Where to stay in Algarve for first time: 7 Safe areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote articles about staying in Algarve without a car and for families (I will put the links to them at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Algarve for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Algarve for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and things to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Algarve and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Visiting the Algarve for the first time is an exciting experience! The Algarve region, located in the southernmost part of Portugal, is known for its stunning coastline, picturesque beaches, charming towns, and delicious cuisine. 

Faro is the capital city of the Algarve, serving as a gateway to the region with its international airport. Other notable towns and cities in the Algarve include Albufeira, Lagos, Portimão, Sagres, and Tavira.

The Algarve has a vibrant nightlife scene, especially in towns like Albufeira and Lagos. You can enjoy live music, dance clubs, and beachside bars serving refreshing cocktails.

Some of the must-visit beaches include Praia da Marinha, Praia da Falésia, and Praia de Benagil. You can consider taking a boat tour to explore hidden coves and caves along the coastline.

Is Algarve safe to visit?

Yes, Algarve, like most of Portugal, is generally safe to visit. However, as in any popular tourist destination, pickpocketing can occur. Therefore, I recommend being aware of your surroundings and paying attention to your belongings in crowded areas, beaches, and public transport.

Always swim in designated areas and pay attention to warning flags; the red flag means danger. Do not swim at beaches without lifeguards. Pay attention to signs about cliff erosion. Falling rocks are also a risk in the Algarve, so avoid getting too close to the edge.

Algarve enjoys a lot of sunshine, so it’s important to protect yourself from sunburn and heatstroke. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, and seek shade during the hottest parts of the day. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

Where to stay in Algarve for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Algarve for first-timers and tourists are Lagos, Albufeira, Portimao, Faro, Carvoeiro, Vilamoura, and Tavira. Each area offers its own unique charm and attractions, so you can choose the one that best suits your preferences and interests.

Albufeira is one of the most popular destinations in the Algarve, known for its vibrant nightlife, beautiful beaches, and historic old town. It’s a safe and bustling area with plenty of accommodation options, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Lagos is a popular destination known for its stunning cliffs, picturesque beaches, and charming old town. It offers a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it an ideal base for first-time visitors.

Vilamoura is a modern resort town with a luxurious marina, golf courses, and a range of accommodation options. It’s a safe and upscale area, perfect for a more relaxed and luxurious vacation experience.

Tavira is a charming town known for its well-preserved architecture, historic sites, and peaceful atmosphere. It’s a great option for a more authentic and tranquil experience in the Algarve.

Faro is the capital city of the Algarve region and serves as a gateway to the area. It has a historic old town, beautiful waterfront, and plenty of cultural attractions to explore. Faro is a safe and convenient base for exploring the rest of the Algarve.

Portimão is a bustling port city with a lively waterfront, sandy beaches, and plenty of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. It’s a safe and convenient base for exploring the western Algarve region.

Carvoeiro is a picturesque coastal town known for its stunning cliffs, sandy beaches, and laid-back atmosphere. It’s a safe and family-friendly area with a range of accommodation options and amenities.

During my trip to the Algarve, I stayed in Albufeira at the Alfagar Alto da Colina. It was a short Uber ride to Albufeira old town and its nightlife strip. My room was spacious, clean, and well equipped. Easy access to the beach. The breakfast buffet was also beautiful.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Algarve for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Algarve first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Algarve first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Algarve, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Algarve have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

7 Safe areas to stay in Algarve for first-timers and tourists:

1. Lagos

Lagos is  one of the most popular areas to stay in the Algarve for the first time. It is a charming coastal town with a rich history, beautiful beaches, rugged cliffs, and vibrant atmosphere. 

Lagos boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the Algarve, including Praia Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo, and Meia Praia. You can enjoy golden sands, clear waters, and breathtaking cliff formations.

Lagos Old Town is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets, lined with cafes, restaurants, shops, and historic buildings. You can explore ancient city walls, picturesque squares, and landmarks like the Church of Saint Anthony and the Governor’s Castle.

Lagos is a hub for boat tours and water activities, offering opportunities for dolphin watching, cave exploring, kayaking, and boat trips to the stunning Ponta da Piedade rock formations.

Lagos has a vibrant nightlife scene, with numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues catering to all tastes. The lively atmosphere makes it a popular destination for young travelers and nightlife enthusiasts.

Best places to stay in Algarve in Lagos for first-timers:

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Marina Rio, 4-star hotel located close to the old town and the train station. It is away from the hustle and bustle but still within walking distance to the beach, restaurants, and shops. The hotel has a seasonal rooftop pool (October-April), a sun terrace, paid airport shuttle, and wonderful breakfast. You can pay a little extra to stay in the front rooms with views of the marina.

Mid-range ($$): Charming Residence & Guest House Dom Manuel I Adults only, 4-star beautiful hotel, good place for couples. Great location close to the old town, the cliffs, and D. Ana Beach. Great base if you want to close the beach and downtown without being in the city center. They have amazing breakfast, free parking, and wonderful designed rooms.

Mid-range ($$): Tivoli Lagos, 4-star good quality hotel, in a great location, close to town center, shops, restaurants, and places of interest. They have excellent breakfast with lots of choices. There is a free shuttle from March to October, to Duna Beach Club on Meia Praia. Just be mindful that there are lots of stairs. It might be a bit of a trek, challenge for mobility issues, or ask for a room close to a lift.

Budget ($): Baluarte da Vila Apartments, 3-star self catering accommodation, conveniently located in the historical center of Lagos, short distance from a sandy beach, the Church of Saint Anthony, and the train station. It has a pool with views of Lagos Bay, and well appointed rooms with everything needed for a comfortable stay.

Luxury ($$$): Cascade Wellness Resort, 5-star beautiful hotel, located on the outskirts of Lagos, short Uber ride/ 30-40 mins walk to Lagos Old Town. Great location if you want to take a walk on the cliffs around Ponte da Piedade. Lots of beautiful beaches within walking distance nearby. They have a nice pool area, a large gym complex, tennis courts, golf range and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.


2. Albufeira

Albufeira is a popular choice for first-timers and tourists seeking a vibrant holiday destination in Portugal. It is a popular resort town known for its lively nightlife, beautiful beaches, and picturesque old town. 

Praia dos Pescadores (Fisherman’s Beach) is one of the most famous beaches in Albufeira, located right next to the old town. It’s a picturesque spot with golden sands and clear waters.

Albufeira Old Town is a charming area with narrow cobblestone streets, traditional whitewashed buildings, and a lively atmosphere. It’s filled with shops, restaurants, and bars.

The marina is a modern area with shops, restaurants, and boat tours. It’s a great place for a leisurely stroll and offers beautiful views of the harbor and coastline.

Albufeira is famous for its nightlife, with numerous bars, clubs, and discos catering to all tastes. The Strip, located in the newer part of town, is particularly popular for its vibrant nightlife scene.

Zoomarine Algarve, a marine theme park, is located just outside of Albufeira and offers a range of attractions including dolphin shows, aquariums, and water slides.

Albufeira’s central location serves as a great base for exploring the rest of the Algarve region. You can take day trips to nearby towns and attractions such as Lagos, Faro, and the stunning cliffs.

Best places to stay in Albufeira for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Grande Real Santa Eulalia Resort & Hotel Spa, 5-star beachfront hotel, short Uber ride from Albufeira old/new town. It offers direct access to Santa Eulália Beach, multiple outdoor pools, a fitness center, and excellent breakfast. Great base for families and couples for a peaceful short break.

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Sol e Mar Albufeira – Adults Only, 4-star nice hotel located in the middle of Albufeira Old town, easy walk to the Archaeological Museum and the beachfront. The hotel has car rental services, indoor pool, 24-hour front desk, and very good breakfast.

Mid-range ($$): Areias Village Beach Suite Hotel, 4-star hotel conveniently located within 10-15 mins walk to Praia da Oura, Albufeira town center, and the Strip. It has an outdoor pool, apartment with kitchen facilities, paid airport shuttle, and free parking. You can ask rooms away from the kiss nightclub.

Budget ($): Apartamentos Borda D´Agua, 3-star accommodation in a prime location in Albufeira, just off the famous Oura Strip, easy access to the beach, shops, restaurants, and a supermarket uphill. Each apartment/ studio comes with a small kitchenette. 


3. Portimao

Portimao is a versatile destination for travelers exploring the Algarve region. It is located west of Albufeira and is known for its beautiful beaches, lively waterfront, and rich maritime history.

This city is home to one of the most famous beaches in the Algarve, Praia da Rocha, with golden sands, dramatic cliffs, and crystal-clear waters. It’s a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.

Portimão Marina is a bustling hub with shops, restaurants, and boat tours. It’s a great place to enjoy a leisurely stroll, eat with a view, or take a boat trip along the coast.

Passeio Ribeirinho riverside promenade is perfect for a scenic walk or bike ride along the Arade River. It’s lined with palm trees, cafes, and gardens, offering a tranquil escape from the bustling city center.

You can learn about the city’s fishing industry, boat building traditions, and archaeological finds at the  Portimão Museum. Housed in a former fish cannery, this museum showcases Portimão’s maritime heritage and history. 

Portimão has several shopping centers and markets where you can shop for souvenirs, local crafts, and designer goods. The Aqua Portimão and Portimão Retail Park are popular shopping destinations.

Portimão is renowned for its fresh seafood and traditional Algarvian cuisine. You can sample delicious dishes such as grilled sardines, seafood rice, and cataplana at local restaurants and eateries.

Best places to stay in Algarve in Portimao for tourists:

Luxury ($$$): Algarve Casino Hotel, 5-star beachfront modern hotel with a private beach area, located very close to the famous Praia da Rocha beach and Portimão Marina. The hotel has beautiful outdoor facilities, great breakfast, and stunning retro wooden furniture in guest rooms.

Mid-range ($$): Jupiter Marina Hotel – Couples & Spa, 4-star a couple-oriented hotel, located close to the Arade River, Marina and Praia da Rocha beach. It has a rooftop infinity pool, and delicious breakfast. Within walking distance to various dining options, bars, and cafés. Easy access to Ferragudo fishing village via ferry boat.

Budget ($): Villa Rio Guest House Suites, 3-star accommodation, located in the center of Portimão, near the river promenade, museum, and restaurants. It is in a quiet area, away from the beach, but a short Bolt ride away. All the boat trips set off just a few minutes walk away. 


4. Faro

Faro is the capital of the Algarve region and offers a mix of historical sites and modern attractions. You can see the charming old town with its medieval walls and cobbled streets, visit the Cathedral of Faro, and take a boat trip to the nearby Ria Formosa Natural Park, a haven for birdwatching and nature lovers.

Faro boasts several beautiful beaches along its coastline, including Praia de Faro, a long stretch of golden sand located on the Ilha de Faro (Faro Island). These beaches are popular for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.

Faro serves as a convenient base for exploring other destinations, such as Lagos, Albufeira, and Tavira. You can also take a ferry to the nearby islands of Culatra, Armona, and Deserta for a day of relaxation and exploration.

Best places to stay in Algarve in Faro for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): 3HB Faro, 5-star hotel, in a central location in the pedestrian shopping area. It has beautifully decorated rooms, a wonderful rooftop bar/pool, Exceptional buffet breakfast, and an outdoor fireplace. Easy access to Carmo Church & Bones Chapel, Faro Marina and Cathedral of Faro. 

Mid-range ($$): AP Eva Senses, popular 4-star hotel, centrally located within 5 mins walk from the historic center of Faro. 5 mins walk from Faro Train Station, for direct trains to Lisbon (2 hours ride). You can choose to stay in a room with views of the marina or Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Mid-range ($$): Roots Hotel, great 4-star condo hotel in the center of Faro, walking distance to local restaurants and cafes. Close to the marina and boat tours. It has a 24-hour front desk, bicycle rental services, and an elevator.

Budget ($): Lemon Tree Stay, 3-star accommodation in Faro, within easy walking distance of shops, restaurants, laundromat and conveniences. It has family rooms, luggage storage space, a peaceful courtyard, great rooftop terrace, and a shared/fully-equipped kitchen.


5. Carvoeiro

Carvoeiro is a charming destination that appeals to travelers seeking natural beauty, outdoor activities, and a relaxed coastal atmosphere.

Praia de Carvoeiro is nestled between towering cliffs, offering breathtaking views of the turquoise sea. You can find the Algar Seco natural rock formation east of Carvoeiro Beach and features a series of caves, grottoes, and sea arches carved into the cliffs. 

Praia da Marinha, regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, is located a short drive from Carvoeiro. You can access the beach via a steep staircase and enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and exploring the surrounding caves and rock formations.

Carvoeiro Boardwalk, stretches along the cliffs between Carvoeiro and Ferragudo, offering panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a great spot for a leisurely stroll or hike, especially during sunset.

The town square is the heart of Carvoeiro, surrounded by restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s a lively area where visitors can enjoy alfresco dining, live music, and street performances.

Best places to stay in Algarve in Carvoeiro for travelers:

Luxury ($$$): Tivoli Carvoeiro, 5-star hotel in Carvoeiro, easy access to the beaches of Carvoeiro and Centeanes. Short drive from Vale de Milho Golf Course and Slide and Splash. The hotel has a spectacular view, superb breakfast buffet with a huge selection of dishes, and very helpful staff.

Mid-range ($$): Castelo Guest House, 4-star beachfront accommodation, located on a cliff above Carvoeiro Beach, a few mins walk from Carvoeiro fishing village, restaurants, bars and shops. It has breaktaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. There is also free parking, paid shuttle to Faro airport. 

Budget ($): Villa Welwitshia, 3-star accommodation, located in a quiet area away from the bustle of Carvoeiro fishing town. Easy access to Carvoeiro Beach and limestone cliffs. They have free parking and nice amenities.


6. Vilamoura

Vilamoura is a luxurious resort town, known for its upscale amenities, marina, golf courses, and beautiful beaches. Great base for a relaxing luxury beach holiday in the Algarve.

The marina is the centerpiece of Vilamoura, lined with luxury yachts, upscale shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants. It’s a vibrant hub where you can enjoy leisurely walks, people-watching, and alfresco dining with stunning views of the boats and waterfront.

Vilamoura is renowned for its world-class golf courses, including the Oceanico Victoria Golf Course, which hosts the Portugal Masters tournament. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a round of golf surrounded by stunning landscapes and ocean views.

Cerro da Vila Archaeological Site is located near Vilamoura Marina and offers insight into the area’s rich history. You can explore the remains of Roman villas, baths, and the 1st century AD mosaics.

The area also has easy access to several beautiful beaches nearby including Praia da Falésia (Falesia Beach) and Vilamoura Beach.

For those looking for entertainment and nightlife, Casino Vilamoura offers a range of gaming options, live shows, and events. It’s a popular destination for those seeking excitement and glamor after dark.

Best places to stay in Algarve in Vilamoura:

Luxury ($$$):  Tivoli Marina Vilamoura, 5-star hotel conveniently located in Vilamoura, easy access to all major points of interest in the area including the marina, the roman ruins, and the beaches. Breakfast is first class with lots of variety.

Mid-range ($$): Vila Gale Ampalius, popular 4-star hotel located close to Marina Beach and Vilamoura Marina. It features an outdoor pool, a health club, a tennis court, and a Turkish bath. Easy access to major sights such as  golf courses, Casino, Falésia Beach and the Roman Ruins of Cerro da Vila. 

Budget ($): Hotel Praia Sol, a 3-star hotel conveniently located between Vilamoura and Quarteira, 5 mins walk from Vilamoura Marina. The hotel has car/bike rental services, 24-hour reception, and a children’s pool. Breakfast has a great variety! 


7. Tavira

Tavira is a great location in the Algarve for a tranquil and authentic experience. It is a historic town located in the eastern part of the Algarve, and is known for its charming streets, historic sites, and proximity to beautiful beaches.

Perched on a hill overlooking the town, Tavira Castle dates back to the Moorish period and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. Although much of the castle is in ruins, you can explore its walls and towers and enjoy the scenic vistas.

Ponte Romana, an iconic bridge spans the Gilão River, is one of Tavira’s most recognizable landmarks. Dating back to the Roman era, the bridge provides a picturesque backdrop for strolls along the riverbank.

Accessible by ferry from Tavira town, Tavira Island is part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and boasts pristine sandy beaches and clear waters. You can relax on the beach, or explore the dunes and trails.

The Republic Square is the heart of Tavira’s historic center, surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and shops. It’s a great place to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a meal or drink.

Best places to stay in Algarve in Tavira for first-timers:

Mid-range ($$): AP Maria Nova Lounge – Adults Friendly, 4-star modern  hotel in a quiet hillside location in Tavira, 5 mins  walk from the busy town center. It has indoor and outdoor pools, a fabulous rooftop, and Great breakfast. Short distance from Tavira Castle and Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Mid-range ($$): Pousada Convento de Tavira, 4-star hotel, in Tavira, a short walk from the Roman Bridge over Gilão River. Plenty of restaurants can be found nearby. Short drive to Ilha de Tavira and Benamor Golf Course.

Budget ($): Residencial Mares, popular 3-star accommodation located  in front of Gilão River within Ria Formosa Natural Park, 5 mins walk from many historical sites of Tavira. Easy access to boats to visit the beach of Tavira Island’s coastline.


In conclusion, Lagos, Albufeira, Portimao, Faro, Carvoeiro, Vilamoura, and Tavira are the best places to stay in the Algarve for first-timers and tourists. These are some of the most popular tourist destinations in the region, where you can find lots of accommodations and amenities for your stay.

You can continue reading about Algarve and other destinations in Portugal in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Algarve. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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