When you think of the Algarve, you probably picture sand-coloured cliffs, brushed by bright blue waters. Well, you may not know it, but what you’re actually imagining is Lagos – or Ponta de Piedade, to be exact. Here, archways and rocks rise out of the sea like giant teeth. You can take photos from the clifftops, or hop in a boat for a closer look. The town of Lagos itself is really picturesque, too – think winding streets, pastel-coloured buildings and bustling squares. You can visit the whitewashed Santa Maria Church, explore the ancient castle walls, and people-watch from an al fresco café. For a true taste of Portugal, buy a freshly-made pastel de nata from a bakery and sit in the sunshine.
Fancy some beach time? You’ve come to the right place. Meia Praia in Lagos is one of the Algarve’s best beaches – and it’s right in front of TUI SENSIMAR Lagos. You’ll have a whopping four kilometres of sand to stretch out on, and plenty of watersports to try. And, when you need some shade, you can grab an ice-cold cocktail in the swanky beach club – it’d be rude not to, right?
If you want a slice of traditional Portugal, Olhos d’Agua is the place to stay. This fishing village has a laid-back vibe, with restaurants serving the catch of the day, and kids poking around in the rock pools on the beach. Down by the sand, you’ll find fishermen’s huts and a little gem called O Caixote. This rustic restaurant is very casual, but the food is top notch. Dine like a local as you tuck into Portuguese specialities, like piri-piri chicken, seafood cataplana and net-fresh clams.
If you’re a keen golfer, there are two excellent courses – Pine Cliffs and Balaia – just a five-minute drive away. Just around the bay, you’ll find Praia Falesia. The bright red cliffs set this six-kilometre beach apart, and it’s a great spot to curl up with a book and catch some rays. Go for a stroll at sunset to see the beach at its finest, as the sinking sun paints the cliffs orange and pink.
When Portugal was handing out postcodes, Alvor hit the jackpot. This tranquil town is straight off a postcard, with a sweeping lagoon, sheltered beaches and charming cobbled streets. The river is at the heart of life in Alvor. You can go canoeing, rent bikes, or stroll along the boardwalk to the nearby sand dunes. There are loads of dining options here, too, but Canico is the crowning jewel. Built into the cliffs, this stylish restaurant serves up lunch, dinner and drinks in an Insta-worthy spot, with stunning sea views. And, once the sun goes down, you can dance on the sand to the soundtrack of live DJs.
To top it all off, Alvor is just a 30-minute drive from Silves. The once-capital of the Algarve wouldn’t look out of place in a Game Of Thrones episode. Built on a hill, Silves’ terracotta buildings and ancient fortress are visible for miles. If you’re into history, it’s definitely worth spending a day here. Silves Cathedral dates back to the 13th century, while the red-brick fortress has stood since the 10th century. The Algarve’s famous white storks are all over Silves, too. You’ll see them soaring above the rooftops, or perched on precarious nests – usually on top of a chimney pot.
The Algarve isn’t just famous for its beaches and golf courses – it’s also made a name for itself on the clubbing scene. And Albufeira is the headline act. So, if you’re after a party holiday, this is where you should stay.
By day, Albufeira’s charming Old Town is ripe for exploring, with boutiques, restaurants and beaches galore. In the evening, though, the new part of town comes to life. Montechoro Strip is the star attraction, with two whole kilometres of after-dark hotspots. There’s something for every budget here, from karaoke places and Irish pubs, to cocktail bars and pulsing nightclubs. If you want to go all out, hop in a taxi to Kadoc. This massive club packs in 7,000 people over five dance floors – and it’s just a 15-minute drive from Albufeira.
The stylish Iberostar Selection Lagos Algarve's set on the peaceful outskirts of town, and comes with panoramic views of a sandy beach.
Hotel Falesia has it all - tropical gardens, a fancy spa and some of Portugal's best golf courses on its doorstep.
Family-friendly Alvor Baia boasts self-catering apartments, a huge pool and a free shuttle bus to the beach.
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