Embracing the New Cool: The Hipster Guide to The Algarve

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Last updated on June 12, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 8 minutes

For years, the Algarve has been synonymous with coastal resorts, orange groves, and sun-seeking expats from Northern Europe. While the region has always boasted a handful of trendy eateries, watering holes, and boutique accommodations, it has often been overshadowed by the undeniable coolness of Lisbon and Porto.

But hold on to your vintage fedoras, folks, because change is brewing in the south! Lisbon and Porto may have been hogging the hipster spotlight with their abundance of third wave coffee shops, craft beer breweries, artisanal food courts, global cuisine, and indie boutiques, but the Algarve is hot on their heels, ready to claim its rightful place on the cool kid’s block.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your vintage suitcase, don your most eclectic outfit, and get ready to discover an Algarve that’s as hip as it is sunny. Whether you’re sipping a perfectly-pulled espresso, rummaging through a quirky thrift store, or exchanging travel tales with a group of international backpackers, you’ll be part of the Algarve’s exciting new chapter. Embrace the change, and let the Algarve surprise you in ways you never expected!

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.
  • 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.

Towns & Villages

While pockets of cool can be found throughout the Algarve, a few towns stand out as the ultimate havens for the artsy, free-spirited crowd.

Lagos

A street in Lagos

First up, we have Lagos – a town that seamlessly blends the charm of a traditional beach resort with the laid-back vibes of a surfer’s paradise. Stroll through the streets and you’ll find an eclectic mix of souvenir shops and budget-friendly eateries (for the beach bums) alongside trendy surf shops, gourmet burger joints, and bohemian clothing boutiques (for the wave-chasing hipsters).

Read our guide to Lagos or check properties for sale in Lagos.

Sagres

bars and shops in sagres

If you’re a true surf enthusiast, Sagres is the place to be. This small town is the undisputed surfing capital of the Algarve, where surf rental shops and burger bars reign supreme. While Sagres may lack the size and party atmosphere of Lagos, it more than makes up for it with its authentic surfer charm. Plus, it’s the perfect base for exploring the gnarly waves along the West Coast.

Read our guide to Sagres or check properties for sale in Sagres.

Faro

fisherman's houses in faro

Next on our list is Faro, the Algarve’s unassuming capital. Don’t let the presence of the region’s main airport fool you – Faro is a surprisingly chill city with a treasure trove of cool bars, restaurants, and coffee shops waiting to be discovered. It’s also an ideal jumping-off point for exploring the stunning Ria Formosa Natural Park, where you can connect with nature and snap some Insta-worthy shots.

Read our guide to Faro or check properties for sale in Faro.

Ferragudo

street in Ferragudo

Last but not least, we have Ferragudo – a quaint, picture-perfect holiday village that’s sure to steal your heart (and fill up your camera roll). This tiny town is a haven for artists, craftspeople, and foodies, with an abundance of charming galleries, artisanal shops, cozy cafés, and intimate restaurants. It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely half-day trip spent soaking up the creative atmosphere and indulging in some local delicacies.

Read our guide to Ferragudo or check properties for sale in Ferragudo.

Portimão

Portimao Riverfront

For years, Portimão was known primarily for its towering apartment blocks – a functional city that catered neither to tourists nor to the artistic crowd. But amidst the high-rises and newly-constructed buildings, a new sense of artistry and cool is emerging. Venture beyond the concrete facades, and you’ll discover a budding scene of craft beer havens, trendy coffee shops, and restaurants that are putting a fresh, plant-based spin on traditional Portuguese cuisine.

Read our guide to Portimão or check properties for sale in Portimão.

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) – Loulé’s go-to spot for the discerning coffee connoisseur. This hipster haven boasts an ever-rotating selection of top-notch beans, offering a global array of caffeinated delights like flat whites, cappuccinos, and iced coffees.
  • Al-Gharb (map) – Albufeira’s new town secret weapon for speciality coffee lovers. From cold brews to lattés, this café has got your caffeine fix covered. Plus, with a tempting selection of cakes and main dishes, you can fuel up while you sip. Need to get some work done? Al-Gharb’s got you with wifi and plenty of power outlets.
  • Coffee & Waves (map) – Where surf culture meets café culture in the heart of Lagos. This surf shop slash café serves up hipster faves like açai bowls and avocado toast alongside a killer coffee menu featuring cold brew, lemonade coffee, and v60 pour-overs (low season only). The house beans are a medium roast Ethiopia Sidama for filter and a Peruvian single origin for espresso, but keep an eye out for guest roasts to mix things up.
  • Abigail’s Café (map) – Lagos’ plant-based powerhouse, dishing out flat whites, kombucha, and a mouth-watering array of vegan eats. Come for the coffee, stay for the cruelty-free vibes.
  • Coffee Studio Lagos (map) – Your one-stop-shop for speciality coffee and tea in Lagos. From flat whites and cold brews to chai lattes, flowering tea, and hot chocolate, this cozy spot has something for every type of sipper.
  • Black and White Coffee Shop – Melbourne-quality flat whites in the heart of Lagos? Believe it. This coffee shop is slinging some of the best flat whites this side of the equator, and the hipster vibes are strong. Whether you’re a homesick Aussie or just a lover of a damn fine coffee, Black and White is the place to be.
  • Sugar Rabbit Kaffe – Albufeira’s go-to spot for all things hipster and caffeinated. This joint is serving up killer flat whites and Instagram-worthy avocado toast that’ll have you feeling like a true millennial. But that’s not all – they’ve also got a mouthwatering selection of bowls, smoothies, and pancakes that’ll make your brunch dreams come true. Come for the coffee, stay for the food (and the photo ops).

Hipster bars & Breweries

  • Laundry Lounge Sagres – Part launderette, part bar, all hipster hangout. This Sagres spot is the place to be for live music, digital nomad meetups, and chilling over a beer or coffee with an eclectic mix of locals and visitors. Come for the suds (both kinds), stay for the funky atmosphere.
  • Grains864 – Faro’s hipster haven, pouring a curated selection of craft brews alongside a menu of burgers, bagels, grilled cheese, and doughnuts. It’s like a grown-up version of your favorite childhood eats, with beer.
  • Saaz Saaz Craft Beer Lounge – Olhão’s premier destination for craft beer lovers. This bar showcases the best of Portugal’s brewing scene, including local Algarve standouts like Dos Santos, Marafada, and Algarve Rock. Sip your way through the country’s finest pints.
  • Dos Santos – A countryside gem nestled between Carvoreiro and Lagoa, this craft brewery, bar, and restaurant is the real deal. Sample their house-made IPA, lager, and pilsner while you take in the rural vibes.
  • Boheme – One of Faro’s most beloved craft beer bars, Boheme stocks an impressive lineup of international and Portuguese labels, including brews from Musa, Gyroscope, Lindemans, and local favourite Marafada. Come for the beer, stay for the bohemian atmosphere.
  • Algarve Rock Brewery – Faro’s own craft brewing powerhouse, offering tours and tastings for the true beer geek. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process, then sample the fruits of their labor. It’s like a field trip for your taste buds.
  • NanoBrew Fuzeta – Get a taste of the Algarve’s local brewing talent at this cozy pub in Fuzeta. NanoBrew Fuzeta serves up their own handcrafted beers, brewed right on-site. The catch? You’ve got to time your visit right. They’re only open Friday through Sunday from 5-9 pm, so plan accordingly. But trust us, it’s worth adjusting your schedule for.
  • Nova Vida – Want to take your craft beer obsession to the next level? Nova Vida’s got you covered with their guided tours and workshops. For just €23 per person, you can take a tour and sample five of their tasty brews. Or, if you’re ready to get your hands dirty, sign up for one of their workshops and brew alongside a real brewer using their top-notch equipment. Whether you’re a beer newbie or a seasoned homebrewer, Nova Vida’s workshops are a unique chance to up your beer game.

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. 

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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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Comments

  1. 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}.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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…

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  3. 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…

    Reply
    • 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?

      Reply
      • White people from Europe and America are higher on the so called social later.

        People of color (often moving to new countries for more basic and necessary reasons, such as better economic circumstances) are called “Immigrants” and white people are thought of as “above” them so they get the term “expats”

        another way to separate poor/rich white people/people of color

        Reply
    • Hey, I found one coffee shop serving a V60. It’s called “Chelsea” and it’s in the city centre. Great pastel de nata!

      Reply

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