Algarve holidays

Algarve holidays

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Thriving fishing villages surrounded by some of the world’s most breathtaking beaches, Algarve holidays have put Portugal on the map. This coastal region is one of the sunniest in Europe, which means you can soak up those Mediterranean rays long into autumn, that’s when you’re not surfing its Atlantic waves or teeing off on its top-of-the-range golf courses. From the nightlife haven Albufeira to wildlife sightings in Tavira and a touch of luxury in Vilamoura, the Algarve offers everything you could possibly want from Portugal getaways.

Things to do

Whether you’re looking for waterparks perfect for family day trips, century-old sites you can tick off with your other half, or big nights out spent dancing with your friends, there’s plenty of things to do in the Algarve. Spend a leisurely morning shopping for souvenirs in its beach towns, before hitting the coast for a relaxing afternoon in the sun. And when you want to pick up the pace, you’ve got watersports, golf courses and nature reserves at your fingertips. 

Beaches, beaches and more beaches 

It won’t be long before you run into a beautiful stretch of golden sand on your trip to the Algarve. This coastal hotspot is often described as one of Europe’s best beach destinations with a variety of shorelines boasting everything from incredible rock formations to limestone cliffs and hidden sea caves. Reached via a wooden staircase, nothing will prepare you for the dramatic beauty of Praia De Marinha. You could spend all day soaking up the sun under its steep cliffs - ideal for breeze-free sunbathing sessions, and don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for its unique ‘M’ shaped rock. 

Or, there’s Ponta da Piedade, which is another must-visit for its natural landscape. With a cluster of rock formations rising for 20 metres, you can’t miss it. And families won’t be able to resist the soft, lengthy sands of Praia da Rocha in Portimao. Thanks to its size it never feels overcrowded, while your little ones can enter the water under the supervision of a lifeguard. But you can’t leave without trying the watersports, with jet-skis, parasails, and kayaks all lined up for you. For more active days on the sand, Praia da Oura has more wet activities than you could squeeze into a week’s holiday.

Family-friendly attractions 

Visiting the Algarve as a family? You’re in luck! Just 30 minutes from Albufeira, days at Zoomarine should be at the top of your list. The smallest members of the gang will love its mini rides, which include a rollercoaster, drop tower and pirate ship. And that’s before they discover the zoological attractions. See alligators in their compound, visit a garden of butterflies or escape the heat at the 4D cinema. And there’s just as many wildlife sightings outside the park, whether you’re bird-watching in its nature reserves or dolphin-spotting in the Atlantic.

Looking for another alternative to the beach? Luso Aventura Albufeira promises a memorable day for all ages and abilities with three high-rope courses to choose from. You’ll also find a

Jurassic Park-themed mini golf course in Alvor, perfect for some friendly, family competition. But no holiday to the Algarve would be complete without getting soaked at Aquashow Park. Daring teens can head straight for the Watercoaster and Free Fall slide, while less confident swimmers may prefer to catch one of the bird or reptile shows. 

A happening nightlife scene

This buzzing region may seem lively during the day, but just wait until the sun sets. Parties are in full swing along Albufeira's iconic street of bars (also known as the Montechoro Strip). Cocktail spots, sports venues are among the after-dark hangouts. Not forgetting the famous Matt’s Bar with its mechanical bull and boat parties. But nightlife in the Algarve doesn’t end with Albufeira. 

Don’t let the relaxed pace in Lagos fool you. This laid-back town really gets going in the evening, find cobbled alleyways filled with dive bars, or head down Rua 25 Abril street, where you’ll find Grand Cafe whose doors stay open until 5am. Portimao's beach clubs have a great atmosphere whatever the time, starting with chilled cocktails in the sun and finishing with late-night dancing. Or, there’s always Vilamoura - the Algarve’s answer to Ibiza. Gaze on super yachts from its waterside bars or hit its loung style nightclubs to catch big-name DJs manning the decks.

Places to stay

The Algarve is full of great destinations, but Albufeira is at the heart of its action. Adored by holidaymakers of all ages for its family-friendly Old Town, bar-lined Strip and sweeping sands, everyone’s tastes are catered for. In the southwest of the region is the ancient fishing town of Lagos. History lovers will enjoy getting lost inside its medieval walls, while keen shoppers will love its handcrafted ceramics and marinaside markets. 

If you’ve come here to check out the area’s best golf courses, Vilamoura won’t disappoint. Home to six world-class greens, when you’re not teeing off, you could be sampling the high life at its swanky marina. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet away from the main crowds, Carvoeiro in the west has a small village charm with a stunning shoreline at its centre.

More Travel Guides

We also have travel guides available for destinations including: Albufeira | Alvor | Carvoeiro | Lagos | Praia da Rocha | Vilamoura

Map of Algarve

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12°C - 33℃

With long, hot summers and mild winters, you can enjoy Algarve holidays all year round.

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Faro Airport (FAO), also known as Algarve Airport, is close to many of the area’s popular towns and resorts.

Algarve is best for...

Beach lovers: Those looking to soak up the region’s 300 days of sunshine will have their pick of beautiful beaches, some with paddle-friendly waters, and others filled with fast-paced watersports. For the ultimate in relaxation, head across the water to Tavira Island, where you’ll find 11 kilometres of white sand backed by soft dunes. 

Outdoor activities: If you want to combine lazy beach days with exhilarating activities on your holidays to the Algarve, you won’t have to venture far! Explore sea caves from a kayak, show off your ball skills on one of its 42 golf courses, or book a jeep safari tour in the mountains.

Families:  Families with young kids will love the Algarve. Its soft golden sands are perfect for building sandcastles, while its waterparks are a fun way to stay cool. Plus, there’s some fantastic wildlife attractions, from dwarf crocodiles, tortoises, snakes and pygmy hippos at Lagos Zoo to seals, sea lions and dolphins at Zoomarine.

Fast facts for Algarve

Language: People in the Algarve speak Portuguese. As a popular tourist area, most locals will have a good understanding of English, but it’s still worth practising some basic phrases before your trip, particularly if you’re visiting rural areas.

Currency: The currency used in Portugal is the Euro (€).

Local time: The Algarve is the same as GMT/UK time.

Fly to: Faro Airport. Transfers to the Algarve vary depending where you’re based.

Vilamoura: 30 minutes 

Albufeira: 45 minutes

Portimão and Alvor: 1 hour

Lagos: 1.5 hours

Flight time from the UK: The flight time to the  Algarve is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Tourist Information: Further tourist information can be found at the official website for tourism in the Algarve.

Visa/Health: Before you travel, check the latest advice from The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

 

Getting around Algarve

By hire car: Explore at your own pace and pick up a hire car as soon as you land at Faro Airport. Take a scenic route along the coastline, or head inland and hop from one town to the next, while stumbling upon off-the-radar beaches. 

By taxi: You’ll be able to pre-book or hop in a cab at a taxi rank to take you to nearby resorts, towns and attractions. Some taxi fares go up between midnight and 6am and will charge extra for luggage.

Events in Algarve

Carnival: Head to the town of Loulé in February (just north of Faro) and take in the sights and sounds of one of the oldest carnivals in Portugal. Each year has a different theme with vibrant floats and dancers making up the colourful action. Expect non-stop music and food stalls filled with local sweet treats like filhós de laranja (Portuguese donuts) .

Silves Medieval Fair: In August, the historic town of Silves gives keen history lovers a glimpse into the Middle Ages with re-enactments, jousting tournaments and children’s storytelling. 

Sand City (FIESA): Head here between May and September and prepare to be amazed by this must-attend event in Lagoa. As the biggest of its kind in the world, browse handmade works of sand art, created by some of the world’s best sculptors. And if your mini artists want to join in on the fun, there’s a dedicated space where they can create their very own sand masterpieces. 

The Sardine Festival: If you love seafood, then you can’t miss the Sardine Festival in Portimão! Taking place during August, thousands flock to this fishing town to try the grilled delicacy with market stalls, fireworks and live music keeping you entertained as you indulge.

 

Algarve weather

Temperature:  15°C - 24°C

Best time to visit: Algarve holidays are ideal in the summer, but the warm weather means it’s still worth visiting any time of year. For beach weather, July and August can peak at a toasty 33°C. This is the perfect time to hit the coast, or cool off in the area’s waterparks, plus with evenings rarely dropping below 20 ºC, dining alfresco is on the cards too.

During spring, the weather in the Algarve is cooler but still warm with little rain. Temperatures are still pleasant during autumn, while winter days can drop below 15°C and you may experience some showers.

Weather in Algarve 
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