Just steps away from the resort town of Gale, and a handful of kilometers west of Albufeira, stretches one of the region’s favorite beaches, Praia Gale. It’s a favorite because of its eastern rocky and cave- and cove-filled coastline, and probably even more so for its western stretch of soft sands and calm waters especially loved by families. This expansive stretch of shoreline is ideal for relaxing walks, watersports, and grabbing a bite to eat at one of the waterside restaurants and bars. Families relish in enjoying the calm beach but also the many tide pools. Meanwhile, those looking to explore further can take advantage of watersports, or go on a healthy walk westward toward other regional beaches such as Praia dos Salgados, Praia Grande, and even Armacao de Pera.
A traditional fishing village set between the Alvor River estuary and the sun-soaked Atlantic coast, Alvor offers a peaceful escape from neighboring Portimão. Despite being almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1755, strolling Alvor’s cobblestone streets still unveils a few historic gems, including the hilltop ruins of Alvor castle and the 16th-century Igreja Matriz church, and the pretty harbor is a popular starting point for boat tours along the coast.
Today the main draw is its sandy beach, Praia de Alvor, and coastal lagoon, while Rua Dr Frederico Romas Mendes is the main drag, crammed with bars, restaurants and souvenir stores, and the palm-fringed riverfront is dotted with terrace restaurants.
Golf, nature and a seaside resort — these are all things you’ll find just steps away from the sandy stretch that is Praia dos Salgados. This beach is where you’ll want to come for a seemingly endless and calm shoreline that offers all the amenities, including showers, lifeguards and rentable sunbeds. It is just a short walk away from other visitworthy spots, too, such as the Dos Salgados Lagoon, and the nature reserve around it, famously home to flamingos and loads of other birds and wildlife. While in the area, you can also hit the links at one of Algarve’s best golf courses, Salgados Golf Course. Or wander in either direction down the coast to discover still more beaches, such as Praia Gale to the east, and Praia Grande to the west, and even beyond to Armacao de Pera Beach and its sweet resort town-meets-fishing village.
When it comes to beaches, Armacao de Pera has something for everyone. The beach, which stretches out in front of the fishermen’s village-meets resort town of the same name, offers everything from rocky coves, to rows of umbrella-shaded sunbeds, and fresh-seafood-serving restaurants.
Indeed, if you’re looking for rocky, natural wonders, head to the shoreline’s western end, which is filled with coves and craggy formations. Going eastward, you can take a stroll along the promenade-lined beach, slithering into the resort-style village, or stepping down onto the wide, sandy, family friendly shore. Or wander still farther east, where you’ll happen upon the city’s fishermen’s village. There, you can spy the fishermen arriving with their daily catch, or enjoy said catch at one of the waterside restaurants before grabbing an ice cream and exploring the sweet streets of the neighboring old town.
A tranquil alternative to the bustling resorts further along the coast, the small market town of Almancil is worth a detour if only to marvel at its landmark church. The exquisite baroque Church of St Lourenço dates back to the 17th century and is renowned for its intricate azulejo tilework, which details elaborate scenes from the life of St Lourenço.
Additional highlights of a visit to Almancil include the nearby Vale do Lobo (Valley of the Wolf) resort, where the golf course was famously designed by British champion Henry Cotton, and the glamorous Quinta do Lago, one of the Algarve’s most upmarket resorts and a favorite with visiting celebrities and politicians.