The Algarve has the most spectacular coastal scenery, steep colourful cliffs and beaches that go on forever. Covering the southern coast of Portugal, the region has over 300 sunny days in a year, making the Algarve one of the best places to visit in Portugal.
The cities and towns in Algarve are quite busy during the warmer months. And I can totally understand why people love the Algarve. The charming towns have a serene and relaxing atmosphere, and the region is excellent for people of all ages, families and couples.
And if you are travelling alone to the Algarve, then keep reading my Algarve solo travel guide. I’ll show you all the best places in Algarve that you must visit as a solo traveller.
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What you need to know before travelling solo to the Algarve
Before you take your solo trip to the Algarve, take a look at my travel tips that you may find useful for visiting the south of Portugal:
- The Algarve is safe for solo female travellers. However, you may get a few marriage proposals from overly flirtatious men. Ha! Or many of them will wink at you and try to get your attention. These interactions are as “dangerous” as it gets! Ha!
- The easiest and cheapest way to solo travel in Algarve is by taking the bus or train.
- Accommodation is a bit pricier in the Algarve than in other parts of the country. And rightfully so, the area is gorgeous! When you look for accommodation, check Agoda to find something that suits you.
- The best way to travel around the Algarve is by taking the regional train. Tickets can be purchased at the station. If the ticket office is closed, you can always purchase the ticket on the train.
How to get to and around the Algarve Portugal
There are many ways to travel to the Algarve depending on where you are coming from.
Driving is the easiest and fastest way to travel to and around the Algarve.
But for solo travellers, it might be best to consider taking the train or bus which both have an extensive network in the south of Portugal. The cost for both train and bus is inexpensive compared to a car rental.
The only airport in the Algarve is Faro Airport. The regional airport is 4km outside of Faro. Many international flights fly into Faro Airport daily.
Several Alfa Pendular (AP) and Intercidades (IC) trains depart daily from Lisbon Estação do Oriente station to the Algarve. Choose the AP train (fast train) and stop either at Faro (the last stop) or Albufeira.
And from either train station, you can connect to the “Linha do Algarve” line, which is the dedicated railway line going east to west of the Algarve. The line includes stops at these cities (from east to west): Vila Real de Santo António, Tavira, Faro, Loulé, Tunes, Silves, Portimão, and Lagos.
Check Comboios de Portugal website for train schedule.
I always prefer the train option because I can book a train ticket via the CP app. It is very convenient and also easy to use.
Several bus operators have daily departures from Lisbon to the Algarve. Rede Expresso bus departs from several locations in Lisbon to different cities along the Algarve coast.
Check the Rede Expresso website for the bus schedule.
As for travelling along the Algarve coast, EVA Transportes/Vamus Algarve is the regional bus company that can take you to different towns along the southern coast.
It used to be EVA Transportes but the buses also have Vamus Algarve logos. Both websites aren’t really helpful for bus schedules. But I found updated bus schedules on the Vamus Algarve app which I find super helpful.
Best places in Algarve Summary
If you have been dreaming about the scenic beaches, famous cliffs and the picturesque coastline of the Algarve, then you must pack your bags and take your solo trip to the Algarve.
I suggest spending a week in the Algarve and visiting some of the most scenic places along the coast. You can choose two to three places along the coast and use them as your home base and explore other small towns, take excursions, and take day trips along the coast.
Below are some of the best towns in the Algarve. I’ve visited all of these places on my own and can highly recommend them.
Here is a quick summary of all the best places to visit in the Algarve:
- Vilamoura and Quarteira
7 top places in Algarve for solo travellers
A trip to the south of Portugal must include Faro, the capital of the Algarve. It is one of the biggest cities in the Algarve and can be accessible by train, bus and plane.
There are many things to do in Faro including historical monuments, gorgeous beaches between waterways and delicious seafood restaurants scattered around town. If you have two days in Faro, you can see everything within the town and also take an excursion to either Praia de Faro or Parque Natural da Ria Formosa.
And because of its accessibility to other parts of the Algarve, Faro makes an excellent home base for exploring the eastern Algarve.
As for accommodation, I stayed at The Modernist Faro because of its central location and its mid-century modern design.
Things to do in Faro
When you spend a few days in Faro, make sure you see the following Faro attractions:
- Cidade Velha (Old Town) – meander the narrow cobblestone streets of the historical town centre within the ancient city walls.
- Arco da Vila – see the 1000-year-old stonework of the old gateway.
- Igreja do Carmo – visit the 18th-century Portuguese baroque cathedral.
- Praia de Faro – a 5km beach that has soft, golden sand and blue turquoise water. Take a local ferry (€3 return trip, every hour) at Estação Faro and try the special grilled tuna belly at Restaurant Zé Maria.
- Parque Natural da Ria Formosa – sail through the park and see marshland and biodiversity unique to the Algarve.
Tavira is a very charming little town in the eastern Algarve. Similar to Faro, there are many pristine white houses in the town centre and several island beaches that you can see. It is one of the most charming towns along the Algarve coast.
There is no shortage of good food even though you are in a smaller town like Tavira. The one that caught my eye was Restaurant Bica. The restaurant has been around since 1965. The grilled octopus and cream cake were both excellent! The cream cake reminds me of the serradura dessert I had in Macau.
There is accommodation in Tavira, but I stayed in Faro and used Faro as my home base since Tavira is a small town that can be visited in one or two days. This Morrish town is easily accessible by taking a bus from Faro.
Things to do in Tavira
Some of the best things to do in Tavira include:
- Ponte Antiga Sobre o Rio Gilão – walk across this pedestrian-friendly “Roman bridge”.
- Igreja da Misericórdia – visit the 16th-century Renaissance church.
- Castelo de Tavira (Tavira Castle) – see the Moorish fortress and watchtower that were built in the 1000s.
- Praça da República – enjoy the open square where you can find many cafes and restaurants.
- Praia de Ilha de Tavira – 12 km of white sand beaches on a nearby island. Take a boat (€2 return trip) from the centre of Tavira (Rua Jose Pires Padinha).
Albufeira is the biggest resort town along the Algarve coastline. The town is popular with families, groups of guys and girls for bachelor and bachelorette parties, and older folks who want a beach holiday.
But if you are travelling solo, you can enjoy the coastal town as there are many things to do in Albufeira.
When you are in Albufeira, roam around the cobbled streets of the Old Town, visit one of the 25 blue flag beaches in Albufeira (which is the highest in the Algarve), and enjoy the nightlife as it is one of the best along the coast and join one of the many tours to see more of the Algarve coastline.
As for accommodation, stay near the Old Town, so you are within walking distance of most attractions. I stayed at an Airbnb apartment which is only three minutes away from the beach.
Things to do in Albufeira
When you travel solo to Albufeira, don’t miss these Albufeira attractions:
- Old Town Albufeira – walk through narrow streets and find remnants of the old Albufeira Castle.
- Old Town Square – lots of shops and restaurants in the narrow streets and open square.
- Beaches of Albufeira – visit one of 25 blue flag beaches of Albufeira including Praia do Peneco, Praia dos Pescadores, and Praia da Oura.
- Coastal hike from Praia dos Arrifes to Praia do Castelo – see cliffs and beaches along the coast.
- Marina de Albufeira – take one of the many day tours around Albufeira including a speed boat tour to Benagil Cave.
Loulé is a traditional Portuguese market town in the central Algarve. The small town is located a bit inland from the coast and is an excellent day trip destination from Faro and Albufeira.
The best day to visit Loulé is Saturday since both Loulé Saturday Market and the Gypsy Market are open on Saturdays only.
But besides the markets, there are other things to do in Loulé including churches, castles, and browsing handicraft stores around the old town.
You can see everything in Loulé within half a day. If you are not taking the bus to Loulé, I recommend taking the half-day tour to Loulé, especially if you are travelling solo from Albufeira.
Things to do in Loulé
When you spend either half a day or a full day in Loulé, make sure to these attractions:
- Loulé Saturday Market – the biggest market selling local produce including cheese, piri piri sauce and other Portuguese treats.
- Mercado Municipal de Loulé – see the large market inside an Arabian-inspired building.
- Loulé Old Town – walk around the narrow streets and see the Loulé Tunnel and Rua 5 de Outubro
- Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Conceição – see blue-and-white azulejo tiles inside the 17th century church.
- Castelo de Loulé – climb up the towers inside the ancient castle and see ancient artifacts in the Loulé Museum.
5. Vilamoura and Quarteira
Vilamoura is a modern resort town along the central Algarve coastline. And the town is relatively new as it was constructed in the 1980s when many golf courses were built.
You can take a day trip to Vilamoura from either Albufeira or Faro. Plus, the modern town is right next to another town called Quarteira, a small fishing village. Both towns are small, so you can easily visit both on the same day.
While you are there, don’t miss the marina complex and all the beaches between Vilamoura and Quarteira. And you must see Praia de Vilamoura, an 8km picturesque beach with golden sand and a reddish-orange cliff.
Things to do in Vilamoura and Quarteira
When you take a day trip to Vilamoura and Quarteira, don’t miss these attractions:
- Vilamoura Marina – see luxury yachts around the modern marina and find an array of international cuisine lining the perimeter.
- Praia de Quarteira – swim or rent a standup paddle board at the main beach in Quarteira.
- Praia de Falésia – walk along the 8km picturesque beach from Vilamoura to Olhos de Água.
- Mercado da Fonte Santa – a gypsy market just outside of Quarteira. Open Wednesdays only from 8 to 2.
- Cerro da Villa – learn about the area’s history at this archaeological museum.
As the largest city in the western Algarve, there are many things to do in Portimão. It is a small town that is great for all ages. Most tourists will stay near the coast with more hotel accommodations and a scenic promenade with lots of shops and restaurants.
Once you get off the train at Portimão, you have to walk to the city centre for 10 minutes or so. The small and compact city centre has many historical buildings and is the perfect town for a day trip.
And from the city centre, make your way south until you reach the beach. It is a bit of a walk but if you walk along the Ribeirinha towards the south, you can see Fortaleza de Santa Catarina de Ribamar up close and Castelo de São João do Arade across the Arade River.
Things to do in Portimão
- Ribeirinha – walk on this riverside esplanade and see tourist boats on the Arade River.
- Fortaleza de Santa Catarina – see the old fort with panoramic views.
- Castelo de São João do Arade – across the Arade River.
- Praia da Rocha – is one of the liveliest beaches during summer. Between the steep cliffs and the beach, you will find restaurants facing the beach.
- Praia do Vau – follow the path along the jagged coastline and see a beach with fantastic views.
Lagos is a thriving town in the western Algarve and the perfect place for staying a few days. If you are into water sports (kayaking, surfing, standup paddleboard), you will want to visit Lagos. And you will have access to coastal sites and beautiful ocean views!
There are many choices when it comes to eating out in Lagos. I tried the Algarve fish stew at Restaurante Casa Baia and the grilled seabream at Gilberto Cafe. A meal will cost you about €15 or so. But my favourite place is a little bakery called Padaria Central. Every morning I would go there and have a coffee and a pastry. And the price is on point too!
Accommodation costs are slightly higher in Lagos than in other parts of Portugal. But the view from Lagos Avenida Hotel is just too good.
Things to do in Lagos
- Praia Dona Ana – a gorgeous beach surrounded by impressive rock formations and cliffs. Probably one of the most photographed beaches in Lagos.
- Praia do Camilo – a beach accessible by many flights of stairs (see the main photo).
- Ponta da Piedade – walk along the edges of the coast and see the famous rock arches, natural tunnels and hidden caves. Or take a kayak and boat trip to explore the sea caves.
- Benagil Sea Cave – see the cave from a 2-hour boat tour. Book online or buy a ticket from one of the tour companies set up shops in Lagos.
- Sagres – take a day trip to this small town west of Lagos and see Sagres Point and Cabo de São Vincente, the most western point of Portugal. A lighthouse stands tall over the 60 meters jagged cliff, a prime location for watching sunsets.
Many tours start in Lagos. Try one of these tours below:
Other places for solo travel in Algarve
I spent several weeks solo in the Algarve and saw all these places alone. If I had more time, I would visit Alvor, Carvoeiro, Silves, Monchique and Olhão. These are some of the top places in the Algarve I would love to visit the next time I’m back in Portugal.
Algarve solo travel: which one do you include in your Portugal itinerary?
Travelling solo in Algarve is quite easy especially if you understand how to travel from town to town. Learn how to take the train and bus and see all the best scenery along the southern coast.
I hope you found this Algarve solo travel guide useful. If you travel solo in Portugal, you can spend two weeks in Portugal and include some of these cities in your itinerary.
Let me know in the comments which cities in Algarve you are most excited to see!
Thank you for reading my Algarve Portugal post
You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Portugal:
Lisbon region posts
- Lisbon solo travel guide for first-timers
- Is the Lisboa Card worth it?
- Best day trips from Lisbon Portugal
Northern Portugal posts
- 2 days in Porto: things to do alone in Porto
- 17 best Porto food: what and where to eat in Porto
- 7 excellent day trips from Porto
- Day trip to Guimarães from Porto: 1-day itinerary
- Day trip from Porto to Espinho: 1-day itinerary
Central Portugal posts
- 20 best things to do in Albufeira for solo travellers
- Loule itinerary: best things to do in one day
- Vilamoura and Quarteira: 1-day itinerary