We can’t wait to share all about our amazing time in the Algarve in Portugal! Portugal has always been a bucket-list destination for us as a family. One of the main reasons is that my family is Portuguese and I wanted to share some of my families culture with my kids. The country is so picturesque with its rolling hills and rustic villages. We instantly fell in love! The people here are so warm and welcoming you will feel like part of the family right away. We chose the Algarve, the paradise tucked away in the south of Portugal, as our vacation destination during our 3 week backpacking trip through the entire country of portugal.
The Algarve is known for its dramatic cliff-lined coastline and breathtaking beaches. Since the weather is Mediterranean, it’s the perfect destination all year round. That being said, the time between June and August is terrific. The ocean is crystal clear, and you can spot colorful fish just by snorkeling. For a more adventurous excursion, you can take a boat tour and discover hidden caves, shipwrecks, and spectacular beaches.
If you’re planning your next European adventure to Portugal, here are a few things we want to share with you about the Algarve.
Traveling to and Around The Algarve
There are several options for getting to The Algarve:
Flying Into Faro
Depending on where you are traveling from, flying to the Algarve from Faro is a great option. If you are coming from Porto or any other European city, you may be able to fly nonstop into Faro, a southernmost city in the Algarve. This would put you close to your vacation rental or hotel.
Take a Train from Lisbon
Another option for getting to the Algarve is to take a train from Lisbon. In under 3 hours, you can take the high-speed Alfa Pendular train or you can take the Intercidade in about 3 and a half hours. The train costs somewhere between $12-26 (11-23 euros), and the Intercidade is a little less. If you book in advance you could save some with special offers.
Take a Bus from Lisbon
It takes about the same amount of time to take the Rede Expressobus, but it stops in more locations throughout the Algarve, so it could ultimately get you closers to your final destination and save you a taxi ride for about the same price as the train.
Drive from Lisbon
Driving from Lisbon may just be the easiest way to get to the Algarve. The roads are safe and easy to navigate, and the driving is the same as US (drive on right-hand side of the road with steering wheels on the left-hand side). If you drive, you will also have your rental car to use during your stay in Algarve, which can make exploring much easier, especially when visiting the Algarve in Portugal as a family with kids. Also, you can drive along the coast of Portugal and enjoy the scenic view along the way!
Getting Around the Algarve in Portugal
The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal and is made up of several smaller towns up and down the coast. If you want to visit most of this beautiful area, like we did, you will definitely need a car. That was you can visit the unique beaches and adorable villages up and down the coast. Here are our best tips for transportation around the Algarve in Portugal:
- As mentioned above, renting a car in The Algarve is ideal. The rentals are very affordable.
- There is some local transportation available, but mostly buses and taxis or Ubers that require more coordination than having your own car.
- Getting to many of the beaches is hard to walk to so bring your hiking shoes and be prepared to climb quite a few stairs.
- Some entrances are off of the main roads and but are usually labeled pretty well with signs.
As you can see, all roads (no pun intended) lead to having a rental car when visiting the Algarve being a must.
Is The Algarve in Portugal a Family-Friendly Destination?
The Algarve, and Portugal as a whole, was one of the MOST family-friendly destinations we’ve ever been to! Plus it’s actually ranked as one of the safest countries in the world! There are so many options for family-friendly accommodations as well as plenty to do for families. Families can enjoy beaches, hiking, water parks, snorkeling, kayaking, surfing and more, as well as tons of family-friendly stores, restaurants and other entertainment.
What to Pack When Visiting The Algarve in Portugal
- Bring plenty of warm weather clothes
- Don’t forget bathing suits and flip flops
- You’ll want nicer clothes for evening dining, but won’t really need formal wear
- Bring along a light jacket or sweater for the cooler evenings
- sneakers because there can be lots of walking, whether its hiking trails or sightseeing through towns, you will be thankful you have them
- Don’t forget your just in case bag!
Where to Stay When Visiting the Algarve in Portugal
We stayed at Casa Hans, an apartment just 5 minutes from the sea in Carvoeiro. It has a rooftop terrace with a sea view that is beautiful. The apartment itself has a cozy living room, fireplace, air conditioning, and a fully-equipped kitchen and bathroom. We loved staying in this quaint fishing village. It was walkable with cute restaurants and a beautiful beach. We also found that Carvoeiro was a great base point and made visiting the rest of the region very easy.
Other Places to Stay in the Algarve
There are so many great family-friendly places to stay in the Algarve. Here are a few other places we recommend staying:
Urban Beach is a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom home with sea views just 30 feet from Carvoeiro Beach. It features free wifi, a terrace/balcony, kitchen with microwave and fridge, flat-screen TV, and a barbecue.
Villa Barbara is a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom villa located in Carvoeiro, a 15-minute walk from Paradise Beach. It features a garden, free Wifi, a 24-hour front desk, a concierge service, access to a pool table, ping pong and free private parking. It also has a flat-screen TV and fully equipped kitchen, and beautiful sea views from its terrace.
Claire’s Beach House is a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom villa located in Carvoeiro, a 3-minute walk from Carvoeiro Beach. It features a barbecue, free Wifi, an ATM, a terrace, air conditioning, flat-screen TV, kitchen and living room. A car rental service is also available at the villa.
Casa Jasmine is a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom home located in Carvoeiro featuring free Wifi, air conditioning, kitchen, a terrace, free private parking, and a car rental service available. It’s just a 19-minute walk from Paradise Beach, 1.3 miles from Praia do Vale Covo and 4.4 miles from Slide & Splash Water Park.
Here are some great areas to look at staying, click the links to view places to stay in these areas:
Places You Must See When Visiting the Algarve in Portugal
Like I said the Algarve is the southern region of Portugal made up with some of the most picturesque beaches and towns. You definitely want to spend some time exploring some of the coast. Here are a few gems that we explored during our visit.
It’s as Portuguese as it can get. A small fishermen’s village nuzzled away in the cliffs, with a beautiful beach to explore and wonderful restaurants to feast upon. This was where we stayed during our time in the Algarve and we found this to be a really central location.
The summer, when we were there, is the high season and its definitely when its most busy. Be sure to reserve your rental months in advance because they can book up quickly. The off season might not be as warm as the summer but you can get some great deals.
If you come here in the warmer months, grab a tour from Carvoeiro beach into Praia de Benagil (check out more on this below). It is a gorgeous beach tucked away between big rocks and cliffs, with stunning turquoise waters that are perfect for swimming.
On the other side of the beach you will notice a pedestrian walkaway going up the hill next to the road. I would definitely recommend going up there to watch the sunsets. If you take that path a little further you will find Algar Seco. Do not miss this! If you go down the stairs and to the left you will find a little swimming area. Its amazing!! To the right is a restaurant, defitin try some fish while you are there!.
The prettiest village, Ferragudo, boasts cobbled streets and terracotta houses in a typical Portuguese setting.
Feel like royalty and explore the castle walls or take a boat tour upriver to spot pink flamingos. It’s a must-see.
There’s also a bustling fish market where you can get your hands on some fresh seafood. You could taste the delicious flavors of Portugal’s regional cuisine with a side of locally-brewed beer.
Ferragudo is also known for its variety of water sports. From kayaking to paddleboarding, there’s something for everyone.
Sit at the beach and enjoy a sensational sunset or explore cafes. If your kids crave playtime, there’s a new beach playground at Praia Grande with slides and swings.
This exuberant westernmost point of Europe is a must-visit. Lagos is vibrant yet peaceful – from bars to beaches and church towers to cobbled pathways. This is the most international of all of the cities in the Algarve so you will find a lot of different cuisines and lots of people who speak English. Spend half a day exploring the downtown and then head out to see some of the coastline.
Visit the famous Praia do Camilo and witness the beauty of the dazzling sea. It’ll take 200 steps of a stairway to reach the beach, but it’s worth every bit. You should keep a few snacks in hand and wear comfortable shoes.
If you’re feeling adventurous, go to Ponta da Piedade and take a boat ride around the caves and grottos. Here, you can spot some beautiful lighthouses and hidden coves.
Things You Must Do for Fun When Visiting the Algarve in Portugal
Family vacations are excellent for bonding, and Algarve has plenty of exciting activities. For instance, you can rent a boat, explore the beaches, or head out for a picnic and beach games. There are caves almost everywhere, so explore them and uncover the secrets of the Atlantic Ocean. I’d say take a dip too.
For something more thrilling, go wild water rafting in Falesia or try parasailing for an unforgettable view of the Algarve’s coastline. And if you’re into nature and wildlife, plenty of bird-watching spots around the area offer stunning views.
You can head to one of the local bars for live music at night or take a stroll along the pier and enjoy some delicious seafood. A cup of coffee would be great.
Some things we recommend you do when visiting the Algarve in Portugal are:
- Swim in Atlantic Ocean
- Swim into caves
- Climb on rocks
- Hike along cliffs
- Walk through village
- Have an amazing cup of coffee
- Listen to live music
- Kayak into Benagil Caves
Here are some great family-friendly tours to take when visiting the Algarve in Portugal”
Places to Eat When Visiting The Algarve in Portugal
One word: drool-worthy! (or is that two?)
Food (and coffee) in Algarve is just exquisite. From rustic restaurants to chic cafes, it has something for everyone’s taste buds. You can try specialties like an almond tart with ice cream or seafood paella. Don’t forget to pair it with some freshly squeezed juice or local wine.
Here are a few restaurants in the Algarve that we recommend you check out:
Earth Shop & Café
Breakfast doesn’t get any better than this – burritos, scones, pancakes, and more.
Pink Panther Bar
A great spot to kick back and relax with a beer and some nachos. They also have amazing smoothies (vegan too)
Beats & Burritos
That’s a Mexican-Californian fusion in a nutshell. Get some freshly made tacos and burritos with a side of margaritas to make it extra special.
Black & White
For the best coffee in Lagos. The cafe is cozy and serves delicious pastries and cakes.
Some Things to Know While Visiting the Algarve in Portugal
- Book your accommodation in advance to get the best rates.
- We recommend staying at least 1 week minimum!
- Make sure you have a car seat and stroller for little ones!
- Carry a map (or download a map application) to get around town.
- You’ll get to meet many people from the UK during peak season.
- It’s always best to rent a car if you plan on visiting different beaches.
- And, please arrive early to the beach – they tend to fill up quickly.
- Keep cash at all times. Most small businesses are cash-only.
I hope I was able to highlight things that could help you plan a wonderful trip to Algarve. Before you go, check out more of our travels and travel tips!
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