The Algarve is a popular tourist region in the south of Portugal; tourism makes up the bulk of the Algarve’s economy, along with fruit and almonds. Faro is the regional capital.
Cities to visit in the Algarve
As our map shows, the bulk of the cities lie along the Mediterranean coast of the Algarve.
Sagres was home to Prince Henry the Navigator and played a huge role in the Age of Discovery. It is the most southerly community in Portugal. While the beaches can be subject to the strong winds that attracted early navigators, the town is full of whitewashed houses, and has a 15th century fortress (Fortaleza de Sagres). The surrounding area is rich in enticements for the tourist, and includes a giant wind compass and some Roman Kiln ruins. Sagres Hotels | Sagres Hostels
Vila do Bispo is a place to come to eat fish and perceves, translated to “goose barnacles”. There is game in the fall. You can come to avoid the mass tourism that has cluttered the central Algarve. Vila do Bispo Hotels
Lagos has a bus and train station and abundant beaches. Shoppers can score some fine ceramics and cork objects. Popular with backpackers. Eat grilled chicken Piri Piri or fish. Lagos Hotels
Portimão, once a trading port catering to Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians, is a town of about 50,000. A ferry can take you to Funchal, Madeira from here. he Municipal Museum is stuffed into an old sardine canning factory. Nearby is Alvor, a small beach village. Portimão Hotels
Monchique hasn’t succumbed to the tourist invasions begun in the 1960s. It has a rustic feel as the area around the town produces cattle, pigs, cork and wood. Caldas de Monchique was once a Roman spa with vile smelling sulphur hot springs. Taste: medronho, a strong distillate made of the fruit from arbutus bushes. Monchique Hotels
Carvoeiro, once a classic and intimate fishing village was pretty much ruined by a rush to tourism, although you’ll see a few of the quaint old structures if you look hard enough. Lots of sporting things here—and beaches: Praia de Centianes, Praia de Carvalho, Praia de Benagil, Praia de Marinha and Praia da Albandeira. Carvoeiro Hotels
Lagoa was hard hit by the earthquake of 1755, and then banditry. Once the vineyards here produced wine, but the land was more valuable when sold to tourists. The Convento do São José, built in 1713, survived the earthquake though, and you can often see art exhibits and theater performances inside. Lagoa Hotels
Armação de Pera was once connected with the tuna trade, but now is mainly blocks of holiday apartments—go to the village of Pera in the off season for a more authentic experience. Armação de Pera
Vilamoura—big tourist complex, but then again plenty to do for revelers. There’s evidence of the Romans in the center of town; they made garem, a fish paste here. Vilamoura Hotels
Almancil has lots of restaurants for the tourist developments that have popped up here, offering various cuisines if that floats your boat. The nearby church of São Lourenço de Matos is renowned for its 18th Century blue tiles. Almancil Hotels
Faro is home to the International Airport that can bring you to the Algarve. Arab and Roman ruins exist, but most of what you see was constructed after the earthquakes of 1755 and 1532. The old town has a 13th century cathedral where the Roman forum used to be. The church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo features interesting gold-leaf work as well as a chapel of monk bones. There are Jewish and Naval museums to visit. Faro Hotels | Faro Hostels
Olhão is located at one end of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve. The old quarter shows some interesting Moorish architecture. Unspoiled beaches, a local fish market, and some interesting smaller villages nearby make it an interesting destination. Olhão Hotels
Estoi is known for its rococo Palace of Estoi, while nearby Milreu has evidence of a Roman Vila. Estoi Hotels
Tavira is known for its 18th century buildings and 37 churches. The River Gilão splits the town, linked together by a Roman bridge. A ferry takes you to the Ilha de Tavira where you’ll find the town beach. Tavira Hotels
The northwestern corner of Portugal has historically been called the Minho. It’s a green region that includes the first capital of Portugal, Guimarães.
The cities on the map are the top cities to visit in the Minho. The green dots indicate cities with regional rail stations, the orange dots indicate cities with high speed rail service. Ponte de Lima can be reached by bus from Porto and other cities. Click the Minho map to see it larger.
Minho Cities to Visit
Braga is the current capital of the region, a baroque city. Outside Braga is the most photographed site in Portugal, the Bom Jesus Sanctuary, a traditional pilgrimage site in Portugal. (Braga Hotels) Guimarães – A medieval World Heritage site with Celtic roots. (Guimarães Hotels) Viana Do Castelo offers legant architecture including many churches, the unique Geraz do Lima Horse-Drawn Carriage Museum (Viana Do Castelo Hotels) Barcelos – One of Europe’s largest open air markets is found in Barcelos, and the open air Archaeological museum is a must-see. Buy your pottery here. (Bercelos Hotels) Ponte de Lima is named after a Roman bridge over the river, modified in medieval times. The town is on the Caminhos do Minho, the Minho’s pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. (Ponte de Lima Hotels)
Vino Verde Wine
One thing the Minho region is famous for is the Vinho Verde wine. The towns of Monção and Melgaço produce the most renowned type of Vinho Verde, called Alvarinho.
Think you need a car to visit Portugal? The map below shows many of the places you can get to on public transportation in Portugal. The best places to visit are shown in red. Orange dots indicate fast trains go to that station. The green dots are for intercity and local trains, and urban and suburban trains are shown with black dots. Many more locations are accessible by bus in Portugal.
There should be a Portugal Transportation map here. Use the controls on the lower left to enlarge the map. You can also drag it with your mouse once you’ve zoomed in a little. Have fun.