Living between the coast and countryside in the Algarve gives you the best of both worlds. Here are some places to begin your property search.
To get an idea of the fabulous blend of coast and countryside in the Algarve, all you need to do is take a drive along the region’s main A22 motorway.
You can see wide seascapes on one side, and mountain scenery on the other. It gives a real sense of the outstanding beauty of the area. It also raises a dilemma: Do you want to live on the coast, or “in the hills,” as the locals say?
The good news is that there’s a middle path. All along the Algarve are places where you can get the best of both worlds; towns and villages where you’re both close to the countryside and just minutes away from the region’s world-class beaches.
In this article, we look at coast and countryside in the Algarve. Working from west to east, we suggest some places to live that put both lifestyles within easy reach.
There are some big advantages to choosing these destinations. They tend to be more economical than choosing a home in a resort. They give you the ability to dive right into the beach scene, but also to retreat into peace at the busier times of year.
For each part of the Algarve, we’ve highlighted a couple of places to focus on. However, it’s worth remembering that there are also dozens of villages and hamlets surrounding these places. The Algarve is compact and the roads are rarely busy, so it’s possible to find privacy and seclusion whilst only being a short hop from the action.
Let’s begin our tour.
When property hunting, it’s vital that you protect your budget from moving exchange rates – or you could find yourself losing thousands of pounds.
Find out what you need to do in the Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.
The West Algarve
With breathtaking cove beaches and loads of amenities, the west Algarve is extremely popular, but you only need venture a few miles inland to find pockets of peace.
The town of Silves is a good place to start, if you’re looking for a place that puts you right in the middle of coast and countryside in the Algarve.
It’s certainly not completely off the tourist trail. Silves is packed with history, and many people visit to see the town’s striking castle. For one week every year, it’s packed with people, when it’s home to the region’s biggest and best-known Medieval festival.
Generally, though, Silves is a laid-back, sleepy place, with winding cobbled streets filled with cafés and independent shops. The countryside is on the doorstep, and beach resorts are an easy 15-20 minute drive away. Apartments start at around €100,000, and you can spend even less on rustic renovation projects, or small houses in the surrounding villages.
Portimāo another place to explore while you’re in the west Algarve. It’s a busy working city that’s technically on the coast, but the beaches are in neighbouring Praia da Rocha, a popular, thriving resort.
Portimão itself presents an interesting option. Housing is cheaper in the city itself than in the resort, and the location means the beaches are just a bus-ride or walk away. Meanwhile, you’re right next to the region’s main road routes, making it easy to head for the country within minutes. You can find good, modern apartments from around €150,000, and a good choice of even cheaper options in older buildings.
When moving abroad, healthcare can be a concern – so read our free Guide to Healthcare to find out about accessing medical care overseas.
The Central Algarve
The central Algarve is where much of the region’s action happens. It’s home to the big, well-known resorts, including Albufeira and Vilamoura.
Louléis well-known in its own right, for being home to the Algarve’s largest regular gypsy market – a popular day-trip for Algarve tourists. The town also has a hugely daily fresh food market, and lots of shops and amenities, making it great for year-round living.
Loulé is a transport hub, with lots of road routes and bus services converging in the town. There is also a train station, albeit not one particularly well-located for the town centre. It’s only a 15 minute drive to the beaches of Vilamoura, and the landscape is rural as soon as you reach the boundaries of the town.
Spacious apartments and townhouses start from €175,000. Larger houses from €250,000.
A little further east you find Almancil. This is an interesting place, because it’s the commercial hub of the “Golden Triangle,” which encompasses the glitzy resorts of Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo. There are lots of high-end restaurants and stores here, but the town itself is more down-to-earth, and considerably more affordable than the resorts – despite being just minutes away.
Those places have you covered for beaches. If you want countryside, you start hitting the hills after just 10-15 minutes in the car. Apartments in Almancil start at around €190,000.
Choosing the right mortgage is vital to the success of your property purchase. Get in touch today with our trusted partners – they have over 20 years’ experience helping people like you to get the best mortgage possible.
The East Algarve
The East Algarve – generally speaking – delivers the most bang for your buck when it comes to property. But it’s no less popular and no less beautiful. It also puts you in easy reach of Spain. Seville is a couple of hours away, and the option of tapas lunches and Spanish supermarket shops is closer still.
Moncarapachois popular with overseas residents, and a perfect example of somewhere between coast and countryside in the Algarve. The location ticks many boxes: It’s less than 30 minutes to the airport and 15 minutes from a range of beaches, yet the town itself feels rural and traditional. There are enough cafés, bars and shops to keep things interesting, and there’s also a hugely monthly market.
You have the option of living in the town itself, and there are also countless small hamlets and isolated villas to choose from in this area. Apartments from €160,000. Rural homes from €250,000.
Castro Marimtakes us almost to the Spanish border. The town has lots in common with Silves, with two castles and another annual Medieval festival. This one is less well-known but no less busy, drawing crowds from across the Algarve, and from Spain.
Castro Marim is a quiet and authentic place the majority of the time, and it’s incredibly situated. In one direction you have a range of east Algarve beaches within 15 minutes drive. In the other, you can follow the Guadiana river along the Spanish border for miles. The drive itself is memorable, let alone the river beaches and secluded countryside spots you can find along the way.
Houses in Castro Marim start from around €150,000. There are also some interesting ruins and renovation projects in this area.
Living between the coast and countryside in the Algarve is a popular choice for many new residents. It’s the perfect compromise, and can give you more peace and space for your money.
Want a holiday home in Portugal but worried about the cost? Why not pool finances and buy with family? Explore our guide, Buying Abroad with Family.