Set slightly inland on the Alvor River (Rio Alvor), between Lagos and Portimão is the fishing village of Alvor.
Alvor has developed in recent decades, but much of the building has been managed responsibly and kept fairly low-rise. This destination suits visitors looking for a a simple, calm location with a laid-back ambience.
It is definitely not a town full of rowdy drunks.
The old town offers typical Portuguese charm with its narrow, cobbled streets. The river front and beach are attractive and a draw for tourists seeking a sun-kissed beach holiday.
Alvor is the ideal resort for a relaxing family holiday, offering a perfect combination of traditional fishing village charm and modern amenities.
Historically, the town is well known because King João II died there in 1495. Alvor suffered heavy losses as a result of the 1755 earthquake, but there are still some interesting historical remains to see.
As with other locations in the Algarve, Alvor enjoys long hot summers and pleasant spring and autumn seasons. July and August are the height of the tourist season.
For tourists, Alvor pretty much closes down for winter in October and re-opens at Easter.
The town is very quiet during the winter.
Faro airport is 73 km east of Alvor. It takes less than an hour by car to travel to Alvor from the airport.
To get from Faro airport to Alvor by public transport requires two buses and one long train journey and, depending on connections can take more than four hours.
The best way to get to Alvor from the airport is by private transfer, either by sharing a car or on one of the transfer shuttle coaches.
For day trips, there are regular buses from Alvor to Lagos and Portimão.
The river front
The river front is one of Alvor’s most idyllic settings. It’s the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by as the fishing boats come and go.
The harbour is delightful, lined with colourful boats and aromatic fish restaurants. Being on an estuary, there are also Alvor’s protected natural wetlands to explore.
There are elevated walkways that cross the sand dunes and mud flats that are also wide enough to cycle along.
The area is a haven for bird life.
Alvor’s main beach, Praia de Alvor, is a lovely long, dune backed sandy beach.
Walk to the east end of Alvor beach and you’ll come to Praia de Três Irmãos.
Here you’ll find a series of little coves and fantastic rock formations. “Três Irmãos” translated means “three brothers” and this refers to three sea stack rock formations that run across the beach.
Even at the height of the summer season, there’s plenty of room on this long expanse of two adjoining beaches.
There are a number of restaurants and snack bars on both beaches.
Cross to the other side of the estuary and you’ll find the long sweeping beach of Meia Praia, which runs all the way to the harbour entrance at Lagos.
Alvor Castle ruins
The castle ruins are a short walk up the hill from the harbour.
Alvor’s castle (what is left of it) dates back to the 13th century, and now houses a children’s playground.
The old town
The 16th-century Igreja Matriz church rises above the old town. The impressive Manuelline doorway and pillars are carved into fishing ropes.
Wander around the pedestrianised centre of the old town and you’ll also find three Islamic shrines (morabitos), which are representative of the area’s Moorish heritage.
Most streets lead down to the waterfront.
Things to do
When you’ve had enough of wandering around the old town and lazing on the beach, there is plenty to do in and around Alvor.
Take a canoeing trip on the Alvor River, hire a bicycle, or visit one of several golf courses within easy travelling distance.
Other activities include fishing trips, dolphin watching trips, and boat trips to see the caves around Lagos.
Day trips to explore the nearby beach resort of Lagos (Praia da Rocha) and the shopping haven of Portimão are a must from here.
As with most Portuguese coastal resorts, fresh fish is a staple offering at most restaurants, and there are some delightful fish restaurants along the waterfront.
There are also plenty of meat and chicken dishes on offer, and you can find many international cuisines here.
There are several Irish bars.