15 Must-Visit Attractions in the Algarve

The sea caves of Benagil can be reached by canoe or kayak
The sea caves of Benagil can be reached by canoe or kayak | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
The Algarve is a fantastic beach destination, but there is so much more to enjoy than purely sand and waves. In fact, there is plenty to do to keep even the most adventurous travellers busy and having fun. While exploring Portugal’s beautiful south, try to fit in as many of these must-see attractions as possible.

Serra de Monchique

Natural Feature
Travel to Algarve Portugal - view of Serra de Monchique (Monchique Mountain Range) near Parque da Mina
Travel to Algarve Portugal - view of Serra de Monchique (Monchique Mountain Range) near Parque da Mina | © Valery Voennyy / Alamy Stock Photo

It’s perhaps impossible to get further from the typical coastal views than the Serra de Monchique (Monchique Mountains) in the center of the Algarve and a stone’s throw from Alentejo. It’s the highest peak in this region and is a great location for a road trip.

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Caves

Natural Feature
Speaking of coastal treasures, the caves are a natural attraction that draw people to them from far and wide. Two of the most popular spots are the Benagil and Zorreira caves. Reach them by kayak or canoe, or take a boat part of the way and swim the remaining stretch.
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Faro Old Town

Historical Landmark
The streets of the old town of Faro. Portugal.
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Along the Algarve’s coast – especially in the western part of the region – modern resorts and trendy neighbourhoods are popping out of the woodwork, but the regional capital has held strong to its traditional roots. Surrounded by a medieval stone wall and filled with Moorish and Roman ruins and landmarks, this historical centre offers a glimpse into generations of tradition and a past filled with dramatic invasions.

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Silves

Natural Feature
View of hillside town and castle, Silves, Silves Municipality, Faro District, Algarve Region, Portugal. Image shot 2011. Exact date unknown.
© Greg Balfour Evans / Alamy Stock Photo

Silves is another traditional town in the Algarve, but used to be the regional capital during the Moorish occupation. Many ancient landmarks still stand today, but among the most widely visited are the red-stone castle and the cathedral.

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Beach cafés

The Algarve is full of fantastic coastal cafés that are perfect for grabbing a coffee or meal while escaping from the sun for a bit. Don’t miss blending Portugal’s café culture with the Algarve’s coastal one.

Gypsy markets

Don’t leave the Algarve without a souvenir, and the local gypsy markets are where some of the best bargains can be found. Plus, the environment is different than other markets in the Algarve and will certainly be a unique experience.

Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park

Natural Feature
Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park. Alentejo, Portugal
© agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo

The lower part of the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park is a beautiful stretch of protected habitats, from coastal cliffs to green, grassy lands. This area is a treasure trove of charming villages and secluded beaches where mainly the locals go. Beginning in Alentejo and ending at the Cape St Vincent, it is an excellent place to go hiking, find a coastal retreat, and go birdwatching in Portugal.

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Restaurants

Finally, some of the best places to visit in the Algarve are the restaurants. Order fresh fish or try the traditional cataplana. Order a bifana sandwich (made with marinated pork) or go for something fancier at a high-end venue.

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These recommendations were updated on August 25, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.