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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Digital nomad visiting the Algarve? Read our Algarve digital nomad guide for some great places to sleep, work, and mingle.
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.
Mhaio Coffee Roaster – 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.