With its sprawling stretches of soft sand, ochre-coloured cliffs and deep blue waters, the Algarve’s coast is one of the best in Europe. These beachfront villages put the best of it on your doorstep.
One of the biggest draws for people moving to the Algarve is its incredible beaches. With more than 300 days of sunshine per year on average, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy them as well. We’ve put together our pick of the best beachfront villages in the Algarve – from buzzing tourism hotspots to peaceful fishing villages.
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Ferragudo is a charming fishing village in the central Algarve. As well as a relaxed atmosphere, it has thriving art and restaurant scenes. The main beach is Praia da Angrinha, just a short stroll along the harbour (past where the fishermen bring in their lobster pots). This beach links up with Praia Grande, which has calm waters and trendy beachfront bars.
Ferragudo sits on a hill. Its winding cobblestone streets are lined with whitewashed cottages with colourful flowers pouring out of hanging baskets. At the bottom of the hill, you’ll find the main square – Praça Rainha Dona Leonor. There are lots of restaurants with al-fresco seating, and during the summer there’s live music. The streets leading away are home to cosy petisco bars and boutiques selling handmade gifts.
At the top of the hill, you’ll find townhouses with roof terraces boasting views towards the Serra de Monchique mountains in one direction, and the Atlantic Ocean in the other.
It’s in a great location – Portimão is less than 15 minutes’ drive away. This is where you’ll find big city amenities, including the region’s most incredible produce market.
Properties in Ferragudo include traditional Portuguese cottages as well as modern apartment buildings. At the top of the hill, you’ll find townhouses with roof terraces boasting views towards the Serra de Monchique mountains in one direction, and the Atlantic Ocean in the other. There are also lots of fixer-upper opportunities.
Quarteira was one of the Algarve’s very first resorts. Because of this, it has fantastic tourism infrastructure with restaurants, bars and mini-markets catering towards international tastes. While many British holidaymakers have moved on to pastures new, Quarteira is still popular with Portuguese tourists – so it’s a little lower-key than the likes of Albufeira.
It’s fronted by the Blue Flag Praia de Quarteira Beach, just over a mile of golden sand lapped by Atlantic waves. This is backed by a palm-fringed promenade, where joggers and dog-walkers head for morning exercise. It’s also lined with cafés and excellent seafood restaurants, which showcase the best of Quarteira’s (still thriving) fishing industry.
The location is also fantastic. It’s just 26 minutes’ drive from Faro Airport, so easy to reach. There’s lots to do in the area for families, with Aquashow Park just ten minutes’ away.
In-keeping with its location – which has lots of tower blocks built after the 1970’s – properties in Quarteira tend to be fairly modern. You’ll find contemporary duplex’s in new apartment buildings with incredible sea views. There’s lots of developments going on in the area, too, so you can buy on-spec. Another property type to look out for are golf-resort properties – usually semi-detached villas with easy access to the nearby courses.
With its designer shops, swanky bars and super-yachts docked in the harbour, Vilamoura is as glamorous as the Algarve gets. It has two Blue Flag beaches, Praia de Vilamoura and Praia da Falésia, which stretch out from either side of the marina. You can pop down a towel or head to beach clubs like NoSoloÁgua and Purobeach and rent a cabana for the day.
Known for its excellent golf academy, five star resorts and casino, Vilamoura has a far livelier atmosphere than its eastern neighbour Quarteira. By day, people head to the nearby golf courses. In the evening, it’s down to the waterfront for dinner – and drinks – with a view.
Vilamoura’s location in the central Algarve makes it handy for Faro Airport and many of the local tourist attractions. The town doesn’t have a train station, and isn’t well-served by bus, so a car is essential if you want to go exploring.
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Properties in Vilamoura are as elegant as the town itself. Because Vilamoura is a purpose-built resort, you won’t find any historic properties in need of TLC. Instead you can expect modern villas and townhouses with their own private pools.
Over in the Western Algarve, the sleepy town of Salema is an ideal choice if you want to get back to nature. After all, it’s located in the Costa Vicentina Natural Park – a protected area of natural beauty. Salema itself is a typical Algarve fishing village, with whitewashed cottages and cobblestone lanes sloping gently down towards the Blue Flag beach. And what a beach it is, with half a mile of soft, golden sand lapped by calm clear waters.
This tranquil town may feel remote, but it’s well-connected to the rest of the Algarve. It’s just off the main N-125 road which spans the region from east to west. Sitting halfway between the surf capital of Sagres and the city of Lagos, you can easily enjoy big town bustle when you want to.
When property comes up in Salema, it’s usually traditional fishermen’s cottages or contemporary townhouses in the beachfront resorts. These usually have shared swimming pools and sea views. Both excellent selling points if you’re planning on renting out during the high season.
Over in the south-eastern corner of the Algarve, almost at the end of the N-125 road, you’ll find the town of Monte Gordo. This former fishing village became a holiday destination in the 1960’s thanks to its beautiful white sand beach – lapped by the warmest waters in mainland Portugal.
This former fishing village became a holiday destination in the 1960’s thanks to its beautiful white sand beach – lapped by the warmest waters in mainland Portugal.
Monte Gordo has a calm and convivial atmosphere. During the summer it’s popular with Portuguese tourists, so provides good value for money when compared to larger resorts in the central Algarve. Because it’s a tourism hotspot, you’ll find plenty of amenities such as international restaurants and bars.
The pedestrian promenade along the beachfront is lined by cafés and snack bars, with tables and chairs spilling out onto the pavement. If you’re up for a bit of exploring, you’ll find some untouched and beautiful beaches just to the east – Praia da Ponta da Areia and Praia de Santo Antonio.
Monte Gordo is almost halfway between Faro Airport and the Spanish city of Huelva – 37 miles and 42 miles, respectively. Because it’s right beside the border it’s easy to nip over to Spain for a late lunch, or spend an easy afternoon strolling around Seville. Another bonus is that the charming town of Tavira is only 25 minutes’ drive away.
Most properties for sale in Monte Gordo are modern apartments located in residential complexes. Two-bedroom apartments are most common, although it is possible to find cosy studios and family-sized villas as well.
The Algarve’s coastline is studded with fantastic places to buy an investment property. Whether you’re looking for an apartment in a buzzing resort town or a villa in a peaceful seaside village, there’s a pace of life to suit everyone in this sun-soaked region. To find about more about living in Portugal, download your free Buying Guide below.