Join us as we explore the 15 best towns in the Algarve, delving into the rich history, captivating beauty, and modern amenities of each.

Best Towns in Algarve Silves with castle and church in background

The Best Towns in the Algarve: A Guide to Unveiling the Region's Wonders

We have selected the 15 best towns in Algarve but, the Algarve is a region renowned for its stunning coastline, vibrant culture, and charming towns. From the tranquil havens of the Eastern Algarve to the lively atmosphere of the Western coast.

The Algarve offers a diverse and captivating array of experiences. Discover the region’s best towns, each with its unique charm and treasures to discover.

Whether you’re a family seeking a serene retreat, a couple in search of a romantic holiday, or a solo traveler eager to explore historic towns in the Algarve, our guide to the Algrve’s best towns will tell you everything.

Each destination in the Algarve offers a unique blend of history, beauty, and modern amenities, making them must-visit towns for any traveler.

As you travel through each location you will see that every town has that special magic to it, making it an unique place. 

Our 15 Best Towns in the Algarve

Which are the 15 best towns in the Algarve?

To us at Algarve Travel Tips, these top the list to our 15 best towns in the Algarve.

Learn the History, the culture, cuisine and traditions of each town.

  1. Albufeira 
  2. Loulé
  3. Vilamoura
  4. Silves
  5. Lagos
  6. Portimão
  7. Sagres
  8. Tavira
  9. Faro
  10. Carvoeiro
  11. Olhão
  12. Vila Real Santo Antonio
  13. Monchique
  14. Aljezur
  15. Querença

Map of the 15 Best Towns in the Algarve

On the map of the Algarve you will be able to locate all the towns. 

You can easily visit several towns on the same day. 

We recommend you divide your visit to the towns into Eastern, Central and Western Algarve.

Eastern Algarve Best Towns

The Eastern Algarve, also known as the Sotavento region of Algarve.  The Eastern Algarve is sometimes overshadowed by the western side of the Algarve with its beautiful coastal rock forms. But, this region boasts its unique charm and allure that has attracted visitors for centuries and many more in the future.

Eastern Algarve, a region with hidden gems like Olhão with its fresh seafood and revitalized waterfront, The Ria Formosa Natural Park  extending 60km (37.82 miles) along the coast of the Algarve commencing at the Garrão beach to Vila Real Santo António. 

OLHÃO:

One of the best towns in the Algarve for fresh fish and sea food is in Olhão. 

Olhão was once one of the largest traditional fishing towns in the Algarve. If you visit Olhão you must see the fresh fish market with a great variety of fresh fish.

Over the last couple of years, Olhão has re-developed its waterfront areas, and built a new Marina, it is a pleasant walk overlooking the Ria Formosa.

From Olhão, you can catch the boat and ferry to the Islands of Armona, Culatra, and Farol. Spend a day on these islands with their warm, crystal clear waters.

Find out everything you need to see and do in our Olhão  Tourist Guide

Aeral of Olhão - best towns in ALgarve
Olhão – One of the  best towns in the Algarve for fresh seafood & Fish

TAVIRA:

As one of the best towns in the Algarve, Tavira is renowned for its 21 churches, art galleries, and cultural events.  As you walk or drive through Tavira look out for the different churches throughout the town.

At the heart of Tavira flows the serene River Gilão, adding to the town’s picturesque setting. The Roman Bridge, an emblem of Tavira’s past, arches gracefully over the river, providing a scenic backdrop for leisurely strolls and photo opportunities. Don’t forget to catch the ferry to Tavira Island beach.

Art and culture flourish in Tavira, with numerous art galleries and cultural events that reflect the local traditions and artistic talent. The traditional markets in Tavira are a celebration of local produce and crafts, offering a glimpse into the everyday life of its residents.

Indulge in the local cuisine of Tavira, featuring fresh seafood and traditional recipes. Octopus is always on the menu in Tavira served in a stew, fried or baked, still following the old traditional recipes, providing an authentic taste of the Algarve.

It is a town that captivates the hearts of its visitors, leaving them with memories of its unique charm and tranquil beauty.

Best towns in the Algarve Tavira river with roman bridge
Roman Historical bridge in Tavira on Gilão River

VILA REAL SANTO ANTONIO

Situated at the border with Spain, this town is not only geographically unique but also culturally rich, offering visitors a distinct experience.

The town’s layout, is considered one of the best towns of the Algarve for its architectural and urban design, is characterized by its orderly streets centered around the Marquês de Pombal Square. This square, a hub of activity, is surrounded by elegant buildings and charming cafes, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the local lifestyle.

The town’s proximity to pristine sandy beaches makes it an ideal destination for beach lovers and family holidays. The beaches here are not just spots for relaxation but also offer a range of activities like boating and fishing, catering to the adventurous spirit.

Nature reserves near Vila Real de Santo António are a paradise for bird watchers, with diverse species making their home in these protected areas. These reserves highlight the town’s commitment to preserving its natural environment.

Vila Real de Santo António is renowned for its gastronomic experiences, particularly seafood. Local festivals provide an opportunity to indulge in traditional dishes, where each flavor tells a story of the town’s maritime connections, hence on our list of one of the best towns in the Algarve.

Aerial photo os Vila Real Santo Antonio Algarve
Vila Real Santo António – best towns of the Algarve

Central Algarve and its best towns in the Algarve

The Central Algarve, the heart of the Algarve. The Central Algarve  is host to the most beautiful towns in the Algarve and the majority of the 15 best towns of the Algarve on our list.

It is a region where golden beaches meet traditional towns and luxury resorts.

It’s a mosaic of cultural richness, natural beauty, and modern amenities, making it a prime destination for travelers. 

Central Algarve is a region where every town and village tells its own story, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in a diverse and enriching Portuguese experience.

Whether you are seeking sun-drenched beaches, historical explorations, or luxury amenities, Central Algarve delivers unparalleled charm and elegance.

FARO:

The capital city of the Algarve. Your first contact with the Algarve when you touch down at Faro Algarve Airport.

The city is rich in History with origins from Roman and Moorish occupancy. If you walk through the streets of the old town you will see the stone-built walls of Faro dated back to the Moorish times. Along the wall area, you can discover the Arco da Vila ( the archway of the town), a medieval gateway to the old town, which is a symbol of this historical mix. The first Cathedral in the Algarve known as Sé de Faro or Faro Cathedral in the centre of the closed walls of the old town of Faro. Originally a mosque during Moorish rule, it was later converted into a cathedral. 

If you like shopping visit Rua Santo António in downtown Faro or Forum Shopping Centre with cinemas, restaurants and shops.

Faro Island Beach is the only island beach in the Algarve you can cross by car. 

Faro Archway Algarve town
One of the main entry Archways into Faro old town[/caption

ALBUFEIRA:

When it comes to the best town in the Algarve for vibrant nightlife, Albufeira is without a doubt the best town in the Algarve. The famous Albufeira Strip offers nightclubs, bars, karaoke bars, live music etc.

Albufeira is known to have been the first holiday resort in the Algarve to offer hotels and accommodation to tourists. 

Praia dos Pescadores is the main beach in Albufeira right in the middle of the Old Town. 

For families, Albufeira offers great family hotels with superb facilities for the young ones to enjoy.

Although it is known for its nightlife, Albufeira offers great facilities for family holidays.

Albufeira best town in the Algarve with golden beach and white wash buildings
The beautiful coastal town of Albufeira

LOULÉ:

Without a doubt one of the best towns in the Algarve. Loulé is situated about 17.3 kilometers north of Faro Airport. Loulé is best known for its Market, especially the Saturday Market.

The Loulé Carnival is known as the oldest carnival and one of the best Carnivals in Portugal. 

Visit the Islamic Baths, the Algarve Archaeological Museum, the beautiful Igreja Matriz Church are just some of the historical monuments you can visit. 

The town is also known for its unique pastry, Folhado de Loulé, a local delicacy only available in Loulé.

Take a look at our  Complete Guide to Loulé. Here we will guide you through the roads of Loulé and show you what to see and do in Loulé all year round.

Town of Loule narrow cobbled roads
Walk through the traditional narrow cobbled roads in Loule

VILAMOURA:

Vilamoura boasts one of Europe’s largest and award-winning marinas. 

The Vilamoura Mariana attracts yachts and boats from all over the world. The marina is surrounded by a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops, offering a vibrant nightlife and fine dining experiences. Leisure activities are abundant, with options such as boat trips, dolphin-watching tours, and water sports.

You have a great choice of Hotels from 3 to 5 star hotels, World-class golf courses that have hosted Portugal Masters for several years.

Don’t miss the Cerro da Vila archaeological site just behind the Vilamoura Marina, revealing the area’s Roman and Moorish past. The museum displays artifacts and provides information about the historical significance of the area.

Vilamoura is home to some spectacular beaches, like Praia da Falésia and Vilamoura Beach, known for its golden sands and crystal-clear waters. These beaches provide the perfect setting for a day of relaxation or family fun.

Vilamoura, in Central Algarve, is more than just a holiday destination; it’s a lifestyle experience. Whether it’s for leisure, golf, nature, or culture, Vilamoura offers a perfect blend of activities and relaxation, making it an ideal destination for a diverse range of visitors.

We are certain that as soon as visit Vilamoura you will immediately place Vilamoura on your list of one of the best towns of the Algarve.

Best town in the Algarve with nº 1 marina in europe
Vilamoura Best Marina in Europe

QUERENÇA:

Querença is a small tranquil town on the hills approximately 10 km from Loulé. Offering beautiful views of the unspoiled Algarve Country side. 

Querença stands out for its authentic charm, rich history, and the warm hospitality of its locals, providing a truly immersive experience for visitors. You feel like you are stepping back in time as you walk through the cobbled stone narrow roads, and whitewashed small houses all surrounding the main town square.  This is one of the main reasons we have placed Querença as one of the best towns in the Algarve.

As you drive through the town the 16th-century white-washed church Nossa Senhora da Assunção (Our Lady of the Assumption) will catch your eyes. A beautiful small church that we recommend visiting.

Querença is know for its festivals such as the “festa das Chouriças” Traditional Chorizo festival held yearly on the 3rd weekend of January.

Another popular festival is on the 15th of August “Festas dos filhos da Terra” festival of the Sons of the land. Querença welcomes tourists and also immigrants who return to Portugal in the summer for holidays.

If you love hiking, Querença offers great hiking tracks through the hillsides. Querença is known for being one of the best towns in the Algarve for nature lovers.

Local Cuisine is Algarvian traditional dishes such as wild boar, rabbit stew, Xerém (corn porridge) in the Algarve this porridge is mixed with seafood, others mix it with peas, sardines etc. If you want to taste a traditional Algarvian dish then place Xerém on your list, I guarantee you will not regret it.

querença church one of the best towns in the Algarve
Querença Nossa Senhora da Assunção church

Venture to the Western Algarve's Rugged Coastline

The Western Algarve, with its dramatic coastline, laid-back atmosphere, and world-class surfing, is a paradise for those seeking a taste of the Algarve’s wild side. Here, you’ll find unspoiled beaches, secluded coves, and charming seaside towns that exude a timeless charm.

Begin your adventure in Sagres, a former fishing village that has transformed into a haven for surfers and nature lovers. Explore the rugged cliffs of Ponta da Piedade, embark on boat trips to explore hidden coves, or simply relax on the pristine beaches and soak up the sun.

For a taste of history and local culture, head to Lagos, a vibrant town steeped in maritime heritage. Wander through the narrow cobblestone streets, admire the stunning Igreja de Santo António, and visit the Museu Municipal de Lagos to learn about the town’s rich past.

If you’re seeking luxury and relaxation, head to Carvoeiro. This charming town is known for its stunning beaches and picturesque scenery, offering a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

As you venture further along the coast, you’ll discover Aljezur, a surfers’ paradise with its rugged coastline and laid-back atmosphere.

Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping adventures, tranquil moments of reflection, or a taste of Algarve’s vibrant culture, the Western Algarve has something to offer everyone. From the rugged beauty of Sagres to the charming seaside towns of Lagos and Carvoeiro, this region is a must-visit for any traveler seeking an unforgettable Algarve experience.

SILVES: A Historical Journey

Silves, a historical town nestled in the heart of the Algarve, stands as a testament to the region’s rich past and cultural significance.

This riverside town, with its architectural heritage and vibrant community, offers a captivating journey through time. Walk through the narrow cobble stone roads and feel the past as you explore this Algarvian historical town.

Silves, once the capital of the Algarve during Moorish rule, is steeped in history.

The Silves Castle and the Cathedral are notable landmarks they are a  must-visit, and both offer insights into the town’s rich past.

If you like history then you must visit the Castle (Entry ticket 2.80 €) and the Silves Archaeological Museum also located in the Castle (3.90 € including the museum and castle). 

Silves comes alive in during the first two weeks of August when it hosts the Medieval Festival. This festival is centered around the Castle, the Cathedral, and down to the river Arade. The roads are decorated, please dress up in Medieval times. Food and drink stalls. It is great for the whole family.

Local Cusine. Being an inland town, fig, carob, almond, and orange trees surround the area. Hence sweets made from these are their specialty.  

Silves Castle - Historical towns of algarve
Silves – Historical town in Algarve

LAGOS:

Lagos, Algarve, is a town where history comes alive, culinary delights abound, and natural beauty captivates.

Lagos tracing back to the Roman times, Lagos evolved as a significant trading port under Moorish rule.

However, it was during the Age of Discoveries that Lagos truly flourished, becoming the launching point for expeditions led by renowned explorers like Prince Henry the Navigator. 

Whether you’re tracing the footsteps of explorers or discovering the beautiful rock form beaches, Lagos promises an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Algarve.

Local Cusine: Due to the Lagos coastal location Seafood and fresh fish are the main cusine dishes.

 Visit the bustling fish market to see the vibrant trade in fresh fish and seafood that cater the most of the seafood restaurants lining the marina.

Taste the iconic “Cataplana de Marisco,” a flavorful seafood stew, or try the “Percebes” (gooseneck barnacles), a local delicacy enjoyed for its unique taste. For a true taste of Algarve, pair your meal with a glass of Vinho Verde or the locally produced Medronho brandy.

What to see:

  1. Ponta da Piedade: Marvel at the dramatic cliffs and rock formations of Ponta da Piedade. Take a boat tour to explore sea caves, grottoes, and secluded beaches, revealing the true coastal beauty of Lagos.

  2. Meia Praia: Lagos offers pristine beaches, and Meia Praia is a sprawling stretch of golden sands. Relax, swim, or try water sports while enjoying views of the Alvor estuary.

  3. Fortaleza da Ponta da Bandeira: Explore this 17th-century fortress, offering panoramic views of the coast. Learn about Lagos’ maritime history through the exhibits within the fortress.

  4. Church of St. Anthony: Admire the Baroque architecture of this historic church, featuring intricately tiled walls and a serene atmosphere.

  5. Lagos Marina: Stroll along the marina, lined with charming cafes and shops. It’s a perfect spot to unwind and absorb the maritime ambiance.

street of Lagos with statue.
Visit to streets of Lagos historical centre

PORTIMÃO:

Portimão beckons travelers with its captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From its charming old town to its expansive crystal water beaches.

Portimão offers an enchanting experience that will leave you wanting more.

With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty, Portimão is an enchanting destination that will capture your heart and leave you yearning for more. Whether you seek relaxation, adventure, or cultural immersion, Portimão has something to offer everyone.

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history of Portimão as you wander through its narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed houses and traditional architecture. Explore the remains of the Moorish fortress, Castelo de São João, and marvel at the intricate details of the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, a testament to the region’s religious heritage.

Get to know Portimão’s rich maritime history at the Portimão Museum, housed in a former sardine-canning factory. This immersive experience traces the town’s seafaring past, from the days of fishing traditions to the development of the modern port.

Visitors can explore interactive exhibits, and historical artifacts, and gain insights into Portimão’s evolution as a maritime hub.

Portimão is celebrated for its stunning coastline, boasting golden sands and crystal-clear waters. Among its must-visit beaches is Praia da Rocha, a paradisiacal stretch of shoreline that captures the essence of Algarve’s coastal allure.

No visit to Portimão is complete without savoring its culinary delights. The town’s waterfront is adorned with an array of seafood restaurants, serving the freshest catches from the Atlantic. Portimão is known for its Sardine Festival in August. 

As the sun sets, Portimão transforms into a vibrant nightlife destination. The riverside promenade comes alive with an eclectic mix of bars, nightclubs, and live music venues. The famous Praia da Rocha Strip is a hotspot for those seeking energetic nightlife, offering a lively atmosphere that continues into the early hours.

 

Grilled sardines with salad in Portimão town in the algarve
Visit the Sardine Festival in Portimão

ALJEZUR:

What makes Alzejur one of the best towns in the Algarve?

It’s a unique destination for those seeking a blend of cultural richness and outdoor activities. Renowned as a surfing hotspot, Aljezur appeals not just to surf enthusiasts but also to anyone looking to connect with nature.

Aljezur Castle, standing as a sentinel over the town, is a key historical site, offering visitors insights into the area’s rich heritage. The Ribeira de Aljezur, a picturesque river, further enhances the town’s scenic beauty, providing a serene backdrop for leisurely walks and picnics.

The natural reserves around Aljezur are a haven for ecotourism, with opportunities for hiking and bird watching. These activities not only allow visitors to explore the stunning landscapes but also to learn about the local flora and fauna.

Surfing in Aljezur is a major draw, with its beaches being some of the best in the region for this exhilarating sport. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced surfer, the waves here provide an ideal setting for all levels.

For culinary enthusiasts, Aljezur offers tours that explore the local cuisine, characterized by fresh seafood and traditional dishes.

on of the best towns in the algarve Aljezur church
Enjoy a visit to Aljezur local church

Best Towns in the Algarve for Families

When it comes to family-friendly atmospheres and a welcoming environment, these towns in the Algarve top the list for the following categories:

  • Albufeira
  • Known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant atmosphere, Albufeira is a fantastic choice for families. Explore the charming old town or relax on the family-friendly beaches. If you have young children avoid the Albufeira Strip area at night. The Albufeira Strip comes alive at night with all the nightclubs and bars. It may not be ideal for young children. Spend a day at Zoomarine Amusement Park in Guia – watch the dolphin, seal, birds and even have time to swim in the salted water wave pool
  • Lagos
  • Lagos offers a perfect blend of historic charm and family-friendly activities. Take a stroll through the cobbled streets, visit the fortress, and enjoy the golden beaches.
  • Carvoeiro
  • Carvoeiro is a picturesque town with stunning cliffs and a laid-back vibe. Families can enjoy the unique sea caves or spend a day at the family-friendly Carvoeiro beach.
  •  Tavira
  • For a more authentic Algarve experience, Tavira is a gem. Discover the historic architecture, relax by the Gilão River, and explore the family-friendly Tavira Island.
  • Vilamoura
  • Vilamoura is a resort town known for its marina and array of family-friendly activities. Enjoy water sports, visit the Family Golf Park, or take a boat trip from the marina. If you are looking for the best indoor and outdoor water park; Aquashow Water Park. Open all year round, the only water roller coaster in Europe. 
  • Portimão
  • Portimão boasts family-friendly beaches and a lively riverside area. Don’t miss the family-friendly Ferragudo village or the water parks nearby.
  • Faro
  • As the capital of the Algarve, Faro combines history with family-friendly attractions. Visit the Old Town, explore Faro’s Archaeological Museum, and enjoy boat tours.
  • Armação de Pêra
  • Armação de Pêra is known for its long sandy beaches, making it an ideal destination for families. Explore the fortress, enjoy water sports, or simply relax by the sea.
  • Alvor
  • Alvor is a charming village with a family-friendly atmosphere. Stroll through the narrow streets, explore the nature reserve, and relax on the family-friendly Alvor beach.
  • Olhão
  • Olhão is a bustling fishing town offering a blend of cultural experiences and family-friendly activities. Make sure you do Olhão Tales Sculptures – Path of Legends  This is a great way to explore the old town of Olhão, looking for the 5 statues that tell the story of myths and legends of Olhão. You must follow the map and signs that are on the building walls to find them. This is a great activity loved by all.
  • Explore the markets, take a boat trip to the islands, and enjoy local cuisine.

Your Algarve Adventure to the best towns in the Algarve Awaits! 

Ready to explore the enchanting Algarve? Whether you’re drawn to the historic charm of Faro, the vibrant nightlife of Albufeira, or the tranquil beauty of Vilamoura, each town has a story to tell.

Start planning your Algarve adventure now, and let these best towns of the Algarve weave unforgettable memories. Dive into our detailed guides for each town and embark on a journey that promises history, culture, and pure Algarvian magic.