The Algarve is on the south coast of Portugal, also covering part of the west coast which is on the Atlantic Ocean. It is a lovely place to visit for a beach holiday and covers an area of 4,997 km sq. (19,304 sq. feet), with sandy white beaches with coves hidden by towering cliffs. Because it covers such a big area, deciding where to stay in the Algarve requires a bit of thought. Each town or village has its own characteristics. Some are geared towards families, while others have a vibrant nightlife that goes on until the early hours of the morning. You can stay in sleepy fishing villages or a vibrant city like Faro.
If you enjoy watersports, the high waves and winds of the region make it ideal for surfing and kitesurfing. However, there are some protected areas where the water is calmer, and here you can swim and participate in gentler watersports such as kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Plenty of boat trips are also available, and the area is a dolphin haven.
The climate in the Algarve is Mediterranean, with hot summers and cool winters. There isn’t much rain, if any, between May and September. Spring and autumn can be the best time to visit if you want to avoid the very high temperatures and the crowds.
Food in the Algarve is Mediterranean, with an emphasis on fish and seafood. There are some vegan and vegetarian restaurants, but they are few and far between. You may have to ask for something special. Many restaurants are happy to oblige but ask before you go in. Here are five towns in the Algarve to stay and suggested hotels to suit all budgets.
- Where To Stay In The Algarve
Where To Stay In The Algarve
Lagos is towards the west of the Algarve and is well-known for having high cliffs and Atlantic beaches.
The cliffs protect against the winds from the ocean, so you can still swim and there is a particularly beautiful beach here, Praia Dona Ana.
The rock formations and the cliffs behind it are spectacular, and the water is a turquoise blue, reminiscent of a tropical island.
Maia Praia Beach is the most popular in the town as it is enormous, has clean white sands, and is clear and warm.
There is a bar here that serves the whole beach.
If you like to do a little sightseeing as well as sunbathing, Lagos will suit you down to the ground.
There is a fortress here, the Forte Ponta de Bandein, which was built in the 17th century, a castle, the Castelo de Lagos, and a beautiful church, the Igreja de Santo Antônio, the interior of which is almost all lined in gold apart from the ceiling.
Recommended tour: From Lagos: Algarve Golden Coast Cruise
Hotels In Lagos
Luxury – Boutique Vivenda Miranda
If you are looking for a high-quality hotel, look no further than the Boutique Vivenda Miranda.
The rooms are beautifully decorated and offer a beach view.
They are well-equipped with air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a minibar, a tea/coffee maker, and a satellite TV.
All have private balconies or terraces, and the amenities in the hotel are excellent.
If you don’t fancy going to the beach, there is an outdoor spa pool.
Mind you, the beach is only a five-minute walk away, so you could easily split your time between the pool and the beach.
The hotel has a gym and a spa centre; the Charme d’Orient offers organic treatments, massages and a sauna.
In the Panorama Games Room, you can play cards, backgammon and chess and there is a reading room with beautiful views from the terrace.
The Mirandus restaurant offers top-quality cuisine with a view towards the sea.
Breakfast is included in the package, while lunch and dinner are at an extra cost.
Vegetarians and gluten-free can be catered for, as can people with special dietary needs.
The Monkey Bar has been designed with a jungle theme and offers fine wines, rare spirits, and exciting cocktails.
It also serves the Panorama Games Room.
Mid-Range – Giramar Apartmentos Turisticos
Giramer Apartmentos Turisticos is only 750 metres (2,460 feet) from the beach but if you prefer to stay at the hotel, there are two outdoor swimming pools and a sunbed terrace.
The choice is yours.
The hotel offers large apartments with a kitchen, washing machine, living room, free Wi-Fi, a satellite TV with a DVD player, and most rooms have a view towards one of the swimming pools.
The hotel offers a delicious continental breakfast at a very reasonable rate.
There is a bar for you to enjoy a drink before heading out for dinner and it’s only a 15-minute walk to the centre of Lagos.
If you hire a car at the airport, you will have free parking at the hotel or pay for the airport shuttle.
Budget – Hotel Lagosmar
This budget hotel offers value for money in the centre of Lagos.
It has nicely decorated rooms with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and private bathrooms.
This family-run hotel has a 24-hour front desk, so you don’t have to worry if you have a problem.
There is a reading room, a bar, a TV, and a billiards table.
The front desk can arrange a car or bike rental if you want to explore the area.
Some packages at the hotel include a continental breakfast, but if you don’t opt for breakfast, you are right in the city with many cafes and restaurants to choose from.
The hotel has no swimming pool, but you are just a five-minute walk from Batata Beach.
Get a drink from the bar and head up to the hotel’s rooftop, with seats, sun loungers and lovely views of the city and the bay.
Albufeira holds special memories for me as it was where I had my second holiday with my soon-to-be husband.
We took a late deal at the travel agent’s and had a lovely time.
Albufeira was a fishing village but is now a buzzing nightlife spot.
The fishermen are still there but now work from the modern marina, catching fish to be served freshly at the many restaurants in town.
The marina also serves as a base for dolphin-watching boat trips and diving experiences.
Albufeira has some lovely beaches, the best being Praia da Falesia, with spectacular rock formations.
The cliffs around the beaches provide some welcome shade during the heat of the summer.
The town is divided into The Strip and the Old Town.
The Strip is where all the clubs and bars are, and they stay open until the early morning hours.
The Old Town has cobbled streets, quirky shops and over 100 restaurants.
Recommended tour: Albufeira: 2.5-Hour Caves & Dolphin Watching Boat Tour
Where To Stay In Albufeira
If you want luxury, you won’t go far wrong choosing the five-star Pine Cliffs Hotel.
It is in a stunning location, perching on a cliff above Portugal’s longest beach, Praia da Falésia.
The amenities at the hotel are more than excellent.
There are 11 restaurants and bars, giving you such a wide choice of dining that you don’t have to leave the hotel for good food.
Your breakfast is included in the room rate and will fill you up, so you only need a light lunch.
The hotel has a seasonal water sports centre, five tennis courts, and a 9-hole golf course.
Your children won’t feel left out as a summer Junior Club offers mini-golf and football activities.
The hotel offers a 24-hour front desk, room service and a pay airport shuttle.
If you decide to drive from Faro International Airport, it takes about 40 minutes and there is free parking at the hotel.
The rooms are all elegantly decorated and have air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a TV, and a private bathroom with a bath.
They all have furnished balconies with garden or sea views.
Mid-Range – Vila Gale Collection Praia
A great selling point of this hotel is that if you book a stay over 700 euros, you get a complimentary private taxi from the airport and when you think that the drive takes around 40 minutes, this is a great advantage.
The hotel is only 150 m (492 feet) from the beach.
It has an outdoor swimming pool, a spa offering treatments and massages, yoga lessons, an indoor pool, a hot tub, and a steam room.
There is a library, billiards room, a bar, and a la carte restaurant.
A breakfast buffet is included in your package.
The front desk can arrange bicycle rentals if you want to explore the area.
The rooms are modern, have air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a private bathroom with a bath and a hairdryer, a TV and DVD player, a desk, a tea/coffee maker, and a balcony.
There is room service on offer.
Budget – 3HB Falesia Garden
This budget hotel is 3.9 km (2,42 miles) from Oura Beach, but if you don’t have a car and don’t want to walk, there is an outdoor swimming pool with a sun terrace on the premises.
There is a 24-hour front desk, and you can hire a car or bike from here.
If you only want to go to the beach, why not hire a bike as it won’t take long to get there.
The hotel has a restaurant and a bar and breakfast is included in the package.
Rooms are all well-equipped, with air conditioning in the living room and a fan in the bedroom, a kitchen fitted with a microwave, fridge, tea/coffee maker and free Wi-Fi.
Some rooms have a balcony or a seating area.
The hotel offers an airport shuttle for an additional fee and free parking if you hire a car.
The area this hotel is in is popular with golfers, so if this interests you, there are a couple of golf courses within 3 km (1.86 miles) of the hotel.
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Faro is the largest city on the Algarve and is a great place to stay if you want to combine sightseeing with beach life.
Even if you don’t decide to stay there, it is worth a day trip to see historic landmarks in the city, including cathedrals, Roman villas, museums and chapels.
While the city can get busy, the beaches here are much quieter than in many other resorts, as many consider this a city rather than a beach resort.
This can make your beach time much more pleasant.
Faro has a good range of restaurants, with Portuguese flavours taking the forefront and vegans (there are three 100% vegan restaurants) or vegetarians will do better here than in many of the resorts along the Algarve.
Shopping is interesting in Faro, with both local boutiques, international brands and just outside the city are a couple of shopping malls.
The nightlife in Faro rivals Albufeira, with plenty of clubs and bars.
There is quite a large resident population and a university in Faro, so you will find locals mingling with the tourists.
Recommended tour: Faro: Ria Formosa Faro Islands Catamaran Tour
Where To Stay in Faro
Luxury – 3HB Faro
3HB Faro is just 15 minutes drive from Faro Airport, and you can pay for an airport shuttle if you don’t want to hire a car.
The hotel has excellent facilities, including an infinity swimming pool, a spa and wellness centre, a 24-hour front desk, and a terrace with lovely city views.
There are two restaurants to choose from: Forno Nero and Habito.
You will find the bar on the rooftop, where you can get delicious signature cocktails and snacks.
There is also room service.
The hotel has various rooms and suites, including family rooms, rooms with a jacuzzi, and some with a spa bath.
They all have air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a TV, a kettle, a tea/coffee maker, a desk, and a private bathroom with a walk-in shower, hairdryer, and complimentary toiletries.
Mid-Range – Ria Formosa Guest House
This mid-range hotel is conveniently 1 km (0.62 miles) from the airport.
You can pay for an airport shuttle and if you decide to hire a car, there is free parking at the accommodation.
The Ria Formosa Guest House has excellent facilities for the price, including an outdoor swimming pool, a spa and a wellness centre with a sauna and hot tub.
There’s a shared lounge and terrace with a bar.
A breakfast buffet is included in your room rate.
The rooms all have air conditioning, a desk, a tea/coffee maker, a TV, a safety deposit box, a minibar, a private bathroom with a shower, and a balcony.
Budget – Hospedaria Frangaria
This budget hotel is beautiful, and you get a lot for a low rate.
It is decorated with lovely oil paintings and has tiled floors.
The hotel has no swimming pool, but it is only a five-minute drive from Faro Beach, which is sandy and peaceful.
A 24-hour front desk allows you to hire a car, bicycle, or boat and arrange a wake-up call.
Breakfast is served in the breakfast room and can be included in your package.
There is a restaurant, The Frangaria, where you can get lunch and dinner.
The rooms are air-conditioned, with free Wi-Fi, a TV, a minibar, a private bathroom with tiled decor, a marble sink, and a bidet.
It is just 2 km (1.24 miles) away from the airport, and if you hire a car, you can park for free at the hotel.
Quarteira is a quieter town with a beautiful long golden sandy beach suitable for families.
It stretches the length of the town and is easy to get onto from many points along the promenade.
If you have older children, Aquashow Park, just 4 km (2.48 miles) inland, is a great place to take them, and you’ll enjoy it too! Europe’s longest water rollercoaster is here.
It’s 740 metres (2427 feet) long.
The town has an excellent selection of restaurants and bars, many lining the beachfront so you will get excellent views out to sea.
You will find some of the best seafood restaurants in the Algarve here.
Luxury – Dom Jose Beach Hotel
This tastefully decorated hotel has a private beach area in the high season so you can be assured that you will get a good spot.
There is also a swimming pool with a wooden sundeck, sun loungers, and umbrellas.
Other facilities in this luxury hotel include a gym, massage treatments, and conference rooms.
There is a bar by the pool and one indoors.
The restaurant offers buffet-style meals.
Breakfast is included in your package.
In the summer, barbecue lunches are held on the terrace.
The rooms are stylish, with oak floors and wooden furniture.
They all have air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a TV, a tea/coffee maker, a private bathroom with a hairdryer and complimentary toiletries, and a safety deposit box.
This hotel is ideal if you enjoy playing golf.
The golf courses of Vale do Lobo Ocean and the Vila Sol are just 3 km (1.86 miles) away.
The hotel is only a 20-minute drive from the airport.
Mid-Range – Solgarve
This hotel has a large pool and, because there are just 18 apartments, there is always room around the pool.
There is also a children’s swimming pool and a sun terrace with sunbeds.
If you prefer the sea, the Solgarve Hotel is just 800 metres (2,624 feet) from the beach.
There is a bar at the hotel and a barbecue that you can use but there isn’t a restaurant.
However, it only takes a few minutes to walk into Quarteira, with its plethora of restaurants.
The town of Vilamoura is a 5-minute drive away if you want a change of scenery.
It has a beautiful marina surrounded by restaurants and bars.
The beaches in the area are well-equipped for watersports.
Here you can parasail, waterski, use water bikes, go game fishing, or take a boat cruise.
The Aquashow Waterpark is a 5-minute drive away.
Budget – Apartments Arcadia
Apartments Arcadia are just a three-minute walk from the beach.
The apartments offer all you need for a self-catering holiday.
The rooms have a kitchen with a microwave, stovetop, fridge, toaster, kettle, and a coffee machine but you are in the centre of town with restaurants and bars close by if you don’t fancy cooking.
I wouldn’t blame you.
There can’t be that many people who want to cook on holiday.
The rooms also have air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a private bathroom with a shower and hairdryer, free Wi-Fi, and a balcony.
Carvoeiro will suit you down to the ground if you want a peaceful holiday in a beautiful location.
It is a lovely place for a romantic holiday or to spend a few weeks in if you are retired.
The village is set atop a series of cliffs and consists of lovely, whitewashed buildings with a backdrop of gently sloping hills.
There is a great choice of restaurants, including Mediterranean, Latin American, and even Indian.
The main beach, the Praia de Carvoeiro, is beautiful.
The water is turquoise and the sands are golden and weathered cliffs surround the beach.
Take a boat cruise if you don’t want to laze your days away on the beach.
The boats leaving here are small, so they can negotiate narrow passageways and the outstanding Bengali Cave.
There are theme parks and waterparks close by and plenty of places to hike.
Faro is 44 km (27.4 miles) away if you fancy a day in the city.
Recommended tour: From Carvoeiro: Benagil Caves and Praia da Marinha Boat Trip
Luxury – Tivoli Carvoeiro
The Tivoli Carvoeiro is a beautiful 5-star hotel with spacious and stylish rooms.
They all have air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a minibar, a TV, a desk, a coffee machine, and a bathroom with a shower and a hairdryer.
There are three restaurants in the hotel.
The Med Food & Wine serves fish and seafood inspired by the Atlantic Ocean.
Enjoy typical Portuguese cuisine at One Gourmet, and the Mare Bistro offers the daily catch.
Breakfast is included in the package, and you can also opt for dinner as well.
There are good vegan choices in the restaurants.
There are also three bars where you can enjoy wine, cocktails, and light meals and you can have room service.
The facilities are second to none.
There are two swimming pools, one indoors and the other outside.
A gym with advanced training equipment and a spa and wellness centre exists.
There are also meeting rooms and activities for children.
It is a 40-minute drive from Faro International Airport, and there is free parking if you hire a car.
Mid-Range – Vale da Lapa Village Resort
The Vale de Lopa Village Resort has landscaped gardens with ponds and a jogging trail.
You have everything you need here.
There are two paddle tennis courts, an astroturf pitch for different uses, 3 swimming pools, a children’s pool and play area, a gym, and a spa and wellness centre.
There is a clubhouse with a restaurant and bar.
It also offers entrance to nearby golf courses and a tennis club.
The accommodation here is in 2-storey duplex villas with air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a fully equipped kitchen, and a living room.
Carvoeiro Beach is 5 km (3.1 miles) away.
Budget – Carvoeiro Hotel
This hotel is just 1.2 km (0.74 miles) from the beach but also has an outdoor pool if you don’t want to venture far.
There is a poolside bar, so don’t worry if you get thirsty.
Carvoeiro Hotel also has a restaurant. You can include breakfast or half board (breakfast and dinner) in your package.
The rooms all have city views, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a fridge, a coffee machine, a microwave, a private bathroom with a shower, a TV, and a terrace.
The airport is 64 km (39.7 miles) away, and there is free parking if you hire a car.
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