Portimão is the largest town in the Western Algarve. Situated on the Arade river, it combines a busy commercial centre with a lively beach scene, thanks to its bustling seafront at Praia da Rocha. It’s also popular for its river frontage, with its promenade and fish restaurants.
Next along is the pretty fishing town of Alvor, with its traditional fishing harbour and ancient narrow streets. Golf options in this area include the Algarve’s first ever 18-hole course at the five-star Penina Hotel & Golf Resort, now home to three championship courses.
Fifteen minutes further west is Lagos, one of the most attractive and historically important towns in the Algarve. Surrounded by imposing 14th-Century walls, the centre is a maze of winding cobbled streets that are home to over 350 bars and restaurants. Complementing this is Lagos’s modern marina, a favourite place to meet for a drink with the town’s expat community. Boavista Golf Resort is a popular golfing option in this area.
The coastline westwards from Lagos is dramatic, complete with cliffs and coves and some stunning beaches just a few minutes’ drive from town. Between Lagos and Sagres, the most south-westerly point of Algarve – and Europe, are a handful of small sleepy towns. These include Praia de Luz, popular with families, Burgau and Vila do Bispo, where surfers and creative types create a gentle bohemian vibe.
An inland highlight of the Western Algarve is Monchique, a pretty town nestled in the hills which is popular for hiking, biking and nature trails. If you’re after a more upmarket, jet-set environment, head to the Central Algarve and the world-famous Golden Triangle.
Encompassing the exclusive golf and leisure resorts of Vale do Lobo, Quinta do Lago and Vilamoura, here you’ll find multimillion euro homes built beside championship golf courses or down leafy avenues in gated communities. Vilamoura, alone home to five championship courses, also boasts an award-winning marina and there are huge expansion plans for the resort. Shoppers are catered for too, thanks to the Quinta Shopping mall located between Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago and home to luxury fashion, home and sporting labels. In addition, the new Designer Outlet Algarve opens in Loulé this year, offering a shopping and leisure centre centred around an IKEA store.
More affordable hot spots of the Central Algarve include vibrant Albufeira. Just west of the Golden Triangle, Albufeira has a picturesque old town, a lively night scene, two excellent beaches and a marina. The nearby former fishing towns of Carvoerio and Ferragudo are more relaxed but equally charming places, as is the historic town of Silves, just inland and complete with a castle. Golfing options in this area include the resorts of Pestana, Amendoeira and Salgados.
Then there is the quieter, less developed eastern Algarve, where prices are typically more affordable. Golf highlights include the Monte Rei Golf and Country Club near Vila Nova de Cacela and Castro Marim Golfe and Country Club, which looks across the countryside to the Guadiana River. In and around the town of Tavira is a popular choice for buyers seeking a more traditional Portuguese property and lifestyle.
This guide was written by Ideal Homes Portugal who have over 10 years experience operating throughout the Algarve.