Carvoeiro, Algarve Travel Guide
Carvoeiro and Lagoa Summary
- Dramatically positioned clifftop hotels with excellent views
- String of small, cliff-flanked beaches (some of which feel hidden)
- Extremely friendly toward British travelers' tastes
- Tons of holiday-village style hotels and resorts
- Decent nightlife in Carvoeiro includes bars and nightclubs
- Carvoeiro can be extremely crowded in the summer
- Parking is challenging in Carvoeiro's town center
- Some parts of Lagoa will have you wondering if you're in Portugal
What It's Like
Lagoa makes up a fairly large part of the central Algarve and sits just to the east of busy Portimao. The vibe, however, couldn't be more different between the two areas. Lagoa consists of rolling hills packed with holiday village-style resorts and hotels. Think: outdoor playgrounds for kids, pools filled with splashing youngsters, and self-catering apartments. Amid all of this, you'll find golf courses and water parks -- which is all that many visitors to the Algarve crave. While plenty of travelers choose to simply while away their time inland and at their hotels, the Lagoa region is blessed with a beautiful coastline as well. There, you'll find a bit more Portuguese character, though -- to be clear -- this is prime tourist stomping ground through and through.
British travelers have been thronging to Carvoeiro -- the main coastal town in Lagoa -- for decades. That being the case, it caters almost perfectly to their needs. You'll find British pubs, restaurants cooking up a convincing full English in the mornings, curry houses, and nightclubs that thump like those found in the U.K.'s own Brighton and Blackfriars. While Carvoeiro is a tourist playground, it is one of the prettier coastal options in this part of the Algarve, with whitewashed buildings packed along the cliffs that loom over the sea to the east and west of town. Praia da Carveoeiro is undeniably pretty, but this small slice of sand can get absolutely packed with British sunseekers in high season.
If you're feeling adventurous, there are numerous smaller beaches tucked between the cliffs east and west of town. These include stunners like Praia do Paraiso, Praia da Marinha, Praia do Carvalho, and Praia Vale de Centeanes. For even more eye-popping seaside scenery (though without the opportunity to swim), head to Algar Seco, where seaside caves and rock formations make for amazing photo ops.
Where to Stay
Lagoa is a big region and the hotel options are fairly distinct. If you are a family that really only needs a decent amount of outdoor activities, simple dining, and self-catering accommodations all packed into one place, then the holiday village resorts found inland will be the best bet. This means you'll be driving to and from the beaches (where parking can be a mighty challenge in high season), though honestly most travelers who choose these hotels rarely leave the grounds of where they are staying for a week or two at a time. Travelers preferring the buzz of beach town life, plus a dash of nightlife and multiple dining options, should bed down in the hotels that line the roads radiating outward from Carvoeiro. Spectacular clifftop views are available from many options to the east and west of town.