The 23 Best Hidden Gems in Algarve, Portugal (2024)

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Ready to discover some epic Algarve hidden gems? You’re in the right place!

Welcome to the Algarve, a region in the South of Portugal known for its stunning beaches, picturesque cliffs, and warm Mediterranean climate. However, beyond the popular tourist spots lie dozens of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

While many people head straight to the well-known resorts of Albufeira, Faro, and Lagos, there are countless lesser-known attractions scattered throughout this charming region that you’ll definitely regret missing!

Forget about crowded beaches and overpriced tourist traps. This guide will take you off the beaten path to some of the Algarve’s best-kept secrets. From relaxing thermal springs to jaw-dropping coastal trails, and historical marvels you won’t find anywhere else!

algarve hidden rock formations

The Best Algarve Hidden Gems

The Algarve is a popular destination with amazing rock formations like Ponta da Piedade. After you hit these spots, it’s time to uncover the Algarve’s hidden gems! 

The best way to explore this region’s rich history and natural beauty is to explore multiple Algarve towns on your trip. This is exactly what I did on my Algarve solo travel adventure with a couple different Faro day trips. This was such a great way to uncover the crystal clear water, pristine beaches and medieval castles tucked away in each small village along the Algarve coast.

Costa Vicentina Natural Park

Vicentine Coast

Experience one of the Algarve’s most Instagrammable places at Rota Vicentina, a network of picturesque walking routes in the Algarve and Alentejo region, including the acclaimed Fishermen’s Trail and Historical Way, known for their breathtaking beauty.

The Fishermen’s Trail is a multi-day hike covering over 220 kilometers across the enchanting Costa Vicentina in 13 sections. For a day hike, explore the area’s circular routes like The Dunes of Almograve.

Silves Moorish Castle

silves moorish castle

Silves, a charming town steeped in history, is an hour’s drive from Faro in the central Algarve. Famous for its well-preserved Moorish castle with red sandstone walls, Silves is a great fit for history lovers.

Wander around the narrow, cobbled streets, soak in the town’s medieval ambiance, or visit the Silves Cathedral, a former mosque, current national monument, and impressive example of Gothic architecture. A ticket for the Silves Castle costs under three euros, a total bargain.

Faro Bone Church

church of bones in faro

Carve out some space in your itinerary for a visit to a site you won’t find anywhere else in the Algarve: the Capela dos Ossos, otherwise known as the Bone Chapel of Faro. This small chapel features an interior dressed entirely in human bones, featuring the skeletal remains of over 1,200 monks.

PS: Wondering if Faro is worth visiting? Here are 23 pros and cons to help you decide!

Burgau Village

burgau village in algarve

White houses with blue doors and bougainvillea spilling over the walls, it’s easy to see why this coastal town is referred to as the ‘Santorini of Portugal’ and one of the best Algarve Instagram spots!

With small fishing boats in an array of colors, clear turquoise waters, and a quaint, small fishing village vibe, this entire town is one big photoshoot waiting to happen.

READ NEXT: Instagrammable Lisbon: 37 Best Photo Spots with Map (+Sintra!)

Praia da Falésia

Praia da Falésia is a stunning stretch of beach located near Albufeira in the Algarve. Known for its impressive red and orange cliffs that contrast beautifully with the deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean, it’s definitely a unique place as well as one of the most Instagrammable spots in Portugal.

Seven Hanging Valleys

seven hanging valleys

Portugal’s best coastal hike, offering breathtaking views of turquoise waters, hidden caves, secluded beaches, and remarkable rock formations. Start at Carvoeiro boardwalk, explore the stunning Algar Seco sea caves, and make sure to visit the iconic Benagil Cave, accessible only by boat or kayak. Discover the beauty of this extraordinary trail and immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the Algarve coastline.

Ria Formosa

flamingos in ria formosa near faro

If you’re in Faro, you absolutely have to check out Ria Formosa, one of the seven natural wonders of Portugal! This stunning natural reserve has tons of secluded islands and wildlife to explore.

If you’re a birdwatcher, you’re in for a treat. Ria Formosa is a nesting ground for migratory birds like flamingos, cranes, and egrets.

Up for a little adventure? Hike the Ludo Trail and keep an eye out for wildlife in the saltwater swamps. You can also book a day tour to the nearby islands, go kayaking, or take a catamaran trip to get up close and personal with the diverse wildlife in this amazing area.

Pego do Inferno

Pego do Inferno

Near Tavira and the Spanish border, in the quaint historic village of Santo Estêvão, you’ll find the breathtaking Pego do Inferno waterfall. This hidden gem in the Algarve is a stunning sight to behold with its serene, deep green pond and lush, tree-lined surroundings.

It’s a bit of a trek to get there so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. For the best experience, plan to arrive around 10 AM to avoid the midday crowd!

Monchique Thermal Springs

caldas da monchique

If you’re a fan of wellness retreats or just need a little rest and relaxation, the spa town of Caldas de Monchique is the place to be, with its rejuvenating spring baths providing the ultimate relaxation experience. There’s also plenty of hiking and biking through the lush landscapes nearby. Don’t miss the climb up Mount Foia or Picota for breathtaking views of the town below.

READ NEXT: The 17 Best Beaches in Cascais, Portugal


Have you heard of Zoomarine? Considered one of Europe’s best marine parks, this is a great spot for family fun and learning. Catch exciting dolphin shows, get your adrenaline pumping on some thrilling water rides, and explore engaging exhibits that teach you about marine life conservation in a hands-on way. The park also offers opportunities for up-close encounters with sea creatures!

Cacela Velha


Located in the eastern part of the Algarve, Cacela Velha is a charming, picturesque village that will give you a fascinating glimpse into Portugal’s storied past. Known for its whitewashed houses and stunning views of the Ria Formosa lagoon, this hidden gem is perfect for anyone who wants to get off the beaten path and away from busy tourist hotspots. The village’s 13th-century fortress and ancient church are its must-see landmarks!


ferragundo marina

Located near Portimão, Ferragudo is a charming fishermen’s village and one of the most beautiful Algarve towns. The whole place feels like a timeless postcard!

With its narrow streets, whitewashed houses adorned with blooming bougainvillaea, and colorful flower pots, Ferragundo is irresistibly photogenic.

For the best photos, stroll through the village in the late afternoon when the golden hour light casts a magical glow. Don’t forget to cross the bridge to capture the fishing boats against the picturesque backdrop of Ferragudo’s iconic white houses.

Praia Verde in Castro Marim

praia verde

Castro Marim’s Praia Verde is a relaxing beach known for its emerald green waters and wide, sandy shores. Lined with  pine trees, this hidden beach has the perfect blend of beachside beauty and evergreen tranquility.

READ NEXT: Lisbon Itinerary: 4 Dreamy Days in the City of 7 Hills

Ilha de Tavira

ilha de tavira beach

Ilha de Tavira is a beautiful desert island located just off the coast of Tavira and is easily accessible by ferry. Known for its pristine, sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters, it’s a popular spot for sunbathing and swimming. You’ll love the island’s flowing sand dunes and unique flora.

Algar Seco

Algar Seco sea caves

No trip to the Algarve is complete without checking out the Algar Seco! Formed over thousands of years by the relentless force of the Atlantic waves, this network of caves and captivating rock formations includes natural pools, sea caves, and unique photo opps.

Don’t miss the famous viewpoint, A Boneca, where the limestone parts like a window with the perfect ocean view!

Praia dos Três Irmãos

Praia dos Três Irmãos cave

Praia dos Tres Irmaos is another of the Algarve’s beautiful beaches. A large, sandy beach, it’s typically less crowded than others. Make sure to explore, because there are also several caves, an arch, and interesting rock formations that make a great place for framing and posing for any photos.


loule marketplace

Take a break from the beach and take a day trip to Loulé to discover the historical and cultural treasures of inland Algarve. With its Moorish castle, narrow medieval streets bustling with craft workshops, and the renowned covered market, Loulé offers a glimpse of authentic Portuguese daily life.

READ NEXT: The Ultimate Algarve Solo Travel Guide

Alvor Secret Caves

Kayaks lying on the beach of a sea cave in Ponta da Piedade.

While the Benagil Cave is one of the Algarve’s most well-known attractions, it’s not the only sea cave worth exploring, and might not even be the best one! With the crowds at Benagil growing and restrictions impending, you might want to consider exploring some of the other sea caves. After all, there are hundreds throughout the Algarve!

Along Alvor’s shoreline, near Praia de Boião, there are some fantastic hidden caves. Unlike Benagil, you’ll often need to snorkel your way into these caves, as boating or kayaking isn’t always an option. Additionally, some of these caves host unique marine life, making your snorkeling adventure even more exciting.

Estoi Roman Ruins

pousado estoi

Located in the charming village of Estoi, two remarkable, and very different, ruins offer a glimpse into the past. The Roman Ruins of Milreu feature a remarkable look at ancient history with well-preserved ruins that date back to the 1st and 2nd centuries, featuring impressive mosaics and remnants of Roman architecture.

Next, stop at the renovated Pousada de Estoi, now a luxury hotel, to admire the 18th-century palace or book a stay to enjoy their Turkish baths and spa!

Hidden Beaches in Algarve

With over 300+ days of sunshine a year, the South of Portugal is an incredible place to visit. While you can’t exactly swim in the Algarve in winter, you can still enjoy the stunning beaches and amazing monuments.

No matter when you plan your trip, you can’t miss these world-class beaches. Here are a few hidden beaches that you should add to your Algarve bucket list!

Praia dos Piratas

praia piratos

Praia dos Piratas is a secret gem that’s perfect for adventure seekers. (But note that it’s not ideal for swimming due to the rocky landscape.) Most tourists overlook this small beach, but that would be a mistake! This beach is endlessly charming.

At the beach entrance, you’ll find a human-shaped figure carved into the rocks- this is how you enter! A short, steep path through the coastal cliffs will lead you down to the beach, but be sure you only visit during low tide.

Boneca Beach

boneca beach

Boneca Beach, meaning “Doll Beach,” is an idyllic spot in Lagos that’s connected to the stunning Praia do Camilo. Its unique name comes from a rock formation that looks like a doll. The beach features a narrow strand of sand that almost vanishes during high tide.

Hemmed in by cliffs and an imposing islet just 50 meters offshore, the best thing about Boneca Beach is its natural wind barrier. While it’s mainly accessible by sea, adventurous visitors can reach it from Camilo Beach during low tide.

Cao Raivoso Beach

Praia do Cao Raivoso is a stunning, secluded spot on the Algarve’s southernmost tip. This beach is strikingly beautiful, flanked by massive cliffs on either side, with a sandy stretch nestled in between. What sets this beach apart is its exclusivity: there’s no way to get there by foot or car. The only access is by sea, so you’ll need to swim from a nearby beach or rent a boat or kayak to enjoy this Algarve hidden gem.

Algarve Hidden Gem Restaurants

The Garden

lagos beer garden

Surrounded by plants, this fabulous beer garden in Lagos is an amazing spot to lounge with a beer or cocktail on a sunny afternoon. The backyard is filled with colorful cushions, tree lights, and bohemian decor. As well as drinks, they offer snacks like bruschetta and hummus plus main courses with meat, fish and salad.

O Quinto Império

octopus and harissa salad

Portimão’s O Quinto Império is a great spot in a local neighborhood with authentic Algarve recipes. This restaurant has fair prices and fantastic service. I highly recommend trying the octopus here, cooked to perfection with local herbs and spices! The Algarve’s proximity to the sea means that the octopus and seafood dishes are as fresh and tender as can be.

Casinha do Petisco

exploring portuguese wine regions is one of the best things to do alone in Lisbon

I stumbled upon Casinha do Petisco while exploring Lagos on a particularly hot September day. This charming little cafe was the perfect place to stop in and cool off with a glass of vinho verde, a light and slightly spritzy Portuguese wine. I also tried the cataplana here, a traditional Algarve seafood stew cooked in a distinctive copper pot. The dish was bursting with fresh flavors; a must-try when you’re visiting the region!

algarve hidden gems pin



Sydney is a solo travel expert who’s extensively explored Spain, Portugal, Morocco, California, and more! She creates travel guides and itineraries to share everything she's learned about the Iberian peninsula through personal experience and exploration.

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