The Portuguese region Algarve offers the best weather in Europe. That makes it a tourist hotspot, and people come to visit all year round. There are many different towns and villages in the Algarve, and each has its own charm. Let’s take a look at the best places to stay in the Algarve.
Aside from the nice weather, the Algarve region also offers beautiful nature, plenty of restaurants and bars, lots of culture, and an amazing coastline with some of Europe’s best beaches.
There are no big cities in the Algarve, but there are plenty of medium-sized towns and multiple resorts. At times it can be difficult for travelers to pick a place to stay. We will try to make the decision a bit easier by describing the top destinations in the Algarve + a hotel recommendation in each town/resort.
Albufeira is the most popular city on the coast of Algarve. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, Albufeira has a nice coastline so you can easily go to the beach – but it also has an old town centre with plenty of attractions.
And we shouldn’t forget “The Strip” – two kilometres full of restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues.
Albufeira has something for everyone. It is undoubtedly the place in the Algarve where you get the most entertainment for your money.
One of the few downsides is that Albufeira is so full of tourists that the vibe isn’t always that Portuguese. It rather feels more international. Albufeira is always full of tourists, even in the off-season you can sense it, and it has also become a popular town for retirees from Northern Europe – particularly Brits and Germans.
So you should know that Albufeira might not be as authentic as the smaller towns around the Algarve, but if you want a vacation with lots of entertainment and easy beach access, Albufeira is still the best choice in the region.
What is the best place to stay in Albufeira?
There are over two thousand hotels in Albufeira, so you won’t lack any options!
A nice place is the Hotel Sol e Mar. It has the best location of all the hotels in Albufeira. Located right in the town centre, you have quick access to the cultural attractions, and it is also very close to the coast.
The service at the hotel is really good, too. Hotel Sol e Mar receives great reviews by previous visitors, likely due to the awesome location, the great service, and the comfortable rooms.
There are two restaurants and two bars at the hotel so you’ll never have to go far if you want a meal or a drink. It takes approximately a half hour to reach this hotel by taxi from the Faro Airport.
This hotel is not the cheapest one – expect to pay around €200 per night for a double room – but if you order well in advance, you might be able to get a reduced price.
Lagos is considered to be the prettiest town in the Algarve. There are some dramatic cliffs at the coast, and there are some beautiful beaches as well. The best ones in the vicinity of the town are Praia Dona Ana, Porto de Mós and Pinhão.
Additionally, Lagos is a historic place, one of the oldest towns of the region. Most buildings and houses are white. That gives Lagos an iconic and traditional look. Be sure to check out the old castle, the local church, the well-decorated streets, and the central square. Lagos offers plenty of cultural attractions on top of the gorgeous nature by the coastline.
We should mention that Lagos is a controversial town due to its history. The first known slave market in Europe was in Lagos. The place of the market is now an attraction. Another historic place of interest is the exhibition of old exploration ships, although most are replicas.
Lagos is the best place to stay in the Algarve for nature entusiasts and history buffs.
What is the best hotel in Lagos?
Lagos has over a thousand different places of accommodation. Many of these are hotels. That gives you a lot of options, but it can also be difficult to pick one.
Our favorite is the Lagos Atlantic Hotel. It is a relatively new hotel where they aren’t afraid to think out of the box. The interior has an interesting design, the rooms are large and comfortable, and the view is awesome from most of the rooms.
The hotel is located near the popular Porto do Most beach. A breakfast buffet is served in the morning, and there are plenty of extra facilities at the hotel.
It is located a small distance away from the centre of Lagos. The benefit is that you will be closer to the beautiful coast and that the area is a bit more quiet. The downside is that you have to take a taxi to get into the historic centre – or take the 30 minute walk, which isn’t too bad after all.
The Lagos Atlantic Hotel is a great choice for everyone wishing the most comfortable experience in Lagos.
We will also recommend an alternative if you want to be in the town centre of Lagos: The Tivoli Hotel which offers a bit less luxury, but is more suited to those who want to explore the attractions and the history of Lagos. Make your reservation with the central hotel here.
Traditionally, Portimão was a fishing village. It then turned into an industrial town where they built ships. Nowadays, it is the third-largest town of the Algarve and it is mostly seen as a place for tourism and trading.
Just south of Portimão, we find one of the best beaches in Portugal – Praia da Rocha. It has tall cliffs, white sands, and incredibly clear water. It is full of people in the summer, but less so in the off-season. You should visit this beach no matter what since it is a great experience. If it is too full on some particular day, you can go west to Praia de Alvor which has a bit more space.
In central Portimão there are some nice cultural attractions such as the local theatre, the Santa Catarina fortification, the harbour and the marina, the Nossa Senhora da Conceição church, the Aqua Shopping mall, and of course the popular Portimão Casino.
Just like the towns of Albufeira and Lagos, Portimão has a nice mix of cultural attractions and pretty beaches. Portimão is a good place to stay in the Algarve for all kinds of travelers.
What is the best hotel in Portimão?
It depends where in the town you want to stay. Some prefer to be in central Portimão to be near all the attractions. But we would recommend staying by the coast since most of the top hotels are located there, and it is still close enough to get into the town centre every now and then.
Staying near the Praia da Rocha beach is ideal. And here we find Hotel da Rocha, the most popular hotel in Portimão, located right by the beach.
It is a beautiful 4-star hotel with large rooms and tremendous service. Hotel da Rocha has nice facilities, such as a swimmingpool, a spa, a gym, a restaurant and a bar. A cool fact is that all rooms have a king-size bed.
If you wish to stay in a large room, and if you want close access to the best beach in Portimão, this is the hotel to choose. Prices are actually quite reasonable as you can pay around €150 per night for a nice room. This is much cheaper than the other luxury hotels in Portimão.
Faro is perhaps the most known place in the Algarve, but not necessarily the place where most tourists stay.
The majority does go through Faro, because this is where the airport is located. This city is also the cultural centre of the region.
It makes sense to stay in Faro if you want to explore attractions. Furthermore, if you stay in Faro, you can easily do day trips to all the other places in the Algarve, either by car rental or by taking public transport.
Faro has attractions such as the Estói Palace, the Cathedral, the Manuel Bívar Park, and of course the old part of the city. Unfortunately, Faro is not really a resort – it has beaches nearby but they aren’t as impressive as the ones we find in other towns around the Algarve.
So if your main purpose is to go to the beach a lot, don’t stay in Faro. But if you want a cultural trips, and if you want to stay in a city where the infrastructure allows you to take shorter trips to almost all other places around the region, Faro is a great choice. It also makes sense if you are arriving late at the airport, or if you have an early flight out. As mentioned, the only international airport in Algarve is located in Faro.
What is the best place to stay in Faro?
Hotel Faro, quite simply. This hotel is located right in the middle of the city and it is quite modern. Despite the modernity, you still get a traditional experience, since many of the classic attractions of Faro are located around it – and you will have a view of the old town. The view from the roof terrace is amazing, so don’t forget to go up there if you stay at Hotel Faro.
During the summer there is a free shuttle between the hotel and the local beach. The hotel also has a beach club which you get access to.
There is a breakfast buffet in the morning, and if you want to have lunch or dinner later in the day, go to the Ria Formosa restaurant on the top floor of the hotel.
Prices begin around €150 per night for a double room which is fairly reasonable. It is a quality hotel with a nice location, so the money is well spent.
Tavira might actually be the best place to stay in the Algarve, although most don’t know about it. This town gets way fewer tourists than Faro, Albufeira and Lagos. It is situated in the eastern part of the region, closer to the Spanish border.
If you want an authentic experience on your trip to Algarve, we would say that Tavira is the place to stay. It is a very charming town with a historical centre that primarily consists of white buildings.
Tavira also has a long history: It was founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC and was later under Moorish control. Up until the 18th century, it had an important town, but it suffered immensely following a major earthquake.
Still, Tavira has some old attractions that are well-preserved. It has a castle, a pretty medieval bridge, some churches, and even some beaches nearby (it takes around 15 minutes to go frim the town centre to the beach). But the best thing about Tavira is the local vibe. It feels very traditional and authentic, it has not lost its culture to internationalism. The food is great – locals have their own dishes and stick to the traditional Mediterranean diet.
Tavira is an amazing town to stay in if you want a charming, cultural trip. Some choose to stay in Tavira for their entire vacation in the Algarve, while others stop by for a day trip. The drive between Faro and Tavira is just 30 minutes and there are buses several times per day.
What is the best place to stay in Tavira?
One of the best options is AP Maria Nova. We consider it to be the best hotel in town. It is modern and comfortable, you get access to a swimmingpool, and all rooms have a balcony.
The hotel is close to the historic centre of Tavira – it takes about five minutes to walk there. So you can get a nice cultural experience, while still enjoying some luxury when you stay in. The AP Maria Nova hotel gets really good reviews and prices are reasonable, starting around €120 per night. You can find other hotels in Tavira that are cheaper, but probably none that are quite as good.
Located in between Faro and Albufeira, Vilamoura is not a particularly large town, but it is incredibly popular. It is one of the most expensive places on the coast of Algarve and generally considered as a luxury destination.
The benefits of staying in Vilamoura is that there are great beaches, a beautiful marina, many golf courses, and highly-regarded restaurants. Location-wise, Vilamoura is great because it is close to the Faro Airport, and you can easily do day trips to all the other popular coastal resorts.
If you are into beautiful nature, large beaches, and if you like to play sports, you will love Vilamoura. It doesn’t have that many cultural attractions, but it is considered a very sophisticated destination because of the infrastructure and the facilities for entertainment. Vilamoura is popular among upper-class tourists, some of whom come in with their yachts. But everyone can stay in Vilamoura, just be prepared for high prices.
What is the best hotel in Vilamoura?
The 5-star Tivoli Marina Vilamoura is a great choice. The service is amazing at this hotel, the rooms are highly luxurious, and you get access to a pool, a spa, and a private park.
From the hotel you have a view of the marina and the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the hotels that are closest to the coast in Vilamoura. If you want to attend a sports event or play golf or tennis, the staff can help you with all the arrangements.
Expect to pay at least €350 per night if you stay at the hotel.
Loulé is one of the largest cities in the Algarve. However, it is located inland, north of both Faro and Vilamoura, and for this reason it doesn’t get as many tourists as the coastal resorts of the region.
This article was first published on scopetrip.com in October 2021.
Staying in Loulé is great if you want a more Portuguese experience and live among the locals. The city has a solid nightlife, some nice attractions, and Vilamoura is just a quick drive away.
What is the best place to stay in Loulé?
Loule Jardim Hotel is only a 3-star hotel but it is actually better rated than most 5-star hotels in the Algarve!
Is is located right in the city centre, so you have everything near – shopping, attractions, nightlife. The hotel is very close to the castle and the convent.
Furthermore, it has a pool and a nice rooftop terrace. You can get a great view of the surroundings. Prices are very low compared to other hotels in the Algarve, especially in the off-season where they often dip down to around €50 per night.
The westernmost village in the Algarve is Sagres. You might recognize this name from the Portuguese beer brand – but the beer is actually not from Sagres. Still, that doesn’t stop you from enjoying one as you visit the village, since all supermarkets and bars have it!
Sagres is a small village, but still worth visiting. It is one of the European cities that get the most sunshine hours per year. It has a great history: Sagres was an important place for the Portuguese seafarers. It still has a harbor, a lighthouse, plenty of ships and fishermen.
One or two nights in Sagres is enough to see the main attractions and to feel the vibe of the village. When staying there at night, you get the feeling that you are at the edge of the world.
What is the best place to stay in Sagres?
Hotels are generally expensive in Sagres because the village is quite popular, but not that spacious.
Pousada de Sagres is a popular hotel. It has nice rooms where you get a view of the lighthouse, fort and the sea. The hotel has some extra facilities like a swimmingpool and a tennis court. Prices start around €160 for a stay, so it is on the more expensive end. But it is difficult to find a cheap hotel in Sagres, so it’s better to pay a bit extra and get a great stay. Especially if it’s just for one or two nights.
The Algarve is an amazing place to visit. It has some of the best beaches in Europe – and some of the best weather in all of Europe as well.
Places such as Albufeira, Lagos, Portimão and Vilamoura are absolutely ideal for a beach vacation. You can go to the Algarve in the summer to enjoy swimming and bathing in the warm water. You can also go there in the winter as a getaway – temperatures are still quite okay in the Algarve in the off-season.
A problem is the sheer amount of tourists that this region gets. At times, the most popular beaches just become too crowded, and some resorts lose their Portuguese charm. However, there is a solution for that – it is to spend time in some of the lesser known places in the Algarve. Loulé and Tavira are some great options if you want to get away from the big crowds. And despite the fact that most tourists pass through Faro as they fly in, the city is certainly not as crowded with tourists as the main coastal resorts!
Hopefully you know have a good overview of the best places to stay in the Algarve. We wish you a great trip, and feel free to browse our other Portugal-related guides if you want to learn more.