Insider's Guide to The Algarve

Major attractions, tips and our top things to see and do.

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3 Days in the Algarve: Suggested Itineraries

By Viator, January 2015

4.5 24 Reviews | Add your review

Gorgeous beaches, spectacular coast, surf, dolphins, sunshine, plus castles and countryside. What’s not to love about Portugal’s playground, The Algarve? Well, the crowds of tourists for one. In peak season, from July to September, the Portuguese leave and the sunseekers from Northern Europe move in. If you want fun in the sun and cafes and nightclubs after dark, this is the place for you. But even if that’s not your style and you like a quieter, more relaxing holiday, The Algarve has something to offer in its hillsides and smaller towns.

Day 1: Kick Up Your Heels

Lagos is the peak tourist spot. In the Western Algarve, its cobbled streets are full of cafes, bars and clubs and its wide golden beaches and secluded coves are perfect for families, couples and backpackers looking to sleep off the night before. But don’t dismiss Lagos as only about superficial fun in the sun – this town has history. During Portugal’s Age of Discoveries, many naval missions were launched from the port in the Rio Bensafrim – visit the Fortaleza da Ponta da Bandeira, a 17th century fortress that is now a museum. And the town’s pretty streets are enclosed by 14th century walls. There are plazas to while away the time in, and picturesque churches to explore (the Igreja de Santa Maria and the Igreja de Santo Antonio), as well as the Castelos dos Governadores, an Arab castle.

Day 2: Head For the Hills

Inland from the coast, rise the steep, wooded hills of Serra de Monchique, the Algarve’s mountain range. Visit the small town of Monchique for some respite from the crowds and sun, and go hiking, mountain biking or canoeing. If you prefer to relax, there are spas dotted around including the lovely spa village of Caldas de Monchique. Omega Parque Zoo, on the way to Monchique, specialises in endangered animals such as cheetahs, onyx and bamboo lemurs. Closer to the coast is the town of Silves, once the Moorish capital of the area. Now a market town for the local citrus producers, it’s full of history; explore the castle, the Gothic Cathedral and the 15th century Chapel of Joao do Rego.

Day 3: Relax in Elegance

Head east along the Algarve, stopping at the midpoint in the town of Albufeira. From here you can take a boat trip exploring the caves along the spectacular coastline – you might even spot some dolphins. Further east along the coast is Faro, the capital of the region, but keep going to the small, fishing port of Taviras. It’s a little ways in from the coast on the banks of the Rio Gilao and has a more relaxed elegance than the rest of The Algarve. A ruined castle tops the hill, there’s an old Roman bridge, Gothic and Renaissance churches, and the usual lovely cobbled streets to explore. Make sure you visit a patisserie for the yummy specialty: Portuguese tarts. Just off the coast and reachable by ferry is the island Ilha de Tavira, with lovely peaceful beaches.

Tours & Tickets

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Seville Day Trip from the Algarve

Take a day trip to the Spanish city of Seville and enjoy a walking tour plus ample free time to see the sights at your own pace! After traveling from the ...  Read more

Location: Seville, Spain
Duration: 13 hours (approx.)

From USD $55.85

Lisbon Day Trip from the Algarve

Immerse yourself in Lisbon’s enchanting history and sights on a day trip from the Algarve! With a local guide at your side, explore the neighborhood of ...  Read more

Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 13 hours (approx.)

From USD $59.13

Lagos and Sagres Tour from the Algarve

Discover the allure of Lagos and Sagres on a half-day trip to the West Algarve with an expert local guide! After a hotel pickup, travel to the lively seaside ...  Read more

Location: Algarve, Portugal
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $25.19

'Leaozinho' Pirate Ship Cruise from Albufeira

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 6 Reviews

Find a comfortable seating place in the mid-deck or the shade of the aft deck as you commence your cruise from the new marina of Albufeira. You have the choice ...  Read more

Location: Albufeira, Portugal
Duration: Varies

From USD $20.81

City Sightseeing Albufeira Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 2 Reviews

There is no better way to see the colorful coastal city of Albufeira than on this City Sightseeing double-decker, hop-on hop-off bus! See top Albufeira ...  Read more

Location: Algarve, Portugal
Duration: 48 hours or 4 days

From USD $16.43

Caves and Dolphin Watching Cruise from Albufeira

4 star rating: Recommended 11 Reviews

Your Caves and Dolphin Watching Cruise begins at the new marina of Albufeira where you will board the boat "Insonia". Cruise along the Algarve ...  Read more

Location: Albufeira, Portugal
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $38.33

East Algarve Day Trip Including Almancil, Faro, Olhao and Tavira

2.5 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better 2 Reviews

Explore the peaceful East Algarve with its charming towns, elegant architecture and sights steeped in history. This must-do day trip includes tours of the ...  Read more

Location: Algarve, Portugal
Duration: 12 hours (approx.)

From USD $38.33

Silves and Caldas de Monchique Day Trip from the Algarve

Visit the towns of Silves and Caldas de Monchique on a 5-hour tour, and discover Moorish history, elegant architecture and stunning Algarve scenery! With a ...  Read more

Location: Algarve, Portugal
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $25.19

Algarve Jet Boat Tour from Albufeira

Kids will love this high-speed adventure! Zip around the waters of Albufeira on an exciting 30-minute jet boat ride. Driven by an expert captain, the boat ...  Read more

Location: Albufeira, Portugal
Duration: 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $32.85

Algarve Jet Ski Rental from Albufeira

Hop on a Jet Ski for a fun ride along Portugal’s Algarve coast! After renting a Jet Ski at the Albufeira Marina, power across the water on an exhilarating ...  Read more

Location: Albufeira, Portugal
Duration: 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $87.61

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