Written by Ben Taylor,
Last Modified: 7th July 2022

The Algarve is a quintessential home of sun and sand, but it’s also so much more than that! If you want to live somewhere you’ll get the most out of your new life, then these villages could be for you.

The Algarve’s warm and consistent climate means that outdoor living is the reality almost all year round. Whether it’s hiking, boating or golfing that most appeals, all are in easy reach from all of the places here. And there are many other options too.

Practicalities

The Algarve is the perfect place for an energetic retirement.

The Algarve is the perfect place for an energetic retirement.

The Algarve is a relatively compact place. You can drive from one end to the other in no more than two hours, so nowhere is really that far from anywhere else.

In this article, we focus on villages. They vary somewhat in size, but all provide that desirable feeling of being somewhere that’s not purely a tourist resort.

However, thanks to the Algarve’s geography, towns, cities and resorts are in easy reach from all of these places. That means all the amenities you could need are always close at hand. You can live in the hills and still be just a short drive from the beach or a modern shopping mall.

So, without further ado, here are five Algarve villages that suit an energetic lifestyle, working from west to east. As well as looking at what to expect from each location, we have some example properties to whet your appetite.

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Sagres

If surfing through crashing waves is your perfect way of being energetic, Sagres simply has to be on your radar. From kite surfing to body boarding, this place is a true mecca for surfers of all kinds.

With a population of only around 2000 people, the village itself is laid-back and unassuming. It’s worth noting that the population can swell during busier months, as Sagres is a popular destination for surfers from all over the world. This does make it a great place to meet kindred spirits.

Sagres is a mecca for surfing.

Sagres is a mecca for surfing.

You don’t have to be a surfer to enjoy Sagres. If you’re not inspired by the idea of donning a wetsuit, you also have long hikes to undertake, great tracks for cycling, and even the option of deep-sea fishing.

Sagres is 72 miles from Faro airport, a journey taking less than 90 minutes. The nearest city is Lagos, around 30 minutes away. Do keep in mind that that’s where you’ll find the nearest train station and the nearest motorway, so this is a place where a car is all but essential.

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Burgau

A little further east (and closer to the airport), you find Burgau. It’s a sleepy little place with a population of just 250 people. It was once described as the “quaintest beachside village” in Europe by Lonely Planet.

Don’t be deterred by the small population, because Burgau is close to the popular resort of Praia da Luz, and the city of Lagos. Both are popular areas for overseas residents, so you’ll have no problem meeting people.

Burgau is perfect for walking and cycling and, of course, has fantastic beaches right on its doorstep.

Burgau is perfect for walking and cycling and, of course, has fantastic beaches right on its doorstep.

When it comes to being energetic, walking is the first thing that springs to mind. From Burgau you can begin a stunning (and, at times, strenuous) clifftop walk to Praia da Luz. It stretches on to Lagos and beyond, should you have the energy. This is a hilly part of Portugal, so it’s great for cycling too, and there are plenty of golf courses on the doorstep.

Moncarapacho

We now head to the other side of Faro airport and into the eastern Algarve. With a population of around 9000 people, Moncarapacho is a much bigger place. However it sprawls over a considerable countryside area. It definitely has a feel that wins itself a place on this list of Algarve villages.

Moncarapacho is incredibly convenient. It’s less than 30 minutes from Faro and its airport, and there’s a train station too, although it’s a considerable hike from the village centre. Although Moncarapacho is inland, beaches are only 10 minutes or so away in nearby Fuseta.

The village of Moncarapacho is a great place to look for properties with a bit of land to grow your own veg or have a small olive grove. Pierre-Olivier / Shutterstock.com

The village of Moncarapacho is a great place to look for properties with a bit of land to grow your own veg or have a small olive grove. Pierre-Olivier / Shutterstock.com

When it comes to being energetic, Moncarapacho is a perfect place for “working the land.” There’s plenty of property here with lots of outside space. If your dream retirement involves tending fig, olive and orange trees, this is a place where it can all come true.

That said, like everywhere in the Algarve, sporting facilities are within easy reach. There’s a small golf course just outside the village and many more close by. And with the coast so close, water and boating activities are everywhere.

Cabanas de Tavira

Cabanas de Tavira has a very different feel. An historic fishing village with just 1200 permanent residents, it really transforms in summer. It’s popular with tourists, both from northern Europe and from Lisbon, whose residents descend en masse in July and August.

The rest of the year it’s a low-key, friendly place, with an established expat community that’s well-integrated with the local population.

Cabanas de Tavira retains a typically Portuguese feel, and is great for boating and fishing.

Cabanas de Tavira retains a typically Portuguese feel, and is great for boating and fishing.

Cabanas sits right on the Ria Formosa natural park, so it’s a great place for boating, fishing, and scenic walks along the coast. There are good golf courses on the doorstep, and the sophisticated and elegant city of Tavira is just minutes away for amenities and culture.

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Cacela Velha

The smallest on our list of Algarve villages, Cacela Velha is little more than a hamlet, with a population of just 100 people! However, there are plenty of villas on the roads surrounding it, and the newer and larger town of Vila Nova de Cacela is only minutes away.

Cacela Velha is located in fantastic countryside and close to some of Portugal's best golf courses.

Cacela Velha is located in fantastic countryside and close to some of Portugal’s best golf courses.

The view from Cacela Velha is truly breathtaking, spreading right over the salt pans and shellfish farms of the Ria Formosa, and all the way to neighbouring Spain. This is perfect fishing territory, and you could even join the locals hunting for clams at low tide.

Other options include golf, with several great courses nearby including the prestigious Monte Rei. The region is also dotted with walking and cycling routes.

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