Portugalist articles may contain adverts and/or affiliate links.

The Hipster Guide to The Algarve

Last updated: October 2019* | 11 Comments

Traditionally, the Algarve stirs up connotations of coastal resorts, orange-growing farms, and Northern European expats. Although there have always been a few trendy restaurants, bars, and hotels, the Algarve has never really been cool like Lisbon or Porto.

All that’s slowly starting to change, though. Lisbon and Porto are both hipster paradises, with plenty of third wave coffee shops, craft beer breweries, food courts, international restaurants, and boutique shops, and the Algarve is slowly catching up.

The Algarve is now home to boutique hostels, burger bars, and coffee roasters, bars serving Portuguese and international craft beer, and at least one local craft beer brewery, Marafada.

Accommodation ideas for the Algarve

There’s no shortage of accommodation on the Algarve, from hotels and resorts to B&Bs, apartments, and campsites. It’s also home to a few unique accommodation options, like boutique hostels and yurts.

  • Camone Hostel, Lagos – A boutique hostel offering stylish dorms and private rooms just minutes from Lagos’ main beach, Meia Praia. Facilities include a shared kitchen, bike hire, and storage space.
  • Converted Gypsy House Truck, Silves – Stay in 1957 Bedford Gypsy House-Truck that has been all over the world, from New Zealand to the rural Algarve.
  • BooDa Space Amber, Luz – Yurt accommodation in a tranquil location near Praia da Luz and Burgau.
  • Shepherd’s Hurt, Luz – Stay in a shepherd’s hurt on an organic farm just 15 minutes from Lagos by car.

The Algarve’s most hipster towns

You’ll find pockets of cool in almost every part of the Algarve, but there are a few towns that give off a more arty vibe.

Medronha loja in Monchique

Lagos is probably the largest of these towns. The town is a combination of a traditional beach resort town and a laid-back surfer hub. This means Lagos is a strange mix of souvenir shops and cheap restaurants (the beach resort bit) and surf shops, burger bars, and hippy-dippy clothing stores (the laid-back surfer hub bit).

Sagres is the true surfing capital of the Algarve, and here it’s almost entirely burger bars and surf rental shops. It’s a much smaller town than Lagos, though, with considerably fewer bars and less of a party vibe, which is why so many people stay in Lagos and commute over to the surf spots on the West Coast.

Faro, the Algarve’s capital, is another town to consider. Although Faro is where the Algarve’s main airport is, it’s a fairly quiet city considering. Faro has plenty of cool bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, and it’s a fantastic base for exploring the nearby Ria Formosa Natural Park.

A street in Faro
A picturesque street in Faro

Ferragudo is a small, quiet holiday village that’s incredibly photogenic. The town is mainly made up of art galleries, craft makers, cafés, and small restaurants, and is perfect for a half-day trip.

Cafés to look out for on the Algarve

We’re in need of recommendations for third wave coffee shops on the Algarve so, if you know of any, please get in touch. 

  • Bean17 (map) – Hipster coffee shop in Loulé with an ever-changing selection of high quality beans offering a variety of international coffee styles such as flat whites, cappuccinos, and iced coffees. 
  • Mhaio Coffee Roaster (map) – More of a market stall than a café, Mhaio Coffee Roaster is a small roastery in Faro Market (Mercado Municipal de Faro) that sells high-quality coffee beans. Although it’s just a market stall, you can also get a coffee there and try some of their beans.
  • Coffee & Waves (map) – Café and surf shop in Lagos serving hipster favourites like açai bowls and avocado on toast, as well as a variety of coffees including cold brew, lemonade coffee, and v60 coffee (low season only). The house choice for filter coffee is a medium roast Ethiopia Sidama and a Peruvian single origin for the espresso machine-based coffees, but there are usually 1 or 2 guest roasts to choose from as well. 
  • Twin Fin (map) – Café and bar in Lagos offering flat whites and some other specialty coffees, along with cocktails, burgers, and smoothies. 

Hipster bars & Breweries

  • Laundry Lounge Sagres – A strange combination of a launderette and a bar, this hangout in Sagres is a popular location for live music, digital nomad co-working events, and just relaxing over a beer or coffee with visitors and locals.
  • Grains864 – A hipster bar in Faro serving a variety of craft beer, along with burgers, bagels, grilled cheese sandwiches, and doughnuts.
  • Saaz Saaz Craft Beer Lounge – Craft beer bar in Olhão with craft beers from Across Portugal, including local Algarve brewers like Dos Santos, Marafada, and Algarve Rock. 
  • Dos Santos – A craft beer brewery, bar, and restaurant that’s situated in the countryside between Carvoreiro and Lagoa. Several beers are made onsite including an IPA, lager, and pilsner.
  • Boheme – One of Faro’s most popular craft beer bars, this bar stocks a decent number of international and Portuguese craft beer labels including beers from Musa, Gyroscope, Lindemans and the Algarve’s own: Marafada.
  • Algarve Rock Brewery – Faro-based craft beer brewery that runs some tours and tastings.
  • Galeria de Arte Lagoa – An art gallery and wine co-operative combo, this is a fun place to sample local Algarve wines and browse works from local artists as well.

Find any cool spots in the Algarve? Share you favourite bars, hotels, restaurants, and cafes and help other travellers make the most of their time on the Algarve. 

Updates: Some updates are as small as a spelling correction. If you spot a mistake or want to suggest a contribution, leave a comment below.

Portugalist.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon (.es, .co.uk, .de etc) and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC.

Leave a comment

By submitting this comment I consent to Portugalist.com emailing me (unsubscribe anytime).

11 comments on “The Hipster Guide to The Algarve”

  1. Thank you so much for the important it was a joy to read all the information and I can’t wait to visit:)

    Just a quick note:
    I keep reading the word (expats) why we Europeans are always called (expats) and not immigrants?
    Just a thought…

    • Hi Vanda,

      It’s a good question. All expats are immigrants and all immigrants are expats.

      For me, when I think of an expat I don’t think in terms of where the person comes from but in terms of how comfortable they are financially. Regardless of whether they’re coming to Portugal to work or to live out their retirement years, expats tend to be reasonably well off. In some cases, they’ll have come to Portugal to earn less than they would in their home country (e.g. USA, UK, Germany, etc) in exchange for a better quality of life. When I think of the word immigrant, I don’t think of someone who has this luxury of choice.

      Although it would probably be more politically correct for me to just use one word, I do find it useful to have a distinction as people immediately know what type of person I’m talking about when I say expat. I think it’s also useful for companies that sell products geared towards this type of person (e.g. “expat health insurance”) to have a word like expat so people immediately know whether the product’s suitable for them or not.

      I do agree that both terms are loaded with connotations but I don’t know what the solution is. Maybe low and high-income expats or something along those lines?

  2. James, there’s another 3rd wave coffee spot in Lagos: waves and coffee. Check it out. Really cool and great coffee.
    It’s a bit surprising Algarve is so lacking in 3rd wave coffees…

    • Hey Duarte,

      Thanks for the tip! I’ve added it to the list.

      3rd wave coffee shops seem to becoming more of a thing here (I think there was only 1 when I started this list). I guess there are only a handful of places where a coffee shop like this would be successful (Lagos and Faro being the main two places). I think there’s probably room for one in Albufeira still.

  3. Love Portugal. Decided to revisit again this year. In September. Planning to fly into Faro. Stay 2/3 days there. Maybe do some day trips [Lagos/National Park]. Then get train to Lisbon [Stay 3 nights]. Then train to Porto [4 nights] day trip to Coimbra + Averio.
    Have been to Lisbon + Porto before so know what to expect. Never been to Faro. So would like to experience different things. Not a person who like to spend the day by the beach. I love to immerse myself in local culture. I like the hipster/alternative lifestyle.
    So any suggestions on the above would be welcome. Such as places to visit from each of my bases {Faro, Lisbon & Porto}.

    • Hi Aiden,

      Well, the Algarve is definitely a beach destination and this is definitely the main attraction here. Although there’s some historical buildings like Silves Castle and the bone chapel in Faro, it doesn’t have as many historical or cultural attractions as Lisbon or Porto. If you’re not a beach person, I think it’s a great destination for walking.

      The alternative scene is growing, but it’s still very new here. I try to add everything relevant to this guide so, if you stumble across anything you think should be on here, let me know.