A Guide to Living in the Western Algarve

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Last updated on June 4, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 7 minutes

The Algarve is often split into three sections: the Eastern Algarve, the Central Algarve, and the Western Algarve.

Every region of the Algarve has its areas of natural beauty, but the Western Algarve, and in particular the Western Coast of the Algarve, is considered to be the more scenic part of the Algarve. It’s made up of rugged cliffs, a national park, and numerous small, often empty, and incredibly beautiful beaches.

One of the most appealing aspects of the Western Algarve is its breathtaking beaches. From the expansive stretches of golden sand to the secluded coves and bays, there’s a beach to suit every taste. The region is also renowned for its excellent surfing conditions, with Sagres being a popular destination for surfers from around the world. The region also boasts numerous walking trails that wind through the stunning countryside, offering breathtaking views of the coastline and the rolling hills.

While the Western Algarve is known for its more rural and laid-back atmosphere, it also offers the convenience of larger towns such as Lagos and Portimão. These towns provide all the amenities you need, from hospitals and schools to large supermarkets, cinemas, and shopping malls. Portimão, being the second-largest city in the Algarve and the administrative centre for the Western region, has everything you need for a comfortable lifestyle.

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Popular Towns & Cities

The following are some of the most popular places to live on the Western Algarve.

Aljezur

Riverside Aljezur

Aljezur is a small town situated next to the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, offering a peaceful and natural lifestyle. With its historic castle and stunning countryside, Aljezur is perfect for those seeking a more authentic and outdoor-oriented experience. The town has a small but welcoming community, with a few local shops and restaurants.

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Alvor

fishermans huts alvor

Alvor is a small and picturesque beach resort town that offers a more low-key and relaxed lifestyle. With its beautiful white sandy beach and surrounding sand dunes, Alvor is perfect for those seeking a peaceful and natural environment. The town has a small but friendly community, with a few local shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Burgau

Burgau is a tiny but popular coastal town that offers a peaceful and intimate lifestyle. With its narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and stunning sea views, Burgau is perfect for those seeking a more traditional and authentic Portuguese experience. The town has a small but friendly community, with a few local shops and restaurants.

Monchique

View over the rooftops of Monchique

Monchique is a charming mountain town that offers a peaceful and serene lifestyle, perfect for those who love nature and outdoor activities. With its stunning views over the Algarve and great walking trails, Monchique is an ideal place for those seeking a tranquil retreat. The town has a small but friendly community, with a few local shops, restaurants, and cafes.

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Portimão

portimao town square

Portimão is the second-largest city in the Algarve and is a popular place to live, offering a more urban lifestyle with all the necessary amenities. While not a major tourist destination, Portimão has a vibrant local community, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. The city also has good healthcare facilities and schools, making it an attractive option for families.

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Praia da Rocha

steps down to the beach at Praia da Rocha

Praia da Rocha is a lively beach resort town that offers a mix of tourist attractions and local amenities. While it can be busy during the summer months, Praia da Rocha has a more relaxed atmosphere compared to some of the larger resort towns in the Central Algarve. The town has a beautiful sandy beach, a variety of restaurants and bars, and good public transport links.

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Lagos

Lagos town square

Lagos is a popular coastal town that attracts a mix of tourists, backpackers, and surfers. With its historic centre, stunning beaches, and lively nightlife, Lagos offers a vibrant and youthful atmosphere. The town has a good selection of restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as a marina and several cultural attractions.

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Praia da Luz

Praia da Luz is a charming and laid-back beach resort town that offers a more authentic and rustic experience compared to some of the larger resort towns. With its slightly more rugged beach and slower pace of life, Praia da Luz is ideal for those seeking a quieter and more traditional lifestyle. The town has a small but welcoming community, with a few local shops and restaurants.

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Vila do Bispo

Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Conceição in vila do bispo

Vila do Bispo is a small countryside town that offers a quiet and traditional lifestyle. With its beautiful church and surrounding countryside, Vila do Bispo is ideal for those seeking a more rural and authentic experience. The town has a few local cafes and restaurants, as well as a small community.

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Sagres

bars and shops in Sagres

Sagres is a laid-back town located on the tip of the West Coast, known for its stunning beaches and excellent surfing conditions. With its relaxed atmosphere and natural beauty, Sagres is popular with surfers and outdoor enthusiasts. The town has a few local shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as a small but friendly community.

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Pros & Cons of Living Here

Pros:

  1. More peaceful: The Western Algarve offers a more tranquil and laid-back lifestyle compared to the bustling central region. With its quieter towns and villages, residents can enjoy a slower pace of life and a greater sense of community.
  2. Beauty: The Western Algarve boasts some of the most stunning natural scenery in the region, with its rugged coastline, pristine beaches, and picturesque countryside. From the mountains of Monchique to the dramatic cliffs of Sagres, the area is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
  3. Cooler temperatures: During the summer months, temperatures in the Western Algarve are typically a few degrees lower than in the central region. This can make a significant difference in terms of comfort, especially for those who prefer milder weather.
  4. Less busy: While tourism in the Western Algarve is increasing, it still sees fewer visitors compared to the central region, particularly in popular beach towns like Albufeira and Carvoeiro. This means that residents can enjoy a more authentic and less crowded experience, even during the peak season.

Cons:

  1. Distance from Faro Airport: For those who travel frequently, living in the Western Algarve can be less convenient due to its greater distance from Faro Airport. This can mean longer transfer times and potentially higher transportation costs.
  2. Fewer amenities: While larger towns like Portimão offer a good range of amenities, many of the smaller towns and villages in the Western Algarve have more limited options in terms of shopping, dining, and entertainment. Residents may need to travel further to access certain services or facilities.
  3. Wind: As the Western Algarve is directly exposed to the Atlantic Ocean, it can experience strong winds, particularly along the coast. This can be a drawback for some, especially those who enjoy spending time outdoors or engaging in water sports.
  4. Car dependency: Due to the more rural nature of the Western Algarve and limited public transportation options, having a car is often a necessity. Bus services are infrequent, and the train line only extends as far as Lagos, making it difficult to rely solely on public transport for daily life and exploration of the region.

Despite these potential drawbacks, the Western Algarve remains an attractive option for those seeking a more peaceful, nature-oriented lifestyle in a beautiful and authentic setting. By weighing the pros and cons and considering individual preferences and needs, potential residents can make an informed decision about whether this charming region is the right fit for them.

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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. hi everyone,

    my family planning to leave australia to move in portugal to be close to the rest of our family who lives in france and brasil.
    we have for project to open our ajurvedic clinic for start but our goal will be to set up a ajurvedic center, including school , cooking class, meditation class , herbs garden and more and more ambitious 😉 we trying to have an idea were it would be the best city to start our clinic?
    were the people are already conscious about eating healthy, spirituality, natural therapy.
    we would love to be away from the city, in a small town 😉
    we will appreciated any advice
    thanks a lot

    Reply
    • Hi Joffrey,

      Is your project still relevant ?
      I can help you if you search a small town who is adapted for your project;-) I leave in Lagos in the west coast of algarve and there are a lot of small town who are adapted …
      I give you my e-mail:
      dpertuisel@gmail.com

      Best regards,

      Delphine

      Reply
  2. This sounds very nice. I would love to hear more. I offer and organize retreats, a lot in the ayurvedic field, and looking at moving to Portugal myself. Can you keep me informed?

    Reply
  3. I am considering retirement in Portugal and would like somewhere affordable, quiet, near the ocean. I am an artist and would like to be around like minded people. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  4. Greetings-
    We are a family looking to move to Western area for daughter to go to the school in Aljezur. We haven’t been able to find a place to rent there that is reasonable, it surprised me that it has prices like a tourist town. Does having the castle and the surf beach close make it so?
    Any tips of places to look, I have been on facebook and longtermlets, and have found a place in Lagos so far. Looking for Sept- June 2020=2021, coming from USA as soon as we get visa.

    Reply

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