Top 13 Things to Do in the Algarve

Best Things to Do in the Algarve

Perched on the edge of the Atlantic and boasting 300 days of sunshine a year, Portugal’s most southern region – The Algarve – is an absolute travel treat!

From beaches to water sports, nature activities to food and wine tastings, the Algarve is jam packed with great things to do whatever your holiday style.

For those looking for luxury and relaxation, the 200km stretch of beach along the Algarve, behind which sits a string of top luxury hotels, is perfect for those looking for all-inclusive or wellness break.

Behind the coast, the far less visited Serra, or mountain region, is the place for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy some more active pursuits including cycling and hiking.

And in between, there’s everything from theme parks to historical towns, golf courses and vineyards to top restaurants for you to get your teeth into.

So if you’re considering a trip to this fabulous Portuguese region, here’s my list of the best 13 things to do in the Algarve…

Portugal, Algarve, Faro Street


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My trip to The Algarve was sponsored by Jet2 but, as always, all views are my own.

This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.


#1 Explore Ria Formosa Nature Reserve

Portugal, Algarve, Ria Formosa

Coming in first on this list of the top things to do in the Algarve, was one of my favourite activities when I was there.

Little did I know (and perhaps you don’t either) that in the waters beyond the Algarve’s capital, Faro, is a stunning marine reserve.

A group of 5 islands, this reserve is home to a staggering 300 species of birds, including flamingo and storks, not to mention the largest seahorse colony in the world.

Orcas, hammerhead sharks, green turtles, common dolphins and bottle nose dolphins can also be seen, especially in the summer months of July and August.

Local oyster fisherman also ply these waters and stand-up paddle boarding, swimming and snorkelling in the pristine waters can all be enjoyed along the azure shorelines.

The largest island, Deserta, which is 9km long and just 1km wide at its widest point, is like a tropical paradise and boasts one of the Algarve’s best beaches, as well as the famous restaurant, Estaminé.

Specialising in local seafood and powered by solar energy, make sure you book in advance if you want to enjoy lunch at this popular spot.

The only way to take in the Ria Formosa reserve is by boat and I highly recommend the half and full day trips run by iSea Charters.

Located in Faro harbour, this locally-owned and family-run company operate year round and trips can be booked via their website.


@bigworldsmallpockets Top 3 Day Algarve Itinerary 🇵🇹 Day 1: ✈️ Arrive Faro Airport 🏨 Check in at Pine Cliffs Resort 🍷 Lunch & Wine Tour at Morgado do Quintão vineyard Day 2: 🌊 Catamaran Trip to explore the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve 🍴 Lunch at AP Eva Senses ⛪️ Explore Historic Faro 🍻 Beer Tasting at the Algarve Rock Brewery Day 3: 🛥️ Sail the Algarve Coastline to take in the Caves, Cliffs and Beaches 🍸 Finish with Cocktails and a Sunset at W Algarve @ALGARVE ☀️ @jet2 #visitalgarve #thealgarve #algarveportugal ♬ original sound – Big World Small Pockets


#2 Discover Historic Silves

For something totally different (and showing just how diverse things to do in the Algarve can be), why not head inland instead to spend a day exploring the historic town of Silves?

The name the Algarve comes from the Arabic “Al Gharb”, meaning “the west”, and is testimony to the legacy of the Moors, who lived in this part of Portugal for hundreds of years.

If you’ve ever been to Andalusia in Spain, then you’ll notice some architectural similarities straight away!

A world away from the often busy Algarve coast, Silves was once the ancient capital of the Algarve, but is now a sleepy and quaint town, with many beautiful ancient sights to explore, including the Castelo de Silves castle and the Gothic Se Cathedral.

The Portas de Cidade, the gates that once guarded the old capital, are also worth a visit, before you enter the cobbled streets of Silves to enjoy open air cafes, local produce markets and the archaeological museum.

Another fab day trip option in the Algarve, you can drive to Silves, take a tour or use the public bus service, which runs from Lagos, Portimão and Albufeira, to get there.


#3 Wine Taste at a Local Vineyard

Portugal, Algarve, Morgado do Quintão

There’s no question that one of the greatest things to do in the Algarve is eat, drink and relax and there’s few places better I can think of to do this than the boutique Morgado do Quintão vineyard.

A family-run, organic winery, which has been handed down between generations for over 300 years, this unique spot offers leisurely lunches that drift across the afternoon under the shade of ancient olive trees.

Comprising of 3 delicious courses, prepared from local and seasonal produce, food is paired with wines created in the surrounding vineyards.

At every turn, there’s a sense of the Algarve heritage and connection here – even down to the dessert orange cake I enjoyed, which had been made in traditional clay pots.

During the vineyard tour that followed lunch, I learnt all about “Negra Mole”, a grape unique to the Algarve, which is cultivated at this vineyard and considered to be the second oldest grape variety in Portugal.

Also offering afternoon premium wine tastings, as well as sparkling wine and oyster evenings, this authentic and amazing spot is a great example of the boutique offerings the Algarve has beyond the beaches and bars.

Book you experience at Morgado do Quintão vineyard here.


#4 Marvel at Benagil Cave

Portugal, Algarve, Praia de Marinha

But from the hidden vineyards, we now move to one of the region’s most popular attractions on this list of the top things to do in the Algarve – after all, no guide to this part of Portugal would be complete without mentioning it!

The Algarve’s rocky coastline is filled with breathtaking natural spots, but this famous cave, which can only be accessed via kayak, SUP or small boat, is probably the jewel.

A large dome cavern, jutting out into the sea, the cave is magically light from above by the sunlight that beams through its natural roof opening like a spotlight, wonderfully illuminating the turquoise waters and fine golden sand below.

Due to its popularity and the threat of erosion, you can’t disembark your kayak or SUP to walk in the cave, but you can get pretty close and still enjoy the silence and beauty.

Alternatively, enjoy hiking the coastline above the cave and peering down into it – the Seven Hanging Valley trail is particular favourite here.


#5 Relax on a Boat Trip

Portugal, Algarve, AlgarExperience

The other way to take in the Benagil Cave – albeit from a distance – as well as the Algarve’s spectacular coastline in general, is via a boat trip.

There’s literally hundreds of options when it comes to operators, but I really enjoyed my excursion with AlgarExperience.

Leaving from the Albufeira harbour, this locally owned and run company operates year round and offers a large number of tours that cover all sorts of activities – from dolphin spotting to beach BBQs.

With large, comfy vessels that boast open top decks, this is the perfect way to soak in the scenery.

Full and half day options are all available, as well as sunset cruises, and most include swimming stops, not to mention other natural wonders (aside from the Benagil Cave), such as the Arco do Trunfo, the Gruta do Capitão and the Praia do Submarino.

View all the AlgarExperience trips on offer, and book yours in advance, via their website.


#6 Sample Craft Beer

Portugal, Algarve, Rock Brewery

And while many of the AlgarExperience trips do include an open bar, if you’re looking for something slightly more refined, why not consider a craft brewery visit while you’re in the Algarve?

Located just outside of Faro, Algarve Rock Brewery opened 2018 and offers tours and tastings during the afternoon (from Monday through Saturday) or, best of all, on Friday nights.

The 1st Friday of every month is the top pick as they have live music playing too then.

Tours with the fantastic co-owner Ricardo need to be booked in advance, but it’s well worth scheduling this into your Algarve itinerary if you’re looking to learn more about local beer brewing and are feeling a bit vineyard-ed out!


#7 Faro Walking Tour

Portugal, Algarve, Faro Walking Tour

And while you’re in the Faro area, you really can’t miss the chance to enjoy a walking tour of this beautiful city.

The capital of the Algarve region, Faro is small, but the historic centre and seaside setting here make it a wonderful experience for a few hours.

Learning about the fascinating history of the Algarve region is all part of the experience (who knew the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Magherbins, and Mauritanians had all settled this region back in the day) and admiring the architecture of Old Faro, with its Moorish and European influences, is a delight.

Don’t miss wandering inside and the scaling the tower of the Sé Catedral (it costs just a few euros), before heading out to wander the café-lined streets and snap the picturesque whitewashed houses of this charming Algarve city.

Check out this great option if you want to book in advance.


#8 Head out on a Hike or Cycle

Portugal, Algarve, Clifftop

If you’re visiting outside of the hot summer season, then heading out for a hike is definitely one of the top things to do in the Algarve.

The months of April, May, September and October are usually perfect for good walking conditions in this part of Portugal and, while top coastal trails (like the Seven Hanging Valleys) offer delightful seaside scenery, to get away from the crowds, I recommend heading inland to the Serra de Monchique or Serra do Caldeira.

The fantastic walking trail of Via Algarviana, that links Alcoutim and Cabo de São Vicente, will allow to you explore this amazing area from east to west.

Otherwise, the educational Cork Route, which begins near the airport in Faro, will allow you to walk through and learn about the whole process of cork making (from oak grove extraction to industrial process), for which the Algarve is famous.

Finally, you also have the Rota Vicentina route – a 400km coastal gem of a trail which leads from Faro all along the Algarve’s southern and western coastline.

Enjoy the whole thing over a number of weeks, or take smaller sections like the Historical Route or the Fisherman’s Trail, for manageable bite sized chunks.

The Rota Vicentina can also be enjoyed on bike, as can the brilliant Rota do Barrocal, which runs between Vila Real de Santo António and Aljezur.


#9 Try Surfing or Scuba Diving

Australia, WA, Dive Ningaloo

And sticking with the active theme, another top thing to do in the Algarve is get adventurous out on, or under, the water.

Experienced surfers can usually find great waves along the Costa Vicentina (which runs from the towns of Odeceixe to Burgau), but if you’re keen to grab lessons, the surf schools in this area, or in Portimão, are also fab options.

Portimão is also the place to enjoy scuba diving in the Algarve.

4 Portuguese navy ships were sunk here and turned into artificial reefs, meaning today the area is flooded with amazing marine flora and fauna that have made the wrecks their home.


#10 Relax at Hot Springs

For something more sedate however, why not head to the wonderful spa town of Monchique, in the Algarve hinterland, to enjoy healing natural springs, straight from the ancient mountain ranges?

Água de Monchique has been known for its healing properties since the Roman times and can now be enjoyed in several beautiful spas in this town.

With a 9.5pH, Monchique water is one of the most alkaline in the world and is rich in bicarbonate, sodium and fluoride.

From hydrotherapy to jacuzzi experiences, jet showers to water massages, there’s plenty of spots to enjoy its healing properties.

Check out and the Monchique Termal Resort for some ideas.


#11 Sample Local Cuisine

Portugal, Algarve, Faro Cafe

An incredible mix between the light Mediterranean diet of southern Europe and the most hearty traditions of Portuguese food, the Algarve is gastronomic hotbed!

With a huge coastline at its heart, it’s unsurprising that seafood features heavily on most Algarve menus and local fish stew caldeirada should not be missed for the pescatarians among you.

For the vegetarians, fresh breads, cheese and olives are in abundance, as well as figs, almonds and oranges.

With 6 Michelin star restaurants to choose from the in Algarve, there’s plenty of fine dining options, but for something more low key, but still delicious, why not try Figueiral or Atlantico Bar and Restaurant.


#12 Get Out on the Golf Course

Portugal, Algarve, Pine Cliffs Resort Boardwalk

Named Europe’s best golf destination, the Algarve is a hit with fans everywhere and with 42 Nine or Eighteen hold layouts, it’s easy to see why!

More than half the courses decorate the 240km of coastline, and some are ranked among the top 100 in the world.

Many top hotels also boast their own courses, like the wonderful Pine Cliffs Resort where I stayed.


#13 Chill at the Beach

Portugal, Algarve, Beach

And finally, you simply can’t come to the Algarve and miss chilling at the beach!

One of the best beach destinations in Europe and with some of the continent’s warmest weather, it’s easy to see why so many of us flock to the Algarve’s sandy shores year on year.

The dramatic cliffs that frame many of the beaches here only add to the appeal, and the clear water and great swimming in many spots, makes the Algarve a joy for beach and sea lovers.

With so many sandy spots to choose from however, it can be difficult to know where to begin!

Check out my list of the 10 best beaches in Algarve to start planning your sandy sojourn today!


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Top Travel Tips for the Algarve

Portugal, Algarve, Albufeira Buildings

When to Visit the Algarve?

I think the best time to visit The Algarve is during the shoulder seasons of May and June or September and October, when the weather is good, but the prices and crowds lower.


How Long to Spend in the Algarve?

I recommend 7-14 days in the Algarve.


Where to Stay in the Algarve?

I highly recommend the stunning Pine Cliffs Resort, which is situated just outside Albufeira.

Read my review of this 5* hotel here.


Travel Insurance for the Algarve

World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.

Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.


Travel Money in the Algarve

The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, I always travel to Portugal with my Wise card.

It works just like a debit card… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Grab yours here.




So there you have it, my full guide to the best things to do in Portugal’s beautiful Algarve region.

I hope the info was helpful, but any more questions you have, don’t hesitate to drop them into the comments box below…


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