Almost everyone goes to the Algarve Region for its beautiful golden beaches. You know the ones with the soaring cliffs, the turquoise waters, the sea caves and unusual rock formations. Check out when to go, what to see and where to stay.
Portugal

Exploring the Algarve Region in Portugal

Almost everyone goes to the Algarve region for its beautiful golden beaches. You know the ones with the soaring cliffs, the turquoise waters, the sea caves and unusual rock formations. And why not, it’s surrounded by two sides of the Atlantic. It offers a surfers’ paradise on the southwest coast and a natural, authentic and undeveloped east coast.

The tourist hotspot is right in the middle. It’s here, you’ll find the newly developed condos and resorts being built in close proximity to those gorgeous beaches. Where you will find lots of shopping, restaurants, water-sport activities and nightlife. 

The further inland you go is where you will find the historic white-washed towns, the rolling countryside and farmland with its cork and olive groves. This is where it eventually meets up with the Alentejo region, known as the new Tuscany. 

Almost everyone goes to the Algarve Region for its beautiful golden beaches. You know the ones with the soaring cliffs, the turquoise waters, the sea caves and unusual rock formations. Check out when to go, what to see and where to stay.

When to go

If you are looking to avoid the large crowds and the intense heat, visit in the shoulder season. April to June or September to October. This time will still allow you to enjoy the warm temperatures of the air and the sea. 

Portugal’s rainy season is November and December. And January is its coldest month of the year. 

But, why not consider Portugal your late winter holiday escape. I visited at end of February into early March. Even though it was too cold to swim, it was sunny and almost 20 degrees every day. Just perfect for this Canadian girl.

Almost everyone goes to the Algarve Region for its beautiful golden beaches. You know the ones with the soaring cliffs, the turquoise waters, the sea caves and unusual rock formations. Check out when to go, what to see and where to stay.

Places to see

Olhão

Olhão, a fishing port town in the Algarve Portugal

Olhão is essentially a fishing port. But is experiencing a lot of vitalization. The preservation of the small historic town is underway with the restoration of many of its original buildings from 16th to 18th centuries. It also features a lively daily Mercado, or market. The local fishermen deliver the fresh catch of the day before sunrise.

Olhão is 10 minutes from Casa Modesta

Parque Natural da Ria Formosa

In the eastern part of the Algarve you find 18,000 hectors of protected land. Its unique bird-filled lagoons and tiny islands make up the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa.
Photo credit: portugalresident.com

In the eastern part of the Algarve you find 18,000 hectors of protected land. Its unique bird-filled lagoons and tiny islands make up the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. This is one of the most important areas for aquatic birds in Portugal. Hosting on a regular basis more than 20,000 during the winter period. It serves as an important stop-over point in the migration routes between Europe and Africa.

In the eastern part of the Algarve you find 18,000 hectors of protected land. Its unique bird-filled lagoons and tiny islands make up the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa.
This part of the Algarve, which is not as well-known to tourists, is oh so beautiful. It's no wonder that it has been elected as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal.

Culatra

Exploring the traditional Culatra village, only accessible by boat

Culatra is an authentic fishing village, only assessible by boat. Residents maintain a traditional way of life here, no cars and no modern amenities. The residents who continue to reside on this island live a very quiet and simple way of life. If you are visiting the island, plan a beach day on this remote setting. 

Tavira

The charming town of Tavira has the slow flowing River Gilão cut through its center. Here you will find the traditional whitewash buildings with coloured borderlines and cobbled squares and pathways. It features many historical landmarks dating back to the 13th to 17th centuries. 

Tavira is 20 minutes from Casa Modesta

Faro

Outside the old historic city streets are filled with shops and restaurants under the large sails to provide some shade from the hot sun.

Faro is the biggest city in the Algarve. Worth visiting is the picturesque cidade velha (or old town). You enter through this part of the city through a stately tunnel passage with 1,000-year-old stonework. Here, you can easily spend a couple of hours just wandering the streets. Here you will find the beautiful ruins of old buildings and doors. 

Faro is 30 minutes from Casa Modesta

Beaches to visit

There are more than 150 beaches in this region. Here are the most popular and beautiful beaches in the western part of the region.

Praia Da Marinha

Praia do Carvalho

Praia do Carvalho, one of the best beaches in the Algarve, Portugal

Benagil Caves

Benagil caves in the Algarve region of Portugal

Praia Do Camilo

Praia Do Camilo, one of the beautiful beaches in the Algarve region of Portugal

Praia da Falésia  

Praia da Falésia , a must see beach when in the Algarve region of Portugal

Where to stay

Stay at Casa Modesta just on the outskirts of Olhao, Portugal. A modern retreat perfect for exploring the Algarve region.

Our home base for the next 5 days was at the modern retreat of Casa Modesta. This retreat is located in the Ria Formosa just outside the town of Olhão. When you arrive, you are welcomed by the owner, Carlos Fernandes. He shares his family story of how this 9-suite retreat came to be while providing a tour. Built on the site of his grandparents’ family home, it was named after his mother, Modesta Maria.

Casa Modesta is a modern retreat that offers the perfect stay while in the Algarve region.
Casa Modesta is a modern retreat that offers the perfect stay while in the Algarve region.

Designed by Carlos’s sister, who is a local architect, Casa Modesta consists of two whitewashed buildings that offer guests a common kitchen and bar area, complete with a centuries old bread oven and wine cellar. The second building features a small lounge and reception area as well as dining hall. This is where you will be treated to the best breakfast before you start your day exploring Algarve region. 

Casa Modesta is a modern retreat that offers the perfect stay while in the Algarve region.
Our terrace sunrise views

Every room, ours was #9, offers a large private terrace where you can enjoy both the sunrise and sunset. The interior design includes a mix of traditional materials, like the terracotta floor tiles, but is decorated with modern elements as well as family heirlooms. And lastly, the brother of Carlos, is the wonderful host and cook who will prepare the most delicious daily breakfast. Guests are also offered the option for making reservations to join for dinner. We did, and it was by far the best meal we enjoyed while in Portugal.  

Casa Modesta is a modern retreat that offers the perfect stay while in the Algarve region.
Sunset swim anyone?

As a holidaymaker…

I hope this has inspired your planning to the Algarve region. There is much to explore, so give yourself several days to see how much this region has to offer. 

Almost everyone goes to the Algarve Region for its beautiful golden beaches. You know the ones with the soaring cliffs, the turquoise waters, the sea caves and unusual rock formations. Check out this guide sharing when to go, what to see and where to stay.
Almost everyone goes to the Algarve Region for its beautiful golden beaches. You know the ones with the soaring cliffs, the turquoise waters, the sea caves and unusual rock formations. Check out this guide sharing when to go, what to see and where to stay.

22 Comments

  • Nic

    We’ve only visited Lisbon and the area around the city in Portugal and that was our first trip abroad together over 10 years ago! But since then we’ve always wanted to return and see more of the country. The coast down here reminds me of the Great Ocean road near Melbourne but I also love these towns too, so much character.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      We also went to Lisbon, maybe that is my next post! Yes, we shared the same impression of seeing more of the country in a return trip. I have not been to Melbourne, but that sounds wonderful if the Algarve reminds you of it.

  • Marvi

    Wow.. Everything looks charming in Algarve. 🙂 I definitely love how you had the beach all to yourself. Those rock formations look amazing.. And Casa Modesto looks relaxing too. The host sounds wonderful too what with him cooking breakfast for guests. 🙂

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Glad you like it Marvi. It indeed was wonderful to have the beach to ourselves! And, what a beach it was. Thank you for stopping by my site and taking the time to comment.

  • Amy

    As a fellow Canadian, I can appreciate the warm weather in February as a major draw!! Those beaches are absolutely stunning, and I have heard nothing but amazing things about Portugal in general. Casa Modesta sounds exactly like a place we search for, I love the personal touches and small scale service. Would love to visit someday!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks for commenting fellow Canadian 😉! Yes, it is definitely worth looking into when our winters seem to drag on, it is the most pleasant and welcomed weather. I hope you get to experience one day soon. Thanks for commenting.

  • Heather

    I haven’t been to Portugal (yet) and hadn’t heard of Faro yet but I have to go there! Those beautiful doors and picturesque walks with cool visuals. They are amazing…old towns usually are, but Faro looks extra incredible!!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Yes, don’t you just love those doors?! I hope you get to travel to Portugal one day, especially if you love charming, picturesque towns as there are many! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • Yara

    How timely! I’m planning a trip to Portugal in the fall, and Algarve is high on my list. Tavira was not on my radar and I’m so glad I read through this – because I definitely see myself exploring for a day or two. Thanks for a great post!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I am so glad it inspired you to check out Tavira, it is definitely a charming town in that area. If you want to check out another post I have, it features the Alentejo region and there are a lot of wonderful places there to check out too. Enjoy your trip to Portugal, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

  • Yukti

    Algarve region in Portugal is really worth visiting with all those incredible rocky beaches, rustic colorful towns. I loved the colorful houses in Tavira. I am saving your post.

  • Joanne

    We’ll be visiting Lisbon and the Algarve in July and I can’t wait to check out a few of these locations! The Benegil Caves and Praia Da Marinha are definitely on our list but we’re also going to check out a few more of the beaches you mentioned.

  • Alison

    Your photos are beautiful. Something about Portugal just gets in your soul. I too loved Faro and would love to have explored Tavira but ended up going west to Carvoeiro which was beautiful. Thanks for the post, reminding me what a treasure Portugal is and how many little corners there are to explore. Another Canadian who loved the warmth there!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you so much fellow Canadian! I appreciate your kind words and pleased that it brought back some memories.

  • Stephanie

    Well…this just shot to the top of my bucket list! I’ve only ever been to Lisbon and it was for a 12 hour layover. The Algarve Region looks absolutely STUNNING! You’ve done an amazing job capturing it and created a true sense of “get there now!” Also, thanks for including a little bit about each section of the region. It makes trip planning that much easier, as I haven’t seen a whole lot of travel guides or posts on this region!

  • Larch

    I lived in the Algarve many years ago. What a treat to revisit it through your photos and text. I must go back some time and see it again through new eyes.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      It’s always great to return to place we are so familiar with to see how our perspective changes, or if it feels like returning home.

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