The coastline of the Algarve is one of the most beautiful in the world. It also is home to some lovely little fishing villages.
Some of these have succumbed to tourism to some extent and have changed to cater for this but many of them retain their small fisherman village charm and make lovely little places to visit, that provide more of a true representation of Portuguese village lives, than the usual tourist hotspots.
Here are our top 10 fishing villages of the Algarve region:
This is a lovely little fishing town to the south of the Algarve region. It is a relatively new town compared to some in the Algarve region and as such may, for some, lack the historical architecture that other areas will provide.
It does, however, provide a beautiful waterfront with a busy harbour. It is also full of cobbled streets and the Bairro dos Pescadores (the fishermen district) is well worth a visit for its whitewashed, uniquely cubic houses. It is very near the stunning waterways and lagoons of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. There are also sandbar islands Ilha da Armona and Ilha da Culatra to the south of the town, which are well worth the little ferry ride!
From Mondays to Saturdays there is a fish and fresh produce market (Mercados de Olhao) which is a covered market situated in a Neo – Arabic building, hinting at the Moorish past of the Algarve region.
A lovely little town and easy to visit with it being served by the Algarve regional railway.
This former fishing village is now more of a resort town and has become more and more popular with tourists over recent years.
It sits on the banks of the Ria de Alvor Estuary (you’ll often see fishing boats moored along the banks of the river) and also has its beach – Praia do Alvor – to the south, which is one of the largest sandy beaches within the Algarve region.
It features beautiful traditional whitewashed houses and narrow cobbled streets, as well as catering for tourists with a nice selection of shops, restaurants (especially if you like seafood) and a few late-night bars.
There are also the Passadicos de Alvor – a selection of raised walkways that pass through protected areas of natural beauty within the Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve.
This is a little village situated near Bispo in the Algarve. Historically a fishing village, it has now become a somewhat popular tourist spot.
Like many fishing villages, it also features cobbled streets and blue-trimmed, whitewashed fisherman’s cottages.
This village is located within the Costa Vincentina Natural Park, a protected area of natural beauty, with some stunning walks!
There are weekly fresh fish and produce markets.
While it has become more popular with tourists in recent times, it does cater more to singles, couples and families and as such doesn’t have much of a night-time scene. The good news about that is no night-time rowdiness!
There is also a fantastic half-mile-long beach that even has dinosaur footprints!
This town and former civil parish is located in the Lagoa region of the Algarve. It is a picturesque, traditional fishing town, slowly becoming a tourist spot.
It is a good spot for people looking for a quieter location, that is still near some thrill-seeking experiences with its close proximity to the waterparks Zoomarine and Slide and Splash.
It has a lovely beach – Praia de Carvoeiro. There is also an option to take a short ferry trip the Benagil caves and the hidden beaches there too.
An amazing activity to take part in is the Carvoeiro boardwalk. A fantastic clifftop walk along wooden walkways, it provides incredible coastline views! It can be easily walked in only 10 minutes, but most visitors usually take longer – admiring the incredible scenery and views along the way. The wooden walkway means it is accessible for all the family!
Praia de Luz
This lovely fishing village, only 5km from Lagos, is a lovely option for tourists. It sits around a stunning sandy bay and is a welcoming, family-friendly village.
It features two lovely beaches, the second of which Praia Prahina to the west is a much quieter option than the villages main beach. There are options to rent Ringos (€12 for 15 minutes) and kayaks (€10 per hour). There is also a surf school and rental shop in the village (Luz Surf Village) as while the waves are not popular with more established surfers, they are good for learners!
There is also the stunning Rocha Negra headland – formed after the volcano of 1755. There are many hiking trails atop that provide a lovely way to immerse yourself in nature and get some incredible coastal views.
This fishing village is situated to the west of the Algarve between Lagos and Sagres. Until recently it had been mostly undiscovered by tourists.
It is almost divided into two separate villages, with the old village being full of traditional cobbled streets and the whitewashed fishermen’s cottages and the newer area becoming more tourist-focused, with hotels, restaurants etc.
It does have a lovely beach, that provides a good opportunity for rock-pooling but best to check the tide before you go as at high tide, the majority of the beach disappears underwater. It is a good reason for checking out one of the beachside seafood restaurants, however!
The bustling city of Lagos is only 20minutes away, so Burgao also makes a good option if you’re based in Lagos and looking to explore surrounding towns and villages.
This was one of the first of the little fishing towns to be developed into a tourist resort within the Algarve region.
It features a nice beach – Praia de Quarteira. The surrounding area was heavily hit by tourism during the 70s and as such several high rise tourist hotels were developed, which does sadly take away from the original small-town quaintness, this town once had.
However, in a bid to attract more tourists again, the promenade, Avenida Infante de Sagres, has had a bit of an upgrade in recent years. There is a lovely selection of seafood restaurants and fish markets, as well as the colourful fishing harbour that certainly draws visitors in.
Quarteira is also only a short 15-minute walk to Vilamoura, where there are a variety of boat tours on offer to tourists, as well as the option the go on a dolphin watching tour!
This attractive little fishing village sits at the Rio Arade estuary. It is one commonly overlooked by tourists and as such has avoided any big developments like some of the others on this list have been subjected to and is often classed as a little hidden gem, situated across the water from Praia da Rocha.
The main square, Praca Rainha Dona Leonor, has some lovely little traditionally Portuguese cafes and restaurants.
The cobbled streets and whitewashed fishermen cottages of the old village rise up towards the Ferragudo’s church, which sits upon a cliff overlooking the Arade river and provides amazing views across to Portimão and Praia da Rocha. Its outside features Baroque styling – typical of many churches in the Algarve region. Its interior features Rococo style altarpieces. The church also has a lovely garden, with lots of benches, if you need a rest or just somewhere to sit and take in the incredible coastal views!
This small city, in the eastern Algarve, is situated on the Giläo River, near the Ria Formosa Natural Park. It is full of cobbled streets, tiled houses and family-run restaurants.
Architecturally, it is often referred to as the Venice of the Algarve, with its incredible seven-arched Roman bridge, stunning Renaissance architecture and beautiful tree-lined squares.
While here, a visit to the ruins of the medieval Tavira Castle is definitely worth it! There are some beautifully maintained gardens to wander around and you can also climb to the top of the walls and get incredible views over Tavira, and the nearby Parque Natural da Ria.
A short ferry ride from the town centre is the Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island), where Tavira’s stunning beaches are located.
Sagres sits just a few kilometres from Europe’s most south western point – Cape St. Vincent. It has a lovely remote feel and hasn’t been overdeveloped into a tourist hotspot like many other areas of the Algarve!
Sadly, a lot of the historical architecture was destroyed due to the volcano of 1755. There is however Henry the Navigator’s Fortaleza to the north of the town. He played an important part in Portugal’snavigational discoveries and this is well worth a visit!
There is also a 15th century Renaissance style church, Nossa Senhora da Graça, as well as the Rosa dos Ventos – a pebble wind compass discovered in 1921 under the remnants of the old church of Santa Maria.
There is no shortage of beaches in the Sagres area – it has 5, with the main beach Praia da Mareta being only 5 minutes from the centre and featuring a mix of sand and pebbles.
As shown, the fishing heritage within the Algarve region is strong, with a lot of these little fishing villages/towns dotted around.
Some have succumbed to the demands of tourism more than others, so which to visit, entirely depends on you and what you’re looking for. We do hope that regardless of where you do decide to visit, this list does provide you with a good base from which to think about exploring some of these traditional fishing villages, less travelled by tourists.
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