Best towns and beaches to stay in Algarve
Originally a tiny fishing village, Albufeira has grown into one of the most visited resorts in the Algarve. A fascinating mix of old world charm and modern brashness, it attracts holidaymakers in their droves all looking to have a good time, and is especially popular with young people, couples and families who like to combine a typical seaside holiday with a vibrant nightlife. With over 30 kilometres of unspoilt beaches, sheltered bays and glorious turquoise waters, there'll always be a patch of sand for sun worshippers and there's water sports galore if you don't like to spend too much time lazing on the beach. However, it's at night when Albufeira comes alive. Not only does it have a labyrinth of narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses leading down to a traditional market square filled with colourful stalls, boutiques and al fresco bars and restaurants, but over in the new town you'll find a lively strip awash with the neon lights of bars, pubs and nightclubs for a truly exhilarating night out.
Said to be the Jewel in the Crown of the Algarve, Vilamoura will certainly appeal to those people looking for a more sophisticated and upmarket resort. Protected by wetlands to the north and sand to the south, this purpose built seaside town boasts an enormous selection of accommodation, from luxury hotels to private villas and more cost conscious apartments, together with some of the finest golf courses in Portugal, making it an ideal choice if you love to take golfing holidays in the sun.
There's also an enormous marina lined with elegant and sophisticated open air eateries, and filled with ultra luxurious yachts, so if you're looking for a more upmarket resort than Albufeira, Vilamoura could be the perfect choice for you. You'll find plenty of places to people watch on the Praça da República as you enjoy a drink in one of the open air cafés, plus a great selection of gourmet cuisine in the restaurants on Rua 25 de Abril.
If you love living the high life and enjoy an element of risk combined with a fun evening out, Vilamoura Casino is the place to go. Not only does it have all the usual attractions of a casino, but it features regular shows and dances too. Of course, there's also plenty of beaches, from the most popular Dona Ana to small sandy coves where you'll find a little more privacy, so if good beaches are an important element of your perfect holiday, these will certainly fit the bill. But if you 're looking for an extra touch of opulence during the day, head to the luxurious 'Purobeach' and relax on one of their canopied beds and loungers on Praia da Marina, while listening to the chilled out sounds of their DJ.
Close to Vilamoura you'll find the resort of Quarteira, a great place for a beach holiday. Just like most of the holiday resorts in the Algarve, it was originally a small fishing village and you can still see the day's catch laid out on the quayside down at the attractive newly refurbished harbour. More budget friendly than Vilamoura, it still boasts several 18 hole golf courses, so if you're looking for a well priced golfing holiday, Quarteira could be the place to stay. It's also an idea beach holiday destination, especially for families, as it has one of the longest beaches in the area with all kinds of water sports on offer for those people who like a little action during their holiday.
The resort also has a long seaside promenade which is perfect for those after dinner strolls, as well as a good range of shops and traditional markets in the centre of town. While the nightlife can't compare with that of Albufeira, Quarteira does have a good range of bars, restaurants and a few nightclubs for those of you who can't end the evening without having a dance or two.
Praia do Carvoeiro
If your idea of holiday heaven is staying in the most picturesque location in the area, then Praia do Carvoeiro should be top of your list. This well established resort is one of the prettiest and most charming holiday destination in the whole of the Algarve, with its gorgeous sandy beach backed by high sandstone cliffs. Although it's tempting to just flop down on a sun lounger and sunbathe the day away, there's plenty of beach activities on offer, including a good selection of water sports.
Just an hour's drive from Faro airport, Praia do Carvoeiro has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and still retains much of its old fishing village charm. It also boasts a good range of restaurants, where fish features very heavily on the menu. So if you're looking for a quiet, relaxing holiday in beautiful, authentic surroundings, Praia do Carvoeiro could be the resort for you.