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The Gay Travel Guide to the Algarve

5 comments from other Portugalist readers

It’s rare to see the Algarve listed as a top gay-friendly travel destination. The list is usually dominated by the likes of Berlin, Barcelona, Copenhagen, and New York. But just because the Algarve isn’t mentioned, that doesn’t mean the Algarve isn’t a gay-friendly place to visit.

The Algarve is very tolerant of all kinds of travellers, LGBT or otherwise. Although not as cosmopolitan as Lisbon or Porto, the Algarve has its share of gay beaches, bars, clubs, and accommodation. 

Although the statistics aren’t specific to gay travel, it’s worth mentioning that Portugal is a very safe country. As of 2017, the Global Peace Index ranks Portugal as the 3rd safest country to visit worldwide after Iceland and New Zealand. 

Gay-friendly accommodation in the Algarve

As mentioned, most people on the Algarve are extremely welcome and this includes hotels and guesthouse owners. However, if you’d like to stay at a gay-owned hotel or guesthouse, or somewhere that has specifically listed themselves as gay-friendly, this list should help you out.

  • Vila Graciosa, Lagos – Gay-friendly guesthouse with an outdoor swimming pool and within walking distance of Lagos City Centre. 
  • Dunas Do Alvor, Alvor – Gay-friendly holiday apartments on a resort near Alvor village. Onsite facilities include tennis courts, a swimming pool, and gardens.
  • Romantik Villa, Salema – A beautiful bed and breakfast that has been reviewed as being gay-friendly by several people on TripAdvisor. It is situated on the Western Algarve, close to Sagres and Lagos. This is quite a remote part of the Algarve, with only a few small towns and beaches nearby, and it’s perfect if you want to get away from it all.
  • Cas al Cubo, Tavira – Gay-friendly accommodation run by Dutch expats, Kathleen and Nicole.
  • Guest House São Filipe, Faro – Gay-friendly 2-star guesthouse situated in the centre of Faro in the Eastern Algarve. 
  • Casa Marhaba, Alfanzina – Gay-friendly guesthouse that’s 5 km from the popular Algarve resort of Carvoreiro. Facilities include a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and gazebo area.
  • Casa Risa, Mexilhoeira Grande – Accommodation that’s both gay-owned and gay-friendly. This is a clothing-optional Algarve guesthouse.

Another option is to stay in an Airbnb (or Wimdu or Housetrip) as these sites encourage you to introduce yourself to the host before making a booking. That way, you can actually get a feel for what the owner is going to be like.

Alternatively again, there’s Mister B&B which is basically Airbnb for gay-owned or gay-friendly accommodation and GayHomestays.com.

Gay Portugal: A historical perspective

Historically, Portugal has all of the ingredients of a country that is unlikely to be tolerant towards homosexuality: it’s quite conservative, it’s religious, and it lived under dictatorship rule for many years. All of these things are likely to have affected peoples’ views of homosexuality, particularly in the more rural parts of Portugal.

However, like many Western European countries, Portugal is looking forward rather than backward. Portugal decriminalised homosexuality in 1983 and, in 2010, Portugal became the 6th country in Europe (and the 8th worldwide) to allow same-sex marriage.

That’s actually pretty impressive for a small country like Portugal, and gives you some ideas of their priorities. Normally Portugal lags behind the rest of the world, and it’s never normally one of the first countries to implement something new.

Gays and bisexuals can join the army (since 1999), homophobic acts are a criminal offense (2007), and same-sex adoption is legal (2015).

If you’re looking for somewhere to move to, or retire to, the Algarve should definitely be a consideration. As with most countries, there’s still a lot that needs to be done to help the LGBT cause, but Portugal is a long way ahead of many other countries. Of course, it’s also great for a short trip as well.

Gay Beaches on the Algarve

The following is a list of unofficial gay beaches of the Algarve. If we’ve missed any out, please let us know in the comments below.

meia praia
Walkway leading down to Meia Praia in Lagos
  • Praia da Manta Rota
  • Praia de Faro
  • Praia do Barril
  • Praia do Cavalo Preto
  • Praia Verde
  • Praia de Santa Eulália
  • Praia dos Alemães Oeste
  • Praia do Submarino
  • Praia Trafal
  • Praia Cacela Velha
  • Praia das Furnas/Figueira
  • Praia da Fabrica
  • Praia do Submarino
  • Meia Praia
  • Praia Grande de Pêra
  • Praia João D’Arens

Gay bars & clubs on the Algarve

The Algarve doesn’t have anywhere near as many gay bars or nightclubs as Lisbon or Porto, but it does have a few. The majority are centred around Albufeira, Lagos, and Portimão, all of which are within a short drive or taxi ride of each other.

  • Connection, Albufeira (club) – Albufeira’s main gay bar and club, Connection, is situated on The Strip in the heart of the neon-lit action.
  • Loft, Portimão (club) – Situated in the heart of Portimão, Loft is one of the Algarve’s most popular gay nightclubs.
  • Espelho bar, Albufeira – Although not technically a gay bar, Espelho bar on The Strip in Albufeira is extremely gay-friendly and one of Albufeira’s most popular hangouts.
  • Luisol Bar, Lagos (bar) – Owners Luis and Hans run a popular gay bar in Lagos that always attracts a diverse and interesting crowd.

What do you think about the Algarve as a gay travel destination? Should it be ranked up there with the likes of Berlin and New York? Let us, and other Portugalist readers, know your thoughts in the comments below.

Last updated in August 2019.
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5 thoughts on “The Gay Travel Guide to the Algarve”

Leave a comment or ask a question below. I try and answer all of them.
  1. I am looking to purchase a home in Portugal. Any information you have on other gay friendly towns in Portugal or gay friendly neighborhoods I Lisbon or Portugal? Do you have any insight on a coastal
    Town called Figueira da Foz? And yes please sign me up for your newsletter

    • Hi Fernando,

      As you can imagine, the cities (e.g. Lisbon and Porto) have the largest gay communities. That’s not to say they’re the only gay-friendly places in Portugal, of course. Overall, Portugal is definitely very gay-friendly.

      I don’t know a lot about Figueira da Foz, but hopefully I’ll get to go there and research it sometime soon 🙂

  2. I’m selling a farm in Alentejo, an hour and a half from Lisbon International Airport, between 2 dams with fishing and all water sports. All international times coming here for training due the good weather that are 9 months sunny per year. Average temperatures range from 15 winter up to 40 Summer.
    Is a kind of Top farm &house for investment.

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