We’ve put together a handy guide to the Algarve, a must-see destination with tons to offer!
Portugal’s coast of stunning coastline, the Algarve, is perfect mix of golden beaches, blue waters, bustling resorts, quiet seaside towns, and rich seafaring history.
It’s a hugely popular destination for all kinds of holiday makers, from couples to families to party-seekers. You can really make it what you want to be depending on where you go and your activities.
When to go
July and August is peak season – so if you do choose to travel at this time of year expect bigger crowds and busier beaches along with the hottest weather of the year (28-35°C). This is particularly true of the tourist hotspots near Faro. If long, hot summer days are what you’re looking for then this time of year is perfect.
Going a little bit off-season could get you lower prices on flights and accommodation as well as a bit more room on the beach! Between and April and June, temperatures are still hot but have not reached those summer heights some find overwhelming (20-27°C). September and October are also warm with temperatures of about 18-20°C, perfect for hikes and outdoor sports.
When travelling from Dublin to the Algarve, or from any other Irish airport, it generally takes about 3 hours to fly there. This is one strong reason it’s a popular family destination with less time to keep the kids entertained on the flight. Several airlines fly here, with several departures at different times through the day.
Where to stay
Albufeira is a bustling resort town that’s popular with families due to its stunning beaches, amazing attractions and natural beauty. This is probably the biggest tourist centre of the Algarve coast, with lots of places to stay, activities and attractions. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants and nightlife. Its range of things to do makes Albufeira popular for a diverse range of holiday types families, couples and groups.
- Explore the charming Old Town
- Party on The Strip
- Have fun in the water parks and theme parks
- Take a day trip to nearby destinations like Faro and Loulé
- Take a boat tour from the marina
This historic seaside city is packed with authentic charm. It has beautiful beaches, cobbled streets and great tourist attractions that let you explore its seafaring past and its natural beauty. Lagos is less focused on mass tourism, although it still is a popular destination, and has retained lots of its old world charm. Dine on authentic Portuguese cuisine, experience the local culture and more.
- Visit the 17th Century fort and Baroque churches
- Relax on Meia Praia Beach
- Soak up the culture and enjoy the nightlife
- Visit the animals at Lagos Zoo
Praia da Rocha
Praia da Rocha is a lively resort town that’s all about the beach and having fun. It’s great for families with lots to do and has a real holiday atmosphere. It’s got a good nightlife, too especially during the summer months when it becomes one of the Algarve coast’s most buzzing resorts. It’s a good option for having holiday activities on your doorstep while having historical and cultural attractions just a short trip away too.
- Visit Zoomarine, a nearby marine park
- Have fun at Slide and Splash, a local water park
- Take a day trip to historical sights like the town of Silves
- See the dolphins
- Lounge on the stunning beaches!
Tavira is a charming seaside town that offers a slow-paced way of life. Here you’ll find plenty of peace and quiet and less of a party scene. It’s perfect for those seeking an authentic Portuguese holiday experience while still being close to tourist amenities. There’s an alluring charm to the town thanks to its Moorish influences. Visit for a less built-up experience that’s still modern, with stunning waterways, parks, and unspoilt countryside.
- Go for a spot of golf at the nearby fairways
- Visit the surrounding towns of Olhao and Cabanas
- Wander around the cobbled streets of the historic town centre
- Escape the hectic tourist centres of the Algarve
Praia da Luz
Quaint and charming, Praia da Luz is perfect for a chilled-out getaway. This is a small resort town on the stunning western coast with a relaxed ambience. Situated in a sandy bay, it’s ideal for a beach-focused holiday in a place that caters for tourists without feeling like a built-up resort as the tourist developments have been designed to preserve the local flavour.
- Dine out in the wide selection of restaurants, cafes and bars
- Take a trip to major city of Lagos
Alvor is a historic fishing town turned bustling family-friendly resort. This is a popular destination with distinct local character, great beaches and tons of nearby family activities. This is definitely a tourist town but without the feeling of a big resort. It’s got plenty of local charm alongside the tourist amenities.
- Take a boat tour or go for a coastal hike
- Visit one of the nearby water parks and theme parks
- Take a trip to nearby Silves, Portimao or Lagos
- Enjoy the low-key, relaxing atmosphere
Food & Eating Out
Food is a big part of Portuguese culture with a variety of local delicacies on offer. You’ll find everything from fine dining to casual eats and a lot of the best local fare you’ll encounter in moderately priced to inexpensive spots.
Unsurprisingly, seafood is king here:
- Churrasquerias feature charcoal-grilled meat and fish
- Marisqueiras serve an array of shellfish and other delicacies
There are many traditional recipes to try, like a seafood stew called cataplana, fresh produce simply prepared. And the famous egg tarts are a must try! It’s hard to know where to start! Suffice to say you will not go hungry.
Things to do
There are so many things to do in the Algarve!
- Visit Cape St Vincent
The South-westernmost point in Europe, the cliffs here are a beautiful sight. It’s got scenery and historical significance.
- Have an Island Escape
Take the boat out to the islands of Culatra or Tavira
- Go Dolphin watching
Most of the main marinas will offer boat trips where you can go dolphin watching and more
- Visit the Church of São Lourenço
This baroque masterpiece is truly a sight to behold as its simple whitewashed exterior gives way to a spectacular interior of intricate blue-tiled walls.
- Do some Watersports!
The western Algarve coast is perfect for surfing, waterskiing and so much more!
- Take in a Fado show!
This traditional style of music is a key part of the local culture, you’ll find Fado sessions dotted across the Algarve
Family holidays in the Algarve are a safe bet. There are loads of family-friendly resorts and hotels and Portugal’s friendly culture means children are always welcome.
The water parks here are a must for a family getaway:
- Aquashow park Hotel in Quarteira famed for its 50ft snake slide
- Slide & Splash in Estombar, a huge park packed with attractions
- Aqualand in Alcantarillha, full of epic slides
- Zoomarine in Guia, a family-friendly marine park
Tips & Hints
- When eating out, as soon as you’re seated you’ll often be presented with smaller items like bread, olives and cheese. This is normal but these items are not free! They will be included on your bill at the end, but it is perfectly acceptable to send them back.
- July and August are the busiest and most expensive months, so travelling outside these peak times will help to save. There are 300 days of sunshine so you can go any time!
- When eating out, the ‘menu do dia’ can be found at lunchtime in most restaurants. These daily specials are often the best deal you’ll find on food.
- Some of the best things in the Algarve are free – namely, beach-hopping, hiking along its many beautiful walks, and seeing its stunning waterfalls (Pego do Inferno and Vigario Falls being the main two).
Thinking of booking your holidays to the Algarve? Check out the Cassidy Travel website for great deals on family holidays to the Algarve, or for here for cheap holidays to the Algarve. You can also call us on 0818-332500 for expert travel advice!
About Cassidy Travel
This blog is powered by Cassidy Travel, one of Ireland’s leading travel agencies. Our team of over 100 expert travel advisors sends 1000s of Irish holidaymakers around the world every year. And we love doing it! Visit our websiteto start planning your next getaway. If you’re Dublin-based, drop into one of our stores. With 33 years of experience we’ve mastered the art of easy booking. Whether it’s a city escape, US adventure or family holiday we’d love to help you plan, book and dream.