Portugal’s coast is amazing, but you can save a lot of money – and get far more space – if you head inland. These quieter Algarve villages are rich in culture and not far from the beach, either.
Once the Medieval capital of the Algarve, Silves is just 20 minutes inland from the beach resort of Carvoeiro. As you wind towards the town, you’re greeted by an incredible vista – including a Moorish castle, Roman bridge and Manueline cathedral. As it’s a municipal centre, Silves has lots of amenities – handy if you need to apply for residency, update your driver’s license or apply for planning permission. Aside from the practical stuff, there’s lots going on in the town’s cobbled streets. There are excellent restaurants and bars, including Café Ingles by the castle with its large outdoor terrace, and Art’aska on the riverfront with regular live music.
The average property price in Silves is €2,262 per square meter. You’ll find modern and classic apartments in the town centre. Head a little way out and it quickly becomes detached houses and private villas.
No matter where you choose to buy in Portugal, one way you can save a few euros is buy negotiating for a lower price on your property. Read our guide, How to Negotiate Abroad, for essential tips on how get a better house for your money.
When it comes to convenience, you can’t beat Estômbar. It’s only 15 minutes drive from the Western Algarve’s largest city, Portimão. The nearest beach – Praia da Angrinha, in the charming fishing village of Ferragudo – is only 11 minutes away. If you don’t want to shop at the town’s daily indoor market, you’ll find supermarkets like Intermarché, Pingo Doce and Apolónia just 8 minutes away in Lagoa.
With narrow, cobblestone streets winding up towards the town’s iconic twin bell tower church, Estômbar is one of the most beautiful of the Algarve’s quieter villages. It’s home to O Charneco, a restaurant renowned throughout the Algarve for its rustic seven course menu. Attractions nearby include Quinta dos Vales vineyard with its open tasting rooms and colourful artwork. For the little ones, the Slide and Splash theme park is also on your doorstep.
The average property price in the area is €2,529 per square meter. Homes range from typical fisherman’s cottages in need of renovation to modern terraced houses with shared swimming pools.
Because most tourists zip straight through on their way to the Western Algarve’s resorts, Odiáxere has kept its relaxed, local vibe.
Just 15 minutes drive from the buzzing surf town of Lagos – and nine minutes from the sprawling sands of Meia Praia beach – is the quieter Algarve village of Odiáxere. The EN125 road, which connects Sagres in the east to Spain in the west, runs through the heart of the town. Its indoor market is open every day, and sells freshly-landed fish from Monday to Saturday. Because most tourists zip straight through on their way to the Western Algarve’s resorts, Odiáxere has kept its relaxed, local vibe. You can still enjoy a traditional Portuguese lunch for around €5. There are lots of golf courses nearby, including the 27-hole Palmares which was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
The average property price in the area is €3,481 per square meter. This is probably driven up by the ultra-luxury villas being developed in the area, which can cost upwards of €2 million.
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The market town of Loulé has been an important trading centre for centuries. Today its covered market draws people from all over the Algarve: as does the nearby IKEA – the only one in the region. During February and March, Loulé hosts one of the region’s most famous carnivals.
As for location, it only takes 15 minutes to drive to Praia de Quarteira. This blue flag beach boasts an incredible stretch of soft, golden sand. It’s also near Faro Airport – about 17 minutes if traffic is on your side – making it easy for friends and family to come visit.
Property in the area includes lots of villas, many with their own private swimming pools. Expect to spend on average €2,295 per square meter for a home in or around the town.
This mountain village is just half an hour’s drive from Albufeira, but the contrast couldn’t be sharper. It’s quaint and peaceful, and surrounded by nature. One of the most beautiful features is its two clear mountain springs, or fontes. On hot days families will often come and picnic at the tables beside the water, enjoying lunch of freshly grilled chicken before taking a dip. In cooler weather, ramblers can enjoy the many hiking routes nearby. Alte is on the Via Algarviana walking route, which runs for 240km. Even if you don’t fancy doing the whole thing, you can enjoy strolling the paths on a shorter trek.
The average property price in Alte is just €1,320 per square meter. You’ll find lots of typical one-storey cottages as well as larger “quintas” – farmhouses with land attached to them.
Vila do Bispo
If you really want to get off the beaten track, head for Vila do Bispo. The sheer number of yoga retreats based in the area should give you an inkling of how peaceful it is. It’s in the heart of the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, one of Europe’s best-preserved stretches of coastline.
Vila do Bispo is just seven minutes’ drive from the surfer hub of Sagres, and ten minutes from the long stretch of sand at Praia da Cordoama. Although the beach is remote and a little bit wild, it does have Blue Flag status – so during summer there’s a life guard.
The village itself is typical Algarve, with quaint cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings and pink bougainvillea tumbling over the walls.
The village itself is typical Algarve, with quaint cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings and pink bougainvillea tumbling over the walls. There are lots of restaurants serving super fresh fish throughout the year, with game meat like wild boar appearing on the menu during the autumn hunting season.
Properties range from duplex apartments to country estates, and the average price is €2,962 per square meter.
Have our quieter Algarve villages convinced you?
With historic attractions, buzzing markets and incredible natural beauty, giving up the idea of a sea view really isn’t much of a sacrifice.