Guide to the most beautiful luxury and boutique hotels, villas and holiday homes in the Algarve

Although being a famous tourist destination, the Algarve still offers a wide choice of more authentic places to stay that are off the beaten track. Towns like Olhão are still absolutely authentic, so is Vila Real de Santo Antonio. But you will also find lovely boutique hotels in Lagos and in Tavira or Sagres.  You have the choice between beach hotels near Portimão, charming country hotels on the western coast of the Algarve or stunning luxury villas on the outskirts of Olhão. The best of the best.

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Algarve - beaches, ocean and seafood

The Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost province, has a mild climate, warmer water and a calmer sea than the rest of Portugal, making it the perfect holiday destination. You will find sandy beaches surrounded by towering sandstone cliffs, hundreds of little sandy islands strewn across the many estuaries, saltwater lagoons and hidden bays only accessible by boat.

This splendid variety is matched by the diversity of hotels and accommodations that cater for every taste. Although a great part of the Algarve has been overrun by mass tourism developments, there are still many places that have managed to maintain their original authenticity such as the eastern Algarve and the west coast which remains largely untouched, though it is quite windy. Also the interior retains much of its original charm and it is worthwhile for the visitor to explore this untouched region.

In both the Eastern and Western Algarve there are areas that have not been overcrowded by tourism and still have the authenticity of the past: Sagres, Lagos, Silves and Tavira are perfect for those looking for the convenience of being near the beach and at the same time have access to what a city has to offer with its restaurants, shops and activities. 

You can also opt to go to a small village like Fuzeta on the Ria Formosa or Monchique in the mountains. The latter is for those who prefer a little more peace and quiet. The interior of the Algarve is beautiful and has a wonderful countryside. We have chosen the best beach hotels, country hotels and charming holiday homes in the Algarve, whether you are travelling with your family, on a romantic trip or simply with friends. Take a look at our guide.

Algarve - where and when to go

Some parts of the Algarve are marked by decades of overcrowded tourism. But the Algarve is long and places like Tavira and Olhão, near the Spanish border, have a beautiful coastline. Tavira, for example, is a little gem and has several small hotels right in the centre. The Silves, Sagres and Lagos areas are also recommended destinations. The most charming accommodations are generally not close to the sea, as the most beautiful areas are those protected by the state. The little-known region of Carrapateira has magnificent beaches, some of them deserted, but beware! The sea is colder.

The Serra de Monchique, the highest peak in the south, is home to charming, remote villages surrounded by oak and chestnut trees. In this area you can enjoy all the wonders of a warm and beautiful nature.

Why not embark on a cultural exploration of the Algarve's towns and discover the region's fascinating history of Roman and Moorish occupation and fishing and agriculture. You'll also find local handicrafts in the old towns and markets. Handmade baskets made of cane and willow or the beautiful ceramic works from the village of Porches are perfect souvenirs.

Especially worth seeing in Faro are the convent Nossa Senhora da Assunção in Renaissance style, or the church São Françisco from the 16th-18th century. In Lagos, you should especially visit São Sebastião, Santa Maria de Misericórdia (16th-19th century), Santo António (Baroque) and the wonderful São João Hermitage from the 8th and 9th centuries.

Nature has very special treasures to offer here: A hike in the Serra de Monchique mountains in the west of the Algarve is not to be missed! The Fóia mountain is ideal for a trip by car, while the Picota is recommended for hiking. The Ria Formosa National Park, with its lagoons and beaches, which are also a campsite for hundreds of bird species in spring and autumn, is a true natural wonder and a great destination for an excursion!

Note: The best time to go is from May to July and September to October. Note that in August it gets a little crowded. In winter prices drop exponentially making March, April and even November with is mild temperatures perfect for a dip in the ocean.

Algarve - gastronomy

Fish and seafood take pride of place in the gastronomy of the Algarve. Start with the delicious fish soup, and then move on to the "arroz de marisco" (shellfish and rice stew) or the cataplana (cockles cooked in a sealed wok with smoked pork sausage, cured ham, tomatoes, and onions). Fried pork loin and bread soaked buck are delicious meat specialties. For dessert try the egg sweets and fruits mixed with almonds.
As for beverages, Lagoa produces the best wines in the region. Try the white aperitif wine, and the flavoured Medronho from the Monchique hills. Most wines carry a high content of alcohol and sugar.

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