The Western Algarve: Travel Guide

Disclaimer: Like many websites, Portugalist earns money via adverts and some links to other websites. There is no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards, but we like to be upfront about these things.

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.

Lighthouse of Cabo de Sao Vicente

This is one of the least spoiled and least touristy parts of the Algarve, especially around the Parque Natural da Costa Vicentina. That’s not to say there aren’t resort towns here: there are.

Luz (often called Praia da Luz), Burgau, and Salema are all seaside resort towns designed for holidaymakers, but they’re much lower-key than their Central Algarve counterparts and the buildings tend to be much lower-rise as well.

Head away from those towns and things get quieter again, and the majority of tourists that you’ll meet are either here for walking, surfing, or bird watching.

Handpicked accommodation on the Western Algarve

The Western Algarve has quite a range of accommodation options. You won’t find many hotel chains here: the majority of the accommodation is small guesthouses and boutique hotels, as well as a range of alternative and eco-friendly options like treehouses, yurts, and campervans.

  • Pure Flor de Esteva – Cute bed and breakfast that’s located in Vila do Bispo, close to Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente.
  • Casa Vale Da Lama Eco Resort – Eco-friendly resort that’s completely solar-powered with saltwater swimming pool and healthy vegetarian breakfasts.
  • Memmo Baleeira – Situated in the Costa Vicentina Natural Park, this design hotel has an outdoor swimming pool with views over the Atlantic Ocean and a spa with a turkish bath and sauna.
  • Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort Hotel – 5-star boutique rooms and villas with an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, and several onsite restaurants.

Towns & cities on the Western Algarve

The following towns (and cities in the case of Portimão) are considered to the on the Western Algarve. Because the terms “Western Algarve” and “Central Algarve” are unofficial, different maps will have the borders in different places. Some will include places like Carvoeiro and Ferragudo in the Western Algarve, for example, while others won’t.

Although this guide considers anywhere from Portimão over to be the Western Algarve, it only really starts to feel like the Western Algarve from Lagos on.

  • Monchique – Town in the mountains, which has some great walking and beautiful views over the Algarve.
  • Portimão – The Algarve’s second largest city. Not a popular place for tourists, but a popular place to live.
  • Praia da Rocha – A beach resort town that’s similar to Albufeira, although not quite as busy. Although Praia da Rocha is considered to be on the Western Algarve, it feels more like a Central Algarve town.
  • Lagos – Coastal town that’s popular with backpackers and surfers.
  • Alvor – Small and fairly low-key beach resort town with a beautiful white, sandy beach that’s surrounded by sand dunes.
  • Praia da Luz – Small and usually fairly low-key beach resort town that has a slightly more rustic beach than most of the towns in the Central Algarve.
  • Burgau – Incredibly small town but popular town beside the coast.
  • Vila do Bispo – Small countryside town with a beautiful church and just a few cafés and restaurants.
  • Sagres – Town on the tip of the West Coast that’s mainly popular with surfers.
  • Aljezur – Small town that’s situated next to Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina (natural park) and has a popular castle on the hill nearby.

Getting to (and around) the Western Algarve

If you’re staying on the Western Algarve, and especially if you’re thinking of exploring it a little, you really should rent a car at Faro Airport (or Lisbon Airport, if you’re driving down). Although it’s possible, getting around this part of the Algarve by public transport isn’t always easy – especially if you want to visit the beaches or rural areas.

  • Airport Transfer: If you decide not to rent a car at Faro Airport, the easiest and fastest way to get over to the Western Algarve is by booking an airport transfer with a company like Welcome Pickups
  • Train: The Algarve’s train line doesn’t cover much of the Algarve: it only goes as far as Lagos and the main stops on the Western Algarve are just Portimão and Lagos. Train tickets can be purchased from cp.pt and discounts are available if you book in advance.
  • Bus: Buses are the main form of public transport here in the Western Algarve. The main bus company is Eva Transportes, but Frota Azul operate some routes here as well. If you’re coming from another part of Portugal, you can book long distance coaches with rede-expressos.pt.
  • Taxi: There’s normally at least one taxi in most of the small towns, but it’s always a good idea to keep a taxi phone number to hand (Taxi Arade: +351-282460610). Taxis from Faro Airport to the Western Algarve are normally more expensive than an airport transfer, so it makes more sense to prebook your transportation in advance. 
  • Uber: Ubers are common in larger towns and cities like Portimão, Lagos, and Praia da Rocha, but you may struggle to find them the further west you go.
  • Shuttle bus: Shuttle buses go to most of the more popular towns on the Western Algarve (e.g. Alvor or Praia da Luz), and tickets can be booked through hoppa.com.

Join The Conversation

  1. 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
    • Hi Sonja,

      It does look like there aren’t a huge number of long term rental properties showing on classifieds websites like OLX and Idealista, which would be two of the main Portuguese sites for finding rentals. It’s possible that a lot of the properties you’re seeing are vacation rentals as opposed to long-term rentals.

      It’s also possible that there might be more properties in the Autumn. This is the start of the summer season here, and it’s usually much harder to find rentals at this time of year. That said, I would have expected to see more properties.

      Reply
  2. 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
    • Hi Joanie,

      How close to the ocean do you want to be? There are plenty of artists on the West Coast, especially in some of the smaller villages but they’re quite dotted around. Aljezur might be somewhere to look at. It isn’t quite on the beach, but it isn’t far.

      Another place with a lot of artists is Monchique. It’s further inland, but still within an easy drive of the coast.

      Reply
  3. 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
  4. 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,

      Monchique would definitely be one place to look at. I would also consider Lagos or Sagres.

      They’re not the only places, of course, but good starting points.

      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:
      [email protected]

      Best regards,

      Delphine

      Reply

Leave a Reply to PERTUISEL Cancel reply