The Algarve: which area is right for me?
If you’ve decided on the Algarve for your next holiday then you’ve already made a great choice – you’ll discover a beautiful rugged coastline full of caves and coves, and endless fun on the water. There are mountain peaks to climb, water parks to splash about in, and Europe’s best surf spots to take on. Not forgetting the party hotspots and laid-back beach towns that make the Algarve perfect for any kind of holiday.
But which part of the Algarve is right for me? Well we’ve made it easy with our guide on where to stay whether you’re a family, couple, or group of friends. There’s even info on where to enjoy your honeymoon or celebrate a super-special occasion.
To cover all the bases, we’ve broken each section into three parts. You might be a couple after a laid-back beach vibe, a family with a toddler in tow, or a group of friends who enjoy a bit of bar-hopping but don’t care for clubs. Whatever type of holiday you’re after, we’ve got you covered – we’ve included our top hotel picks, too, ensuring you get the best from your Algarve holiday.
Best for toddlers
For families with toddlers, Carvoiero is the ideal Algarve holiday, offering soft, sandy beaches with easy access for strollers. This traditional resort town is a laid-back affair, with plenty of beachfront restaurants and conveniences that make holidaying with toddlers a breeze. Our pick of the hotels goes to Vale de Lapa, a budget-friendly villa complex with kitchenette, children’s pool, and playground.
Ideal for young ones
Younger kids and pre-teens are sure to love Lagos, with its sandy beaches, crystal-clear water, and interesting rock formations to explore. There are endless exciting activities for kids, including snorkelling safaris, horse riding expeditions, and boat trips for dolphin spotting – a top holiday experience. When it comes to hotels, take a look at Vila Gale Lagos Algarve, a beachfront beauty with playgrounds, free Wi-Fi, and a giant outdoor pool.
Perfect for teens
Teenagers will have a blast in Alvor, home to a 3.5km-long stretch of beach. With water sports, adventure golf, and the thrilling Slide n’ Splash waterpark up for grabs, there’ll be no chance of boredom creeping in. Going All Inclusive is the smart choice for holidays with teens – they get to eat what they like (and as much as they like!) at mealtimes, with snacks in between. Check out our money-saving All Inclusive resorts.
If you’re the type of couple who prefer to holiday away from the clubs and crowds, Lagos is for you. You’ll discover a laid-back surfer vibe, with plenty of chilled-out beach bars, unspoiled stretches of sand, and a beautiful whitewashed town full of culture and tradition. A stay at Hotel Tivoli Lagos comes with modern rooms, manicured grounds, and an outdoor pool overlooking the Atlantic.
For vibrant nights out by the beach, Praia de Rocha ticks all the right boxes for couples. Slightly calmer than its wilder sister Albufeira, there’s still a top night out to be had here, where you’ll find everything from bouji beach bars to clubs open ‘til the small hours. The beaches happen to be out of this world, too. Our top hotel goes to Bela Vista Hotel & Spa, a stunning clifftop haven perched above the sands of Portimão.
Alvor strikes the perfect balance between the laid-back and the lively. You won’t find superclubs in this traditional beach town, but you will find plenty of bars, pubs, and cafes for fun nights out. The colourful town of Alvor is easy to get around on foot, and it’s a short walk to the beach, with its long wooden boardwalk and soft sand. Stay at Pestana Alvor South Beach for a choice of outdoor pools and chill-out lounges.
When you want to let your hair down in the Algarve there’s only one place to go – Albufeira. This vibrant hotspot boasts miles of sandy beach for bronzing through the day, and endless bars, clubs, and karaoke pubs for wild nights on the town. Base yourself at Muthu Clube, a short walk from Albufeira Strip – a mecca for party goers.
If you fancy living the Marbella lifestyle on your Algarve holiday, then make a beeline for Villamoura, home to Portugal’s most upmarket marina and a host of fashionable beach clubs. You’ll find a dozen golf courses in the area, along with the glorious Falesia Beach – the longest in the Algarve. Our hotel pick goes to Tivoli Marina Villamoura, a 5 star gem in the heart of the action.
Surfs up! At least it is in Sagres, the best spot in Portugal for beginner surfers. Hone your skills with a lesson at one of the many surf schools dotted around Mareta Beach, before heading out to catch that perfect rolling wave. Near the beach, you’ll find street food shacks, pizzerias, and laid-back bars for refreshments. Aparthotel Navigator is our top hotel choice, just yards from the beach.
Honeymoons & special occasions
Nestled in the rolling hills of western Algarve, the charming rural village of Monchique is an idyllic setting for honeymoons. At Monchique Resort & Spa, you’ll find a tranquil resort with a waterfall pool, heated indoor pool, and generous suite accommodation. Fine dining and exceptional views complete a luxurious stay away from the crowds.
For an exclusive Algarve getaway, look no further than Villamoura, a high-end resort town with a modern marina and fashionable dining scene. You’ll find the golden sands of Falesia Beach within easy reach of your accommodation, perfect for romantic walks at sunset. A stay at Anantara Villamoura Resort gives you access to champagne cabanas and wonderful outdoor pools.
5 star choice
For the biggest choice of 5 star hotels in the Algarve, Albufeira leads the pack. This pretty Portuguese town with whitewashed buildings and a pristine stretch of golden beach is tailor-made for honeymoons and special occasions. We recommend Epic Sana Algarve, for its stunning clifftop views and gourmet dining.