid-back town with a surfer vibe that welcomes people from all around the world, well known for its surfing spots, but also for its natural environment and dolphin watching. Our favourite beach in Sagres is undoubtedly Beliche, not the most accessible, as you need to walk down over a hundred stairs to get to the beach, however, it is the most impressive one. The colour of the water is super clear, you can even see the fish under water, and the huge cliffs around protect the beach from the wind which is very common in Sagres.

During the summer usually the water is quiet and flat with no waves, however, in the winter it offers one of the best bodyboard waves in the world. It is a great place to rent a paddle board and explore the caves around or go for a climbing session on the rocks. If you get hungry and you do not feel like walking up the endless stairs, there is a restaurant open in the summer right at the beach with a grill offering BBQ chicken or fish with the best beach views.

Praia do Amado, Algarve, Portugal
Surfing at Praia do Amado
The wild Atlantic coast: Costa Vicentina

A few kilometres north from Sagres starts what is called the Vicentin Coast and it is for sure the wildest region of Portugal. The area is a Natural Park where you can find empty beaches and lonely trails but also small traditional towns. Here you can find Praia do Amado, which means “to be loved”, and we absolutely love this long beach which has waves all year round and offers a breath-taking landscape that mixes white sand and red stone cliffs.

If you want to give it a try to surfing, this is the perfect place! You can find Algarve Surf School right at the beach where you can rent a board or even book a class to enjoy the waves!

Another must-visit beach in the area is Arrifana in the small town of the same name located at the top of the cliff, probably the highest cliff of the area, which means the longest walk down to the beach, worthy though!

The Vicentin Coasts lays on the Atlantic Coastline so despites the beaches are breath-taking, with big swells it’s recommendable that you avoid swimming and maybe just go for a walk, as the current can be strong and the waves big.

Where to stay

We have a wide selection of accommodation from budget apartments through to luxury all inclusive resorts, so it really does depend on your budget, and how you want to experience your holidays to the Algarve. Just contact our team to discuss your requirements and we’ll take care of the rest.