The top things to do in Alvor – Our travel guide

Welcome to our complete Alvor travel guide, where we list some of the best things to do in Alvor, plus our top picks for eating out, visiting, nightlife and more. We spent an entire month in this beautiful corner of the Algarve and were truly amazed by its beauty and variety of things to do. So, sit back, relax and plan your trip with our Alvor travel guide (maybe grab a notepad to jot some points down too!) If we’ve missed anything, send us a message and we’ll respond as best we can. 😊

Why Alvor?

You may or may not have heard of the town of Alvor, but it’s quickly becoming one of the best places to stay and visit in the Algarve. As a former fishing village that has been transformed into a tourist town, it’s a cultural place to stay and is packed with things to do inside and nearby, without feeling too touristic. It’s a small but beautiful town with colourful buildings on every corner, and architecture that’s reminiscent of its Moorish roots. Alvor is a hugely popular place to live for expats too. Whilst it has a more local feel to it compared to the likes of Albufeira, English is widely spoken due to the amount of non-local people living in the area.

Boats scattered across the beach sand

When should I visit Alvor?

Unlike the main tourist holiday hotspots, like Lagos and Albufeira, Alvor doesn’t really have its high seasons (although it is busier during the summer months), so you won’t have any issues with crowds. As it’s is home to a gorgeous beach, you’ll surely want to take a dip in the sea, so the best times to visit would be from April – September for the warmer temperatures.

Alvor can get pretty hot in the summer, so if you’re planning on visiting for a day trip, we recommend sightseeing in town first thing on a morning and then retreating to the beach in the afternoon.

Best things to do in Alvor - Susie standing by the promenade

The top things to do in Alvor

For a small town, there’s plenty to keep you entertained, either on a day trip, or whilst staying in the town. It makes a great base for your holiday to the Algarve! Check out our recommendations on the best things to do in Alvor below.

Castelo de Alvor

Castelo de Alvor, otherwise known as Alvor castle, was devestated by wars between Moors and Christians, which destroyed it and left it in ruins. The castle was then rebuilt in 1300 and has worn through the ages. All that’s left to this very day is ruins, but it still makes a great historical stop off point for some photographs.

Note that Castelo de Alvor is very difficult to find and unfortunately, Google maps let us down. It’s worth asking the locals for directions, as it’ll save you time trying to find it and you’ll potentially get lost, just like we did.

Walkways of Alvor

One of the best things to do in Alvor is to take a walk along the sprawling trail to the south of town. This winding collection of wooden walkways crosses over the mouth of the Odiáxere and all the way to Alvor beach. You’ll walk past the sand dunes of ria de Alvor nature reserve, which is truly beautiful. There are various different paths you can take, so depending on where you want to explore, be sure to check out the maps around the area! It’s a great spot for a morning walk or jog, before it gets too hot.

Top Alvorr attractions - Shows a walkway over the river mouth

Igreja Matriz de Alvor

If you love old historical monuments and buildings, then you must check out Igreja Matriz de Alvor, otherwise known as the Church of Alvor. Built in the 1520’s, it still retains its beauty to this very day. With its white and yellow stone walls and distinguished arches, it really does show off its true Portuguese style. You can also take a look inside the church, but be sure to double check online when it’s open to the public.

Shows a historic church exterior

Discover Alvor town

If you enjoy a bit of shopping and fancy treating yourself, then Alvor town has a lot to offer. With an abundance of gift shops and independent clothes shop, you’ll definitely find some treasures to gift to yourself and your family. And Alvor isn’t just good for shopping, bars, cafes and restaurants. The main attraction is simply wandering the narrow streets and gazing at the quaint Portuguese architecture. Coloured doorways, narrow streets and a quiet, local atmosphere is what we love. It’s the main reason to visit!

Cafes and restaurants on a quaint street

Explore the coastline on a boat trip

No stay in Alvor would be complete without a boat trip. If you’re basing yourself in town for a few days, boats a great way to see the Algarve from the sea. You’ll find some hidden treasures that can only be accessed offshore! Visit the breath-taking coastline and caves around Portimao and Alvor, as you soak in the Portuguese sun. There are various different tour operators to choose from but be sure to check their prices online or in person to make sure you get the best deal. Some highly rated boat tour operators include:

Alvor boat trips - Shows a boat docked on the sand

Alvor Promenade and Fishing dock

If you’re looking to take a leisurely stroll, admiring the magnificent views of the fishing dock, plus some cool sculptures, then head to Alvor promenade. It’s a long strip that will take you from the fishing dock (where fishermen base themselves) all the way into the centre of town. The short but scenic promenade offers many different types of lunch spots and cafés to suit all tastes. We stopped off at Yacht Club Bar Café for some lunch. The prices were very reasonable, and the food was delicious too – we highly recommend it!

Alvor promenade - Best things to do in Alvor
Best things to do in Alvor - A variety of colourful boats at Alvor harbour
Fishing nets by the dock

Try to spot Alvor’s oldest buildings

The beauty of exploring quaint Portuguese towns is experiencing their old, terracotta style buildings. You’ll find different coloured buildings wherever you walk, with no structure being the same in colour. You can admire its beauty as you walk along the streets. We recommend hopping on board the Alvor train, which will take you on a short ride around the town. It’s great if you’re travelling with kids!

Old town street with colourful buildings

Dine at one of Alvor’s fantastic restaurants

We talk about the best restaurants in Alvor later on in the article, but it’s a point that we simply had to include. Being a fishing town, Alvor has many seafood restaurants for you to choose from. Chef’s catch the fish fresh on a daily basis, and the food is delicious. One of the best things to do in Alvor is simply eating out and letting your tastebuds run wild.

Pro tip: Overall, eating out in Alvor is more affordable than other, more touristic Algarve destinations. As a rule of thumb, restaurants further away from the busy tourist streets will be more affordable. You pay for that seaside view! We recommend choosing a restaurant in town for lunch or breakfast and staying for an evening dinner by the promenade.

View of a restaurant on Alvor's main street
Best things to do in Alvor - Shows a seaside restaurant

Head to the famous Confeitaria d’Alvor for a traditional Portuguese tart

Calling everyone that has a sweet tooth! If you haven’t heard about the traditional Portuguese tarte, Pastéis de Nata, then you really ought to try one when visiting Alvor. It’s a delicious custard tart that’s covered with a light, flaky pasty. We recommend checking out Confeitaria d’Alvor. You definitely won’t miss it, as there’s always a long queue of people impatiently waiting for their sweet fix, or two! They also have excellent coffee and freshly squeezed juices.

Confeitaria d'Alvor from the outside
Things to do in Alvor - Shows a traditional Portuguese pastry

Alvor Beach

After a morning of exploring town and stopping for a spot of lunch, you might want to head to the Alvor Beach in the afternoon. It’s a beautiful white-sand beach that offers both relaxation and for the more adventurous amongst us, water sports. It’s quite a long strip, so it’s also perfect for those who want to take a leisurely stroll and burn some extra calories from lunch! There’s plenty of space on the sand and it doesn’t get too busy.

Overhead view of Alvor beach

Praia dos Tres Irmãos

Another must-see beach has to be Praia dos Tres Irmãos. It’s located a 5-minute drive away from the town of Alvor, or you can walk the long stretch of sand from Alvor Beach. Its location is slightly tricky to find, as the path to get there is a hidden street off the main road. You’ll need to arrive early as there’s only a limited number of spaces on the side road. It’s a stunning beach that’s much smaller than Praia de Alvor, so it does get busy especially during the peak season and afternoons.

Shows Praia dos tres Irmaos beach
Image courtesy of Rogier Want Wiki CC

The best Alvor hotels

Not only is Alvor a great place to visit, but it’s also a great place to stay! We’ve lost count at how many times we’ve recommended it to friends and family as a base for their Algarve holiday. It has plenty going not, but it’s not as touristic as other towns (Albufeira, Lagos, Faro). It has a great town and beach within a short walk of each other and some great accommodation options. We’ve listed our top recommendations on places to stay in Alvor below, including options for every budget.

LUXURY: PESTANA ALVOR SOUTH BEACH

View on Booking.com | Tripadvisor rating 4.5/5

In our opinion the Pestana Alvor South Beach hotel is the most luxurious in the area. It overlooks the main beach in a secluded location away from town, providing great views to wake up to on a morning. It has modern decor, multiple swimming pools and a huge outdoor decking area. There’s plenty of space to relax in the sun!

MODERATE: PESTANA ALVOR PARK HOTEL

View on Booking.com | Tripadvisor rating 4.5/5

If you want all of the great amenities of a hotel, but also a kitchen area to cook some of your own meals, the Pestana Alvor Park Hotel is a top choice. It boasts excellent reviews and is only a short walk from old town area. It has indoor and outdoor pools, and plenty of entertainment and relaxation areas.

AFFORDABLE: DUNAS DO ALVOR APARTMENTS

View on Booking.com | Tripadvisor rating 4/5

For those that want a cost effective place to stay with plenty of space, the Dunas do Alvor apartments are a great choice. You have a lot more room in your apartment than a typical hotel room and can make it your home for a longer stay. You’ll also be very close to town, with easy access to plenty of bars and restaurants.

Booking.com

The best restaurants in Alvor

Being a fishing village, the area is is home to some excellent seafood restaurants. You’ll also find Alvor restaurants that cover tastes from Mexican to American and everything in between. Eating out here can be quite affordable too! We’ve hand selected the best restaurants in Alvor so you can sample some of the local food – check them out below.

Restaurante O Arco Da Velha

View on map | Tripadvisor rating 4.5/5

Located right in the heart of town, this restaurant is right up there as one of the best seafood restaurants Alvor. Restaurante O Arco Da Velha offers many seafood dishes, BBQ and other options for those who aren’t big fish eaters. They often have live music evening with local bands, so be sure to check out their website and social media for event dates. You’ll be right next to the marina, making it a perfect location for a dinner with a view.

Restaurante Ruccula

View on map | Tripadvisor rating 4.5/5

Another one of the best Alvor restaurants is Restaurante Ruccula. If you’re looking for a well-rounded dining option that offers various dishes to suit every taste, then this is it. It’s a family run business with a true local-Portuguese feel, offering meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. Being a smaller restaurant, they have a relatively compact menu, but don’t let that put you off. They do their dishes extremely well!

Gastrobar 13

View on map | Tripadvisor rating 4.5/5

If you’re looking for somewhere a little more laid back and are a fan of sharing platters, then Gastrobar 13 is the place to go! It’s a tapas restaurant offering many different dishes, catering to both meat eaters and vegetarians. The restaurant itself is very quirky and has outdoor seating, where you’ll be surrounded by trees and plants. It makes the perfect setting for a pre-night out dinner.

Vagabondo

View on map | Tripadvisor rating 4.5/5

The final restaurant on our list of the best restaurants in Alvor (in our opinion) is Vagabondo. Its a great spot for true meat eaters, that love ribs, steak and kebabs! These guys do it just brilliantly on the BBQ. They also serve main courses for those who prefer to have their own meal.

The best bars in Alvor

Whilst the town of Alvor might seem like a quiet fishing village, it’s home to some great bars, especially for those who really want to get stuck into the culture and local life. Here are a few bars that we recommend checking out.

Sunset Bar

View on map | Tripadvisor rating 5/5

Sunset Bar is a quirky and colourfully decorated bar located in Alvor town, just up from the harbour. It’s a small bar that attracts both locals and tourists, serving cocktails, draft beer and wines. You’ll find all the usual favourites here! It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a nice drink in the afternoon sun.

Mourisco Cocktail Bar

View on map | Tripadvisor rating 5/5

If you’re a fan of tasty, sweet cocktails with a great atmosphere, then Mourisco Cocktail Bar is the place to go. They have both indoor and outdoor seating, with a pretty extensive list of cocktails on their menu. It’s quite a small bar, so seating may be limited, so it’s best to head out a bit earlier to grab a seat.

Restaurante Casa Da Tocha

View on map | Tripadvisor rating 4.5/5

Whilst technically a place to dine, it’s also a top choice Alvor bar for a few drinks with friends and family. Its primarily a wine bar, so for all you lovers of wine, this is just the spot. Portuguese wine is just as good as the rest of Europe in our opinion! They also serve various other alcoholic drinks.

Our top tips for visiting Alvor

Top tips for visiting Alvor - Shows a viewing deck looking at the marina
  • Arrive as early as possible in the morning, as car parks get filled up fairly quickly. By starting early, you’ll also have more time to explore more areas of Alvor town and make the most of your day out!
  • If you’re a bit strapped for time and want to see as many places as possible in the Algarve, you can tie in your trip to Alvor with the town of Portimao.
  • If you’re planning on spending some time sunbathing at one of the beaches, be sure to visit on a weekday to grab a spot in the morning, before it gets busy.
  • Park next to the fishing dock to avoid the traffic and congestion of the main town. Those narrow streets can be difficult to navigate!
  • Alvor town is the main attraction, but don’t forget to visit the promenade. It’s quiet, scenic, and perfect for a drink after a morning of sightseeing.
  • You’ll do a lot of walking in Alvor, especially if you visit the wooden river walkways. Wear decent footwear but be sure to pack a pair of flipflops for the beach.

So that’s it – our complete Alvor travel guide! We hope you found our inspiration on the best things to do in Alvor useful and it will help you plan your trip to this beautiful Portuguese town. It’s a place that we never get tired of recommending, suiting both day-trippers, or those that want a great base for their holiday. If you’d like to find out more or have a question for us, please leave a comment down below. Obrigada! 😊

By Susie

Author bio:

I’m a passionate traveller that loves a sunny beach holiday, but also appreciate the cultural side to a trip and checking out undiscovered destinations. I’m the go-to Toucan Traveller for great holiday stories, cool photos and foodie recommendations.

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