Places To Visit (West)



Surprisingly, Ferragudo facing Portimão across the estuary has made relatively few concessions to tourism. It is centred on a strip of palm-fringed gardens that spread up to the cobbled main square, Praça Rainha Dona Leonor, which itself is dotted with cafés. The town faces the Rio Arade estuary, which is lined with fish restaurants and backed by a waterfront promenade. The old town spreads uphill behind here, a warren of atmospheric cobbled backstreets gathered around the town church; from its terrace, there are great views. The estuary has a town beach, which gets progressively more appealing as it approaches the impressive Castelo de São João do Arade, one of the only forts in Portugal that lies right on the coast. The fort, a partner to that in Praia da Rocha, was built in the sixteenth century to defend Portimão against attack.


Portimão is the second-largest town in the Algarve.  Sited on the estuary of the Rio Arade, it has made its living from fishing since pre-Roman times and today remains a sprawling port.  Most visitors are just here for a day’s shopping, taking time out from the full-blown resort of Praia da Rocha, 3km south of Portimão.

Portimão is fairly undistinguished – most of the older buildings were destroyed in the 1755 earthquake.  The encircling streets are pleasant enough, filled with shops selling lace, shoes, jewellery, ceramics and wicker goods; the main shopping streets are around the pedestrianized Rua Diogo Tomé and Rua da Portades de São José.

The most attractive part of town is the riverfront, where a series of squares are filled with outdoor cafés by gushing fountains. You’ll be approached by people offering boat trips along the coast to see the grottoes, while three-hour trips also go up the Rio Arade to Silves.  Heading up the river and under the road bridge you’ll find a series of open-air restaurants serving inexpensive grilled sardine lunches. The narrow streets just back from the bridge – off Largo da Barca – are Portimão’s oldest, with more than a hint of their fishing-quarter past.


The resorts immediately west of Praia da Rocha – Vau and Praia Três Irmãos – have good beaches but little else and it is better to push on to historic Alvor, 6km west of Praia da Rocha. The ancient port briefly achieved fame as the place where Dom João II died in 1495 and, though much of the town was razed in the 1755 earthquake, it still boasts a sixteenth-century Igreja Matriz with Manueline doors and pillars carved into fishing ropes and plants. Despite inevitable development, the old core around the church and the central Praça da República retains its character, while the harbour itself is a delight, lined with colourful fishing boats and aromatic fish restaurants.  The Praia de Alvor is an enormous beach backed by café-bars.


Just 20km west of Lagos, down a delightful semi-cultivated valley, Salema remains one of the most popular resorts along this stretch, certainly for independent travellers who have numerous accommodation options. The beachside promenade is cluttered with brightly coloured boats. The fairly homogeneous white splodge of property and villa construction spreads back up the valley, leaving the old village to the east of the harbour largely untouched. The beach – a wide, rock-sheltered bay – is magnificent: in winter, the sea comes crashing right up to the edge of the village.


Sagres and its wild and windswept cape, Cabo de São Vicente, were considered by the Portuguese as the far limit of the world. It was on these headlands in the fifteenth century that Prince Henry the Navigator made his residence and it was here, too, that he set up a school of navigation, gathering together the greatest astronomers, cartographers and adventurers of his age. Fernão de Magalhães (Magellan), Pedro Álvares Cabral and Vasco da Gama all studied at Sagres, and from the beach at Belixe – midway between Sagres and São Vicente – the first long caravels were launched, revolutionizing shipping with their adaptable sails and ability to sail close to the wind. Each year new expeditions were dispatched to penetrate a little further than their predecessors, and to resolve the great navigational enigma presented by the west coast of Africa, thereby laying the foundations of the country’s overseas empire.

Armação de Pêra

15km west of Albufeira, fronts one of the largest beaches in the Algarve, which spreads east all the way to Galé. High-rise buildings and property’s straggle along the town’s main through road, tempered only by the terraced gardens and cafés overlooking the central part of the sands. The remains of the town’s fortified walls are at the eastern end of the pedestrianized seafront road; a terrace in front of a little white chapel provides sweeping views.

To the west, the coast changes, boasting fine caves and strange rock formations around Praia da Senhora da Rocha, which can be visited on daily boat trips from the fishermen’s beach. The 10km or so of coast between here and Centianes is flat and scrubby, with a series of delightful cove beaches, including Praia da Albondeira and Praia da Marinha, which have somehow escaped any large-scale development. The other local attraction is 4km up the main N125 at Porches, where the most famous of the Algarve’s chunky and hand-painted pottery comes from; there are various shops along the main road which sell it.


Carvoeiro was a traditional, small fishing village surviving on the tuna catches but has, not surprisingly, become an incredibly popular resort with visitors and has developed to keep pace.   The centre of Carvoeiro isn’t very big and there are just two roads leading down into the town where they meet in a small square behind the beach.

The town beach, Praia do Carvoeiro is a beautifully sheltered sandy bay and spreads out just in front of the square with cliffs protecting it on either side. There are bars and cafés ideally placed around the square to still enjoy the view when you leave the beach.   The local fishermen also make use of their boats during the day to offer visitors the chance to take boat trips around the coastline and to see the caves.

The cliff tops around Carvoeiro offer plenty of scope for walking and some great views. You may also come across some ‘algares’ which are holes in the cliff where the sea has eaten it away from underneath – there are some near the lighthouse at Cabo de Carvoeiro – luckily, they are fenced around, and it just shows how fragile the cliffs can be.  The town beach is quite small but there are also some other lovely beaches within easy reach of the town, such as Praia da Marinha and Praia de Vale de Centianes.

Praia da Rocha

Praia da Rocha, the beach next to Portimão marina, is a bustling holiday resort in its own right. It became a tourist centre at the end of the 19th century, when it was the favoured summer resort of families from, not only Portimão, but also the rest of the Algarve and Andalusia; and in the winter with English visitors.

The beach itself is vast, even in the middle of summer there is always plenty of space. The avenue, Tomás Cabreira, which runs along the top of the beach, is full of restaurants, cafes, and shops and is particularly lively at night with a variety of bars, and clubs to choose from. At the end of the avenue is the Fortress of Santa Catarina de Ribamar, which was part of Portimão’s defences against corsairs and pirates. It was built in the 17th and 18th centuries and gives a wonderful view of the beach and the cliffs on one side and the marina on the other.


Lagos is one of the Algarve’s most attractive and historic towns, its centre enclosed in largely fourteenth-century walls at the mouth of the Ribeira de Bensafrim. It was from here that many of Portugal’s great explorers set off for the New World, including Gil Eanes, who was born here. In 1577, Lagos became the administrative capital of the Algarve, though much of the town was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake and Faro took over as capital in 1776. Lagos went into long decline, until tourism revived the town in the 1960s. Since then it has developed into a major resort – though it also remains a working fishing port and local market centre. For all its historical significance, Lagos’s main attraction is its proximity to some of the region’s best beaches. To the east is the long sweep of Meia Praia, while to the west – from Praia de Dona Ana to Porto do Mós – is an extraordinary network of coves, pierced by tunnels and grottoes and studded by weathered outcrops of rock. Popular boat trips run along the west coast all year round, while a popular side trip is inland to Lagos Zoo.

The coast west of Lagos, as far as Sagres, remains one of the least spoiled parts of the Algarve, largely thanks to the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina which prohibits large-scale building on the coastline west of Burgau. As a result, the resorts – certainly west of Luz at Burgau and Salema – remain largely low-rise and low-key.


Some 10km west of Lagos lies Burgau. The cobbled main street retains some charm, running right through the village and tumbling down past colourful fishing boats to a wide sweep of sand, backed by crumbling cliffs. In July and August, the village is somewhat mobbed, but at other times it retains a distinct character, with locals grilling fish on tiny grills outside their homes.

The West Coast

Unlike the southern stretches of the Algarve, the west coast, stretching north from Sagres to Odeceixe, is almost totally undeveloped. There are several reasons: the coast is exposed to strong Atlantic winds; the sea can be several degrees cooler than on the south coast; and swimming can be dangerous. In addition, the designation in 1995 of the stretch of coast from Burgau to Cabo de SãoVicente and up through the Alentejo as a nature reserve – the Parque Natural Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vincentina – largely protects this dramatic and rugged scenery from potentially harmful development. The nearest bases to the beaches are at the small village of Carrapateira or the livelier Aljezur and Odeceixe and, like Sagres, these resorts attract a predominantly young crowd of surfers and camper-vanners.


Discover More


Quinta De Barracuda offers a wide variety attractions and places of interest, all within a short travelling distance of the apartment.

City Sight Seeing

Getting Around

Taxis, cars and busses are never hard to come by if you don’t fancy driving.



From water parks to sea life centers, you’ll never be short of something to do.

Places to visit - West

Places to Visit (West)

Explore the cultural spots and experience Portugal at it’s best.

Places to visit - East

Places to Visit (East)

From bustling towns to sleepy fishing villages, there’s lots to explore.

Places to visit - Inland

Places to Visit (Inland)

Visit or medieval castle or relax and play some gold. Its all here!


Golf Courses

Play a game of golf on one of the many courses in the area.