There’s plenty more to Portugal’s Algarve than its internationally acclaimed golf and leisure resorts. Head west for a more traditional lifestyle and glorious untouched beaches…
Location and landscape
Stretching westwards from the pretty fishing town of Carvoeiro as far as Portugal’s most south-westerly point at Sagres, the Western Algarve is the most rugged and – many would say – scenic stretch of this famous 150-kilometre coastline. The resorts are smaller and less touristy than those in the livelier central part of the Algarve and pristine Golden Triangle area, offering a more Portuguese feel.
Typical beaches there are cosy sandy coves overlooked by low cliffs, with the coastline getting especially wild and unspoilt west of Praia da Luz. An exception is the glorious sweeping beach (Meia Praia) that runs around Lagos Bay as far as the Alvor river estuary. A natural highlight of the area, the estuary is home to a protected wetlands park – look out for the flamingos! Either side of this estuary are the port towns of Lagos and Portimão.
Notable buying spots
Historic Lagos is a focal point with its whitewashed buildings, bustling cobbled streets and extensive amenities, including its famous market. Built on an estuary, the town’s west bank has a promenade looking across the river to its ancient fishing port and top-notch marina. There’s plenty of choice for buyers who want to be within a 10-minute drive of the lively town-centre, a picture perfect beach and golf course.
East of Lagos is the pretty fishing village of Alvor before you reach Portimão. Another charming old town, located on an estuary and famous for its sardine festival, Portimão has a historic centre, lively waterfront and a world-class marina development, which caters for super yachts. Nearby Praia da Rocha beach, with its fashionable prom fringed with al fresco restaurants and round-the-clock bars, is a popular buying spot.
Across the estuary from Portimão and overlooking the beaches of Praia Grande and Praia Angrinha is the pretty fishing village of Ferragudo, another desirable spot. Five minutes’ drive east past a string of small coves is the picturesque beach and fishing town of Carvoeiro. For those who prefer to be inland a bit, the old town of Silves never disappoints. Meanwhile, just west of Lagos is the low-rise family friendly resort Praia da Luz, after which the coastline is relatively undeveloped but includes the sleepy fishing villages of Burgau and Sagres.
The Western Algarve is heaven for those looking for a laid-back, traditional Portuguese lifestyle, without the more international feel of the larger tourist spots further east. While Lagos and Portimão are cosmopolitan and boast excellent shopping, restaurants and nightlife, they closely guard their authenticity and fishing heritage.
Outside of the resorts, there are endless unspoilt beaches to enjoy, while more energetic types have fantastic coastal scenery and trails to explore, or while away days fishing, sailing and doing water sports. For those wishing to really escape the crowds and embrace the wild outdoors, there is the Sagres area, also said to have the best sunsets in the world.
And because it’s the Algarve, you’re never far from a quality fairway. Notable courses and resorts include the Boavista Golf and Spa resort on the edge of Lagos and the Penina Hotel & Golf Resort, with its three courses, including the Algarve’s first ever 18-hole championship course, near Portimão. Not forgetting the collection of Pestana golf courses and developments in the area, including Gramacho, Alto and Vale da Pinta.
All budgets are catered for. At the top end of the market, large luxury apartments in prime developments in Lagos and Portimão start typically from €500k and upscale villas are €1m upwards. But for well-located modern apartments in urban areas, expect to spend €200k-€400k. Or for a resale two-bed tourist apartment near the beach or on a golf resort, budget from around €150k.
A budget of €400k-€500k will give lots of choice for a resale family villa with private pool, located on the edge of a resort or within 10 minutes of downtown Lagos or Portimão, or €200k-€350k for a townhouse.
Faro Airport in the central Algarve is the main gateway to the area. As a guide, the transfer time to Portimão is 45-55 minutes and around an hour to Lagos.
Written by Overseas Guides Company.
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