8 Of The Best Places to Live in the Algarve

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Last updated on June 4, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Algarve, located in the southernmost region of Portugal, has long been a favourite destination for expats from around the world, particularly those from the United Kingdom, United States, France, Spain, and Germany. With its stunning beaches, picturesque towns, and laid-back lifestyle, it’s no wonder that so many people choose to call this beautiful place home.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best places to live in the Algarve, each with its own unique charm and attractions.

Note: this list is by no means exhaustive, and there are plenty of other great places to live on the Algarve.

Lagos

igreja de santo santonio

Lagos is one of the more expensive places on the Algarve, but for good reason. This vibrant town offers easy access to the West Coast (although you’ll need a car) and is popular with digital nomads, families, and retirees alike.

While it can get a bit busy in the summer tourist season and quiet in the winter, Lagos makes up for this with selling points like excellent public transport, with a good bus depot and a train line. The town also boasts several beautiful beaches, including Praia Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo, and Meia Praia.

With a large international population, Lagos is a great all-rounder for those looking to experience the best of the Algarve.

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Silves

The roman bridge in Silves

Silves is a beautiful inland town that offers a more peaceful and historical experience compared to the bustling beach towns. While you’ll need to drive 20-30 minutes to reach the nearest beaches, Silves is one of the few towns on the Algarve with significant historical attractions, such as a castle, Roman bridge, and cathedral.

The town also has a good market and a thriving international community. As an inland town, Silves doesn’t turn into a ghost town in the winter like some beach towns do, making it a great year-round destination.

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Ferragudo

view of ferragudo

Ferragudo is a charming small town that offers a more laid-back experience compared to some of the larger towns in the Algarve. The town is quite pretty and you can easily walk to the beach. If you’re looking for even better beaches, the stunning Caneiros beach is just a short drive away.

While Ferragudo does get tourists, it doesn’t get overwhelmed, and there is a good selection of restaurants to choose from. The nearby town of Portimāo offers even more dining, shopping, and entertainment options, and you can easily get there by car or even take a ferry if you don’t want to drive.

Ferragudo doesn’t have its own train station, but the nearby village of Parchal does, which is just a short distance away. However, public transport is a bit lacking in Ferragudo itself, so having a car is recommended.

For grocery shopping, you’ll need to head to Parchal for a supermarket or Portimão, which has everything you need, including supermarkets, a hospital, restaurants, and bars.

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Tavira

praca republica tavira

Tavira is one of the most popular locations on the eastern Algarve, known for its traditional elements like the Roman bridge. While the town doesn’t have a beach of its own, you can easily take a ferry to reach the nearby beaches.

Tavira has a train line and offers easy access to Faro, Faro Airport, and the stunning Ria Formosa natural park. Living on this side of Portugal also gives you good access to Spain, making it an ideal location for those who want to explore both countries.

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Faro

shopping street in Faro

Faro, the capital of the Algarve, is often overlooked due to its lack of a beach, but you can easily reach the coast by ferry, bus, or car. The city’s Fisherman’s Cottages are particularly picturesque, and there are several historical attractions to explore, such as the Faro Cathedral and the Arco da Vila.

Despite being overlooked by many tourists and expats, Faro offers excellent proximity to the airport and Spain, as well as good public transport connections, with trains and buses running to most places in the region.

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Portimão

portimao town square

While Portimão may not be the prettiest town on the Algarve, with its many high-rises, it is a very functional city that offers a more affordable cost of living compared to some other areas. The town is undergoing a transformation, with more and more restaurants and cafes opening up.

Portimão makes a great base for exploring the whole of the Algarve, particularly the Western region, as it is close to Lagos but more affordable. The city has great public transport, with both train and bus connections, and you can reach the beautiful (albeit touristy) Praia da Rocha beach within 2 km.

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Vila Real de Santo António

praca marques de pombal vila real de santo antonio

Vila Real de Santo António is a pretty town located along the Guadiana River, which forms the border between Portugal and Spain. You can walk along the river and take a ferry to Ayamonte in Spain, making it an ideal location for those who want to experience the best of both countries. While the town doesn’t have a beach of its own, you can easily walk or drive the 3 km to the nearest one.

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Aljezur

Aljezur from the riverside

Aljezur is a perfect option for those seeking a quieter, more off-grid lifestyle. This small, picturesque village is located close to fantastic walking trails and surfing spots in the nearby national park. Despite its remote location, Aljezur has a reasonable supermarket and an international school. However, public transport is a bit limited, so you will need a car to fully explore the area.

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In conclusion, the Algarve offers a wide range of towns and villages that cater to different lifestyles and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a vibrant beach town, a peaceful inland village, or a location with easy access to both Portugal and Spain, you’re sure to find your perfect home in this beautiful region.

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

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There are 7 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.

Comments

    • We had a hotel in Quarteira and have to say that it was a central place to explore the area. Lovely beach and walks along the promenade fabulous fish market all rhe necessary shops. Definitely don’t rule out.

      Reply
    • Vilamoura is not Portugal, its a “bubble” that foreigners, (mainly English) with more money, (or bank loans), than brains or class choose to hibernate in. Very fancy and overly expensive but no character nor local ambiance. Ideal for those that want sun and live in a world of fantasy.

      Reply
  1. I had a real estate agent with her own office steal thousands from me and had me assaulted because I would not sign papers she presented to me. I told her I would rather move and she became a little crazy. That was in Tavira. That was a typical experience there with real estate or with builders. The only people that were honest and excellent that I dealt with were either from Holland or the UK. I would never work with a Portuguese that has anything to do with real estate or construction. 50% of the Americans who moved to Portugal have already left. There are reasons!

    Reply
  2. You didn’t mention Loule,which is beautiful town and popular for the market, the Carnaval in February and other activities there. Ferragudo is mentioned and Portimao as well but Ferragudo is part of Portimao. Then, Vilamoura, the Albufeira and Carvoeiro are the more popular destination in the Algarve and they’re not in this list. San Antonio Vila Real is in the list but I don’t know the reason. It’s not very notorious turistic area.

    Reply
    • Hi Marena,

      It’s not an exhaustive list, and it wasn’t possible to list everywhere. This is just a highlight of some of the best places.

      For many people, Vila Real being less touristy would be a selling point versus Albufeira, for example, which would be too touristy for others.

      Reply

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