Here are the top 15 things to do in Algarve, Portugal.
The Algarve coast of Portugal captivates visitors with stunning sea cliffs, golden beaches, whitewashed villages, and bountiful ocean life. From watching the epic waves to cruising through sea caves on boat tours, planning your Algarve adventure can feel overwhelming with so much to see and do.
To help you make the most of this southern Portuguese paradise, we’ve curated the definitive list of must-visit attractions plus handy travel tips guaranteed to maximize your holiday fun under the sunny Algarve skies.
Top 15 Things to do in Algarve Portugal: The Ultimate Must-See Attractions
In This Article: Table of Contents
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Behold Breathtaking Coastal Views at Ponta da Piedade
No visit to the Algarve is complete without witnessing Lagos’ awe-inspiring sea cliffs at Ponta da Piedade (Point of Piety).
Follow cliffside trails and descend hundreds of stone steps to access lookout platforms and rocky beaches tucked amongst the massive weathered towers and arches scattered offshore. After the crowds depart, linger to watch the glowing sunset paint the geological wonders in brilliant oranges and pinks.
Good to Know: Avoid visiting Ponta da Piedade at midday when tour buses overrun the parking lot. Instead go early morning or late afternoon for fewer crowds. The stairs accessing the beaches below involve some steep climbs so wear proper footwear.
Best things to do in algarve Portugal
Cruise Through Stunning Benagil Caves on a Boat Tour
Take an adrenaline-pumping speedboat or more relaxed kayak ride to access the Algarve’s most stunning sea cave network at Benagil Caves.
Formed by erosion into the coastal cliffs, multiple boats can enter the gigantic Benagil Cave’s cathedral-like dome adorned with dramatic stalactites. Captains love navigating through other tight grottos too, so your camera will capture nonstop gorgeous scenery on this don’t-miss Algarve boat adventure.
Good to Know: Boat tours running from Carvoeiro, Lagos and other harbors fill up fast during summer so reserve tickets at least a few days ahead online. Though entering caves depends on conditions, tours happen rain or shine. Opt to visit earlier or later in the day when inland heat is less intense.
Sink Your Toes Into Praia da Falésia’s Soft Sands
With vibrant 60-meter colorful cliffs as the backdrop, Praia da Falésia stuns with six kilometers of glorious golden sand wedged between Vilamoura and Olhos de Água.
Take a long seaside stroll, play in the blue Atlantic swells or just claim a spot to relax on vibrant striped beach towels under the sunny Algarve skies. This Blue Flag beach has something special for every member of the family.
Good to Know: Parking at Praia da Falésia fills up fast, even in shoulder season. Arrive early or better yet, take public transport from nearby towns to secure beach access without traffic hassles. Beachside restaurants rent umbrellas and loungers when needed to escape the heat. Lifeguards patrol in summer.
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Explore the Maze-Like Pathways of Algar Seco
From the clifftop parking, you’d never guess a hidden world of sea caves and tunnels await discovery at Algar Seco outside the oceanside village Carvoeiro.
Descend steep steps to access this geological playground where narrow limestone passageways twist towards the rumbling ocean beyond.
Duck your head to enter smaller caves, squeeze through tighter spaces and trace your steps back anytime to exit this real-world labyrinth.
Good to Know: While exploring Algar Seco’s eroded rocks is safe for all ages, littler kids may need parental assistance navigating uneven stairs and dark tunnels. The network of paths means getting temporarily lost is part of the fun. But when ready to leave, just follow the sound of the crashing waves back towards the cliffs.
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Trek Along Sheer Cliffs on Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Get your heart pumping on this moderate 8-kilometer hike loaded with nonstop eye candy.
The Rota dos Sete Vales Suspensos (Seven Hanging Valleys Trail) connects storybook sandstone beaches Praia da Marinha and Praia de Vale de Centeanes, treating outdoor lovers to sights like the famous Benagil Cave, seaside promontories, a historic lighthouse and the Algarve coastline’s thrilling vertical landscapes.
Just remember to wear grippy sneakers on this half-day cliffside adventure.
Good to Know: Beginning from Marinha Beach, the hike takes around three hours one-way. While not technically demanding, the summer heat radiating off sea cliffs means starting early is essential. Carry plenty of water and sun protection too. Arrange pick-up or retrace your steps back to Marinha Beach for return transport.
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Watch the Sunset From Historic Cabo de São Vicente Lighthouse
Perched dramatically on a high Atlantic cliff for over 500 years, Portugal’s second most powerful lighthouse at Cabo de São Vicente sends a red-beamed beacon up to 60 kilometers to passing ships.
Watching the sunset next to the iconic red stone towers of Cabo de São Vicente lighthouse is an Algarve highlight. Stick around to glimpse the rotating light where mainland Europe and the Atlantic Ocean meet off Sagres Point.
Good to Know: Though you cannot enter the working lighthouse, the onsite fortress complex houses interesting naval history exhibits to explore for just a few euros. Sunset is primetime here so arrive at least an hour beforehand to secure parking and wander cliffside paths before the sky’s colorful show begins.
Wander Lagos’ Picturesque Streets and Dine on Regional Specialties
History-rich Lagos charms visitors with its postcard-perfect harborfront and mazes of atmospheric cobblestone pedestrian lanes dotted with al fresco cafés and restaurants.
Grab an outdoor table on lovely Praça da República to savor fresh seafood like whole grilled sardines as you people watch, then burn off the calories browsing boutique shops inside the 14th century stone walls. Culture-seekers shouldn’t miss Lagos’ excellent regional museums housed in historic buildings either.
Good to Know: Give yourself at least three hours to properly explore Lagos’ compact but engaging town center. Admission to most museums and attractions generally costs just a few euros. If driving, beware that parking is notoriously tight in summer. Instead take the train from elsewhere on the coast for stress-free transport.
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Watch the Waves and survers at Praia do Amado
With its expansive beach wedged between rocky points creating barreling waves, Surfer’s Paradise Beach (Praia do Amado) gives beginners and experts alike plenty of room spread out across 3 kilometers of golden sand.
Strong swells wrap perfectly thanks to steady offshore winds, creating rides up to 16 feet for thrilling rides. Several highly-rated surf schools operate locally for all skill levels when it’s time to hang ten Algarvian style.
Good to Know: Pack or rent wetsuits for added warmth even during summer since Atlantic currents stay cool. First-timers should absolutely book a lesson to learn surf etiquette and safety before attempting to stand solo. Expect a lively beach scene with other ocean athletes sailing, windsurfing and kayaking.
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Lose Yourself in Silves’ Medieval Moorish Old Town
Inland Silves transports visitors back to the 10th century glory days when it served as the bustling capital of the Algarve under Arab rule.
Today you can climb the ramparts of Silves’ imposing red sandstone castle for panoramas of the Arrabida Hills and admire preserved stretches of the defensive wall enclosing the historical center. The town’s elaborate Gothic Cathedral built over an exquisite Moorish cistern offers additional architectural insights into the clash between Christianity and Islam.
Good to Know: Silves lays around 40 minutes by car from the coast but makes an easy day trip excursion. You’ll need at least three hours to fully explore.
The heat can be intense so carry water, wear breathable clothing and refuel at an outdoor café in the shade. Guided tours provide shortcuts for understanding the most important landmarks.
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Take a Cruise to See Flamingos in Ria Formosa Nature Park
This expansive lagoon system stretching along 60 kilometers of eastern Algarvian coast plays a vital role as a stopover point for migratory birds.
That’s why birders come from across the globe with binoculars and telephoto lenses ready to spot feathered species like vibrant pink flamingos.
The best way to tour this delicate ecosystem is by boat – opt for routes that depart from Faro or Olhão for close encounters with these spindly-legged waders within the marshy channels.
Good to Know: Bring high SPF sunblock and a hat since Ria Formosa’s islands offer little shade. Tours generally run year-round but sightings depend on season and luck. Off-season has fewer offerings but smaller crowds. Capture the birds’ standout plumage against the island’s pristine beaches using a telephoto zoom lens on your camera.
Pose Against the Stunning Backdrop of Praia da Marinha
Repeatedly nominated as one of Europe’s most beautiful beaches, Praia da Marinha deserves a spot on any Algarve bucket list for its postcard-perfect scenery.
Sheer rusty cliffs frame a pristine cove with incredible rock formations in the surrounding waters. But it’s the vantage points looking back at the beach and its towering backdrop that cements its status as one of the best photo ops in Portugal. Strike a pose here for Instagram gold!
Good to Know: As one of the region’s most photographed sights, visiting Marinha Beach comes with caveats – arrive very early or late to beat selfie-snapping daytrippers spilling from huge tour buses in summer. Set up your camera beforehand, frame your shots and wait to take breaks during lulls. A polarizing filter cuts annoying sun glare for clearer photos too.
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Laze Waterside at Carvoeiro’s Inviting Beach Scene
Once a sleepy fishing village, the picturesque town of Carvoeiro expanded thanks to gorgeous views and inviting crescent beaches like Praia do Paraíso radiating an intoxicating seaside vibe.
Nosh at cliffside patio restaurants while gazing out over anchored yachts bobbing in the Atlantic, then claim lounge chairs to bronze tan legs on golden sands near uniquely shaped rock formations. End relaxing days watching the fiery sunset paint the horizon brilliant shades or pink, orange and red.
Good to Know: Though technically outside of summer season, Carvoeiro stays active year-round making vacationing here more budget-friendly. Neighboring towns Lagoa and Porches also offer great sightseeing and dining if you have a car. For effortless transport, use the tourist road train to shuttle between locales.
Push Your Adrenaline Limits on an Algarve Parasailing Adventure
If soaring high above brilliant blue waters with wind whipping through your hair sounds like thrilling fun, you’ll love parasailing.
Several operators like Albufeira Beach Parasail along the Algarve coast offer tandem flights where you gently takeoff and land right on the back of a boat. Strapped securely in place, you’ll safely reach airborne heights up to 300 meters as your surroundings shrink, leaving you literally on top of the world soaking up epic views that surround you.
Good to Know: Unlike skydiving where planes reach much higher altitudes, seaside parasailing gives you more time hovering in one place to admire the scenery in the comfortable harness. Flights run year-round but winter water and weather conditions get rougher. Save money by riding tandem or better yet, watching friends nervously take their maiden voyage!
Paddle Through Sea Caves on an Algarve Kayaking Tour
For an arms workout with extra oomph motivated by incredible ocean scenery, grab a kayak and paddle out to explore the caves and arches defining the Algarve shoreline.
Multiple companies like rent equipment and provide guides for half-day trips launching from spots like Lagos and the camera-ready Ponta da Piedade cliffs.
Getting up-close to the eroded rocks jutting from cobalt waters makes even the most tedious paddling plunge worthwhile.
Good to Know: If new to kayaking, sticking to short introductory tours is wise to test both your stamina and sea legs before attempting lengthier routes. Tandems let couples split paddling duties while still getting great selfie snaps.
Snap Spectacular Seascape Photos at Miradouro da Ponta da Piedade
Photographers flock to this must see algarve internationally celebrated viewpoint to shoot magazine-worthy images from on high looking over the sheer tangerine cliffs and towering rock towers at the tip of Ponta da Piedade in Lagos.
But this vantage point impresses amateur vacation shutterbugs too with its widescreen views of wooden fishing boats and luxury yachts plying the glistening teal sea beyond. Gorgeous golden hour sunrises/sunsets seen from here are simply sublime.
Good to Know: Spectacular perspectives make this lookout perennially popular. Rise early and claim a spot atop the stone wall rather than shooting through fence openings. Use pillars as creative frames and turn people into silhouettes by shooting into the light. A wide angle and polarizing filter help cut sun glare and boost saturation.