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 (or anywhere else in Portugal, for that matter) isn’t mentioned, that doesn’t mean the Algarve isn’t a gay-friendly place.
The Algarve is very tolerant of all kinds of travellers,LGBT or otherwise. Although not as cosmopolitan as Lisbon or Porto, intolerance in the Algarve is usually limited to staring.
Don’t take it personally! Staring is a national pastime in many parts of Europe and it doesn’t matter whether you’re gay or straight, if you’re not local then you’re probably worth having a good stare at. This is generally the remit of older Portuguese people and, generally speaking, is fairly uncommon with the younger generations.
This is the Algarve, though, and there’s always something new and interesting to stare at – usually a sunburnt tourist – and you’ll soon be forgotten while people go to stare at someone or something else.
Overall, Portugal is also an incredibly safe place to visit. As of 2017, the Global Peace Index ranks Portugal as the 3rd safest country to visit worldwide after Iceland and New Zealand. This ranking obviously doesn’t apply specifically to gay travel, but it does give some indication of safety that LGBT travellers can expect in Portugal.
Gay Algarve: At a glance
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.
Gays and bisexuals can join the army (since 1999), homophobic acts are a criminal offense (2007), and same-sex adoption is legal (2015).
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.
Gay-Friendly Algarve Accommodation
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.
- Romantik Villa, Salema – A beautiful bed and breakfast that’s been reviewed as being gay-friendly by several people on TripAdvisor. It is situated on the Western Algarve, close to Sagres and Lagos.
- Casa Risa, Mexilhoeira Grande – Accommodation that’s both gay-owned and gay-friendly. This is a clothing-optional guesthouse.
- 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.
- Oasis do Sul, Lagos – Gay-friendly guesthouse that’s situated within walking distance of Lagos. Facilities include a swimming pool, gardens, and a BBQ area.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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 quite 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.