The Algarve is the beautiful southern coastline of Portugal, with fabulous sandy beaches, picturesque fishing towns and a glorious climate, all of which combine to create the perfect all year-round holiday destination.
The Algarve is a holiday destination free of hassles; the region is very safe; the Algarve was voted the 3rd safest county in the world in 2021 By the Global Peace Index which ranks the safest countries in the world. Hotels are of a high standard; the English language is widely spoken, and the Portuguese people are incredibly welcoming and highly hospitable.
There is so much to do in the Algarve, for families and romantic couples; there are the most beautiful pristine beaches, for the more adventurous waterparks and theme parks, golf galore, fantastic night life, shopping at the designer village, historic towns for culture and if like us, you appreciate, seafood, it is in abundance. Alongside all of the vibrant towns, there is 200 km of picturesque coastline, mountains to explore and plenty of nature reserves.
We hope you like us love the Algarve, we adore it, please allow us to help you plan your trip from your base at home, Villa Cascata.
Let’s explore some of the best things to do in the Algarve:
1. Visit the beaches
Golden sands and striking limestone cliffs are calling cards for the beaches in Portugal's southern Algarve region. We found picking the most beautiful is like splitting hairs, but special honors go to Praia de Marinha for its rustic, end-of-the-world appeal and lack of commercial build-up.
Other quintessential Algarve must-visit beaches as recommended by Conde Nast Traveller for 2021 include, Praia dos Três Irmãos, Praia de Benagil, Praia da Falésia, and the super-sheltered Carvalho Beach.
Praia da Marinha (translation: navy beach) is an iconic beach near Lagoa. It is known as one of the most beautiful beaches of the world. Travel and Leisure highlights the amazing cliff side and it is the favorite beach of Lonely Planet in the Algarve. You will frequently come across photos of Praia da Marinha in advertisements for the Algarve. In real life, the beach is even prettier than on pictures. According to TripAdvisor, Praia da Marinha is one of the best beaches in Portugal and one of the top things to see in the Algarve.
2. Dinner in the Algarve at sunset
Heading to the Algarve, the region is absolutely fit to bursting with delicious things to eat, wonderful restaurants (ranging from cheap and cheerful local barsa to some seriously high-end cuisine) and experiences that will leave any serious foodie drooling with anticipation. We’ve headed out and looked into those eateries and experiences you really shouldn’t miss – read on to find the best foodie experiences in Algarve!
Steak House and Grill
- Barbacoa, Almancil
- Butchers, Almancil
- Parrilla Natural, Almancil
- Fim do Mundo, Ferraguado
- Restaurante O Manjar, Albufeira
- Piri Piri Steak House, Almancil
- Restaurant Vila Joya, Albufeira
- Ocean Restaurant, Alporchinhos
- Al Quimia, Olhos De Agua
- Willies, Quarteira
- Sao Gabriel, Quinta do Lago
- Henrique Leis Restaurant, Loulé
- Gusto by Heinz Beck, Quinta do Lago
- Evarista, Sesmarias
- Restaurante Rei das Praias, Ferragudo
- Sandbanks, Vale de Lobo
- Izzy’s Beach Restaurant, Vale de Lobo
- Moon Algarve, Quarteria
- Canico, Alvor
- Retinga, Alvor
- Julia's restaurant, beach bar & lounge, Almancil
3. Family fun and water parks in the Algarve
We are all big kids at heart, from the oldest to the youngest we love the thrill of adrenalin slides, the chance to race each other and days filled with fantastic fun. With food options and free parking to boot follow the links below to the information pages for the water and theme parks.
The Algarve isn’t that big and all 3 of the water parks are near the main N125 and A22 roads all within 30 minutes of each other. The three most popular water parks in the Algarve are: Slide & Splash, Aquashow, Aqualand and ZooMarine.
Slide & Splash is located in Estômbar on the edge of Lagoa which means its near to Carvoeirio, Portimão (and Praia da Rocha), and Alvor. Its also the most convenient for the western Algarve including Lagos.
Aquashow is located in Quarteira which means it is just a few minutes from Vilamoura and the Golden Triangle, about 15mins from Albufeira, and also is the most easily accessible water park from the eastern Algarve including resorts like Faro and Tavira.
Aqualand is located right in the middle of the Algarve in Alcantarilha so is within easy reach of lots of resorts and towns including Armação de Pêra, Albufeira and Carvoeiro.
ZooMarine is located at Guia just a few kilometres from Albufeira.
4. Back to Nature and The Parque Natural da Ria Formosa
The Parque Natural da Ria Formosa was classified as a natural park in 1987, and is made up of saltwater lagoons and tidal mudflats that extend along much of the central Algarve Coastline. This is an amazing area that covers about 18,000 hectares of Natural Park and is made up of 5 barrier islands and 2 peninsulas, the Peninsula of Ancão that the locals call Ilha de Faro, the Barreta Island also known as Ilha Deserta, the Culatra Island (where the lighthouse of Santa Maria is located), the Island of Armona, the Island of Tavira, Cabanas Island and, finally, the Peninsula of Cacela. This awesome area extends along the leeward coast of the Algarve through the municipalities of Loulé, Faro, Olhão, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António.
Recently elected as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal, this is one of three protected areas not to be missed during your holidays in the Algarve.
These calm waterways are a haven for small aquatic life, and a paradise for birdwatchers, Ria Formosa is considered an important bird area (IBA) and is part of the Natura 2000 Network. On this protected nature park we can find endangered species such as the chameleon - a reptile that only exists in the south of Portugal and the seahorse, we have one of the largest populations of seahorses in the world.
Ria Formosa is also known for the Portuguese Water Dog, a breed native from the Algarve and almost threatened with extinction some decades ago.
Shellfish farming is also a very economic activity in the tidal flats of the Ria Formosa. This extremely hard labour is responsible for nearly 80% of the Portuguese clam exports.
There is much more to discover on this protected area. Come along on a guided walk, a bike ride, a boat trip or in a kayak and get acquainted with this paradise in the Algarve.
5. Algarve nightlife, bars, clubs and entertainment
The Algarve region of Portugal is known worldwide for its beaches, golden sand cliffs, and sea caves, but it also has some of the best nightlife in the country.
The Algarve coast in the summertime is one of the top party destinations in all of Europe and offers many different types of nightlife and activities, so there is sure to be something to suit every style.
By nightfall, many of the bustling resort towns turn into lively clubbing hotspots with some of the most active locations being Albufeira. For more upscale venues, Vilamoura, Vale do Lobo, and Quinta do Lago are the top choices.
Some of the best Algarve nightlife can be found in Albufeira. If nightlife is a priority for your trip, consider this area as one of the best places to stay.
For a relatively low-key night out, the historic centre of old town Albufeira has many great bars, pubs, and restaurants to choose from. If you are looking for more excitement, you will want to check out the Albuferia strip, which is the heart of the Albufeira nightlife scene.
The strip is located on Avenida Sá Carneiro and is full of bars, discos and clubs trying to lure in tourists with enticing deals, as well as restaurants ranging from traditional Portuguese food to more ethnic cuisine.
6. Day trips and shopping excursions
Albufeira Shopping is a downtown mall close to the centre of Albufeira where you can browse for a variety of goods, including clothing, perfume, stationery and electronics.
In between your shopping, you can simply refuel at one of several restaurants serving pizza, burgers, Asian food and local dishes. There are also a handful of cafés where you can grab a coffee and a pastry and settle down at a table and people watch. If you’re self-catering, you’ll find the supermarket quite useful.
MAR Shopping Located in Loulé, Mar Shopping aims to be more than just a shopping mall. The center brings high street fashion brands and favourites like Starbucks to the Algarve as well as providing a locale for events, concerts and local activities, as well as the unique Algarve Chef Experience.
With 85 shops, 25 restaurants and 8.000 sqm of outside leisure areas, Mar Shopping aims to be one of the very best shopping malls in Europe. With an IKEA store), Mar Shopping is home to the largest Primark in Portugal (4.500sqm), the first Starbucks in the Algarve and state-of-the-art cinemas that are 100% laser (the first in Portugal) for a high quality and immersive cinema experience. There is also a free, supervised play area for children where parents can leave the kids to have fun while they do the shopping, as well as a pay to play mini-golf course. There's a large food court with the unique Algarve Chef Experience offering top quality dining experiences at very accessible prices by leading Portuguese chefs.
Algarve Shopping is the biggest mall in the Albufeira area, located about 6 km out of town in Guia. It’s worth the short taxi ride to take advantage of the many stores that occupy this indoor mall, parking is free if you drive yourself, while some hotels offer free transfers. Flagship stores include Zara, H&M, C&A, Cortefiel and Pull&Bear. There’s also a hypermarket and cinema.
Free Wi-Fi is available throughout Algarve Shopping. It also offers all the services you’d expect of a modern mall, including ATMs, strollers and wheelchair rentals, baby-changing facilities and air conditioning.