Algarve Villa Holiday Guide
The Algarve is a great villa holiday destination with excellent beaches, history and a huge range of attractions.
Martinhal Beach Resort
Right by the beach, this 5 star resort hotel and range of luxury villas is in perfect harmony with the natural setting and offers excellent facilities, making it perfect for f…
Martinhal Quinta Resort
These comfortable townhouses and private villas benefit from the security of a gated community and the convenience of on resort amenities.
Monte Rei Golf Club Resort
A dream getaway for golfers with its Jack Nicklaus-designed course, Monte Rei Golf and Country Club combines comfortable and private luxury villas with excellent resort facili…
VidaMar Algarve Resort
Close to some of the Algarve’s most stunning beaches and exciting attractions, the VidaMar Algarve Resort is an ideal choice for families looking for a touch of luxury.
Villa Holidays in the Algarve
The Algarve has long been a popular villa holiday destination, and attracts visitors to its wonderful beaches, golf courses, water parks, and nightlife. The reliable sun draws locals and visitors outdoors, and this stretch of coast is perfect for sunbathing on one of many sandy beaches, enjoying the freshest seafood at a beachfront restaurant, or cruising the day away on a boat. Scratch the surface on your Algarve holiday and you will also find Moorish castles, cobbled old villages like Tavira, and coastal parks teeming with marine and birdlife; and, in the Serra de Monchique a retreat where you can soak in a spa or hike to the Algarve’s highest peak.
The former Algarve capital, Silves is dominated by its 8th-century, Moorish castle—at night the battlements are illuminated to show off its prominent position above the town. At conservation-led Zoomarine, near Albufeira, all-action shows, seeing sea lions at feeding time, and tropical birds will keep the family entertained. Spend time in Faro Old Town, entering through its Italianate gateway to visit the macabre chapel of bones in the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo.
Eating and drinking in the Algarve
Tuck into Portuguese grilled skewers of fish or hot piri-piri chicken. Quench your thirst with an ice-cold glass of Sagres beer or sample full-bodied red wines with ripe fruit flavours, from Tavira and Lagoa. Look out for specialities like fish stew served in a copper cataplana dish, or head inland to the Monchique area for pork stews with beans, pork sausages with corn, and spicy chouriça (Portugal’s version of chorizo). Everywhere in the Algarve you will see cakes and desserts made with citrus fruits, honey, almonds, and figs, and bottles of medronho spirit distilled from the fruit of the ‘strawberry tree’.
Shopping in the Algarve
For a long time AlgarveShopping in Guia was the Algarve’s biggest shopping centre, but it was superseded by Aqua Shopping in Portimão. You will find a range of Portuguese and international fashion and homeware shops at both. Marketstravel the Algarve, arriving at a different town on each day of the week. The items on sale vary from fresh produce to regional artisan crafts such as wicker and wood, as well as vintage and reproduction azulejos (tiles).
Drive through the Monchique Mountains to explore a landscape of green terraces where citrus fruits and figs grow, and steep wooded valleys of cork oak and chestnut. For the best views, head up to the peak of Foia Mountain, the highest in Portugal, from where you can see all the way to Cabo de São Vicente. Close to Faro, the Ria Formosa Natural Park is a protected wetland and haven for aquatic birds such as egrets, white stork, and purple heron.
Renowned for golf, the Algarve has around 40 courses along the length of its coastline. The most famous championship courses are around Vilamoura, but those beyond Tavira are quieter. The hardiest surfers head to the Atlantic coast, but if you are a novice try a windsurfing course in Albufeira. Other options include big-game fishing from Portimão and sailing from Vilamoura. Away from the coast, seasoned hikers can follow routes to the Algarve’s highest mountains, near Monchique.
At the far south-western tip of Europe is Cabo de São Vicente, the headland where Henry the Navigator built his school of navigation in the 1400s and dreamed of circumnavigating the globe. Reaching further back in time, you can discover the former Moorish capital of the Algarve in Silves, where the former occupiers’ castle still stands. Close to Estoi is Milreu, the ruins of a Roman villa that once had heated rooms and thermal springs. The Faro Archaeological Museumdigs into the region’s past, picking its way through tombstones, mosaics, and other local finds.
Nightlife and entertainment
You can bar-hop along the Algarve coast from Albufeira to Praia da Luz, and have lots of fun doing it. For a glitzy scene, head for Vilamoura for cocktails by the marina followed by a show and a flutter at the casino. At the Teatro Municipal de Faro entertainment might include ballet or a concert by the Algarve Orchestra. Look out for live bands in Lagos and at Loulé’s jazz festival in July.
The Algarve has a huge range of beaches, many of them in coves with waters sheltered by cliffs. The most popular family beaches are in central and western Algarve from Falésia to Armação de Pera and Praia da Luz. For somewhere quieter, opt for Tavira Island, where many beaches are accessible only by boat. Head to Caldas de Monchique to wind down with a therapeutic spa and massage.