Surfing, national parks, rural villages and deserted beaches. Find out more about what sets the western Algarve apart from the rest of the region.
The western Algarve is one of the best preserved parts of southern Portugal, largely due to the Parque Natural da Costa Vicentina which restricts construction on the coastline west of Burgau. Its rocky coastline is picture-perfect and the waves that lap it are craved by surfers the world over.
Take a trip here out of season and you won’t have any trouble finding a vast expanse of deserted beach.
Exploring the Western Algarve
The west of Portugal’s most well-known tourist region has two distinct sections. The first covers the southern coast, beginning to the west of well-known resorts like Albuferia and Carvoiero, with the beautiful city of Lagos at its core. Along this stretch of coastline, you’ll also find Praia da Luz, and the more low-key, yet well-known coastal villages of Burgau and Salema.
Head around the corner, past the surfers’ paradise of Sagres and Cape St Vincent, and you reach the wild western Atlantic coast. While off the mainstream tourist trail, it is still very much on the radar for surfers, backpackers and property buyers looking to escape the hustle and bustle found to the east. Take a trip here out of season and you won’t have any trouble finding a vast expanse of deserted beach.
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If you’re considering purchasing in the western Algarve, the key decision is whether you want to stay close to the amenities of Lagos and nearby Portimão, or if you’d rather trade that convenience for the peace and quiet of more authentic west coast village.
Living in Lagos or the surrounding area guarantees that hospitals, schools, shops, bars, restaurants and dozens of beautiful beaches are right on your doorstep. Living further out on the west coast is a very different proposition, however. Everything becomes quieter, more traditionally Portuguese and a little isolated, especially in the winter months. Even Aljezur, a popular spot with expats and holiday home owners, feels very sedate compared to resort towns of the central Algarve.
Here are some of our favourite locations for property buyers that are just that bit quieter than living in central Lagos:
Aljezur is popular among holidaymakers but, as I said above, it does feel a lot quieter than south coast resorts like Lagos, by virtue of its location in the national park. That same locations means the urban sprawl is limited, and you essentially have the old hilltop village, typically Portuguese with winding streets and whitewashed houses, the Aldeia Nova, a more modern development that nonetheless has quite a ‘local’ community, and finally the seaside area. The latter is made up of new developments, like the Urbanização Vale da Telha, with spacious detached villas and townhouses.
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If you love Burgau and Salema but want somewhere a little less touristy, head inland to nearby Budens. This hillside hamlet feels authentically Portuguese, with a number of small local restaurants and a good year-round population. You also have all services in easy reach, with an Intermarché just outside the village and access straight onto the N125.
Slightly more touristed is Salema, once a small fishing village now made popular by its sandy beach among holidaymakers and overseas buyers alike. There’s a buzz here in the summer, with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafés lining the Miramar walk. As you walk up from the beach, you can find a number of swish villas in immaculate condition and enjoying panoramic views over the seafront below. The eastern side of the village is a little more built-up, with more affordable apartments, ‘quads’ and townhouses.
If you do want to be within an easy hop of Lagos, but to get more bang for your euro, then Odiáxere could be the answer. This lovely town is largely residential and very Portuguese. There are plenty of older properties here just crying out for a renovation to breathe new life into them. The majority of amenities are concentrated down the road in Lagos, given its proximity, ad you’re only a short drive away from some fantastic beaches.
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If you plan to travel frequently by air, it’s worth considering that Lagos is around an hour’s drive from Faro airport, so residing anywhere further to the west will increase the journey. The region’s A22 motorway ends in Lagos, so roads beyond that to the west are much smaller. Trains also run to Faro from various locations in the southwest.
Whichever part of the region you choose, you are guaranteed spectacular scenery and world-class beaches. The sheltered coves of Lagos and Luz, and the wild expanses of sand in the west, are simply incomparable. Make sure you’re prepared for the wind that whips in from the Atlantic, however, and water temperatures that are a little cooler than the eastern part of the Algarve. This is a small price to pay for your very own slice of this tranquil corner of Portugal.