11 Must-See Highlights of the Algarve for Your Visit
Having called the Algarve home for five years, I can attest that this sun-kissed destination is a paradise cherished by countless tourists seeking solace amidst its natural wonders. The coastline, adorned with diverse beauty, leaves visitors spoiled for choice. In this guide, I’ve curated the absolute must-see highlights of the Algarve.
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Exploring Algar de Benagil (Benagil Cave)
If there’s one spectacle that stands out, it’s the mesmerizing Algar de Benagil near Praia de Benagil. The name “Algar” translates to cave, and this particular one boasts a unique feature—a round hole in the ceiling that frames the azure sky.
Often referred to as ‘the eye,’ the Benagil cave consistently graces lists of must-visit places. Accessible by boat, kayak, or a refreshing swim from Benagil beach, the crystal-clear waters make it ideal for snorkeling. For a different perspective, explore the cave from above, peering through ‘the eye’ down to the beach and sea.
A Boat Tour from Lagos to Ponta da Piedade
Revisit the stunning Ponta da Piedade, this time with a thrilling boat tour from Lagos. While you can reach these captivating rock formations by car, the boat excursion offers a unique perspective of the coastline.
Knowledgeable guides share insider information about the region as you absorb the beauty of Ponta da Piedade from a different angle.
Discovering the Castle of Silves
Silves, a historic gem and once the capital of the Algarve, beckons with its enchanting Arabic architecture. The medieval Silves Castle, dating back to Moorish times, stands as a testament to the region’s rich history.
Strategically perched on the town’s highest hill, the castle offers the best panoramic view over Silves.
The Majestic Cape of St. Vincent
Standing at the south-western tip of continental Europe, the Cape of St. Vincent in Sagres is a remarkable Algarve highlight. Towering cliffs, rising 75 meters above the Atlantic Ocean, provide a dramatic backdrop.
Historically considered the edge of the world, this windy cape hosts a 15th-century monastery and a lighthouse from 1846. This destination seamlessly blends history with the Algarve’s natural wonders.
A Scenic Cliff Walk: Senhora da Rocha to Praia da Marinha
Discovering the Algarve’s mesmerizing coastline is a treat, and there’s no better way than embarking on a cliff walk from Senhora da Rocha to Praia da Marinha. This invigorating activity allows you to immerse yourself in the stunning scenery, walking amidst lush greenery and passing by numerous beautiful bays and rock formations.
Exploring Costa Vicentina
Venture to the west coast, known as Costa Vicentina, and experience a wild and unspoiled landscape unlike the rest of the Algarve. With its rugged beauty and rough ocean, this region is a magnet for surfers and camping enthusiasts. Costa Vicentina is also gaining popularity for yoga retreats, offering a unique blend of nature and tranquility. It stands out as one of the Algarve’s captivating highlights.
Dolphin Watching Extravaganza
Delight in the waters of the Algarve, home to everyone’s beloved marine creature—the dolphin. Embark on a boat tour from various points in the Algarve to witness these playful creatures and, perhaps, encounter other captivating sea life. It’s a family-friendly activity that promises memorable moments, with the possibility of spotting minke whales, orcas, sea turtles, and even some shark species.
Praia da Marinha: A Day in Paradise
Praia da Marinha, previously mentioned as a starting point for a cliff walk, stands on its own as one of the Algarve’s true gems—an incredible beach for a day of relaxation. Crystal-clear waters invite you for snorkeling and swimming, while the beach, surrounded by remarkable rock formations, is hailed as one of the world’s best. One particularly memorable rock resembles a giant letter M, fondly known as the Cathedral.
Ponta da Piedade: Coastal Marvel
Undoubtedly one of the top attractions in the Algarve, Ponta da Piedade in Lagos boasts a collection of stunning rock formations along a pristine stretch of the sea, formed millions of years ago. Explore these wonders by boat or kayak for an up-close view of intricately named rocks amidst the perfect hues of the sea. From sunrise to sunset, Ponta da Piedade earns its place at the pinnacle of your must-visit list in the Algarve.
Praia dos Três Irmãos: Beach Bliss
Among the best beaches in the Algarve is Praia dos Três Irmãos. Ideal for a day of sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling, this beach is surrounded by protective rock formations. Featuring three impressive rocks known as the three brothers, Praia dos Três Irmãos comprises four small coves/bays. Clean waters, soft sands, and hidden caves make it a favorite for families and beach enthusiasts alike.
Tavira: Historic Charm
The Algarve extends beyond its beaches, and Tavira stands as a testament to this. This historic town, influenced by Moorish architecture, is a treasure trove of top-rated restaurants, picturesque plazas, and cobbled streets. Tavira’s allure extends to a beautiful river with a Roman bridge, intriguing churches, and the remains of a 13th-century castle. Life in Tavira unfolds effortlessly outdoors, offering a delightful experience of strolling through parks and enjoying refreshments on park benches.