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Algarve holidays: All you need to know for a trip to the Algarve

The Algarve has long held its spot as a favourite summertime destination for travellers from the UK. With its picturesque beaches, wind-swept cliffs and charming towns and villages, this region’s popularity is well deserved. Add the short travel time from the UK, and it feels like the Algarve could beat any other contender.

You can find the Algarve at the southernmost end of Portugal’s mainland. Given that the Algarve covers a surprisingly large area, you’ll want to make sure to give yourself enough time to take advantage of the wide variety of places and activities you can experience while in the region. 

And thanks to the fact that the Algarve has sunny, mild weather all year round, this destination need not only be considered for a summer break.

We've teamed up with our partners at loveholidays to introduce you to the Algarve. Read on to get the full lowdown on planning a trip to the Algarve, as well as cheap deals to get you there! 

The Algarve at a glance:

  • Capital: Faro

  • Flight duration: 2 hours 50 (from London)

  • Temperature: 16-33 °C maximum throughout the year

  • Language: Portuguese

  • Size: 1,929 sq mi

  • Currency: Euro

When is the best time to visit the Algarve?

Considering that the region enjoys around 300 days of sunshine each year and relatively mild temperatures throughout, you could argue that the Algarve is a good option no matter which month you’re planning to visit.

That said, the Algarve is at its hottest – both in terms of temperature and for the activities and events on offer – during the summer months of June to August. August, in particular, is when you can expect the biggest crowds, and the highest accommodation and flight prices, as this is when families flock to the area to make the most of the school summer holidays.  

Outside the summer boom, the Algarve still attracts a steady flow of travellers. Those who travel in winter, for example, can take advantage of both the cheap travel deals that are available in the off season and fewer crowds.

How to get to the Algarve

With a rather convenient flight time of under three hours, most UK holidaymakers opt to fly straight to Faro International Airport. Often referred to as the gateway to the Algarve, Faro is an ideal starting point for exploring the wider region. You can catch a flight to Faro from over 20 destinations in the UK, including London, Manchester, Belfast, Edinburgh and many more. The following airlines offer direct flights to the Algarve: Ryanair, EasyJet,, Flybe and British Airways.

Portugal’s post-pandemic entry requirements are pretty straightforward, too. Fully vaccinated travellers can enter without needing to test, while unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travellers will need to show proof of a recent negative PCR or lateral flow test. Stay up to date with the latest entry requirements for Portugal.

Find cheap flights to the Algarve

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Getting around the Algarve

Most travellers choose to explore the Algarve by car, as this allows them to access all destinations in the region, including more remote beaches and attractions. You can find car rental companies at Faro Airport, but we’d advise to book this well in advance during the busier summer months. Check out our list of recommended local car hire companies.

For those who don’t want to drive, it's possible to use both train and bus services in the Algarve. For trains, there’s a railway line across the region, but not all destinations have a stop. You can get multi-day passes and tickets through Comboios de Portugal. The main inter-destination bus lines are Eva and Frota Azul Algarve; tickets can be bought directly at bus stations.

Things to do in the Algarve

Whether you decide to visit in spring, summer, autumn or winter, the Algarve has plenty to do throughout the year. We've collected some of our personal favourites to share with you.

Here are a few suggestions for your holiday in the Algarve:

  1. Explore the ancient Castle of Silves

  2. SUP to Benagil Caves

  3. Have a round of golf at one of the Algarve’s 40+ golf courses

  4. Visit Europe’s most southwestern point at Cabo de Sao Vicente

  5. Go on an eco-friendly dolphin and whale watching boat tour

  6. Hike or cycle along the trails of the Serra de Monchique mountain range

  7. Admire the rock formations and caves at Ponta da Piedade

  8. Hop on a boat tour of the Ria Formosa lagoon

  9. Catch a ferry to Tavira Island

  10. Feast on fresh seafood at a beachside restaurant

The best beaches in the Algarve

Since most people visit the Algarve purely for its beaches, this list could easily go on and on. That’s because there’s no shortage of Blue Flag beaches in the Algarve. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a Blue Flag beach is one that’s met high standards of water quality, cleanliness and facilities.

Here are some of our favourite beaches in the Algarve.

Praia da Marinha

Often cited as one of the prettiest beaches in all of Europe, you’ll have to navigate a lot of stairs in order to enjoy the golden sands of Praia da Marinha. Close to Carvoeiro, this beach is famous for its limestone cliffs and rock formations, but it’s not particularly large and can get busy in the summer months, so it’s best to arrive early to grab your spot.

Praia de Faro

You'll find Praia de Faro on Faro Island, which can be accessed by a narrow bridge. Though surprisingly close to Faro Airport, it’s a memorable beach, where you have the sea on one side of the beach and the lagoon of the Ria Formosa on the other. Since it’s a city beach, it can get quite busy during summer.

Praia da Falésia

Located between Vilamoura and Albufeira, sandy Praia de Falésia stretches for some 6 km, which means that there’s plenty of space for everyone here. Set against a backdrop of red cliffs, this accessible beach also has a number of restaurants and bars nearby.

Praia do Carvoeiro

This compact sandy beach is hemmed in by red cliffs and colourful buildings, giving Praia do Carvoeiro a particularly traditional vibe. Thanks to its proximity to the rest of Carvoeiro, shops, restaurants and cafes are only a few steps away.

Praia da Galé

Many of the beaches around Albufeira are packed throughout the summer months, yet Praia da Galé feels like a bit of a secret. Divided into an eastern and western part, each side offers a different experience: in the east, you can visit caves and rock pools, while you can enjoy beach bars and watersports on the west side.

Praia de Vale do Lobo

A haunt of celebrities, this long, narrow beach can be found near Vilamoura. While the white sand of Praia de Vale do Lobo is impressive, many people come here to enjoy the well-known restaurants of Julia’s, Sandbanks and Maria’s.