The Ultimate Algarve Solo Travel Guide [2023]

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Dreaming of Algarve solo travel along Portugal’s breathtaking southern coast? Who could blame you? I was desperate to visit the stunning coastal towns of Lagos, Faro, and Albufeira on a solo trip to Portugal, and I’m oh so glad I did!

The Algarve is a safe, sunny place where you can meet other backpackers and enjoy the most beautiful beaches in Portugal with their 300+ days of sunshine each year! It’s one of the best destinations in Europe for solo female travelers.

This travel guide covers everything I learned from my time alone in the Algarve including the best places to visit, exciting tours and things to do, as well as what to eat and the best places to stay. Ready? Let’s go!

PS: Wondering where to stay? There are tons of day trips from Faro that make this spot a great location to base your trip out of.

Solo traveler exploring Algarve's coast and giving a peace sign.

Is Algarve A Safe Place for Solo Travel?

The Algarve is a super safe spot for solo travelers. This coastal region in Portugal is a welcoming place and a popular destination for backpackers and digital nomads, so it’s easy to make new friends. There’s a relaxed local culture and the Portuguese people are kind and helpful.

Additionally, Portugal’s reputation as one of Europe’s safest countries, with remarkably low crime rates, provides a sense of security for solo travelers. In fact, Portugal consistently ranks among the top 10 most peaceful countries according to the Global Peace Index. Whether exploring picturesque coastal towns or stunning natural landscapes, solo travelers can enjoy the Algarve’s beauty without concern about any dangerous areas.

I never felt anything but safe when I was exploring this gorgeous region of Portugal.

Things to Do on A Solo Trip to Algarve

The Algarve was the perfect place to go recharge in between a solo trip to Madrid and more solo travel in Lisbon. From amazing beaches to charming coastal towns, the Algarve is teeming with exciting activities for solo travelers.

Whether you want to bask in the sun on pristine sandy shores, try out some adventurous water sports, or enjoy some delicious local cuisine, the Algarve promises an unforgettable vacation.

Beaches

The Algarve is home to some of the best beaches in Portugal, featuring golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and stunning coastal landscapes. The seaside towns here are as beautiful as the beaches in Laguna Beach, CA, one of my favorite places! (PS: If you ever get the chance to visit, make sure you check out the best snorkeling in Laguna Beach and the best Laguna Beach restaurants with a view.)

  1. Praia de Faro: Stretching across more than 5 kilometers, this Faro beach is beloved for its soft, golden sand and mesmerizing blue turquoise water.
  2. Praia Dona Ana: A picturesque beach in Lagos with breathtaking cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and golden sand. This beach was the highlight of my Algarve solo travel adventures!
  3. Praia da Rocha: Known for its lively atmosphere and boasts a wide array of restaurants and eateries conveniently located near the shore in Portimão.
  4. Praia do Vau: A beautiful beach nestled between Portimão’s dramatic cliffs, offering golden sand, clear blue waters, and a tranquil atmosphere for relaxation and enjoyment.
  5. Praia da Ilha de Tavira: A stunning beach accessible only by boat through the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve, offering a day of pure tranquility with its endless blue sea and pale sand.
Sunlight coming in through the opening in Benagil Cave, with tourists on kayaks below it.
The famous Benagil cave.

Sightseeing

Like Lisbon’s most Instagrammable places, the Algarve offers a diverse range of sightseeing opportunities for solo travelers. Explore historic towns and castles or discover breathtaking natural wonders and vibrant coastal landscapes.

  1. Faro‘s Cidade Velha (Old Town) invites you to wander through its narrow streets and explore the ancient city walls, while the Arco da Vila showcases impressive 1000-year-old stonework.
  2. Tavira, a charming town on the eastern coast, features pristine white houses in its town center and offers access to the beautiful Praia de Ilha de Tavira, a 12 km stretch of white sand beaches reachable by a short boat trip.
  3. Benagil Caves: The famous Benagil Caves, with their stunning rock formations and hidden beach, are a must-visit attraction. I enjoyed visiting the caves on a boat tour, but I have to admit, it was a little more crowded than I would’ve liked.
  4. Portimão‘s Fortaleza de Santa Catarina offers panoramic ocean views and a glimpse into the town’s historic fort.
  5. Sagres: A day trip to Sagres, a small town west of Lagos, allows you to experience the awe-inspiring Sagres Point and Cabo de São Vincente, where a lighthouse stands tall atop a 60-meter cliff, perfect for breathtaking sunsets.

MORE PORTUGAL SIGHTSEEING

The sightseeing doesn’t have to end in the Algarve! Check out a few of my favorite locations for even more exploration.

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

Watersports & Tours

Lagos is a great place to stay during your Algarve solo travel adventure if you’re seeking plenty of watersports and adventures.

  1. Kayak: A kayaking tour of Ponta da Piedade was by far my favorite thing I did in the Algarve. It was incredible to navigate through the stunning sea caves, towering rock formations, and crystal-clear waters. If you like to kayak, this is one of the best places in the world to do it!
  2. Surf: The Algarve is an excellent place to learn to surf thanks to its consistent waves, warm water, and a variety of surf schools that cater to all skill levels. Lagos is the best town for anyone wanting to take surf lessons.
  3. Boat Tours: There are plenty of scenic boat tours to take during a stay in the Algarve. You can explore Benagil Caves, scope for dolphins or even do a bit of both! My boat tour was focused on sea caves, but the highlight ended up being the schools of dolphins we were able to stop and watch.
View from above at Ponta da Piedade. A white sailboat crosses in front of the sandstone cliffs.
View from Ponta da Piedade.

Hiking

The Algarve is a coastal hiking paradise with some of the most beautiful trails in the whole world!

  1. Ponta da Piedade: Ponta da Piedade is a breathtaking natural wonder located on the southern coast of the Algarve. Its dramatic cliffs and rock formations create a mesmerizing landscape that attracts visitors from around the world. This is my favorite spot in the Algarve and I consider it a must-visit for any solo travelers looking to admire Portugal’s natural beauty. 
  2. Seven Hanging Valleys Trail: 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.
  3. Costa Vicentina: Discover the renowned Rota Vicentina, a network of picturesque walking routes in Alentejo and Algarve, Southern Portugal, 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.

Nightlife

Algarve nightlife is full of energetic atmospheres, vibrant beach clubs, bustling bars and clubs that party-going solo travelers will love.

In Albufeira, some of the best beach clubs are Club Vida, and Le Club, known for its beachfront location and fantastic DJ sets. When it comes to nightclubs, Kiss Club and Libertos Disco are popular choices, offering a mix of music genres and energetic crowds.

In Lagos, the renowned beach club NoSoloÁgua is a must-visit, featuring a stylish setting, live performances, and a vibrant ambiance. Another popular spot is Meo Spot, with a relaxed daytime atmosphere and a lively party scene after dark. For an underground vibe, Dona Ana 7 is a hidden gem known for its electronic music and intimate setting.

Festivals

The Algarve has several exciting music festivals and events throughout the year.

  1. FIESA International Sand Sculpture Festival: One of the most popular is the FIESA International Sand Sculpture Festival, held in Pêra, where visitors can admire impressive sand sculptures while enjoying live music performances.
  2. Algarve Smooth Jazz Festival: This festival brings together renowned jazz musicians from around the world for a series of captivating concerts in picturesque settings.
  3. BPM Portugal Festival: For electronic music enthusiasts, this Portimão event is a must-attend, featuring top DJs and immersive party experiences. Additionally, the
  4. Algarve Summer Festival: This festival in Faro showcases a mix of music genres, including rock, pop, and traditional Portuguese music, attracting both local and international artists.
Polvo a Lagareiro, Portuguese dish with octopus, potatoes, garlic, and olive oil
Polvo a Lagariero (octopus, potatoes, olive oil, and garlic)

Local Cuisine

When it comes to the local cuisine in the Algarve, get ready for a mouthwatering adventure filled with fresh seafood, unique sweets, and traditional dishes that will leave you craving more. Here’s what to eat in the Algarve:

  1. Cataplana de Marisco: The Portuguese take on paella, the darling of Spanish cuisine. I couldn’t get enough of this seafood dish that combines lobster, clams, squid, and other fresh ingredients, gently cooked with herbs, white wine, and tomatoes.
  2. Doces finos: You have to try these small marzipan treats shaped into fruits. With origins dating back to Moorish times, these candies are a source of great regional pride in the Algarve. For a primer on Moorish traditions, spend a day in Cordoba or visit the Alcazar, one of the most Instagrammable spots in Seville.
  3. Algarve Wine: The Algarve’s four wine regions in Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa, and Tavira boast distinct wine varieties, offering a unique range of wines to explore, thanks to the region’s abundant sunshine that allows for the production of refreshing whites and full-bodied reds.
  4. Polvo à Lagareiro: It doesn’t get better than this Portuguese delicacy featuring tender octopus drizzled with olive oil, roasted to perfection, and served with crispy potatoes and flavorful garlic. I highly recommend pairing this savory dish with a refreshing glass of vinho verde!
A gorgeous sunset over the white buildings and red tiled roofs of the Algarve coast.

When to Visit The Algarve

The best time to visit the Algarve is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is pleasant, and the tourist crowds are relatively smaller. My solo trip to the Algarve was in September and I thought the timing was perfect. It was still plenty hot and sunny.

However, if you want to fully enjoy the region’s beach culture during your Algarve solo travel, the peak tourist season from July to August provides the warmest weather and a lively atmosphere with bustling beach resorts and exciting nightlife.

The best time for surfing in the Algarve is during the autumn (September to November) and winter (December to February) months. In Portugal, the winter months of December, January and February bring powerful, consistent swells and larger waves, ideal for experienced surfers looking for a challenge.

The water temperature remains relatively mild during these months, ranging from around 59-64 degrees Fahrenheit (15-18 Celsius), meaning you’ll want to wear a wetsuit. Additionally, the reduced tourist crowds during the shoulder season make it easier to find uncrowded surf spots and enjoy the region’s waves to the fullest.

Check out my full guide to when to visit Portugal if you’re planning to visit other places in the country. My top recommendations? The incredible Porto miradouro viewpoints and traditional Santana Madeira houses belong on every Portugal bucket list!

How to Get Around The Algarve

Exploring the Algarve on your own can be easy or complicated depending on where you most want to visit. If you plan on going to areas off the beaten track you should look into a small group tour or a rental car. Otherwise, public transportation is reliable and affordable.

Getting to the Algarve

Solo travelers can choose between flying into the Faro International airport or arriving by train or bus. I chose to take the Flixbus from Seville to Lagos thanks to its affordability and non-stop service. Rideshare services like Uber are also readily available!

Bus & Train Travel

Once you’ve reached the Algarve, a great way to get around is by train or bus. The local trains will take you to the city centers. However, if you plan to do a lot of exploring or you’re short on time, you should rent a car. Many of the best coastal locations are far from the train and bus stops.

Renting A Car in Algarve

Car rental is available at the Faro airport and in all major towns around the region. Check out everything you need to know about renting a car in Portugal.

How to Meet People When Traveling Solo in Algarve

The easiest way to meet people when traveling solo through Algarve Portugal is to stay in a hostel. Most spots have social breakfasts and organized bar crawls each evening where you’ll be able to connect with others.

Solo female travelers can connect with others in the Lisbon Gone Girl Internation Facebook group and see who will be traveling in Algarve as well.

Selfie from the balcony of a hostel in Lagos.
Tip: Always use sunscreen in the Algarve. Even if you’re just lying out for 10 minutes. The sun here is intense!

Best Hostels for Solo Travellers in Algarve

For solo travelers seeking a fun and social atmosphere, or a relaxed getaway, the Algarve offers a range of exceptional hostels with welcoming and inclusive environments.

Bura Surfhouse (Lagos)

With plenty of surfing and yoga, this relaxed hostel is great for backpackers and solo travelers who want to lounge by an outdoor pool and participate in family dinners with locally-sourced ingredients.

Book your stay now!

Rising Cock Party Hostel (Lagos)

For a beach house experience like no other, complete with complimentary pub crawls, unforgettable beach parties, exhilarating booze cruises, and yummy breakfast creeps, there’s no better choice than Rising Cock! As Portugal’s original party hostel, the Cock is dedicated to creating positive experiences and unforgettable memories.

Book your stay now!

Orange Terrace Hostel (Albufeira)

Nestled in Albufeira’s picturesque Old Town, this hostel seamlessly combines comfort, convenience, and affordability. Have fun meeting people at their rooftop happy hours, full moon parties, sunset beach soirees, and cliff-jumping events.

Book your stay now!

Casa da Madalena (Faro)

Tucked away in the picturesque bay of Faro, Casa da Madalena is a charming hostel housed in a beautifully renovated Portuguese house. This cozy spot has private rooms and dorms, a communal kitchen, a boho-style living room, and a rooftop terrace boasting breathtaking vistas of the marina and the historic town.

Book your stay now!

Solo Travel Algarve FAQs

How many days is enough for Algarve?

Spend at least 2 full days in the Algarve. If you want to cover more than 2-3 towns in the region, plan to visit for 5-10 days.

Is the Algarve expensive?

Compared to other coastal cities in Europe, the Algarve is a very affordable destination. There are tons of cheap hostels, low-cost transportation and affordable restaurants.

Is Algarve safe for solo female travellers?

With a low crime rate, Algarve is one of the safest places in Europe for solo female travelers.

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Sydney

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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