Best Towns for Couples in the Algarve
With its endless golden beaches, dramatic coastline, stunning sunsets and charming olde worlde fishing villages, there’s little wonder why the Algarve is so widely appreciated as one of Europe’s most romantic destinations. Testament to this is the growing number of destination weddings being held in the region, a segment that has flourished in recent years.
Home to exquisite boutique hotels, romantic eateries, intimate wine bars and beautiful whitewashed churches – not to mention breathtaking scenery – the Algarve casts a mesmerising spell for couples wanting to get away from it all and create special and memorable moments. It caters to all types of romantic getaways, from rural retreats to upmarket luxury, and all with the Algarve’s trademark stamp of quality and character.
Here we’ve complied five suggestions for romantic breaks in the Algarve, from relaxing mountain spa retreats to beachfront resorts and charming village getaways.
Ferragudo village, in the municipality of Lagoa, a 45-minute drive from Faro airport, is a delightful little hamlet and one of the Algarve’s quintessential fishing villages. A pile of whitewashed cottages spilling along quaint cobbled streets framed with bursts of colourful bougainvillaea, it is one of the most photographed and sought after villages in the Algarve.
Traditional fishing boats bob on the quay that opens into the Arade River, the quay-side restaurants particularly lovely at night when the city of Portimão twinkles on the opposite side of the river. Boat trips from Ferragudo can also be taken to visit the famous Benagil caves.
A stay in Ferragudo lays everything on the doorstep; a charming little village square, which in summer buzzes with entertainment and in winter, is the beating heart of local life. The long golden beach (Praia Grande) is perfect for sunset walks, followed by a drink at one of the popular beachside bars, such as Nau bar (which on a Sunday is particularly busy thanks to its Magic Sunday live music events), and a pretty little church perched high on a hill overlooks the village, river, and Portimão, providing sweeping views.
Everything about Ferragudo just oozes picturesque. Couples visiting Ferragudo can spend their hours wandering its maze of cobbled streets, ambling up to the church and back down to the square for refreshments; strolling to Praia Grande beach, enjoying quiet meals at one of the many varied restaurants that the small village comprises, and ultimately, just unwinding in a place that has adapted to the demands of tourism without sacrificing its authenticity. And when you feel like upping the fun factor, jump on a taxi boat across the Arade River to Portimão Marina, for a night out in colourful Praia da Rocha.
There’s something rather otherworldly and captivating about the Algarve’s extreme western tip. The barren, wind-beaten landscape rolling out to mainland Europe’s most south-western point is almost lunar, with ashen boulders peeking out from under a scraggy, mossy blanket. Hemmed by sheer cliffs that are relentlessly pounded by the turbulent Atlantic, the uniqueness of Sagres is powered by pure raw nature, and will appeal to the more adventurous visitor.
Vertiginous cliff-top hikes invite couples to wrap up warm and huddle together as they explore thrilling sights, many of which are linked to Portugal’s noble Era of Discoveries. Among them, the towering cliffs of Cape St. Vincent, topped by the whitewashed lighthouse; sprawling Sagres Fortress, the beautiful local beaches peppered with surfers, and the charming laid-back local town, renowned for its excellent fish restaurants.
These are just a few reasons as to why couples will love the relaxing and distinctive appeal of mainland Portugal’s bold and blustery southernmost tip.
For a unique way to find your bearings you can enjoy a Segway tour.
Caldas de Monchique (Monchique Springs)
This is a place to truly indulge in a little romance and unwind. The fairy-tale like Monchique Springs spa town, in the mountainous inland municipality of Monchique, makes for an enchanting getaway that is all about relaxing amid nature.
A mountain oasis that is wonderful in summer, but perhaps even more romantic in winter. On the climb up Monchique Mountain, the Caldas have long been renowned for their sparkling mountain water, believed to have therapeutic healing properties once dubbed ‘sacred’ by the Romans.
Luxuriant deep green woodland swaddles the springs, casting dappled sunlight onto the paths that provide peaceful walks around the area. At the foot of the spring is the charmingly rustic, four-star Villa Termal das Caldas de Monchique Spa Resort, where guests can enjoy massages and a dip in the famed waters, before relaxing in front of a roaring open wood fire in the hotel’s beautiful lobby.
There is little else to do at the Caldas but walk, admire nature at its finest, breathe in fresh mountain air and de-stress. Except maybe make the short drive up to Monchique town to sample the local produce, such as cured meats, cheeses and the potent firewater (Medronho), or make the climb all the way up to the Algarve’s highest point, Fóia Peak, and enjoy the astounding views.
If you’re feeling adventurous you could even try some down-hill mountain biking!
Monte Gordo might not be high on the list of romantic destinations for couples visiting the Algarve, but it should be.
Located in the unspoilt eastern Algarve, a 45-minute drive east of Faro Airport, it is a seaside resort traditionally popular among Portuguese summer vacationers and campers. With a great selection of seaside accommodation – which is especially well-priced during the off-peak season – a glitzy casino, a great selection of bars and restaurants and Vila Real de Santo António – the Algarve’s easternmost town – just a five minute drive away, it has everything for a brilliant weekend á deux.
Check in to one of the various beachside hotels and enjoy a stroll along Monte Gordo’s long, flat beach, whether along its famous three-kilometre wooden walkway or the water’s edge. Have a lazy lunch at one of the beach-side restaurants, and spend the afternoon either idling on the beach or, in the cooler months, drive to Vila Real de Santo António and catch the ferry across the Guadiana River to Ayamonte, in neighbouring Spain, for tapas.
At night, enjoy Monte Gordo’s lively bar scene, which holds its own even during the off-season, or make a reservation at the beachfront Casino for dinner and a show – and maybe even a little flutter, if you’re feeling lucky.
Home to cliff-top resorts that are among the most popular in the country for destination weddings, stunning coastline, traditional arts and crafts and some of the finest beaches in the country, Porches parish is often overshadowed by larger nearby holiday hotspots, like Albufeira, to the east, and Praia da Rocha, to the west, but deserves due consideration.
Located in the municipality of Lagoa, Porches is a place of serene activities; scenic coastal walks, boat trips to the famous Benagil sea caves, the fascinating Porches pottery workshops, and hours spent sunning on its beaches, such as Praia de Albandeira and the nearby award-winning Marinha Beach.
Porches’ Nossa Senhora da Rocha beach, one of its bigger beaches, is overlooked by the incredibly picturesque Fort of Nossa Senhora da Rocha; a minute, whitewashed, cliff-top fortress inside which is a beautiful little chapel.
Porches is also home to the award-winning five-star Vila Vita resort and its two-Michelin star Ocean restaurant, while the village itself houses unassuming yet highly-praised eateries, such as the A Rolha wine & tapas bar, the famed Porches Velho restaurant, renowned for its Fado evenings, and O Leão, occupying a centuries-old typical village building.
Porches may be small and serene, but it packs a serious amount of class.