Lagos city skyline view from the marina, with boats in the foreground. A popular destination for people moving to the Algarve, Algarve

The warm weather and glorious coastline attract many people who are looking to relocate to the Algarve region of Portugal. What first-time visitors may not realise is that the Algarve has much more to offer than it’s iconic beaches, and that the coastline and towns differ dramatically from east to west.

As well as the coastal destinations, there are non-touristy inland towns and plenty of small villages that may be a good fit for you, depending on what you need and want.

Silves town and castle, off-the-beaten-track in the Algarve, Portugal
Silves town and castle, off-the-beaten-track in the Algarve, Portugal

Know what’s important to you

There’s a lot to take into consideration when choosing the best place to live in the Algarve so it’s worth taking your time to identify your priorities and preferences before making the journey.

How will you spend your days when you relocate? Who and what do you need easy access to to facilitate and enrich your desired lifestyle?

For example, do you need access to public transport and to be walking distance from restaurants and supermarkets or are you happy with a more rural setting that means having a car?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to maximise your time in Portugal so that your scouting trip is focused on places you might actually want to live in and not just the ones that make the headlines.

As a starting point, my overview of different potential bases for a holiday in the Algarve might help.

Another useful resource is Karl Bradshaw-White’s Algarve Travel Guide, which describes 54 towns and villages.

Consider how to get around on your Algarve scouting trip

Unless you plan to stick to Algarve cities like Faro, Lagos and Tavira, which are all on the train line, it will be easier to get to smaller towns and villages if you have transport.

You can, of course, rent a car, but another option would be to work with a local guide who can drive you to the places you wish to visit and share insights into them.

Not only will you not get lost, you don’t need to stress about parking and you’ll learn a lot more about a place with a guide than by visiting alone.

Get help planning your scouting trip to the Algarve

One such local guide is Elise Slotte, who has made a new life for herself in the Algarve. Since moving there a few years ago, she has spent her time really getting to know the region, exploring non-touristy towns and villages as well as the more famous destinations.

Elise Slotte, private tour guide in the Algarve, Portugal, standing next to her car
Elise Slotte, private tour guide in the Algarve, Portugal

She now offers private tours that explore the off-the-beaten track highlights that make the western Algarve, also known as Barlavento, so special. These include the Sagres coastline, the village of Aljezur and the towns of Monchique and Silves. Or she can create a bespoke VIP tour that fits your interests exactly.

Moving to the Algarve scouting trip package

I was particularly excited to learn that in addition to her regular half and full day sightseeing tours, Elise has developed a special scouting trip package for people who are moving to the Algarve.

Knowing that every client has different and specific needs when searching for the right place to live, Elise starts with a 1-hour consultation to find out what you’re looking for.

Simply being able to talk through your preferences with her will save you countless hours of frustrating research. She can help you quickly rule out unsuitable towns and villages and suggest others that you may not have known about.

Once she has a good understanding of what you are looking for, Elise will plan your perfect scouting trip to the Algarve, which can be done over 1 or 2 days.

As well as endeavouring to get answers to all your questions during the trip, she can connect you with trustworthy local real estate professionals to explore the options in the towns that make your final cut.

Faro city center by Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal
City center of Faro, capital city of Algarve, Portugal

Talk to expats in the Algarve

One of the most valuable things you can do on an Algarve scouting trip is speak to fellow expats and learn from their experiences.

You could use Facebook groups to set up meetings ahead of time. However, to make this aspect of your trip easier, Elise will not only share her own experiences but also arrange for you to talk to other people who have made the move.

Her Moving to Portugal package also includes courses by the wonderful expat coach, Deborah Dahab, whose programmes I also highly recommend.

Moving to the Algarve Scouting trip package with Elise Slotte private guide and Deborah Dahab expat coach
Moving to the Algarve Scouting trip package with Elise Slotte private guide and Deborah Dahab expat coach

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