The vibrant resort of Alvor fronts a wide, 3.5km-long expanse of pale golden sand that shelves into the turquoise coloured waters of the Bay of Lagos.
Originally founded by the Romans as a sheltered fishing port, Alvor later grew to became an important Moorish fortified town (known as Albur) until the town was retaken in the Christian crusades in 1189.
Alvor is now a lively tourist destination, with many restaurants and bars. Cobbled lanes wind through the town and lead down to the riverfront.
Explore the narrow cobblestone streets of the attractive whitewashed Old Town and riverfront, that is lined with numerous bars and seafood restaurants.
The town's many historic monuments were destroyed in the 1755 earthquake which obliterated the town.
The only remains from prior to the earthquake are the foundations of the castle, while all the churches were rebuilt in the Manueline and Rococo styles that were popular in the 18th century.
Explore the Igreja Matriz de Alvor, the main church of Alvor and the foremost example of the Manueline-style architecture in the Algarve.
Built in the 16th century, the church's main attraction is the entrance door – a magnificent Manueline portico heavily decorated with motifs alluding to fauna and flora, war scenes and religious symbols.
Inside, don't miss tiles from the 18th century as well as the six altars of gilded carving.
Visit also the Igreja da Misericórdia de Alvor – one of the most charming churches to see in Alvor – with its beautiful stained glass windows.
Discover the ruins of Castelo de Alvor – now a children's park.
A section of the castle's strong walls managed to resist the 1755 earthquake which destroyed much of the town.
One of Alvor’s unique attractions are the elevated boardwalks that flow across the sand dunes and mud flats of the Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve.
The walkways provide for scenic views over the river estuary to spot resident and migratory birds.
The paths are also wide enough to cycle along and have been extended eastwards along the beach.
Spend the day on the gorgeous Praia do Alvor where there’s always a secluded spot to sunbathe and numerous water sport activities, including pedalos, banana boats, sea kayaks and catamarans.
Wander along the soft golden sands to the picture-perfect Praia dos Tres Iramos, which marks the start of a string of small beaches.
Here, separated by dramatic cliffs and towering rock formations indented with caves and tunnels, discover shallow turquoise water perfect for snorkelling and diving adventures. A cliff-top path leads to Praia do Vau – well worth the walk.
Or take a lazy river cruise from Alvor, and meander past Portimão and up the estuary. The boat docks at Silves and allows ample time for passengers to explore the town before the return journey.
Golfers can tee-off from one of the nearby golf courses and thrill-seekers may want to check out the exciting water rides at Aqualand.
After dark, choose from café-bars and Irish- and English-style pubs with live music. Those interested in dancing all night should head to the nightclubs of nearby Praia da Rocha.
The two main beaches of Alvor, Praia de Alvor and Praia dos Três Irmãos, are actually one huge stretch of sand, separated by rocks and extending for more than 3.5km (2mi).
Praia de Alvor is located on the western side of Alvor, while Praia dos Três Irmãos is located on the eastern side.
Find your own spot to sunbathe and swim on this long stretch of golden-sand beach edged by low, bush-covered sand dunes and indented occasionally by picturesque rocky bluffs riddled with arched passageways.
A boardwalk extends over the dunes behind the beach for around 3km (1.8mi) and offers scenic views over the river, the estuary and the surrounding area. Here you can spot different kinds of birds that inhabit the Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve.
The small lighthouse at the end of the boardwalk offers a great view of Alvor and Lagos.
Facilities at the eastern end of the beach include parasols and sun loungers for hire, lifeguards, toilets and showers. A choice of bars and restaurants dot the long beach and are close to the boardwalk.
Praia do Alvor curves around the bay into Meia Praia Lagos.
Unwind on the soft golden sand of this picture-perfect beach framed by soaring bush-clad rock formations.
The shallow turquoise waters are renowned for good diving and snorkelling in the underwater grottos and caves that indent the scenic shoreline.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, lifeguards, toilets and showers.
There are bars, restaurants and hotels nearby, including the luxurious Le Méridien Penina Golf Hotel and the Pastana Alvor Praia Hotel.
Merging with Praia de Alvor to the west, Praia dos Tres Iramos is located around 7km from Portimao and 30km from Albufeira to the west.
Unwind on this gorgeous crescent of golden sand that stretches from Praia da Rocha to a headland of towering rock formations and red-ochre cliffs topped by verdant woodland.
Beach facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, lifeguards, toilets and showers. Water sports include banana boats, jet skis and pedalos. Beachside bars and restaurants nestle beneath the surrounding cliffs.
If you tire of sunbathing and swimming, wander east to Praia da Rocha or follow the coastal path over the headland to explore the caves and rock pools around nearby Praia do Alemão, then continue on to Praia de Alvor in the west.
Praia do Vau is around 6km west of Portimao and 44km west of Albufeira.
Choose from a range of hotels including the luxurious Pestana Alvor Praia (at Praia dos Tres Irmaos), which hosts a choice of spa treatments.
Anytime is good to visit Alvor (and the Algarve) – the coast sees little rain and lots of sunny days throughout the year including winter – but for the best weather, visit Alvor between June and October.
The peak holiday season in Alvor is July and August; these are also the hottest months of the year, with the temperature averaging 28°C (82°F) and but often reaching the high 30°Cs.
The months of spring (March to May) and autumn (October and November) are typically warm and – while perhaps too chilly for swimming – are excellent for sailing and land-based activities such as golf.
More information about weather on the Algarve …
Alvor is located in the Algarve region of southern Portugal, around 8km (5mi) west of Portimao, 45km (28mi) west of Albufeira and 8km (5mi) east of Lagos.
The most convenient route to Alvor is by air to Faro International Airport (FAO), also known as Algarve Airport, located 75km (49mi) east of Alvor, a 50-minutes drive. Taxis and hire cars are available at the airport.
From Faro, trains on the Algarve Line run frequently throughout the day to nearby Portimão, taking 1 hr 26 minutes.
Alternatively, an express bus from Lisbon to Alvor takes 3 hours 45 minutes.
More information about how to get to Alvor, the Algarve …
Latest update: Alvor Honeymoon Guide: 8 May, 2022