Alvor Guide: The Best Things to See & Do

Alvor, perched on Portugal’s Algarve coast, is a captivating blend of tradition and modernity. Once a sleepy fishing village, the town has gracefully evolved into a sought-after tourist destination, all the while retaining its authentic charm and laid-back vibe. With its narrow cobbled streets, white-washed buildings, and ancient Moorish architecture, Alvor’s historic heart exudes an old-world allure that enchants visitors. But it’s not just the town’s heritage that draws people in; Alvor is fringed by a sprawling stretch of golden sandy beaches (like Praia dos Três Irmãos) that are juxtaposed against the shimmering blue of the Atlantic Ocean.

Throughout the day, you’ll see the local fishermen coming and going and untangling their nets. The nearby river, Ribeira de Odiáxere, forms into somewhat of a lagoon and is a popular location for watersports like sailing and windsurfing.

The estuary of the Alvor river forms a natural lagoon, hosting a mosaic of habitats that support a rich variety of birdlife. Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts are often treated to the sight of flamingos, storks, and other waders that find solace in this serene environment. Adding to Alvor’s appeal is its vibrant culinary scene, with an array of waterfront restaurants and traditional tavernas serving up some of the freshest seafood dishes, caught by local fishermen and prepared using age-old Algarvian recipes. Whether it’s for its natural beauty, rich history, or gastronomic delights, Alvor has emerged as a must-visit gem in the Algarve’s glittering crown.

The town is located in between Portimão, a small city with a population of around 50,000 people, and Lagos, a coastal town that’s popular with surfers and backpackers. If you have a car, there’s plenty to see nearby including other beautiful beaches, the mountainous town of Monchique, and the rugged west coast of the Algarve.

Igreja Matriz de Alvor

Alvor is particularly popular with the Irish, who tend to choose here over other similar towns like Carvoeiro and Ferragudo. It also attracts plenty of Brits and a fair few other Northern Europeans, but isn’t really where the Portuguese go when they come to the Algarve. That’s normally Armação de Pêra. That said, there are plenty of Portuguese restaurants dotted across the town and you’ll see plenty of locals relaxing and drinking coffee (or beers) throughout the day. 

Useful Resources for Your Trip to Alvor

Here’s our top tips and tricks for getting the best deals for your trip to Alvor. 

  • Accommodation: Booking.com and Airbnb are the two most comprehensive websites for finding hotels, hostels, apartments, and other types of accommodation in Alvor. 
  • Car Rental: Discover Cars and Rental Cars are the two most useful sites for booking local car rental. 
  • Airport transfers: There are taxis and Ubers at Faro Airport, but you can also pre-book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups
  • Tours & Things to Do: Both Get Your Guide and Viator list lots of local tours and activities in Alvor and the surrounding Central Portugal region. 
  • Luggage Storage: Luggage Hero and Bounce are two great sites for finding places to store your luggage in Portugal. 
  • Public Transport: Cp.pt is the main website for trains in Portugal. For longer distance buses, see Rede Expressos. Flixbus.pt often has cheap tickets between cities in Portugal. 
  • Flights: Skyscanner and Google Flights are the two most useful websites for finding flights to Portugal. The nearest airport to Alvor is Faro Airport. 

Featured accommodation in Alvor

There are plenty of accommodation options in Alvor, including hotels, villas, and apartments to suit every need and budget, but these places particularly stand out.

  • Pestana Alvor Park Hotel Apartamento – A 4-star aparthotel with both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a turkish bath, children’s playground, and babysitting services. 
  • AlvorMar Apartamentos Turisticos – Offers apartments and studio accommodation in Alvor just minutes from the beach. 
  • Luna Alvor Bay (Adults Only) – Adults only studios with kitchenettes that are just minutes from the beach in Alvor and also have access to an outdoor swimming pool and terrace. 
  • Alvor Ar de Mar – Guesthouse with private rooms and apartments, all of which have free wifi and access to a shared terrace. 

Is Alvor right for me?

  • Smallish town: Alvor isn’t as big or busy as either Albufeira or Praia da Rocha but, for many people, that might be a pro rather than a con. 
  • Draws a quieter, more relaxed, crowd: Overall, Alvor is popular with families and middle-aged to older travellers who are looking for a few pubs but no clubs. Of course, if you come here and you decide that you want to dance the night away, Praia da Rocha is just a short taxi ride away.
  • Public transport can be an issue: Getting to Alvor by public transport can be difficult, particularly if you’re coming from Faro Airport. Although it’s possible to get here without a car, there are other towns on the Algarve that are more easily accessible (see: the Algarve without a car). 

Getting to Alvor

Getting to Alvor is fairly straightforward if you have a car or are taking an airport transfer, but a bit complicated by public transport.

From Faro Airport

  • Airport transfer: Unless you’re renting a car, the easiest way to get from Faro Airport to Alvor is to book an airport transfer using a company like Welcome Pickups.
  • Rental car: Hiring a car is always recommended on the Algarve as many of the towns and especially beaches can be difficult to reach by public transport. Alvor is just 50 minutes from Faro Airport on the A22 toll road, and around 75 minutes on the N125 road.
  • Shuttle bus: Shuttle buses operate between Faro Airport and Alvor and can be booked on sites like Hoppa.com. As there isn’t usually direct public transport between Faro Airport and Alvor (see below), this is usually the best option for those travelling on a budget or who don’t want to book an airport transfer.
  • Taxi (or Uber): Taxis are available from outside Faro Airport, and Ubers are normally not too far away either. Note: a taxi from the airport is normally more expensive than a pre-booked airport transfer, so it normally makes more sense to book a transfer in advance.
  • Public transport: There isn’t a direct bus or train between Faro Airport and Alvor. You will need to take a taxi or the airport bus (bus #16) into Faro, and then take connecting transport onto Alvor (more information below).

From Faro

  • By Bus: There isn’t a direct bus to Alvor, and you will need to take the bus from Faro to Portimão. Once you get to Portimão, you can either take a taxi or a local Vai e Vem bus onto Alvor.
  • By Train: Alvor doesn’t have a train station. The nearest train station is in Portimão (6.5 km). If you take the train from Faro to Portimão, you will need to take a taxi (available from outside the station) or a local Vai e Vem bus onto Alvor.

From Lisbon & the rest of Portugal

Alvor is a little inaccessible because of its lack of a train or bus station, but you can get buses and trains to Portimão (6.5 km away) and then either a taxi or a local Vai e Vem bus onto Alvor.

Trains to Portimão can be booked on cp.pt, and discounts are available if you book in advance. Long distance buses from Lisbon and the rest of Portugal can be booked on rede-expressos.pt.

Alvor actually has a tiny regional airport, Aeroporto de Portimão-Alvor, located just 2.3 km away from Alvor. The airport has some internal flights from Cascais, Bragança, Vila Real, and Viseu, but it’s normally cheaper to take the train or bus.

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