Best places 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 are 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.
Read more about where to stay in Albufeira.
Lagos is one of the best places to stay in the Algarve as it has something to suit couples, families and singles. The beautiful old town with its 16th century white-washed buildings and labyrinth of streets is fun to explore. There are bars and restaurants to enjoy too and the old town is easy to reach by hopping on one of several buses. This part of the Algarve has wonderful sandy beaches looking out to the Atlantic and small hidden coves like Praia do Camilo with its wooden staircase for access! The nearby cliffs are dramatic and offer great views hear the lighthouse. If you are wondering where to stay in Algarve that has plenty of character, Lagos fits the bill!
If you seeking a beach holiday, Meia Praia is the largest beach with plenty of sand, backed by sand dunes, making it ideal for families- the popular 4* Vila Gale hotel is the closest.
Praia de Batata is another favourite beach with bars and cafés and Praia do Anna is one of the most scenic beaches you’ll ever find! The sea temperature is on the cool side all year through. Lagos marina is pretty and a reminder that the town was once an important fishing port. It is the ideal spot for a lazy lunch. The hotel Marina Club Lagos Resort is ideally positioned for the marina, old town and Meia Praia. There are plenty of good water sport facilities in Lagos, including wind sailing, scuba diving, water skiing and sea fishing. At night, the fun continues with bars and cocktail bars in the old town and some lovely restaurants - all serving predominately Portuguese cuisine. StevieRay’s is good for live jazz and Inside Out and Nox for dancing the night away.
Hotels in Lagos
The delightful town of Faro is the regional capital of the Algarve and one of the best places to stay for couples who enjoy history, rich culture and luxury hotels. Faro is also the perfect place to stay for shorter breaks. Some of Faro’s most gorgeous hotels are situated in the surrounding areas and include the Magnolia adult-only hotel and spa and Possada Palacio de Erstui, a luxury hotel in a magnificent 18th century rococo style building. Reaching the old town is easy as there is a good local bus service. If you want to explore further afield, there are trains and hire cars.
The historical centre of Faro (Cidade de Velha) is encircled by ancient city walls and is entered through the magnificent Arco da Vila- by the marina. It contains the 13th century Gothic cathedral, episcopal palace and numerous cobbled streets. The cathedral stands by an orange tree-filled square and has great views over Faro and the 60 kilometre lagoon. Outside the walls is the modern part with its pedestrianised shopping streets. The beach resort of Praia de Faro is also outside the town.
There are outer islands on the lagoon which have pristine beaches to discover. There is Ilha da Culatra, with its isolated community and Ilha Deserta.- but you will need to catch a boat to reach them. There are other boat trips to the saltwater lagoon of Parque Natural da Ria Formosa with its thousands of colourful migratory birds. The boat used is an old tuna fishing barge and will pass farms cultivating mussels, clams and oysters – no wonder there are numerous great seafood restaurants! As dusk falls, there is a surprising amount of nightlife in Faro, but it is geared more to locals than visitors. Enjoying a leisurely meal of Caldeirada- the local fish and seafood casserole-could be the perfect end to the day.
Hotels in Faro
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.
Hotels in Vilamoura
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 ideal 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.
Hotels in Quarteira
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.
Hotels in Praia do Carvoeiro