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Planning a trip to Portugal? Then you had better make a stop in the Algarve. This is a region all about the sun, sea, and relaxation. For families, you’ll also find there are so many fun things to do in Algarve that will leave lasting memories for years to come.
Because The Algarve Portugal has one of the most scenic coastlines in the world, you can expect a lot of attractions to be about the beaches and cliffs.
In fact, the coastline is dotted with exquisite pinnacles and arches, which are a wonder to witness. But more importantly, the Algarve is a great destination for those wanting to visit Europe on a budget.
In this guide, I’ll be showing you some of the best attractions in the Algarve, from highly rated landmarks to hidden gems. So when you’re ready, go take a look!
- Things to do in Algarve, Portugal
- 1. See Epic Rock Formations at Ponta da Piedade, Algarve Portugal
- 2. Marvel at Benagil Cave
- 3. Visit Praia dos Tres Irmaos at Low Tide
- 4. See The Stunning Praia da Marinha
- 5. Splash in the Waves of Praia da Falesia
- 6. See Sea-Stacks at Praia dos Tres Castelos
- 7. Visit Praia do Evaristo at High Tide
- 8. Enjoy the Vistas of Praia da Albandeira
- 9. Explore The Blow Holes at Algar Seco
- 10. Visit the Cabo de São Vicente Lighthouse
- 11. Check out the Vila Real de Santo António
- 12. Explore the Historic District of Faro
- 13. Look for Dolphins off the Coast of Sagres
- 14. Explore the Enchanting Ria Formosa Natural Park
- 15. Go Surfing, Kayaking, or Scuba Diving
- 16. Get Lost in the Streets of Albufeira
- 17. Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
- Getting Around Portugal via Road Trip
- Before You Go
Want to see all the attractions in a short amount of time? Take a look at this short video first, then scroll down for my insider tips!
Things to do in Algarve, Portugal
If you’re ready to get lost in the Algarve, then we’re ready too! These attractions in the Algarve are some of the most beautiful places in the region and should give you a good idea of what to do in Algarve Portugal when you visit.
1. See Epic Rock Formations at Ponta da Piedade, Algarve Portugal
Ponta da Piedade is a promontory located West of the town of Lagos. Exploring the coastal rock formations is one of the best things to do in the Algarve, and this is definitely one of the best examples.
The erosion has created an incredible number of features with sea caves, arches, and pinnacles. Its situation offers splendid views of the coastline in both directions which makes it a great spot for sunset and sunrise!
You can check the various vantage points from the top of the cliffs or walk down the 190 steps to see more of the cove with the arches.
2. Marvel at Benagil Cave
The Benagil Sea Cave is probably one of the most famous and best places in Algarve.
Fake photos have even circulated where the dome was supposedly sculpted. That would have been awesome, but it is already beautiful as it is.
The whole coast has been eroded creating sea caves in some places: on a boat trip from Benagil beach, you can see roughly 30 of them.
Some are open to the sea, but others like Benagil, have only small entrances, creating a real cave experience.
Benagil is circular with a colorful dome and a hole at the top for the light to come in. Everything is there for an unforgettable moment!
3. Visit Praia dos Tres Irmaos at Low Tide
Accessible via another beach, Tres Irmaos offers quite a unique feature with its double arch, which is best seen at low tide.
It is a lot of fun to explore the other coves until you reach it. But be mindful of the tide as it can be complicated seeing the cliffs at high tide.
At low tide though, the water goes all the way out so you can walk under the arches.
4. See The Stunning Praia da Marinha
Praia da Marinha has often been rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and is one of the best beaches in the Algarve.
This long beach with towering cliffs sure has a lot to offer with many coves to explore and a series of natural arches.
The location can be admired from a walk at the top of the cliffs, from the beach itself at low tide, or from a boat that enables you to see it as a whole. It’s truly magnificent!
5. Splash in the Waves of Praia da Falesia
Praia da Falesia Beach is one of my absolute favorite beaches in Portugal – I love the colors of the surrounding cliffs, which seem to fade from yellows to orange.
This beach is one of the longest beaches, with 6 kilometers of hard work created by Mother Nature with layers of colors and endless soft sand. And the best part is that you can see it entirely from a viewpoint on a promontory at the West end.
Definitely one of the best places to visit in the Algarve. Breathtaking, don’t you think?
Another fantastic beach known for its natural beauty is Praia Dona Ana beach, which is similar in that it has layers of colorful rock, but it’s a lot smaller.
6. See Sea-Stacks at Praia dos Tres Castelos
Located in the heart of a big coastal town, Tres Castelos is surprisingly monumental.
There is one place where the sea stack is very close to the towering cliff and walking between both is impressive.
You feel really small as you walk between the stacks, but isn’t it amazing what mother nature can do to something as structurally sound as rock?
It’s definitely up there as one of the most impressive sights in the Algarve.
7. Visit Praia do Evaristo at High Tide
Evaristo Beach in Portugal is mostly famous for its restaurant. And yet, I think this is one of the best beaches in the Algarve to see at high tide (when most are better seen at low tide).
It’s covered with small rock formations on the shoreline, so the waves come crashing against them creating a magical show. At low tide, the rock is filled with natural pools and you may find some crabs and small fish hiding in them.
Exploring these shallow rock pools is a great homeschooling lesson for young kids, and is one of the best things to do in Algarve with family.
Photographers will love exploring this area and spending time capturing the huge crashing waves.
8. Enjoy the Vistas of Praia da Albandeira
Praia da Albandeira is one of the lesser-known beaches in the Algarve, but it’s definitely one of the best secluded beaches in Portugal.
It’s a small cove with a nice rock formation in the middle and the water fills most of it at high tide.
But the best part, I think, is walking on the cliffs to the west coast to see the hidden cove on the other side. From there you have a fantastic view of a giant arch jumping in the water!
9. Explore The Blow Holes at Algar Seco
For those who like views and exploration, Algar Seco is a great place to visit in the Algarve!
You can walk down a large hole in the cliff, where at the bottom you’ll find erosion has created a huge blow-hole. You can also explore a tunnel under a rock formation to see the cliffs from a different angle.
Or, you can go for a walk on the cliffs for great views of the coastline. You can either stick to the Carvoeiro boardwalk or get off it to explore the many rocks and structures.
Whichever way you decide to explore Algar Seco, this is certainly one of the most unusual things to do in Algarve.
10. Visit the Cabo de São Vicente Lighthouse
The Cabo de Sao Vicente lighthouse is a unique place in the Algarve because of its position. It’s located on the Sagres Point peninsula known as the Cape of St Vincent. It sits right on the edge of a cliff, with crashing waves below.
A lighthouse has stood in this spot since 1520, and is constructed on the site of a convent. The lighthouse was used as a coastal defense from attacks from marauding soldiers, but the original structure was destroyed by Francis Drake in 1587. The structure you see today was ordered by Queen D. Maria II in 1846.
Though the lighthouse has undergone several renovations, it remains a working lighthouse and has a ton of history. For those looking for unique things to do in the Algarve, this should be at the top of your list.
11. Check out the Vila Real de Santo António
I’ve shown you a lot of beaches and rock formations so far in this list, but if you’re looking for quaint and charming towns to explore, then the Vila Real de Santo António is the place.
It has a peaceful and relaxed vibe, and the locals here are unhurried and chilled. The perfect atmosphere for a vacation!
The town was originally built to house the plagued ravished fisherman from Averio and Spain in the mid-1700s and took just two years to build. The architecture resembles the pombaline-style that was found in Lisbon at the time, and there’s also a small fishing harbor and marina where you can get a ferry from the Algarve to Spain.
The town is also surrounded by stunning beaches, and makes for a great place to explore on a day trip.
12. Explore the Historic District of Faro
Another town in the Algarve you must add to your itinerary is Faro. It’s the capital of the Algarve region and is full of incredible attractions and activities.
Bursting with neoclassical architecture and historical landmarks, the old town of Faro is one of the best things to do in Algarve for history lovers.
Some notable sites in the town are the Arco da Vila, which was built on the site that was part of the original Moorish wall. This archway is the entrance to the old town, and opens up to unveil cobbled streets, cozy cafes, and boutique stores.
The Faro Cathedral is another landmark not to be missed. Built in the 13th century, the Cathedrale is a stunning piece of architecture and history that brings the town to life.
If you love museums, then The Municipal Museum is a great thing to do in Algarve when it’s raining. It’s set in a 16th-century convent and has exhibits showcasing prehistoric and medieval artifacts, as well as religious art.
13. Look for Dolphins off the Coast of Sagres
The coast of Sagres is the Southernmost tip of the Algarve and is the best place to see dolphins. You can see marine life from the shore, or take a boat tour out from one of the nearby towns.
The area is also popular with surfers because the waves are strong.
Along the cliffs, you’ll find many biking and hiking trails, and if you’re looking for seclusion, this is the best place to find hidden bays and less-touristy beaches.
For nature lovers, exploring this coastline is one of the best things to do in the Algarve.
14. Explore the Enchanting Ria Formosa Natural Park
Another must-visit for nature lovers is the Ria Formosa Natural Park. It’s considered one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal, and is one of the few protected nature areas in the country.
The nature park is made up of 5 barrier islands and 2 peninsulas. It also extends into the leeward coast of the Algarve, combining Loulé, Faro, Tavira, and Vila Real de Santo António.
The natural park is best described as a wetland, containing barrier islands, islets, marshes, tidal flats, dunes, and saltpans. There are a few freshwater lagoons and some woodlands in the park too.
The area is best known for being a haven for bird watchers and is one of the few places where you can see colorful flamingos as they migrate.
15. Go Surfing, Kayaking, or Scuba Diving
Since the Algarve is all about the ocean, it would be a shame to visit here and not go kayaking, surfing or scuba diving. These are the top three watersports to do in the Algarve and for good reason.
The Algarve coastline is so expansive, it offers a variety of wave conditions. You’ll find sheltered bays such as Praia Don Ana and Praia da Marinha, which are great for kayaking.
Or you can head to Sagres or Praia Camilo in Lagos where they are plenty of surf schools and bigger Atlantic Ocean waves – perfect for surfers. Another great surfing spot is Praia do Amado.
Top tip: The waves in the Algarve can get quite large, so if you’re not a confident surfer, consider booking a 2 hour surfing lesson.
16. Get Lost in the Streets of Albufeira
Albufeira is a small coastal city on the south coast and is known for its location on top of a precarious-looking cliff. The town’s walls often come right up to the edge of the cliff, and some buildings have even been cut into it in some places.
The town was once a thriving fishing village but it is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Algarve. There are many things to do in Albufeira, such as visit its strip of gorgeous, sandy beaches and if you like nightlife, you’ll find many vibrant bars and clubs in town.
The marina is still used by local fishermen to this day, and you can take boat tours out to do some diving, dolphin-watching, and explore the surrounding bays.
17. Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
For those who love hiking, the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is one of the best hiking trails in the Algarve. It’s a 6 km route that takes you past some of the best nature spots in the Algarve, including rugged coastlines and dramatic cliff faces, as well as natural caves and bays.
The trail is relatively easy, but it does have a bit of a climb up and down, so be wary of this if you are traveling with young children.
The starting point is in Praia da Marinha and it ends at Praia do Vale de Centianes. We recommend you stay in Lagoa and get a taxi back to your accommodation when you finish the trail.
If you’re looking for things to do in Algarve with kids, then you can also visit the nearby Slide and Splash waterpark which is just 15 minutes drive from this hiking trail.
It’s a popular hiking route, so you’ll be able to flag a taxi down at the end of it. You can find the map and route via the popular hiking app, AllTrails.
Getting Around Portugal via Road Trip
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Accommodation in Algarve
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Tours in Algarve
Before You Go
For more ideas about things to do on a road trip in the Algarve, or for planning information, beautiful photos, and practical maps to help you plan your travels, check out ZigZag On Earth’s eBook, or check out ZigZag On Earth’s Portugal Travel Guides:
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