Algarve looks like a Mediterranean dream, with an azure sky is the perfect backdrop for long sweeps of sandy beaches that border the Atlantic ocean. With dramatic rocky limestone cliffs, the landscape is breath-taking and you will be sure to fall in love with the relaxed pace of life in Portugal.
Most of the Algarve towns are fishing villages, where the rhythm of life hasn’t changed from its historic past. On the coast you will see people wading the shallows searching for molluscs such as cockles, retired pensioners sipping their coffees and socialising in the local bars and streets of white washed houses full of Mediterranean charm.
You may be surprised to know that there’s a luxury side to Algarve, where you can indulge in amazing cuisine, experiences and luxury stays. Here in our guide, we’ve put together the very best indulgent holiday ideas for the perfect escape to the Algarve, Portugal.
This guide is perfect for those who are travelling to The Algarve on a luxury. We will show you what to do in The Algarve, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether it’s a weekend in The Algarve or a long term stay.
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The best time to visit Algarve
The Algarve is a popular winter holiday destination, with its mild climate and temperatures of 10 – 15 degrees centigrade, the best time to visit is in Autumn, around September to October when most of the tourists have left and you can enjoy warm and sunny weather and less crowds.
The summer is ideal for sunseekers but also much more crowded, with the peak season starting in May and continuing until September. Temperatures can reach into the 30s, though the sea breeze usually maintains a pleasant climate.
Luxury things to do in Algarve
Explore the coast in style
If you want to drive the spectacular coastal roads and take in the spectacular scenery, you have to do it in style and what better way to do it than in a slick sports car. At Europe Luxury Car Hire, where you can hire out a Ferrari or a Porsche for the day and feel the wind whipping through your hair as you glide along the coastal roads.
Visit the best beaches
Winner of the renowned “Golden Beach” award, the Praia da Marinha is a stunning place to spend the day, lounging on an isolated beach surrounded by the dramatic looming cliffs and crystal clear waters. This beach is so famous, it’s appeared in countless advertisements and will make you feel as if you’re in your own private ad.
There are also other noteworthy beaches such as the Praia do Camilo or the Praia dos Três Irmãos, where you can find naturally-formed arches and caves to explore on the beaches.
Hit the waves
The Algarve is famed for its incredible surf and its coastline which is buffeted by strong winds lends to amazing waves and some of the best surfing beaches in Europe. If you’re a beginner, there are plenty of surf schools such as Wave Sensations in Sagres, where you can find private classes for €150 per person per day, or even an all-inclusive stay at their resort with accommodation and surf packages.
More experienced surfers can hit the waves in Cordoama, a wild beach with great waves suitable for advanced level surfers, or head to Praia do Amado.
Have a VIP shopping experience
Though the Algarve isn’t so famous for shopping, you can enjoy a tailored day out with a personal shopper at the Algarve’s Designer Outlet. Your day will start with a chauffeur pick up from your hotel to take you to the Designer Outlet, where you’ll meet your personal stylist for a personalised assessment, complete with a glass of champagne.
After shopping till you drop you will enjoy a delicious lunch followed by relaxation at the Spa at the Conrad Algarve Luxury Resort in Quinta do Lago. You can experience the different hydro-therapy pools, ease your aching muscles in the sauna or enjoy beauty treatments. The spa experience will be followed by High Tea at the Lago Lounge followed by sundowner cocktails by the hotel pool before being whisked back to your hotel.
Hit the golf course
Aside from surfing, the Algarve has some of the best world-class golf courses in Europe. There are all kinds of courses, some near the coastline with the gorgeous backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean, to others nestled within a green valley surrounded by mountains.
The golf courses of the Algarve have drawn countless leading professionals of the world to their famous courses and many of them have been designed by some of the best renowned golfers in the world. To experience the very best, check out Monte Rei Golf & Country Club with its green fee of €190 for an incredible golfing experience.
Go dolphin spotting
From Sagres, you can see dolphins in the wild, leaping and cavorting alongside your RIB whilst experienced marine biologists will show you the different species of wildlife in the region, including birds, porpoises or sea turtles. Mar Ilimitado offers different excursions including South Coast Secrets and dolphin and bird-watching tours from €35 per person. For the true luxury experience, hire a private yacht and customise your tour to explore the wildlife or coasts of the Algarve.
Sunrise Mini-Yoga retreat
If you want to experience yoga in the midst of nature, you can enjoy a sunrise cruise on a catamaran where you will experience yoga, sound-healing and meditation to a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean on some wild and isolated beaches. You can swim the crystalline waters of the Ria Formosa and enjoy some snorkelling on your day trip followed by a delicious and ecological brunch. Prices start from €149 per person and cruises depart every day from Faro.
Lagos is one of the most picturesque towns in the Algarve, which is a fishing town with its own fish market, that is worth a visit to see the wide array of marine life on offer. Nearby there is another abandoned market which was called the Mercado dos Escravos, which once Europe’s first slave market and is an eerie place to visit and a reminder that the Portuguese were once colonialists during the Age of Discovery which had far-reaching and devastating consequences.
Strolling through the city’s old historic streets full of whitewashed houses and buildings is like a trip into the past, with its maritime fort and Igreja de Santo Antonio, a modest-looking church which is filled frescos made of typical Portuguese azure tiles or azulejos.
From Lagos, you can also visit some spectacular beaches by car, including the iconic Ponta de Piedade beach, lined with limestone cliffs and archways. You can also hire a kayak or boat to explore the caves and natural formations.
Visit the town of Sagres
Sagres is a town on the Southern coast surrounded by a fortress , it perches atop a towering cliff which is lined by local fisherman, casting their lines into the waters below to fish. From here you can visit Cabo de São Vicente which was once thought to be the very ends of the earth.
Sagres is an excellent place to visit the beaches, such as the famous Praia da Mareta or Praia de Baleeira; alternatively you can enjoy the spectacular surfing and kite surfing on offer on windswept beaches, discover the laid-back surfer vibe of the town and eat some mouthwatering seafood or even take a long hike along the clifftops.
Explore the buzz of Faro
Faro is where most tourists will enter and leave the Algarve, since it is home to the airport. Despite its sleepy appearance it also boasts the most activity when the sun goes down. During the day, you can visit the lighthouse and the castle and the roman ruins, or head out to sea on a boat for some dolphin-spotting, bird-watching, or watersports.
There are also some nearby islands where you can walk along peaceful and tranquil beaches, such as Deserta Island or Armona Islands, and cool off in the refreshing waters of the Atlantic.
Where to stay in Algarve – Luxury Hotels
Vila Vita Parc – One of the highest-rated hotels in the Algarve can be found in Albufeira and plays host to nine restaurants (including a two-starred Michelin restaurant), spas, pools and tennis courts, kids clubs, golf, as well as a private yacht available for charter. Its location on the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean gives its rooms stunning sea views and are bright and airy, decorated in neutral beiges and creams and contemporary design.
The hotel also offers cooking classes for those who want to learn how to make Cataplana, the typical Portuguese seafood stew, and boasts an incredible wine cellar constructed from historical bricks sourced from Greece, Austria and Egypt. Every year, the hotel is host to the annual Fine Wine and Food fair which attracts famous chefs, artisanal producers and winemakers and sommeliers to it’s grounds.
Vila Joya – This 20-room boutique resort is situated near Albufeira, and also boasts a fantastic golf course, tennis courts, two swimming pools and a sumptuous spa. It’s not only an ideal getaway for a romantic beachside holiday but also has plenty to offer for families. The star of the show is the Michelin fine dining restaurant on-site.
The rooms are minimalistic and modern with dark wooden furniture and four-poster beds, and many rooms have stunning sea views. The large luxurious bathrooms have been decorated with hand-painted tiles or equipped with whirlpool tubs where you can soak away the day in complete bliss. Prices for a room start from €1,220 per night.
Epic Sana – This five-star resort has a staggering 229 rooms, all decorated with modern amenities and a slick, modern style, rooms have ocean view terraces, hot tubs and . It has its own access to some gorgeous beaches on the coast and is surrounded by the greenery of pines.
The hotel has fantastic facilities including a Wellness Spa, indoor pool, seven swimming pools, a 24-hour gym, tennis and volleyball courts, daily fitness classes including yoga and pilates and also retreats and boot camps are held regularly in the hotel. The resort also has seven restaurants which offer international cuisine and typical Portuguese fare. The Epic Sana has five-star service and quality for a budget price and rooms start from around €158 per night.
Memmo Baleeira – This hidden gem of a four-star hotel is the perfect escape for surfers, tucked away atop a cliff overlooking the small fishing town of Baleeira, it has views of endless stretches of vast sand beaches and dramatic limestone cliffs and offers some amazing surfing. The hotel is equipped with an indoor heated swimming pool, spa, playroom and its own surf school and watersports centre.
Rooms are minimal, clean and decorated in light beige and beachy colours and have all the modern amenities. The town of Sagres is also only a short distance away. All of this is available at a reasonable price of €247 per night.
Luxury eats in Algarve
Algarve was once a collection of small coastal fishing towns and seafood is still the most famous thing on the menu. With its proximity to the sea you can enjoy a wide variety of incredible seafood whilst taking in the ocean views. Here are some of the very best luxury local eats.
Ocean Restaurant – Headed by Chef Hans Neuner, the Ocean Restaurant is the perfect setting for a special, romantic meal. Limited to only 35 diners at a time, advance reservation is a must. The restaurant can be found at the spectacular Vita Parc Resort, near Lagos and serves up seasonal locally-sourced fish and seafood in original and creative dishes.
A four-course menu is €155 and a wine pairing is an additional €105. The six-course menu is €195 with an additional cost of €135 for the wine pairing.
Vila Joya – This 2 Michelin-starred restaurant is situated in an oriental-styled Palazzo in Albufeira and is considered one of the best restaurants in Portugal, with a daily-changing menu consisting of a marriage of local seasonal ingredients with international flavours. Chef Dieter Koschina has been heading the kitchen at Vila Joya for 27 years.
The restaurant has a stunning terrace which makes the whole experience a feast for the senses. The seven-course tasting menu costs €180 per person and the A la carte menu costs €125 per person. A bottle of wine costs around €75 euros.
Arte Náutica – For fine-dining on the beach, head to Arte Náutica where you can enjoy a relaxed beach vibe on the windswept terrace situated in Armação de Pêra. Here you can sample delicious Portuguese cuisine, including grilled fish and meat such as codfish dumplings or Pataniscas de Bacalhau or Fish baked in a salt crust.
A favourite is the mouthwatering Pork Alentejo, from the Alentejo region which consists of succulent pork cooked in wine and garlic with juicy Portuguese clams and sprinkled in coriander. Another winner is the Açorda with Prawns or fish Cataplana which is perfect for two people and brimming with local seafood and prawns. Dinner for two not including wine cost around €75.
Al Quimia – This concept restaurant recreates traditional Portuguese dishes by giving them a contemporary touch. The restaurant is minimalistic and sleek and the dishes are well-presented and creative. Set in the Epic Sana five-star hotel in Albufeira, try the delicious tasting menus featuring local seafood or meats such as octopus and wild boar.
The menus change frequently and it’s a good idea to check before reserving. Prices are reasonable with a six- course tasting menu costing €75 without wine pairing and an additional €35 for the wine recommendations. The eight-course tasting menu is €110 with an additional €43 for the wine pairing.
Luxury tours to do in Algarve
Private Yacht Tour
Visit the Ria Formosa Natural Park in style with this private yacht trip which departs from Faro, discover secret coves and beaches and enjoy a day snorkeling, swimming or lounging on the deck or beaches. This 8 hour tour costs around €600 per person and is the ultimate way to explore the coast of the Algarve.
Discover Benagil’s Secrets
The spectacular natural formations that make up the landscape of the Algarve Coast is unique and best seen with off-road exploration. This 8 hour tour will take you by sea and by jeep to visit some of the most spectacular natural wonders of the Benagil Caves. The tour includes a visit to a local village where you can visit a distillery and also sample some of the local cuisine. The tour includes pick up and drop off to your hotel from various pick-up points including Lagos and Albufeira. Prices start at €87 per person.
Private boat tour for two
If a speedboat is not quite your style, explore the Ria Formosa Natural Park in an intimate boat for two. You can explore the deserted Ilha Deserta and Ilha Culatra during this four- hour tour and eat some local shellfish and bathe in the waters of the Atlantic. Prices start from €75 per person.
If you’re passionate about Portuguese wine, this tour is for you. On this tour you’ll stop at various wineries in Portimao, Silves and Monchique to savour their wines and learn about the process. An intimate private tour for wine-lovers or those who want to learn more about the local wines of the Algarve. The price per person for the 8 hour tour is €135.
Recommended luxure tours in The Algarve
- Coastline and Beaches Land Tour
- Sagres Sunset Tour
- Sunset Safari with Traditional Dinner
- West Coast Full Day Tour
- The Algarve Wine Experience
- Private Custom Jeep Safari Tour from Albufeira
- Benagil by Land and Sea Private Coastline Tour from Portimão
- Private Fishing Trips from Albufeira
- Enjoy Albufeira – Sun & Beach 6 Days Pack
- Private Tour – Algarve West Coast Full Day