For Portugal’s most beautiful and widely renowned coasts, head to the southwestern shore. The Algarve boasts pristine beaches, cliffy coastlines, and lively cities. Small hotels in Lagos, Faro, Albufeira, or on the western coast promise wonderful facilities, a cozy atmosphere and are a pleasant alternative to large hotel complexes. Cool off in indoor swimming pools, first-rate spa facilities, and maybe even tennis & golf courses: All the while relishing the perennial sunshine, thousands of years of history, and authentic Portuguese charm particular to the Algarve.
Where to stay at a small hotel in the Algarve? The Algarve’s regions at a glance:
Lagos: The Algarve’s most visited beach city
Lagos is the choice city for lovers of rowdy nightlife, cool rock formations, and pristine beaches – all tucked within a rugged landscape existing since the Portuguese Age of Discovery. A small hotel provides a cozy escape from your exciting days and nights, spent on the beach or on the town – radiating a warm aura from breakfast in the dining room to a late night glass of Vinho Verde in the bar. An ancient maritime town with a couple-thousand years of history, Lagos has been named the number 1 travel destination in the world, on a list of “destinations on the rise”, as of 2012. Brimming with long sandy beaches & beautiful coves, tucked in between vast cliffs, an historic Old Town & bustling boardwalks, the most visited city of the Algarve promises everything you need for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or some much needed alone time. Make sure to check out the cliffs of Ponta da Piedade, the wonderfully appointed Igreja de Santo António church – listed as a Portuguese National Monument, and the Museu Municipal Dr José Formosinho history museum, to gain some insight into Lagos’ riveting past.
Albufeira: Happening nightlife & 25 beaches
Albufeira is what you think of when you think of a beach vacation: buzzing nightlife, fresh fish caught by locals, and a whole 25 out-of-this-world beautiful beaches. With golden cliffs behind you, blue sky above, and crystal clear water ahead, you’ll be reluctant to wake up from this dream. Albufeira’s old town is chock full of traditional seafood restaurants, cafes, and classic Portuguese bars, where you can get to know the locals over tasty beers and chilled white wine. Just east, find “The Strip” and fulfill all your partying, shopping, fast-food-snacking, Ferris-wheel-riding desires: In this neon-lit wonderland, the action doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. For the sport-inclined, the waves on Albufeira’s beaches are primed for surfing, and the coast’s many caves are best explored by canoe or kayak. In a small hotel on the beach or in the city, settle into a comfy and luxurious interior after a full day in the sun.
Faro: The Algarve’s authentic capital
The capital and southernmost city of the region, Faro, is the largest city in the Algarve and gives off a true Portuguese vibe. In the old town, surrounded by medieval walls, indulge in favorite local delicacies, like Caldeirada, fish and seafood stew, or a plate full of oysters, served simply with a wedge of lemon and a glass of white wine. After a quick drive through Portugal’s beautiful terrain, find yourself totally alone on seemingly untouched beaches under the perpetual sunshine – the most remote one you can find is the Ilha Deserta, or Deserted Beach, where you’ll meander down a wooden walkway to perfectly still sand dunes. A small hotel in Faro is the choice for those who looking to stay away from the summertime crowds and among the locals, while still experiencing all the authentic glory and seaside bliss the region has to offer.
The Western Coast: Serenity at the “End of the World”
The western coast of the Algarve fronts the Atlantic head-on; all its ebbs and flows responsible for the magnificent rocky coastline, interrupted only by sandy beaches and small towns. In places like Aljezur and Sagres, find quiet beaches and laidback city life. In the city of Sagres, the streets boast a relaxed and locals-only vibe, perfect for those looking for an authentic stint into the Algarve. Check out the harbor, enjoy the low prices, and relax on the beach all day. At a rustic small hotel in Aljezur, marvel at glistening beaches while being pampered by a friendly and professional staff. Wade across the Aljezur River to find the sweeping beach of Praia da Amoreira, which you might just have all to yourself. Check out the Castelo polygonal castle, built on the once-site of an Iron Age fort in the 10th century. Follow the winding boardwalk to the fortress, Ruinas da Fortaleza de Arrifana, where you’ll find ruins from 1635 as well as panoramic views from the clifftops. In medieval times, the Cape of Saint Vincent was considered to be the end of the world. Located a few miles outside of Sagres, this a totally undisturbed cliff juts outs into the Atlantic as the southwesternmost point of Europe. For those inspired by views likened to the paintings of the Romantics, try one of the short or long-distance hikes offered from the cape.