The windward West Algarve coast has a rockier more dramatic coastline than the east. Around Lagos and further west to Sagres and the western tip Cabo de Sao Vincente the coast gets wilder. Base yourself at either Sagres or Lagos for a choice of Algarve surf schools and superb surfing beaches. The west Algarve is where the active head, there's a choice of outdoor activities here including moutain biking around the Serra de Monchique mountaintains, surfing around Sagres and upto Carrapateira, boat trips and dolphin watching from Portimao Marina and horse riding, windsurfing, kitesurfing and trekking around both Silves and Lagos.
For bustling West Algarve resort territory, Praia da Rocha with its stunning endless sandy beach (one of the best on the Algarve) offers a choice of watersports and boat trips as well as great nightlife and a casino. Sample the chic shops in Portimao centre, visit historic Silves with its choice of museums and famous castle, hop inland to beautiful natural spa centre Monchique or head to bohemian jewel Lagos for surfing, great beaches, historic sites and a bustling marina. Pretty fishing villages and nearby dramatic rock formations are to be found in the Carvoeiro and Ferragudo area.
Gentle pretty Algarve fishing villages are on the menu on the Centre West Algarve coast, alongside dramatic rock formations and caves at Algar Seco (a boat trip from Portimao to view these is not to be missed!).
Once a small fishing village on the West Algarve Coast, Carvoeiro manages to retain some of its fishing village character certainly. Fishing boats still dot the beach bay here at one of the prettiest small resorts on the Algarve. Ideal for quieter family holidays on the Algarve, Carvoeiro offers a choice of sublime Algarve beaches in its surrounds. The distinctive windward West Algarve coast with its dramatic rock formations reaches peak effect at Algar Seco near Carvoeiro.
Historic Silves slightly inland from Portimao was once on a par with Lisbon as a strategic Portuguese location. Silves Castle reveals some of the details around its history as an important Moorish capital, particularly from the 11th the 13th Century. A huge red sandstone castle, a choice of historic museums including the renowned Museum of Cork, a mix of chic cafes, restaurants and bars and local golf and horse riding are a few things you can expect in beautiful Silves.
Lagoa, just inland up from pretty Carvoeiro its coastal neighbour, is renowned as the Algarve's hub for wine production. The Adega Co-operativa still operates and can be found on the Portimao road. Visit for tours in the summer only.
Portimao, the Algarve's second largest city (designated a city in 1924) after Faro, manages to combine being a true Portuguese commercial and industrial base with bustling tourist attractions and superb local Algarve beaches rather well. It feels like a mini city as you drive in, it's the Algarves main fishing port and both the fishing industry and tourist fishing trips thrive here. You've a choice of devine Algarve beaches around Portimao, including one of the best beaches on the Algarve - Praia da Rocha.
Historic buildings and stylish architecture, including numerous art nouveau designs - a legacy of Portimao's 1920s boom years, sit with chic shops in Portimao's centre and you can hook into numerous boat trips either up the River Alvor to Silves or along the dramatic coastline upto Algar Seco east or towards Lagos west. Portimao also benefits from a developing new marina offering a choice of more chic restaurants, bars and shops.
The huge expanse of golden sands that make up Praia Da Rocha, one of the Algarve's most popular bustling beaches, pulls in the holiday crowds in peak season. You're in Algarve top beach resort territory here at Praia Da Rocha with everything from windsurfing, horse riding and numerous boat trip excursions all close to hand. Praia da Rocha nightlife is one of the liveliest on the Algarve, with a choice of discos and bars, plus a casino with nightly shows in peak summer season.
Just 24km north and inland from Portimao sits the rural natural spa retreat of Caldas de Monchique and the village of Monchique high in the Serra De Monchique mountains. The landscape is simply stunning up here, and around the spa village of Caldas de Monchique there are numerous walking trails.
Caldas de Monchique has a history as a spa retreat - natural spa waters bubble up here. They bottle it now as well. The sublime woodlands of the Serra De Monchique are a mix of sweet chestnut, cork oak and arbutus as well as mimosa, pine and eucalyptus. The air is crystal clear up here and it smells beautiful!
Beautiful Lagos is a highlight on the Algarve. You'd be hard pushed to find something that didn't please here, crammed as Lagos is with a stunning choice of beach bays and a host of historic buildings and monuments.
Lagos was a central trading and launchpad during the boom Portuguese Century of Discovery from the early 15th century - Henry the Navigator used Lagos as headquarters for his many exploring expeditions, and locally born Gill Eanes, another of Portugal's famous explorers, departed from Lagos on numerous trips.
Other delights awaiting in Lagos (pronouced la-goosh) are a selection of lazy cafe bars and chic shops to die for, a bustling fish market, boat trips from its busy harbour, a stroll along the waterfront promenade and a range of stylish low rise accommodation to boot!
It's a jewel on the Algarve. You've a bohemian edge here in Lagos, as from here west to Sagres and up the coast to stunning Carrapateira you're in surfer territory. Backpackers and surfers head to Lagos and the Windward Coast in their droves - the nightlife in Lagos is second to none! Plenty to please both families and couples here in Lagos too (Luz just outside of Lagos is also a popular Algarve West family base).