Colourful boat on the lake, Quinta do Lago, Algarve, Portugal

Over the past 16 years, I’ve visited the length and breadth of the Algarve and stayed at luxury Algarve resorts, restored fishermen’s cottages and everything in between. To help you choose the best area to stay in the Algarve for you, I’ve identified certain towns and villages that make good bases for different types of holiday.

One of Portugal’s most popular destinations, this region is more diverse than most people realise. That’s why it’s worth doing some research (i.e. reading this guide) before deciding where to stay in the Algarve.

Before you start looking for the best place to stay in the Algarve, you should work out which area suits your interests. Beyond the picture postcard beaches, this region has mountains, small villages, natural parks, fun parks, castles, rocky beaches, lagoons, deserted islands, wineries, Roman, Islamic and even prehistoric roots.

Best areas for families – Odeceixe, Sagres, Salema or Praia da Luz, Carvoeiro, Albufeira, Monte Gordo

Best Algarve towns for history and culture – LagosTaviraFaro, Loulé, Vila Real de Santo António, Castro Marim

Where to stay for Algarve nightlife – Albufeira, Vilamoura, Portimão and Lagos

Luxury Algarve resorts – Around Albufeira and Vilamoura although there are some in Sagres

Best areas for Algarve golf – Vilamoura area or Albufeira

Where to go for surfing Western Algarve

Where to get away from the crowds (bearing in mind that July and August are busy months for all coastal areas) – Western Algarve, Castro Marim, Loulé, Monchique, Olhão

Countryside bases in the Algarve Western Algarve, Monchique, Loulé, Castro Marim, Tavira, Quinta do Lago and Faro for the Ria Formosa

Alternatively, you can simply scroll through the article to see what appeals to you from my descriptions. As I did with my post about things to do in the Algarve, I’ve started in the west and worked my way south then gradually eastwards.

If you’re looking for a luxury villa in the Algarve or elsewhere in Portugal, read my Best Luxury Villas in Portugal article for some great ideas. Or, to find high quality apartments and villas throughout the Algarve check out Plum Guide.

If you’re considering a longer stay in the Algarve, check out Flatio. They’re a rental housing platform, mostly deposit-free, that offers lawyer-verified, legally binding lease agreements that can be used as proof of address and for visa purposes.

Click to jump to a specific sub-region within the Algarve

Western Algarve

Central Algarve

Eastern Algarve

Best places to stay in Western Algarve

The west coast is one of my favourite parts of the Algarve region since most of it is within a natural park. It begins at the village of Odeceixe, at the mouth of the River Seixe, and continues south to Sagres and along the bottom edge of Portugal to just before Lagos, which is the end of the natural park areas and the beginning of the more built up parts of the Algarve.

Within the western Algarve, you have the Rota Vicentina walking and cycling trails that enable you to explore inland villages and countryside of the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentina Coast Natural Park as well as the stunning, unspoilt coastline. The beaches here are also popular with surfers.

Once you reach Lagos, you’re in the more developed part of the region, with more facilities and lots more people. For the purposes of this guide, the west of the Algarve extends to the coastal town of Portimão an inland up to and beyond the mountain spa town of Monchique (see the map above).


Odeceixe has a beautiful beach that’s good for families and surfers thanks to the river that runs across the sands. Great walks and a cute village with several restaurants make it a good base for exploring the area and enjoying its natural beauty.

Stunning coastline, Odeceixe
Stunning coastline, Odeceixe

Accommodation in Odeceixe village

Wherever possible, I choose accommodations that follow sustainable practices, as indicated by the number of leaves (3 is the top score). No leaf simply means that I can’t verify their current efforts regarding sustainable travel but I love the property.

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Casas do Moinho is a cluster of beautifully renovated cottages spreading uphill as you leave the village. With an outdoor pool and views to die for plus a nearby restaurant, you may not want to leave, especially since there’s a thoughtful welcome package. Choose from rooms, suites and mezzanine apartments.

You can choose from a one bedroom apartment or a room at this eco-friendly accommodation. There are river and mountain views and a terrace. The place is spotless and the owners live downstairs so are available if needs be. There’s also free parking. Select a date to suit you.

Casa da Várzea

This lovely fresh two bedroomed apartment has a balcony with river views and comes with a decent well-stocked kitchen. The furnishings are modern yet cozy and the beds are comfy. A nice little touch is the welcome pack. See availability.


The small but pretty town of Aljezur is a gateway to stunning beaches such as Monte Clérigo (good for families) and Arrifana (good for surfers). Little information plaques in the streets help you discover local history and there are several short walking trails as well as the Rota Vicentina to explore.

Praia do Monte Clérigo, Aljezur, Algarve, Portugal. Photography by Julie Dawn Fox
Praia do Monte Clérigo, Aljezur

Apartments and Guesthouses in Aljezur

Herdade Quinta Natura Turismo Rural

Herdade Quinta Natura Turismo Rural offers 4 private suites each with its own terrace. The outdoor swimming pool is seasonal, but you can walk around the property to enjoy the beautiful greenery and the river that crosses through it. Great breakfasts are provided and the self-serving kitchen is open all day for guests to use. Check availability and see photos

Guesthouse Aljezur Center

There’s a wide range of spacious accommodation, from studios and apartments to rooms, available at this guesthouse. Studios come with a balcony or terrace and the decor throughout is modern and sleek. Check in is straightforward and hosts are friendly and informative. Select your preference.

Vila do Bispo

This quaint little village in the southwest of the Algarve has a calm, unhurried atmosphere and pleasant cobbled streets to explore. Look out for windmills and marble sculptures as you wander.

Best of all, it’s only a short drive to one of my favourite Algarve beaches, Castelejo. When the tide is out, you can walk along the sands to the neighbouring Praia da Cordoama. Both have beach bars and attract surfers and walkers.

Where to stay in Vila do Bispo

Green Sustainability leaf for hotels
Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

This is a modern and very comfortable bed and breakfast with a wide range of double rooms or King rooms that come with a balcony. Breakfast is delicious and the staff are very helpful. Choose a room.

Green Sustainability leaf for hotels
Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

This sustainable bed and breakfast accommodation has lovely rooms-including a windmill– that are elegantly designed and comfortable. The mill room is a little tight on space but a lovely experience. You’ll feel a very calm and relaxing atmosphere here (yoga and massages are available) and start the day with an excellent breakfast. Book your stay!

Casa Mestre

You can choose a double room or apartment at Casa Mestre. This bright and colourful place has a garden, terrace and pool. Very homely and welcoming. Select a date.


At the very tip of the Algarve region, Sagres has an important naval history. Prince Henry the Navigator set sail from here to explore the world and the fortress is worth a visit if you’re interested in such things. The town itself is small and popular with surfers so there are several bars and a range of restaurants. The fishing harbour is interesting and you can walk across the cliffs or head to the beach.

Clifftop view, Sagres, Portugal
Clifftop view, Sagres, Portugal

Accommodation in Sagres

Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort Hotel

For a luxurious retreat for quality time with the kids, consider this 5-star hotel. It’s just 2 minutes away from Martinhal beach and 3 km from the historic fishing port of Sagres. Choose between boutique-style rooms and villas with private balconies and terraces. With 3 restaurants, 3 adult pools, a tennis court, a spa and wellness centre as well as shuttle services, this resort is non-smoking throughout. See photos and choose your preferred view

Green Sustainability leaf for hotels
Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

For unrivalled views of the ocean and fortress, stay at this boutique hotel. Rooms and public spaces feature a classical style with a tasteful maritime theme. Service is excellent and there’s a decent-sized pool. Grab a room with sea views

A mere 2-minute stroll from Mareta beach and handily located for restaurants. The well-maintained garden with native plants, the lively décor, facilities adapted for disabled guests and the array of activities available make this property a great option. Street parking only. Choose a room with sea view

Salema, Burgau and Luz

As you head east along the southern coast, the next two fishing villages of note are Salema and Burgau. Salema has attracted more attention and therefore investment in recent years but they are both protected by being within the natural park so not overdeveloped.

Read more about Salema’s charms in this post.

Fishing boats, Salema, Algarve
Fishing boats, Salema, Algarve

Luz is the first beach and town after leaving the natural park and is dominated by a massive cliff. The pleasant promenade is lined with cafés and restaurants and there are more of these as you head up the hill and into the village, which is a mixture of the traditional and the tourist-oriented and still quite attractive, especially when compared to some of the more popular destinations between Lagos and Faro.

Sagres accommodation options

Beachhouse Algarve

This is quite a special two bedroomed house featuring a terrace and lovely garden views. The inner courtyard with beautiful stonework is a real oasis, along with the small decorative pool (not for swimming). With the beach close by and excellent hosts, it’s the ideal place to base your stay. These photos are a must.

NAU Salema Beach Village

Choose a townhouse in the 4-star beach village and enjoy relaxing on the terrace or garden and take advantage of the seasonal outdoor pool. You’ll find everything you need in the well equiped kitchens and for those with a car free parking is available onsite. Choose a townhouse with a gorgeous sea view.

Sleeping in a tent may not be your cup of tea but there’s a wide range of lovely apartments and studios available at this Eco Camp. There’s a peacefulness and tranquility but be warned, wifi is minimal at best. Check out the choices.

Quinta do Mar – Country & Sea Village

Set back from the beach by about 1 km you’ll find the cute and colourful Quinta do Mar da Luz, Burgau, which offers various types of apartments and rooms in a stone building and outlying wings surrounding a pool. Perfect for relaxing in natural surroundings. See photos and check availablility

You really can’t get closer to the beach than Luz Beach Apartments. This row of self-catering accommodation offers you furnished balconies with sea views, including a second private outside area for the larger apartments. There are several restaurants and bars serving traditional and international delicacies a 2-minute walk away. There is free public parking available as well as bike rental and shuttle services. See photos and check availability

Praia da Luz, Algarve. Guide to the best places to stay in the Algarve, Portugal
Praia da Luz, Algarve


Lagos has some of the region’s most attractive beaches, with and without cliff stacks. Many of the hotels are on the cliff between the old town and the Ponte da Piedade headland although there are some accommodations in the historical centre or opposite the marina.

You’ll find the remains of an old fortress and a few monuments and museums dotted around the cobbled streets of old Lagos. Not to mention a profusion of tourist-oriented shops, bars and restaurants. I’m too old for nightclubs but if you are looking for a party town, this is a good bet. Don’t let that put you off if your clubbing days are over – it’s possible to avoid this.

My detailed Lagos accommodation guide delves deeper into the pros and cons of different neighbourhoods.

Take a look at my The Best 20 Things To Do In Lagos for some great ideas.

If you’re travelling from Lisbon to Lagos then check out the best ways to get there.

Lagos hotels, apartments and villas

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A gorgeous intimate adults-only hotel beautifully furnished with gardens and a pool you can lose yourself in. There are lots of Portuguese tiles and works of art throughout the building. You can choose rooms with a variety of views and start the day with an excellent breakfast. Photos are a must see!

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A cheerful adults-only complex of villas with private patios set around a pool and an exotic garden with palm trees. Only a 5-minute walk from Praia Dona Ana Beach, there are several restaurants and a supermarket within walking distance. All the main landmarks are less than a mile away, including Lagos Castle, Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse and Meia Praia Beach. See photos and check availability

Boutique Hotel Vivenda Miranda

For a romantic stay just outside Lagos, try this 4-star boutique hotel. Here you can relax with majestic surroundings, an outdoor pool, spa, sauna and massage services and a short walk to Porto de Mós beach. Check verified reviews and availability


If you’re not too fussed about being near the beach and prefer mountains and greenery with good hiking options, Monchique might suit you as a place to stay. The spa village of Caldas de Monchique is a few kilometres below the main town and is the best place if you’re looking for a well-being break.

Read my Discover the best things to do in Monchique post for some great ideas.

If you want somewhere a little livelier, with more facilities, continue up the hill to Monchique town or find a country retreat in the surrounding hills.

Caldas de Monchique, Algarve
Caldas de Monchique, Algarve

Accommodation options near Monchique

If you want to feel fully pampered, relaxed or revived, this luxury Resort & Spa should do the trick. Surrounded by greenery and stunning views, the hotel’s pool and treatment facilities make use of the thermal springs that have been making people feel better since Roman times. With onsite restaurant bars and entertainment, there’s no need to leave unless you want to explore the area. See photos and current prices

Green Sustainability leaf for hotels
Green Sustainability leaf for hotels


Two chairs looking out at view from our balcony at Vila Foia, Monchique
View from our balcony at Vila Foia, Monchique

A more remote option with stunning mountain views and an outdoor pool is the delightful Vila Foia, between Monchique and Foia mountain. The spacious modern rooms have balconies and there are plenty of lounging options in the gardens. You’ll want a car if you’re staying here, although there are several hiking trails nearby. Check availability and reviews

Another lovely rural retreat is this cute Quinta, which offers whitewashed stone cottages with self-catering facilities surrounded by fruit trees and greenery. There’s no swimming pool so you’ll need a car if you want to go for a swim. See photos and prices

And don’t forget the small fishing village of Alvor, nestled inbetween Lagos and Portimão.


Riverside walk, Portimão, Algarve, Portugal. Photgraphy by Julie Dawn Fox
Riverside walk, Portimão, Algarve, Portugal. Photgraphy by Julie Dawn Fox

The Arade River could be considered to be where West meets Central Algarve and this is where you will find the port city of Portimao, known for its old quarter, busy marina and proximity to many beaches. As the second largest city in the Algarve, it has all the facilities you’ll need for a holiday, including the sandy expanse of Praia da Rocha beach. 

Once an important centre for the sardine canning industry, one of the canning factories has been transformed into a fascinating museum. Portimão is also renowned for its nightlife.

Read more about things to do in Portimão.

Portimão accommodation

This 5-star Hotel & Spa is set in a stately historical building and offers boutique accommodation. All rooms are decorated with a marine theme and most provide views of the Atlantic Ocean from private balconies. Service is outstanding. Check availability

Green Sustainability leaf for hotels
Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

If it’s 4-star standards you’re after, and easy access to the beach, head to this beachfront hotel, which has a heated pool, spa facilities and a sea-inspired decor. Lovely! See if you can bag a sea view room

Moonlight Swim

If there’s a large number of you (up to 14!) and you want to be spoiled try this super home. You get your own private cinema and a garden hot tub amongst other amenities at this luxury villa. View the photos.

Villa Rio Guest House Suites

Right in the center of Portimão you’ll find this guesthouse, a modern and comfortable stay with helpful staff and an outdoor swimming pool. See the photos and reviews.

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This guesthouse is in the heart of the city, clean and comfortable with a nice sun terrace. Check availability.

Fully equipped apartments surrounded by beautifully kept gardens. Rooms are bright and modern and you can relax at one of the three swimming pools. See details and availability

Apartamento Jeni Residencia Flamingo

For a stylish apartment very close to all amenities apartamento Jeni offers a seasonal outdoor swimming pool and a garden, as well as a nice terrace. Check out these lovely photos

Where to stay in Central Algarve

The stretch of coastline between Portimão and Faro is the most popular area for Algarve holidays, mostly due to the cliff stacks and caves that you’ll find between Lagos and Albufeira and the profusion of holiday resorts.

Inland, there is the medieval town of Silves and cute villages like Alte as well as the market town of Loulé. Again, the Via Algarviana trail runs across the region and there are cycle paths and walking trails to suit different abilities.

There is great variety within this area so choose your base to suit your budget and interests.


Carvoeiro beach and town, Algarve, Portugal
Carvoeiro beach and town, Algarve, Portugal

A small village rising away from a sandy cove, Carvoeiro is a popular holiday destination, as evidenced by the number of clifftop resorts and villas. If you don’t need much from your base apart from beach and restaurants, this could work for you.

There is a clifftop walking trail to help you make the most of the coastal views, and lots of boat trips and other water sports on offer.

Carvoeiro accommodation

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Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

You’ll find elegantly designed rooms, many with lovely sea views, at this refurbished 5-star hotel that overlooks Vale Covo. Besides the choice of two pools and a spa there’s also two excellent restaurants and a rooftop patio bar where you can sip on a cocktail or two. The staff will certainly do all they can to make your stay special. Book your dates now.

Overlooking the beach you’ll find this lovely guesthouse. Simple and cheerful, the rooms all have air conditioning and private bathrooms although they vary in size and decor. Some have balconies with stunning sea views. Choose a room to suit

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A 5-minute walk from Carvoeiro beach, this 4-star hotel offers a lush garden with an outdoor pool and spa facilities. In the colourful onsite restaurant, you can taste typical regional and international dishes. Choose a room with a balcony

Luxury resorts between Carvoeiro and Albufeira

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Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

A better bet if you want to be able to walk down the cliff to a private beach and enjoy sea views is Vila Vita Parc in Armação da Pêra, just a little further along the coast. With a choice of 10 onsite restaurants and top notch spa and wellness facilities, not to mention an impressive wine cellar, you may not want to leave the 5-star multi award-winning resort. Again, you can stay in rooms or private villas and if you need catering and butler facilities, all you need to do is ask. See photos and check availability

Aerial view of Vila Vita Parc. Where to stay in the Algarve Portugal
Aerial view of Vila Vita Parc resort and beach. Photo courtesy of Vila Vita Parc.

This 5-star resort and spa is close to Carvoeiro and the nearby golf courses. It’s perhaps not the ideal choice if beach time is your priority but if you like a country setting and have a car, it’s a good base for exploring the area. Choose between rooms and private townhouses.


Albufeira is one of the most popular Algarve towns for holidays thanks to its proximity to a large sandy beach and a range of small museums and sights. Even so, you can still escape from the very touristy centre by wandering around some of the back streets. This is another party town if you’re after nightlife.

It’s good for families too and there are countless restaurants and activities on offer and it’s not far from ZooMarine if you’re in need of a waterpark. Find out what else there is to do in Albufeira in this article.

Beach, Albufeira, Algarve Portugal
Beach, Albufeira

Albufeira accommodation

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You won’t get much closer to the beach than this adults-only 4-star hotel and it’s also right next to the lively heart of Albufeira. The onsite restaurant has a privileged view of the ocean while the bar has live music overlooking the beach. There is no parking available, but there are small public parking areas that fill up quickly. See photos and check availability

Lemon Sands

If you’re looking for a villa with a swimming pool then this one could be for you. Sleeping 8 people there’s space for everyone in this beautiful holiday home. Take a look at these lovely photos.

Pool and house. Lemon Sands, Albufeira, Algarve
Lemon Sands, Albufeira, Algarve
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A luxury choice that’s good for families as well as couples and only 3 km away from Albufeira centre. It offers direct access to Santa Eulália beach, 4 outdoor swimming pools, a tennis court, a Thalassotherapy Spa and a fitness centre. Choose between 3 restaurants, 3 bars and 3 pool bars. During high season there is also a disco. Free private parking. See photos and check availability

Apartamentos Pescadores

If you are looking for a comfortable and unpretentious self-catering option, choose Apartamentos Pescadores. Right in the heart of Albufeira, the studios and apartments are 1-minute walk from Pescadores beach. Featuring sea views, air conditioning, a seating area and full kitchenettes, the clean and modern property is 400 metres away from countless restaurants and bars. Read reviews and check availability

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This adults-only 4-star beach hotel has rooms that all open onto a private balcony. There’s a selection of massage facilities and an outdoor pool to be enjoyed. Free parking is available and reception staff are very helpful. Choose a room.

Vilamoura and Quinta do Lago

Vilamoura is a purpose built resort town with an award-winning marina and wide sandy beach. It attracts a moneyed crowd, whereas neighbouring Quarteira is more down to earth and has lots of apartment blocks.

Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago are lands of mansions that cost millions, luxury resorts, lakes and golf courses between the stone pine forests.

Colourful boat on the lake, Quinta do Lago, Algarve, Portugal
Colourful boat on the lake, Quinta do Lago

5-star resorts

Green Sustainability leaf for hotels
Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

Located in Vale do Lobo golf resort between Vilamoura (21-minute drive) and Faro (29-minute drive), this beach club is exclusive and decidedly luxurious. This property offers apartments, a private beach, 3 outdoor pools and an indoor pool, spa and wellness centre as well as a restaurant and bar overlooking the ocean. Free private parking, which is good because you’ll need a car in order to explore offsite. See photos and check availability

Quinta do Lago Country Club

Quinta do Lago Country Club is a 10-minute walk from the beach. This beautifully bright luxury resort offers an indoor and outdoor pool, golf courses and fitness centre. Each apartment has a spa bath, a kitchenette and a private patio. The nearest supermarkets are a short drive away and for a wider choice of restaurants and bars you’ll need to take a 5-minute drive. Make sure to choose a room with sea view

4-star hotel in Vilamoura

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The tiled floors and shaded balconies of this hotel overlook the International Yacht Marina and Vilamoura beach. The onsite restaurant serves extensive Mediterranean food and Portuguese specialities although you can walk to nearby alternatives. It also boasts an outdoor pool, a jacuzzi and a wide assortment of entertainment activities. Read reviews and check availability


If you’re not too bothered about staying in a coastal area, head inland to the small town of Loulé. This quiet, attractive town has a strong local community and plenty of culture and creativity. It has a castle, a couple of art galleries and a great market and it’s conveniently located for the motorway.

There are some good walks in this area, especially if you have a car to get around.

Saturday street market, Loulé, Algarve, Portugal. Photography by Julie Dawn Fox
Saturday street market, Loulé

Where to stay in Loulé

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I’ve stayed twice in this hotel and would gladly do it again. For a 3 star hotel, it has an amazingly rich and varied breakfast and to top it all, there’s a rooftop pool. Check availability and grab a room if you can.

Green Sustainability leaf for hotels
Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

If you’d rather be up in the hills and enjoy the views from an infinity pool, the delightful Casa Mocho Branco offers rooms and a villa. Check availability at this gorgeous guest house.


As the region’s capital city, Faro has a lot to offer in terms of history and culture and although you need to travel (by car, bus or boat) to reach a beach, it makes a handy base for exploring the Algarve.

You don’t even need a car as the train connects you with eastern and western towns and there are plenty of buses to inland towns and villages.

Read this article for a more comprehensive list of fantastic places to stay in Faro.

Read more about what to do in Faro

View of Largo da Sé and Ria Formosa from Faro Cathedral, one of many things to do in Faro Portugal
View of Largo da Sé and Ria Formosa from Faro Cathedral

Faro hotels and guesthouses

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Get spoilt at this 5-star hotel less than 5 miles from Faro airport. It has everything you’d expect including an indoor and outdoor pool, a spa and two excellent restaurants. Rooms are smartly designed and the rooftop terrace provides some lovely views. Check availability.

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This 4-star hotel is right next to the marina and features a rooftop pool, bar and restaurant with great views of the Ria Formosa. There’s also a spa and gym should you feel the need. Try to get a room with a balcony 

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Opus One Luxury Guest House

Opus One Luxury Guest House is a delightful luxury boutique guest house located between the chapel of bones and the shopping streets. The thoughtful hosts have paid attention to details throughout in their interior design and welcoming touches. Breakfast is very good and there’s a small but cute outdoor pool and spa facilities. Choose one of the uniquely decorated rooms

This 3-star boutique hotel is central with clean, crisp modern lines and contemporary furnishings. Best of all, it has a rooftop bar and very comfy beds. Some rooms have balconies. See photos and check prices.

Best places to stay in Eastern Algarve

The eastern part of the Algarve region tends to be calmer and less touristy than the centre. It still has lovely beaches, many of which are on islands in the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The towns are less built up, or have at least escaped the high rise developments of cities like Portimão, and they attract a different type of holidaymaker.

If you want to avoid crowds, soak up the atmosphere of authentic Portuguese towns and villages, head east.


While Olhão waterfront is lined with restaurants and there are plenty of boat trips to the islands and beaches in the Ria Formosa, the rest of the town is very much workaday and not overrun with tourists. The red brick market is a must see and as you’d expect, offers the freshest of fish and seafood as well as other local delights.

To make the most of your visit, check out my 13 Awesome Things To Do In Olhão post.

Olhao city scape with dome of church
Olhao city scape

Hotels in Olhão

Overlooking the Ria Formosa Nature Park and marina, this 5-star hotel and spa takes advantages of its surrounding landscape, providing indoor and outdoor pools with panoramic sea views. It also offers an exceptional fitness centre and spa and wellness services. Olhão’s old town and market are just a 6-minute walk away. Book a room with a sea view

Bedroom, Pure Formosa Hotel, Olhão, Algarve, Portugal
Bedroom, Pure Formosa Hotel, Olhão, Algarve, Portugal

This 3-star hotel really excels and I’m surprised it’s not a 4-star hotel, to be honest. You can enjoy a rooftop pool and bar, gorgeous textiles, helpful staff and a wonderful breakfast. Book your room.

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For a more rural setting near Olhão, try this gorgeous Quinta. Set in attractive grounds with an outdoor pool, this popular property offers rooms and private self-catering apartments with outdoor terraces. You’ll need a car but this is a great place to retreat from the hustle and bustle and parking is free. See available options


Rich in history and culture, Tavira is the perfect place to take your time and soak up the peaceful atmosphere. Unspoilt and decidedly laid back, this is one of my favourite towns in this southern region. 

There are plenty of things to do in Tavira including several small museums and the remains of a hilltop castle. If you need beach time, take a ferry to one of the islands in the Ria Formosa.

Views of Tavira architecture from the castle walls. One of many things to do in Tavira. Photography by Julie Dawn Fox
Views of Tavira architecture from the castle walls

Places to stay in Tavira

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The 16th century Our Lady of Grace convent near Tavira castle has been transformed into a luxury hotel with a delightful cloistered courtyard. Free parking, an outdoor pool and onsite spa facilities and restaurant add to the appeal of Pousada Convento de Tavira. Grab a room with a balcony if you can

This olive farm offers rooms and apartments of varying sizes in a charming garden setting within walking distance of the main sights. All accommodation comes with a balcony from where you can view the local landscape, plus free parking and an outdoor pool. See photos and check availability

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A cosy and inviting renovated townhouse in the centre of Tavira with a wonderful rooftop terrace. There’s no pool but you can top up your tan on the sun terrace if you need to. Check current prices and availability

Monte Gordo

While the town of Monte Gordo is not especially inspiring and is more built up than most places in the eastern Algarve, it has the undeniable attraction of being just across the road from a massive beach. It has plenty of restaurants, shops and cafés to serve the summer influx and is popular with wintering Europeans.

If you walk to the western end of the wooden boardwalk, you’ll find the fishing boats and a restaurant/café run by the local fishing community.

Where to stay in Monte Gordo

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Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

This 4-star is a modern, spotlessly clean hotel that comes with a rooftop pool and marvellous views. There’s an on-site restaurant serving healthy meals and the staff are extremely friendly and helpful. Check out the views from the rooms.

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Hotel Vasco Da Gama

The Hotel Vasco da Gama is a 3-minute walk from one of the most famous Algarve beaches. The 3-star hotel offers 2 outdoor pools and a seaside terrace, 2 tennis courts, a fitness centre and a mini golf course. The 2 onsite restaurants and snack bar have beach and pool views and there are plenty of others within walking distance. Check availability and reviews

Vila Real de Santo António

Just across the river from Spain and at the the very eastern end of the Algarve lies Vila Real de Santo António. Purpose built to support the local fishing industry, the grid of streets opposite the marina were originally organised by activity, such as shoe-making, butchers’, goldsmiths and other trades.

You’ll find panels in the street which go into more detail and offer insights into 18th century Algarve. You can take a seasonal tourist train to the beach and boat trips on the Guadiana River.

Vila Real Main Square By Marc Ryckaert (MJJR)

Hotels in Vila Real de Santo António

This beautiful hotel, built in 1926, has recently been fully renovated and reopened as a 5-star hotel. Overlooking the river and with its own riverside beach club and pool with deck, it is both relaxed and elegant if you’re looking for a little luxury. See photos and check availability

Located in Vila Real de Santo António town centre, a 30-minute drive from Faro Airport. You will find spacious rooms with private balconies, an outdoor swimming pool and several activities. 2 supermarkets and numerous restaurants are within walking distance. There is free parking onsite, making it a good base if you want to explore by car. Check current prices and availability

Room with huge windows at Pombalene Red. Vila Real de Santo António. Algarve
Pombalene Red. Vila Real de Santo António. Algarve

Pombaline Red

If you’re looking for a stylish apartment that sleeps up to 4 try Pombaline Red. Because of its huge windows it’s bright and spacious and you get use of the shared pool. Check availability.

Castro Marim

With its medieval castle and pretty gardens in Arab-Islamic style, Castro Marim has plenty of charm. It’s also a centre for salt production and the surrounding salt pans and wetlands are a haven for birds, especially flamingos, storks and gulls. You can even have an outdoor mud spa experience in the salt pans!

If you like the idea of staying in a more rural, traditional part of the Algarve, Castro Marim offers countryside, traditional towns and easy access to Praia Verde beach.

Castro Marim and castle
Castro Marim and castle

Where to stay in Castro Marim

Green Sustainability leaf for hotels
Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

The delightful hosts at Monte de Malhão offer quality, artistic decor and furnishings, an outdoor pool and hammocks in the garden. Check availability and prices.

Green Sustainability leaf for hotels

An active traditional farm surrounded by delightful orchards. Choose from nine lovingly designed apartments and houses. There’s an on-site restaurant, a swimming pool with sun-deck as well as a private beach within walking distance. Check out the facilities.

If you’re looking for a luxury villa in the Algarve, or anywhere else in Portugal, take a look at my The Best Luxury Villas In Portugal post for some great ideas.

Algarve guide books and maps

Pack a dedicated regional guide book and map to help you make the most out of your stay in the Algarve.

Click to see more about these on Amazon:

Algarve Travel Guide: 54 Cities/Towns/Villages

gives you an overview of the most significant settlements in the Algarve with practical information that’s useful for holidaymakers as well as those researching a place for relocation.

If you’re just coming to the Algarve for a holiday, this pocket guide covers the key places of interest and more

Algarve Marco Polo Spiral Guide (Marco Polo Spiral Guides)

You may find a map comes in handy too:

Algarve Marco Polo Map 1:150,000 (Marco Polo Holiday Maps)

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Find your ideal place to stay in the Algarve, Portugal
Find your ideal place to stay in the Algarve, Portugal


  1. Hello Jule,
    I am so impressed by the depth and breath of your information guide. It’s really extensive, so much so, that I wonder if you you could help to narrow down some choices for us.
    We hope to go to the Algarve are for 2-3 weeks towards the end of February to early or mid March for 2-3 weeks. Our requirements are to have easy access to the beach, and walkable to amenities or a nearby village, as well as a train or bus transportation. We would prefer not to have to rent a car if possible. We would also prefer not to be in albufeira, but in one of the areas not so touristy but with lots of local restaurants. I would like to make a day trip to Evora while we’re there and possibly stay for one night.

    We would stay in the algarve for a good week then head up to porto for another 4-5 days.

    Thank you Julie. Keep up the fantastic work.

  2. Hi there! Wondering where you would suggest staying for a first time visitor coming in October hoping to enjoy some good views, food, and drinks? We’re hoping to stay somewhere that isn’t totally empty with nothing going on.

    1. Author

      Hi Alissa, Depending on your interests, I’d aim for one of the larger towns. Faro, Tavira, Lagos, Portimão or Albufeira. Faro is a great option because you can easily get to other towns from there by train or car.

  3. So our planning begins and your article is helping. We are two possibly three couples wanting to spend two weeks, one week in each of two bases. Do you recommend on of those places me in Alentejo? I keep reading aboutit. otherwise maybe Evora and the algarve?

  4. Thank you , i went to Lagos and i had a great time there.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this guide to the Algarve. Even though I’ve lived in Lagos for 2-plus years and am now in Albufeira, I’m finding all sorts of great suggestions and new places to explore. I’ve bookmarked and Pinterested the guide and you can be sure I’ll be both using it and sharing it when friends and family visit!

  6. Great list Julie, my favourites being Olhao and the tranquil Ferragudo, which thankfully you missed as it’s my hidden gem!!! Enjoy your well deserved break ??

  7. My wife and I have traveled extensively throughout Algarve and come to the conclusion that Sagres is by far the best if you have no children, want to stay away from large crowds, be near some of the finest beaches (and surf) in Algarve and mix with the locals. The Mareta View is our favorite although we have stayed at most of the ones mentioned.
    (Portamão was fun, but my wife didn’t like the large crowds)

    1. Author

      Thanks, Luigi. Happy to hear that you enjoyed the relative peace and natural charms of Sagres.

  8. Fantastic list. Thanks for doing this.

    1. Author

      You’re welcome, Peter

  9. hi Julie this is one seriously good article,i have stayed in Algarve before olhao and faro ,nice one I am living in gois now all the best dave

    1. Author

      Thanks Dave. Hope you’re enjoying Gois. I love the river beach there.

  10. Hi Julie,
    Great listing of options.
    The eastern Algarve link does not seem to be active.
    Also ,you did not mention Praia da Rocha (Portimão),it’s not my kind of town but does deserve a mention.
    All the best,

    1. Author

      Thanks for the heads up about the link, José. I’m tearing my hair out trying to fix it! I may add Portimão at a later date but for now, I’m done 🙂

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