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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Algarve

AVERAGE CUSTOMER SAVING£296

Algarve Holidays

The Algarve isn't Portugal's most-visited region for nothing. It more than earns the title with world-famous beaches flying numerous Blue Flags, waterparks and zoos, rolling green golf resorts and fresh seafood. Round-the-clock warm weather doesn't exactly hurt, either.

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It doesn't get much better than this

Laying claim to Portugal's southern coast, the Algarve is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the whole of Europe. For that reason, many parts are exclusively dedicated to tourism, packed to the gills with glorious coastlines, waterparks and animal parks, golf courses and some seriously fabulous food and drink.

That being said there are smaller destinations where you can enjoy the charms of traditional Portuguese villages but still be close to all the action. Quiet spots can be found at places like Altura and Tavira, close to the Spanish border.

The biggest draw to this part of the world has to be the beaches. Decked with golden cliffsides and crystalline water, many fly the coveted Blue Flag for safety, cleanliness an facilities. What's more, the Algarve's year-round warmth makes stretching out on these shores just that much sweeter.

Where to stay in Algarve

Albufeira
AlbufeiraView on Map

Albufeira is the vibrant heart of the Algarve, mixing both the finest in Portuguese cuisine with the most vibrant nightlife on the south coast. Visitors flock here every year to enjoy stunning beaches, infinite sunshine, the modern marina and old town culture.

Alvor
AlvorView on Map

The River Alvor flows right into the the sea here leaving a gorgeous lagoon in its wake. Alvor has a long, golden stretch of sandy beach backed by sand dunes and plenty of birdlife to enjoy. The cobbled-street centre has numerous restaurants and bars so there's plenty to do at night.

Carvoeiro
CarvoeiroView on Map

You'll soon find out that this small village has a big heart when it comes to holiday entertainment. Sample the local watersports, explore the region on a boat trip or simply relax on one of Carvoeiro's wonderful beaches. With its plentiful hotels, you'll have fun discovering this delightful resort.

Lagos
LagosView on Map

Lagos is a lively resort with spacious sandy beaches where you can simply paddle and sunbathe or do some energetic watersports. You can take the kids to Lagos Zoo, or soak up the town's nautical history. The bustling town centre has plenty of restaurants and bars and a vibrant nightlife to enjoy.

Montechoro
MontechoroView on Map

Montechoro is a top party destination on the Algarve coast with numerous restaurants, bars and clubs along the renowned 'Strip'. It's the ideal spot for fun with a group of mates, or a lively family getaway. There's a dedicated kid's park and play area plus the long Praia da Oura beach is nearby.

Praia Da Luz
Praia Da LuzView on Map

Once a small fishing town, Praia da Luz is now a haven for holidaymakers looking for an appealing Algarve break. The town has classic Mediterranean architecture and enticing seafood restaurants. The pristine Blue Flag beach draws sun-seekers, plus it's on the edge of a huge natural park for more space.

Praia Da Oura
Praia Da OuraView on Map

Countryside and secluded stretches of shore define Praia da Oura. The golden sands curve round and are topped by cliffs that are a lovely place to walk. You can spend your evenings immersing yourself in local food and culture by frequenting the small strip of bars.

Praia Da Rocha
Praia Da RochaView on Map

In the active resort of Praia da Rocha, they've done everything they can to maximise fun during your stay. Natural beauty and clean, modern architecture mixes stylishly in this Algarve town. The beach is backed by remarkable orange cliffs and there's a downtown area for shopping and bars.

Sao Joao
Sao JoaoView on Map

At this top party destination all accommodation is just a short walk from the beach and the main hub of the area – a street known locally as 'The Strip'. With a wide selection of shops, restaurants, bars and clubs there's plenty to do day and night, plus Albufeira is close by.

Vilamoura
VilamouraView on Map

This glamorous all-in-one resort has everything you'll need to enjoy your holiday on your doorstep. You can explore two sandy beaches, browse and shop around the large yacht marina and linger in excellent restaurants and bars. Choose from a superb range of sporting and leisure choices, including six golf courses.

Quick Tips

  • Roman Catholic
  • Euro
  • Portuguese
  • 452,000
  • GMT - None

Blue Flag coastlines

There are nearly 70 Blue Flag award-winning beaches in the Algarve region alone, meaning that no matter what resort you choose, you won't be far from a knock-out set of sands. Praia da Marinha in Carvoeiro is regarded across the board as being one of the most stunning beaches in the world, while Albufeira alone has 25 beaches to choose from.

With 30 kilometres of coastline to explore, we're pretty sure you'll find somewhere to lay your towel. Awash in golden and rusty red tones, they're what holidaymakers come far and wide for. Most of the beaches come clad with yellowish sands and aqua blue water that's cut into the coastline and formed craggy cliffs, caves and rock pools for exploring.

Parks, parks and more parks

Algarve holidays let you mix water fun with seeing animals in mega attractions. Zoomarine Algarve is a super-sized park with water slides, rides and animal shows, not to mention a chance to take a dip with the resident dolphins. There's also Aquashow Park, one of the biggest waterparks in the Algarve. Here you'll find slides, pools and roller coasters, as well as even more animal shows.

There's a traditional zoo too with no added water - that's the Parque Zoologico de Lagos, home to more than 200 species of animals. We can't forget the Parque Nacional da Ria Formosa either, a massive expanse of land that's part wetland, part lagoon and part saltpans. A number of the area's rare animal species roam here and you get the chance to see them up close and in their natural habitat.

Seafood heaven

Algarvios are known for their affinity with seafood, as is evident by many of the menus found in the local restaurants. On the whole, cuisine in the Algarve is influenced by the groups of people that have graced this side of Portugal, plus a hint of flavour from the Mediterranean.

You'll find fresh, local food everywhere, from the Algarve's Michelin-rated establishments to cosy coastal restaurants with outdoor patios. Algarvios are vigilant about ensuring only the freshest fish is prepared, of which there's plenty due to the region's seaside landscape. Salted cod is Portugal's national dish, but other Algarve favourites include fish stews, rice and beans and fresh veggies, often accompanied by a fiery glass of aguardente – the local spirit.

Party town

You won't have trouble finding your regular watering hole in the Algarve. Each resort has a number of night-time venues, from laid-back bars to pulsing nightclubs that are sure to keep you going long into the evening.

Albufeira is renowned as being the Algarve's nightlife capital, which holds down the Algarvian nightlife scene with its own strip of bars and clubs, as well as a selection of classy lounges.

However, Lagos and Sao Joao are hot on its tail. Lagos is filled with nightspots the whole family can settle into, while Sao Joao houses a popular strip, packed with cosy wine bars on one end and nightclubs on the other.

Malls and markets

Retail enthusiasts need not fear – just as the Algarve brims with eye-popping beaches, there's lots of shops, markets and malls for the shopping-inclined too. Both Portimao and Guia have shopping malls, with Guia's being the largest in the Algarve, housing more than 200 shops cheap holidays to the Algarve are not just about sunbathing and partying, they also offer plenty of shopping opportunities too.

Almost every major resort holds at least a monthly market as well. Here you can pick up everything from textiles to fresh fruits and veggies, fish and clothing.