Best things to do in the Algarve

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 18.06.2024

Soaking up nature on dazzling sunset cruises. Sampling world-class wine in scenic vineyards. Unleashing your inner adventurer on dolphin-watching excursions and boat trips to magical caves. It’s clear why Portugal’s awe-inspiring Algarve delivers for every kind of traveller – whether you want a family-oriented trip packed with piratical adventures, or fancy a spot of scenic romance. With that in mind, read our guide to the best things to do in the Algarve to discover the region’s top-rated tours and activities.

Benagil cave in Algarve © Fareharbor

Benagil Cave in the Algarve © The Algarve Activities

Be wowed by Benagil Cave

Surrounded by towering cliffs, and only accessible from the sea, beautiful Benagil Cave really is a place of magic.

Boasting a cathedral-like dome with a circular sunroof that streams beams of light onto its secret sandy beach, you can reach the cave by kayak or stand-up paddleboard. 

Better still, book an immersive two-hour boat trip to the cave and grottoes, or a full-day catamaran Cruise from Portimão.

After passing the pretty fishing village of Ferragudo, you’ll sail east to Benagil before boarding a small dinghy to access the grottoes. Once you’ve taken in its majesty, you’ll head to a beautiful beach for a BBQ lunch, with time to relax and bathe in blissful waters.

Olhao aerial view in Formosa Estuary, Algarve, Portugal © Shutterstock

Olhão aerial view in Formosa Estuary, Algarve, Portugal © The Algarve Activities

Relish the natural wonders of Ria Formosa Natural Park

Encompassing a labyrinth of lagoons, dunes, marshes and beaches along 60km of the Algarve Coast, Ria Formosa Natural Park is an absolute must-visit. Protected from the sea by barrier islands that shift shape with the tides, the park is also protected as one of the world’s most significant wetlands. 

To experience Ria Formosa Natural Park’s riches in a single afternoon, book an immersive two-island boat trip. With its sweeping dunes and shimmering waters, your first stop – uninhabited Ilha Deserta – showcases the park’s wilder side, while charming Ilha do Farol boasts some of the region’s best beaches, which is really saying something. 

Farol island in Formosa Estuary, Algarve, Portugal © Shutterstock

Farol island in Formosa Estuary, Algarve, Portugal © The Algarve Activities

Alternatively, if you have more time, take a boat trip that takes in four fabulous Ria Formosa islands. Departing from Olhão, this spellbinding experience begins with Farol and Deserta, followed by a longer stop on Culatra island. 

Blessed with beautiful beaches and an alluring untouched vibe, you’ll enjoy lunch in the scenic fishing village of Culatra before sailing to peaceful, pristine, car-free Armona. Resplendent with rustic charm, and lapped by clear, calm waters, it’s the kind of charmer you really won’t want to leave.

Travelling as a couple? To experience Ria Formosa in sublimely romantic style, take a sunset tour. After stopping on Deserta and Farol, you’ll witness a blaze of dazzling sundown shades to the tune of birdsong and gently lapping waves. 

Wine tour in Algarve © Fareharbor

Wine tour in the Algarve © The Algarve Activities

Savour world-class wine in stunning surroundings

Another unmissable activity around these parts is sampling the Algarve’s celebrated wine while soaking up spectacular scenery.

For the ultimate experience of exactly that, take an enriching half-day wine-tasting excursion to Quinta do Canhoto estate. After traversing hills, valleys, villages and fragrant orange groves, you’ll sample local wines, cheeses, hams and jams.

Short on time but big on the finer things in life? Take a premium vineyard tour and tasting tour of Morgado do Quintão. Founded by the Count of Silves in the 1880s, this estate is an exquisite place to discover local heritage while savouring divine wines and artisanal cheese and charcuterie.

For the ultimate blend of local wine, cuisine and culture, take a wine and music tour. You’ll explore Monte de Salicos Winery before tasting four fine wines perfectly paired with local tapas specialties and live music. 


Algarve dolphing watching © Fareharbor

Algarve dolphin-watching © The Algarve Activities

Dive into exhilarating dolphin-watching excursions

When it comes to Algarve activities that are sure to satisfy all ages, it doesn’t get better than boarding a boat to watch dolphins in the wild.

The most commonly sighted species is – appropriately enough – the common dolphin. Renowned for being an especially sociable cetacean, you’re likely to see playful pods gliding alongside your boat, quite possibly riding the bow wave.

Staying near Sagres? Take an exhilarating sea exploration excursion in the company of an expert marine biologist. The trip also includes a thrilling close-to-shore ride to see the region’s spectacular cliffs, caves and beaches.

Alternatively, if you’re based closer to Lagos, embark on an open-sea dolphin-watching trip from Marina de Lagos. With a 97% chance of seeing common dolphins, you might also see bottlenose dolphins, minke whales and sea turtles.

Ponta da Piedade in Algarve © Fareharbor

Ponta da Piedade in the Algarve © The Algarve Activities

Explore Ponta da Piedade’s glorious grottos and caves

Located along the Algarve’s southwestern coast, a few kilometres south of Lagos, Ponta da Piedade is famed for spectacular rock formations that have been sculpted by sea and wind over millennia. 

We’re talking dramatic limestone cliffs, secret caves, sea arches and grottoes, best explored on a boat trip that glides through sparkling turquoise waters before winding through hidden tunnels.

With many excursions done aboard vessels that are specially designed to access the smallest of grottoes, you’ll pass plenty of picturesque coves and beaches en route.

You could also take a longer trip that offers opportunities to snorkel and bliss out on said beaches alongside touring the caves. 

Dolphin watching in Algarve © Fareharbor

Dolphin-watching in the Algarve © The Algarve Activities

Combine the magic of Benagil Cave with dolphin-watching

Blending two of the Algarve’s most magical experiences, we can’t recommend combining a visit to Benagil Cave with dolphin watching more highly, not least if you’re hoping to keep young explorers happy.

Travelling with very young children? Take a boat trip along the coast on a spacious, comfy vessel from Albufeira Marina to Carvoeiro beach. From here you’ll voyage to nearby Benagil, with dolphin-spotting magic delivered on the return journey. 

Or, for a more exhilarating ride, join a cave and dolphin discovery trip on a speedboat from Alvor or Praia da Rocha. Be sure to bring your swimsuit to enjoy a dip in the sea alongside spotting dolphins and exploring the caves. 

Benagil cave tour in Algarve © Fareharbor

Benagil cave boat tour in the Algarve © The Algarve Activities

So, there we have it – top-rated tours and activities that’ll see you experiencing the best of the Algarve in romantic, thrilling or cultured style. Like we said at the start, one of the joys of this unique part of the world is how it delivers for every kind of traveller, with stacks of immersive, easy-to-book excursions on hand to make your trip all the more memorable.

This article was brought to you in sponsorship with The Algarve Activities.

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 18.06.2024

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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