Trying to decide where to stay in Algarve, Portugal?
Most likely, you have a lot of questions running through your head. Where are the best locations in the Algarve? How much does it cost to stay in Algarve? How far in advance should I make my reservation? Will I need a car?
We answer all of these questions and more in this guide.
To make your decision easier, we took the long list of places to stay in Algarve and narrowed it down to a much shorter list of properties. This list is organized by location and further narrowed down by budget. At the end of this guide, we also list recommend properties by travel type.
Table of Contents
Geography 101: A Brief Overview of the Algarve
The Algarve is the southernmost region of continental Portugal. This area includes the southern coastline, from Spain to the Atlantic Ocean.
This coastline is dotted with small towns, some located right along the beach and others farther inland.
The most dramatic coastline and popular beaches are located in central Algarve. This is where you will find Marinha Beach, the wonderful Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, Benagil Cave, Algar Seco, and towns such as Albufeira and Carvoeiro.
A little farther west is the lovely town of Lagos, Ponta da Piedade, and several more impressive beaches.
In the far west, the towns thin out. Along the western shores of the Algarve, the Atlantic Ocean pounds the coastline, creating one of the best surfing destinations in the Algarve.
In the far east, the beaches lose their signature cliffs and sea pillars, being replaced with long, wide beaches and dunes and a few small towns.
For those on a quick visit to the Algarve, most of your time will be spent between Lagos and Albufeira, if you want to relax on this area’s most scenic beaches, take a boat tour, and go hiking. For that reason, picking a relatively central location is ideal.
Where We Stayed in the Algarve
Before we get farther into the details of where to stay in Algarve, I want to let you know where we stayed. We had an excellent experience for many different reasons.
Tim and I spent 9 days in the Algarve in October. We stayed at Vila Balaia in Albufeira, a luxury accommodation that it is very reasonably priced.
Villas come with a fully equipped kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a living room that opens up to a terrace. From the terrace, you overlook the pool. Each villa also comes with a washing machine, perfect for longer stays.
This is a small property, with just a few villas. If you like the idea of staying in a smaller place, rather than a massive hotel, this is a property to consider. However, no meals are provided (don’t expect breakfast in the morning or an onsite restaurant) but you can stock your kitchen the first day you are here.
The service is impeccable and Claudia helped us arrange boat tours and restaurant reservations, and gave us suggestions on things to do and beaches to visit.
Vila Balaia is located on the north side of Albufeira. It’s a very handy location for driving to other Algarve towns and beaches, as we didn’t have to deal with traffic or parking in the city center of Albufeira. To dine in Albufeira, we either walked (to the closer restaurants) or took an Uber.
It does not have beach access, which can be a deal breaker for some people.
We loved it here. It was quiet, roomy, and very comfortable. Four people can stay in one villa, so it also makes a nice pick for families, and we saw a few here during our stay. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again on a future trip to the Algarve.
Where to Stay in Algarve
The first thing you have to decide is the location. There are many towns in the Algarve and these towns have their advantages and disadvantages.
Rather than listing every possibility along the coast, we picked just a few of the top towns to highlight, either because of their prime location, their location to nearby sights, or great hotel options.
Below we list where to stay in Algarve, organized by location/town.
Note: In this guide, budget hotels are 2-star properties, mid-range hotels are 3-star properties, upscale hotels are 4-star properties, and luxury hotels are 5-star properties.
How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each place to stay in Algarve. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Great Location & Lots of Options for all Budgets
Albufeira is one of the largest towns in the Algarve. It is rather centrally located, making it one of the most convenient places to stay when it comes to location. It is also home to a huge number of hotels and restaurants, making it one of the most popular places to stay in Algarve.
This is where we stayed and had a great experience. We loved being centrally located in the Algarve, to go exploring during the day, and the long list of restaurants, where we typically ended our days.
Praia da Peneco, Albufeira
Top Experiences in and around Albufeira: Praia da Peneco, Praia da Falésia, boat tours of Benagil Cave and dolphin tours frequently start in Albufeira
Pros of Staying in Albufeira: Long list of hotels and resorts for all budgets; long list of restaurants to choose from; great beachfront location (Praia do Peneco and Praia de Albufeira sit next to town and Praia da Falésia is a bit farther east); great home base location for exploring the Algarve; best nightlife in the Algarve; since it is a larger town, you can book boat tours and sightseeing tours of the Algarve from Albufeira, minimizing the need for a car.
Cons of Staying in Albufeira: Lacks the charm of Lagos and Portimão; Albufeira is a large, sprawling town so pay attention to the location of the hotels you are considering, because some can be located far from the beach; gets a bad rap for being a party location; very touristy and crowded
Best Hotels in Albufeira
LUXURY: Vila Balaia – Luxury Boutique Villas. Mentioned earlier, this is where we stayed and had an amazing experience. Each villa comes with a fully equipped kitchen, living room, and terrace that overlooks the pool. For a luxury property, prices are reasonable. The service is impeccable and we would not hesitate to stay here again.
Villa Balaia | Where to Stay in Algarve
LUXURY: EPIC SANA. This 5-star resort sits outside of the town of Albufeira, very close to Praia da Falésia. We ate dinner here at their Michelin-starred restaurant, Al Quimia. This is a gorgeous hotel, with two swimming pools, a spa, multiple onsite restaurants, and beach views. Rooms range from standard double rooms to one-bedroom suites with pool views.
UPSCALE: Hotel Sol e Mar – Adults Only. This hotel has a prime location right on Praia do Peneco in Albufeira. If you want to stay in town and be able to walk to many of Albufeira’s restaurants, this is one of our top picks.
Hotel Sol e Mar is the white hotel located on the beach
MID-RANGE: Sea View Downtown. Rooms are 2-bedroom apartments that can accommodate up to 4 people, making this a great pick for families. This property sits on a hillside in Albufeira and some rooms have a gorgeous view of the city and the beach. Onsite is a small outdoor pool.
MID-RANGE: Casa Amarela Guesthouse. Located in the historic old town of Albufeira, this guesthouse gets exceptional reviews. All rooms have air conditioning and a private bathroom. Enjoy the view from the rooftop terrace and pool. Be aware that only children over 13 years are welcome.
MID-RANGE: Golden Cliff House. This small property offers several apartments, one with a view of the ocean. It gets rave reviews for its location and views of the coastline. The apartments have multiple bedrooms and can accommodate up to 4 people, making this a good choice for families. It is located just outside of the town of Albufeira.
BUDGET: Son of a Beach Hostel. This hostel is located in the old town of Albufeira, just a short walk from the beach. It gets very good reviews and offers dormitory-style rooms as well as private double or twin rooms.
The Golden Triangle
The Beverly Hills of the Algarve
Famous for its luxury resorts and Michelin-starred restaurants, the Golden Triangle refers to an area just outside of Faro, which includes Vilamoura, Almancil, and the luxury resorts of Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago.
This area sits just to the east of Albufeira, making it centrally located along the coast.
Top Experiences in and around the Golden Triangle: Some of the best golf courses in the Algarve are located in the Golden triangle; visit the small, lovely town of Vilamoura; Praia da Falésia, a beautiful beach and popular surfing spot, sits just to the west of the Golden Triangle
Pros of Staying in the Golden Triangle: For those seeking a luxury escape in the Algarve, this is where you will find some of the most luxurious resorts in Portugal; easy access to the best golf courses in the Algarve
Cons of Staying in the Golden Triangle: Most expensive area in the Algarve
Best Hotels in the Golden Triangle
LUXURY: Domes Lake, Autograph Collection. With four swimming pools, three restaurants, an onsite hammam and sauna, and fitness center, this is one of the top luxury hotels in the Algarve. Rooms are beautifully decorated, the service is excellent, this hotel is located close to the beach.
LUXURY: Conrad. This contemporary hotel is located among the golf courses of Quinta do Lago. Onsite are several restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Gusto restaurant. Rooms range from double rooms to deluxe suites with a pool view. In the Conrad, there is a spa, indoor and outdoor pools, and several golf courses right on your doorstep.
UPSCALE: Ancão Gardens. This gorgeous property is located in Ancão Village Resort. There are 13 luxury villas available, ranging from a 3-bedroom townhouse to a 4-bedroom villa with a private pool. These apartments can accommodate up to 8 people, making this a fantastic choice for large families and groups of friends who want to stay in a luxury property.
MID-RANGE: Shantiapartments. Located in Vilamoura, this is another beautiful property that offers 2 and 3-bedroom apartments. Each apartment has a kitchen, air conditioning, and access to the outdoor pool.
Shantiapartments | Where to Stay in Algarve
A Beautiful Town with a Fantastic Location
Lagos is known as being one of the prettiest towns in the Algarve. What makes it even better is its location near some of the Algarve’s top attractions.
We think Lagos has a lot more charm than Albufeira. There are plenty of hotels, B&B’s, and apartments to choose from, as well as some great restaurants.
Lagos | Where to Stay in Algarve
Praia do Camilo
Top Experiences in and around Lagos: Stroll through the historic old town and along the marina; walk the boardwalk trails at Ponta da Piedade; take a boat tour of Ponta da Piedade; visit the nearby beaches of Praia do Camilo, Praia Dona Ana, Praia dos Estudantes, and Praia do Pinhão
Pros of Staying in Lagos: Located near some of the Algarve’s most famous destinations, such as Ponta da Piedade; one of the prettiest towns in the Algarve; lots of great restaurants in town; has a train station which is good for those traveling by public transportation
Cons of Staying in Lagos: Since it is a top place to visit in the Algarve, it can be crowded and noisy; not as centrally located as Albufeira so you will do some extra driving to places in eastern Algarve
Best Hotels in Lagos
LUXURY: Boavista Golf & Spa – Bela Colina Village. This 5-star resort sits outside of Lagos. It is located on an 18-hole golf course, has 3 swimming pools, and a spa. Rooms range from one-bedroom apartments to three-bedroom townhouses.
UPSCALE: Lagos Atlantic Hotel. Located just outside of the city center, this small hotel has an outdoor swimming pool. Prior guests rave about the breakfast and the location.
UPSCALE: Villa Zawaia B&B. This gorgeous adult-only bed and breakfast is located in the historic center of Lagos. It gets exceptional reviews for its well-appointed rooms, location, and breakfast.
MID-RANGE: D. Ana Beach Studio. This is one of the coolest properties in Lagos. This studio apartment sits just 400 feet from Dona Ana Beach, one of the best beaches in the Algarve. You will have access to two swimming pools and have a fully equipped kitchen.
D. Ana Beach Studio | Where to Stay in Algarve
MID-RANGE: Lagos Uptown Bed & Breakfast. Located on the outskirts of town, this bed and breakfast sits on a hill. From the upper terrace you get a sweeping view of Lagos.
Lagos Uptown Bed & Breakfast | Where to Stay in Algarve
MID-RANGE: Blue Moon GuestHouse. This adult only property is located in the Lagos city center. From here, it is a short walk to the nearby beaches. It is one of the highest rated properties in Lagos.
BUDGET: Olive Hostel Lagos. This highly-rated hostel sits in the town center of Lagos, giving it a prime location.
Prime Location for Beaches & Boat Tours
Portimão is a coastal town with a marina and beach access that sits to the east of Lagos. Some of the top tours of Benagil Cave leave from Portimão.
Sitting just across the Arade River from Portimão is Ferragudo, a tiny historic fishing village.
Benagil Cave (photo taken on a boat tour from Portimão)
Top Experiences in and around Portimão: Take a boat tour of Benagil Cave and the Algarve coast; visit Ferragudo, the fishing village and have fresh seafood at Sueste – Vinhos e Petiscos; relax on Praia da Rocha or Praia dos Três Castelos, two beaches that sit next to Portimão; see Castelo de Ferragudo; visit Praia dos Três Irmãos, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve
Pros of Staying in Portimão: Some of the better tours of Benagil Cave start here; close to several of the Algarve’s best beaches; has a train station; great central location in the Algarve
Cons of Staying in Portimão: Lacks some of the charm you have in other coastal towns, such as Lagos and Carvoeiro; has more of a small city feel to it
Best Hotels in Portimão
LUXURY: Bela Vista Hotel & Spa. This resort sits on Praia da Rocha, so if you are looking to stay at a hotel with beach access, this is a great one to consider. A variety of rooms are offered, ranging from standard double rooms to suites with an ocean view. Children are not allowed.
UPSCALE: Shantivillas Portimão. The location of this property is fantastic, a beachfront location that is just a 4-minute walk from Praia dos Três Castelos. Take your pick from a studio apartment or 2 or 3-bedroom apartment that comes with air conditioning and access to an outdoor swimming pool. Shantivillas gets near perfect reviews on Booking.com.
MID-RANGE: Temple Suites Guesthouse. Located in the Portimão city center, rooms range from deluxe double suites to family suites, making this a good choice for families who want to stay in the town of Portimão.
MID-RANGE: Casa Rosa in Fabulous Portimão. This small hotel is located outside of the city center. It has a pool and free private parking. All rooms are 2-bedroom apartments that can accommodate 5 people, making it a great choice for families.
BUDGET: Hostel da Praia. Just a 2-minute walk from Praia da Rocha, this hostel gets very good reviews, especially for its prime beachfront location.
Fishing Village By the Sea
Carvoeiro is a small, coastal town that was once a fishing village. Small, white-washed buildings are perched on the cliffs overlooking the beach, making it one of the prettiest places to stay in the Algarve.
It is located between Portimão and Albufeira, giving it a fantastic central location in the Algarve. If you want to stay in a small town with a lot of charm and a beachfront location, look no farther.
Carvoeiro | Where to Stay in Algarve
Top Experiences in and around Carvoeiro: Praia de Carvoeiro; Algar Seco is a very short drive from town; Praia do Vale de Centeanes, one of the endpoints of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, is located near Carvoeiro
Pros of Staying in Carvoeiro: Carvoeiro is the prettiest town on this list, in our opinion; less touristy and quieter than Albufeira and Lagos
Cons of Staying in Carvoeiro: Since it is a smaller town, there are fewer hotels and restaurants here
Best Hotels in Carvoeiro
LUXURY: Tivoli Carvoeiro. This 5-star resort is located outside of town, very close to Algar Seco. It sits on a cliff, overlooking the sea. There are 2 swimming pools, several onsite restaurants, and a spa.
UPSCALE: Quinta do Ourives. Getting near perfect reviews, this small property offers a variety of room types, including a family room with terrace. It is located in the hills above town, about a 7-minute drive from Carvoeiro.
UPSCALE: Castelo Guest House. This property, which looks like a castle, sits on the cliffs in Carvoeiro. From here, it is just a 3-minute walk to the beach. If you want a beachfront location, this is our top pick in Carvoeiro. Kids are allowed and the family room with terrace and sea view looks amazing.
MID-RANGE: Algar Seco Parque. This resort sits on the cliffs above Algar Seco. It is another fantastic choice for families, with rooms ranging from one-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom villas with a sea view. For those who want a resort stay without spending a small fortune, Algar Seco Parque is one of the best options in the Algarve.
Algar Seco Parque | Where to Stay in Algarve
MID-RANGE: Apartment Miramare. If you want to stay in the town of Carvoeiro, this small apartment offers views over town, is air-conditioned, and has free parking. Children are not allowed.
More Towns to Consider in the Algarve
The towns we listed above we chose for their relatively central location in the Algarve, their amenities, and their long list of hotel options. For those who want to stay in one convenient spot and explore the Algarve from here, those are the best options.
However, there are a few towns still worth mentioning. These are located farther to the east and west. They are great towns to stay in, but you’ll do more driving on most days to get to the Algarve’s top attractions.
Faro is the capital of the Algarve and it feels more like a small city than a quaint coastal town. It is easily accessible with public transport, with a train station and an airport. Faro is also the gateway into the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve.
We weren’t impressed with Faro. It has a small city feel and lacks a lot of the charm you get in the towns already listed.
In Faro, we recommend 3HB (a luxury resort), Cardeal Suites & Apartments (upscale apartments in the city center), Faro Clara Suites (mid-range hotel in the city center that gets fantastic reviews), Lemon Tree Stay (another highly-rated mid-range hotel in the city center), and Casa da Madalena Backpackers Hostel.
Sagres is located in western Algarve, near the Atlantic Coast. For those who plan to spend their days surfing, this is the best place to stay. From here, it is a 35-minute drive to Lagos, over an hour drive to Albufeira, and an hour and a half drive to Faro.
Cabo de São Vicente, near Sagres
In Sagres, we recommend Memmo Baleeira (an upscale beachfront resort), Casa Azul Sagres (a mid-range house with standard rooms and one- and two-bedroom apartments in the Sagres city center), and Sunrise Villa (rent the entire home, a 3-bedroom modern house with a pool and sea view).
Tavira sits in the east. It is located near Praia do Barril and the Anchor Cemetery. It is a lovely town packed with charm. During the day, it can get crowded with tourists, but in the evening, strolling the historic streets is a wonderful experience. Since you will have a long drive to the Algarve’s top sights (such as Ponta da Piedade, Marinha Beach, and the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail), it’s good option if you plan to stay in two different towns on your visit, one in the east and one in the west.
Praia do Barril and the Anchor Cemetery
In Tavira, we recommend Quinta de Santa Margarida (a gorgeous country house with outdoor pool and a wide variety of room types), Casa Beleza do Sul (a 19th century townhouse in the city center), and Casa Familia Cardoso (rent the entire house, which sits just outside of the city center, overlooking the Gilao River).
Where to Stay in Algarve: Our Recommendations
Best Location in Algarve
To minimize the amount of driving you do, it is best to stay in a central location in the Algarve. On this list are Albufeira, Lagos, Portimão, Carvoeiro, and the Golden Triangle.
Best Hotels for Mid-Range Travelers
- Casa Amarela Guesthouse (Albufeira)
- Sea View Downtown (Albufeira)
- Shantiapartments (Vilamoura – Golden Triangle)
- Lagos Uptown Bed & Breakfast (Lagos)
- Casa Rosa (Portimão)
- Quinta do Ourives (Carvoeiro)
- Castelo Guesthouse (Carvoeiro)
Best Hotels for Budget Travelers
Best Resorts & Luxury Properties
- Vila Balaia – Luxury Boutique Villas (Albufeira – where we stayed)
- EPIC SANA (Albufeira)
- Conrad (Golden Triangle)
- Domes Lake (Golden Triangle)
- Boavista Golf & Spa (Lagos)
- 3HB (Faro)
Best Hotels for Families
Where to Stay in Algarve: Tips & Frequently Asked Questions
Getting Around the Algarve
The best way to get around the Algarve is to have a car. This gives you the freedom to travel on your own schedule and get to places that are difficult to reach using public transportation.
If you do not plan to rent a car, it is best to pick a location that is easy to get to and from using public transportation. For a quick visit using public transportation, I recommend staying in Albufeira, Lagos, or Portimão, as there is enough to do from these two towns to keep you busy for a few days, and are easily accessible using the buses, boats, or a ride share app.
How Long Will You Be in the Algarve?
If you are planning a short stay in the Algarve, be aware that some properties have a minimum stay of 3 nights. Be sure to check the fine print when picking out your hotel.
If you are planning a longer stay in the Algarve, for example, a week or longer, you have the option to stay in two locations. This gives you the advantage of shorter drive times, if you pick a location in the west and east (for example, Lagos and Albufeira), but you will have to pack up and move.
We spent 9 days in the Algarve, choosing to stay in one location. We chose Albufeira because it was rather centrally located, which worked well for us. There were a few days, particularly those when we visited Sagres in the west and Tavira and Vila Real de Santo Antonio in the east, where we did a lot of driving.
Praia da Falésia
What Do You Want to Do in the Algarve?
Do you want to relax at a resort and visit a few nearby beaches or do you want to get out and explore, visiting the towns along the coast, taking a boat tour of Benagil Cave, hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, and visiting the Algarve’s long list of stunning beaches?
For those who prefer a leisurely holiday, there are a lot of great beachfront resorts to choose from. But if you plan to get out and do something every day, consider staying on the outskirts of town (staying in the small towns can be a hassle driving and parking) and stay centrally located in the Algarve, between Lagos and Albufeira.
How Much Does it Cost to Stay in Algarve?
The answer to this question depends on what time of year you will be here. Summer (June, July, August, and early September) have the highest prices of the year. Prices during this time can be 50% higher than spring and fall months, and almost double the prices during the winter months.
In the summer, a 3- star hotel can range from $100 to $200 USD per night, a 4-star hotel can range from $200 to 400 per night, and a 5-star hotel will start around $400.
How Far in Advance Should You Make Your Reservation?
If your visit will be during the busy summer season (mid-June through August), make your hotel reservations 6 months in advance.
If your visit is during the shoulder season (May to mid-June and mid-September through October), make your hotel reservations 4 months in advance.
If your visit is during the off season, make your reservations 1 to 2 months in advance. Some hotels will close during this time, so there could be fewer properties to choose from.
As I did my hotel search, I was surprised to find that some highly rated hotels did not offer air conditioning. If your visit will be between late spring and early autumn, strongly consider limiting your search to properties that have air conditioning, as the Algarve can get very hot.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Algarve?
Peak season is July and August. During this time, the Algarve is at is busiest. The beaches, hotels, and restaurants will be packed with visitors. For warm weather and lower crowds, the best time to visit the Algarve is shoulder season, the months of May, early June, mid-September, and October.
Praia da Dona Ana, near Lagos
If you have any questions about where to stay in Algarve, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Portugal
ALGARVE, PORTUGAL: Here are 10 gorgeous beaches to visit in the Algarve. Learn how to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, one of the most beautiful walks in Europe. Don’t miss our guides to Ponta da Piedade and Algar Seco, get a list of the best restaurants in Albufeira, and learn why October is the perfect time to visit the Algarve.
PORTUGAL ITINERARY: If you have 10 days in Portugal, here are 5 different ways to plan your trip.
DOURO VALLEY: Get started with our Douro Valley Travel Guide, which covers the essential things to know when planning a trip to this wine region. We also have a guide to 8 Wineries to Visit in the Douro Valley.
PORTO: We cover the best things to do in Porto in our Porto Bucket List. In our Guide to the Wine Cellars in Gaia, get recommendations on which wine cellars to visit and how to plan your time. See the best of Porto in our 2 Days in Porto Itinerary.
We have TONS more information about Portugal in our Portugal Travel Guide, including Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, the Algarve, and the Douro Valley.
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