Since the 1960s, the Algarve in the southern part of Portugal has been a popular tourist hotspot. But there’s more to it than desirable high temperatures and practically perfect beaches. The Algarve is also home to stunning rock formations, expanses of wild and untamed landscape. There are thriving, energetic cities driven by the tourist trade and quieter fishing villages full of genuine local flavour.

So whether you’re planning to unwind on the beach or you’re looking for a sense of Portugal’s rich Moorish history, there’s something for everyone in this list of highlights.

Algarve, Portugal

The other side of Lagos

Most people visiting the Algarve head straight for Lagos. It’s a dynamic, busy city with never-ending beaches – the perfect place to bask in the sun close to the gentle breeze of the Atlantic Sea. It’s no surprise that Lagos is a popular destination for those wanting late deal holidays to escape the humdrum.

But, away from the coastline, the rest of the city is worth exploring too.

Lagos is full of stunning architecture, from 16th century defences like the historic city walls to the Governor’s Castle, which dates back to the Arabs.

Lagos, Portugal

Old and new in Albufeira

Another particularly popular tourist area, Albufeira reflects the duality that makes the Algarve so spectacular.
On the one hand, you can wander through the historic old town’s cobbled streets. This part of the city is also home to a busy market, a great place to grab a bargain and find some lovely souvenirs. It’s a place that’s full of the friendly, welcoming atmosphere that the Algarve is renowned for.

Meanwhile, Albufeira’s new town is packed with style. There, you’ll find boutique shops, luxurious restaurants, and unforgettable food. And when the sun goes down, the Albufeira strip is lined with late-night pubs and clubs.

Algarve, Portugal

Exploring the Algarve’s landscape

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that some of the Algarve’s finest features are away from the busy cities and resorts. In fact, the unspoilt Algarve is a stark contrast – a lush, densely packed landscape that feels miles away from civilization.
A firm favourite is Serra de Monchique, where rolling green hills stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s an unforgettable sight and, thanks to the small villages littered across the area, is also convenient enough for a short stay or to take a break from the beach.


Images by Strafefox and Tiago G. Ferandes, used under the Creative Commons license.

Want to improve your photography? Subscribe to my Travel Photography YouTube Channel!