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.
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.
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