Planning to spend your retirement in the Algarve? You won’t be alone. It’s rapidly becoming one of the world’s favourite retirement hotspots. And not just for British people. Americans, Scandinavians, the French… Portugal has brought in tax incentives, environmental controls, hospitals and airport improvements that make it all a lovely places for a healthy and energetic retirement wherever you’re from. This article looks at five ideal destinations for an active retirement in the Algarve.
Many people, from Britain and beyond, make plans to enjoy their retirement in the Algarve. It may sound clichéd to say an area has it all, but Portugal’s best-known region truly does. There’s a year-round sunny climate and a host of attractions and amenities – covering everything from sports to shopping. The infrastructure is well established, and transport links are frequent and reliable. Best of all, there’s already a welcoming community of overseas residents to join.
If you want to be slap-bang in the middle of some of world’s finest sporting facilities, there’s a town for you; If you’d rather choose somewhere slow-paced and authentic, where you can sip espressos and practice your Portuguese, you have options too.
You don’t have to compromise if you choose to take your retirement in the Algarve. You can pick an area that most appeals to you, and still be within easy reach of everything else on offer. The towns listed below all provide a great jumping-off point.
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Located towards the far west of the Algarve, Lagos is perhaps the most cosmopolitan town in the area. If retirement in the Algarve, to you, means a state-of-the-art marina apartment with a boat outside, Lagos can deliver. On the other hand, if you’re all about a bohemian lifestyle in a rustic central townhouse, that’s also an option.
You have the same variety when it comes to beaches, with both sparkling coves and wide, windy expanses of sand. Lagos is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, and it has a level of facilities to match the demand.
Property here is hugely varied. Like many Algarve towns, there’s a mix of traditional town centre homes and modern apartment developments. You’ll also find plenty of detached villas in the surrounding area.
There are options for all budgets around Lagos. There’s a huge range of apartments, with older homes from around €125,000 and plush new builds from around €200,000. Villas start at €275,000.
Faro airport is one hour away on the motorway. Lagos is also at the far end of the Algarve train line.
You’ll find more on the practicalities of retirement in the Algarve here.
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The small East Algarve city of Tavira is increasingly popular with international residents. However, it’s never lost its authentic Portuguese feel .
Tavira is packed with history. It’s a place where you can get lost in mazes of cobbled streets and discover a new church or interesting ruin on every wander. There’s an award-winning island beach just minutes away. You’ll also be pleased to find plenty of modern amenities, including a large mall, to contrast with the traditional old town.
The mix of ancient and modern is relevant to the property market too. The town centre has plenty of traditional townhouses and rustic renovation projects on offer. Alternatively, there are lots of modern developments on the outskirts.
Tavira is very well-connected, and only a short 40-minute hop from the airport. It has two convenient stations on the Algarve train line, putting the whole region within easy reach, right the way to the Spanish border.
Small apartments from around €120,000. Villas from €240,000.
Tavira is 40 minutes from Faro airport by road. You can also get to Faro and beyond by train.
Olhão is a rather less obvious choice for retirement in the Algarve. At heart, Olhão is an authentic, working Portuguese town – not an expat hotspot. If you want to truly integrate and enjoy Portuguese life, Olhão is a great place to be.
Famous for its huge annual shellfish festival, Olhão is a hub for fishing. It’s also a great place for boating and other watersports. Some of Portugal’s most stunning island beaches are just off the coast, accessible by ferries and water taxis.
There’s plenty of traditional property here, but more modern options are springing up too. These include a high-profile marina development at the western end of the waterfront.
Property prices in Olhão remain affordable. Apartments start at around €80,000 and there are some interesting renovation townhouses for as little as €100,000. A €200,000 budget opens up lots of options, including detached villas.
Olhão is only 20 mins from Faro, by both road and rail.
Five great places for retirement in the Algarve
If an active retirement in the Algarve is what you’re looking for, Vilamoura is the perfect place. Purpose-built as a leisure destination, it’s one of the largest such resorts in Europe.
You can cycle around the huge network of paths, take a leisurely walk around the marina, or make a beeline for any one of the world-class golf clubs in the area. Vilamoura is ideal for an active lifestyle, regardless of what “active” specifically means to you.
Unsurprisingly, Vilamoura excels when it comes to other facilities too. There are dozens of bars and restaurants – ranging from rustic Portuguese to “high end” international. There’s no shortage of shops either. Vilamoura’s location half-way between Faro and Albuferia also places the Algarve’s largest malls within very easy reach.
Vilamoura’s not a budget destination, but there are small apartments from about €125,000. Villas start at around €275,000, and go right up to “rock star” prices, for those that can afford them!
Vilamoura is an easy 30 minute drive from Faro airport.
Carvoeiro’s picture-postcard cove beach exactly matches what many people expect the Algarve to look like. The town ticks all the boxes when it comes to retirement in the Algarve too.
There’s an established community of overseas residents here, with plenty of retirees from Holland and Germany, as well as those from the UK. The attractions of the area are clear: some of the Algarve’s most stunning rocky coastline, fabulous sea-view golf courses, and a huge range of homes on offer. Property ranges from small town-centre apartments to gated villas with bags of privacy.
If you enjoy diving and snorkelling, you’ll find some fabulous spots along this part of the coast. There are cave and grotto networks to discover, and even a snorkelling trail at nearby Praia de Marinha.
Apartments from around €175,000. Villas and houses from €275,000.
Faro airport is 45 minutes away via the A22 toll road.