Activities & Attractions
A resort that makes the most of its beauty
Although heading to the coastline instead of the estuary is just as enchanting, thanks to the layered cliffs and rocks which line Alvor’s beaches. The main spread of sand, Praia do Alvor, combines the best of all beaches over its long landscape, from open grassy green vistas to secluded golden coves.
The ever-verdant environment of Alvor even comes into its own at its myriad golf courses. They’ve been crafted by some of the best in the business, including Robert Trent Jones Jr and the late Sir Henry Cotton. In working with Alvor’s natural riches, the courses incorporate neat rows of cypress trees, carpet-like fairways and the all-engulfing Atlantic around Links-style holes.
But even if you’re not of a sporting persuasion, it’s just as easy to enjoy the man-made elegance of Alvor, especially in its Old Town. This is where whitwashed town houses and ornate black iron balconies culminate in the yellow-trimmed centrepiece of the understated Alvor Church.
“Visit or stay in Alvor - a wonderful village with a beach 'to die for'. Great choice of accommodation, bars and restaurants. Just perfect!”
Historic structures and great golf courses
Alvor’s mix of historical sites and top golf courses show how the resort makes the most of its surroundings. Incredibly old castles and megalithic monuments sit amongst the mountaintops, giving gorgeous views of the seemingly endless Atlantic and the bright orchards that envelop the dazzlingly whitewashed towns. The golf courses also show an awareness of how to sculpt the greenery of the land into something eye-wateringly wonderful.
As is often the case with holiday resorts in the Algarve, the golf courses in Alvor are some of the finest in Europe. The Pestana Alto Golf Course is the final course designed by Sir Henry Cotton, and it features some unique views and challenges. Characteristics of the course include wide, open fairways and huge lakes lined with weeping willows and cypress trees. The greens are kept remarkably pristine, and the course also claims to have the longest par 5 in Europe – it’s 660 yards! Stay at the Pestana Alvor Praia with Jet2holidays and you’ll be close to this golf course that is owned by the hotel.
Another course that was designed by Sir Henry Cotton during his illustrious career is the Penina Championship Golf Course. Set in 360 acres of natural greenery, the course is considered to be one of the most challenging in Portugal, and has tough dog legs, fast fairways and several island greens. Luckily for beginners, the golf club also incorporates two 9-hole courses and a golf training academy.
For even more choice on golfing holidays in Alvor, Palmares Golf is just 11 miles away. It’s certainly worth the journey, as the course sits in a beautiful seaside location, on the edge of Lagos Bay. Some of the trimmed green holes are literally carved into the surrounding wilderness, whilst the designer Robert Trent Jones Jr has ensured that the course offers spectacular views of the surrounding Atlantic. It’s easy to understand why Golf World listed it as one of the top 100 courses in the world.
But alongside all this golfing greatness, Alvor still holds on to echoes of its parish past. Alvor Church dates back to the 16th century and miraculously survived the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. It’s exterior is a classic Portuguese design of glistening white with bright yellow trim and an ornate bell tower. Inside is just as elegant with colourful gilded paintings contrasted by whitewashed walls.
Also within the town, you’ll see the structural remains (two walls and a turret) of the 7th century Alvor Castle. Although the castle has now been reduced to rubble, you’ll still be rewarded with incredible views of the surrounding green mountainside at its peak. Although to further immerse yourself in the culture of Alvor, you could always visit the Ethnographic Museum. This charming little museum exhibits old farming and fishing tools, showing how the village used to live in days gone by.
Finally, for an even more ancient attraction, the short 7 mile journey inland to Alcalar is definitely worth the effort. The megalithic monuments of tombs and narrow chambers here (cobbled stone structures dug into the ground) are over 4,000 years old! Largely used as an ancient burial ground, the site also has a fascinating museum that explains what life would have been like in ancient times.
More modern attractions are never too far away, as Lagos Zoo is just a 13 mile journey from Alvor. The zoo has a huge array of animals, including many different species of monkeys and birds. Whilst there’s plenty of family fun to be had at the Slide & Splash waterpark in Lagoa, around 10 miles away. The waterpark has plenty of colourful slides set amongst palm tree gardens, as well as a swimming pool and calming lazy river.
If you’re willing to venture even further out, the Zoomarine theme park on the outskirts of Albufeira is just a 30-minute taxi ride from Alvor (about 20 miles in distance). The park features fun water based rides as well as sea lion, orca and dolphin shows. You’ll even have the opportunity to swim with friendly dolphins in a safe artificial lagoon.
Plenty of Portuguese cuisine
If you like the sound of Portuguese cuisine your in for a real treat on your holidays in Alvor! That’s because there’s a great abundance of authentic restaurants here, whether inland or along the coastline. The Portuguese are the biggest eaters of fish in Europe, so it should come as no surprise that there’s a fantastic array of seafood restaurants, particularly at the harbour. Dishes to try range from the famous salted bacalhau (salted cod) to fresh tuna steaks and caldeirada, a particularly tasty fish stew. One of the best fish restaurants in Alvor is A Lota, as it has a huge choice on its menu, including mussels in garlic and white wine and oven-baked sea bass.
But there’s plenty of opportunity to try more authentic Portuguese dishes, other than just seafood. Georgets, Por do Sol and Restaurante Atlantida are all very highly rated, and at these traditionally styled restaurants you can taste the hot chilli and zingy lime flavours of Portuguese piri piri chicken, or delicious alcatra, which is beef marinated in a garlicky red wine sauce. And for an even bigger section of Portuguese dishes, the city centre of Portimão is just 4 miles away.
Being a popular resort worldwide, there are also international restaurants for added variety on your holidays in Alvor. Italian, Indian and British dishes are all very easy to come by, so you can savour a stonebaked pizza or a full English breakfast complemented by views of the Atlantic shimmering under the bright Portuguese sun.
Having all inclusive holidays in Alvor is always an option for you too. Stay at the Pestana Delfim Beach & Golf Hotel
and you’ll have your food and drinks taken care of whilst also being close to the five golf courses
owned by the Pestana Hotels group.
Cliff-backed beaches of golden sand
One of the best ways to appreciate the stunning golden coastline and verdant wetlands that surround the resort is to journey along the Alvor Boardwalk. This pristine wooden walkway has been cleverly designed to allow access for everyone to the beautiful Portuguese countryside, including wheelchair users. The boardwalk remains flat and open for its entire length, and breaks through the nature reserve and estuary close on the outskirts of Alvor. You better get your camera ready to take pictures of the green and golden plains and the glassy calm Alvor River!
When you feel like a spot of sunbathing, the boardwalk will take you to the resort’s main beach, Praia do Alvor. This charming slice of sand has all the classic characteristics that make Portuguese beaches so beautiful. At its western end, the lightly coloured sand is incredibly flat and backed by wild grass. As you head to the east, you’ll notice your scenery transform into the craggy cliffs and rock formations seen along several sections of the Algarve coastline. The particular formations here are known as Praia de Três Irmãos, and they’re a cluster of radiant yellow rocks topped with green shades of grass and moss. They really make for a stunning backdrop to your sunbathing.
Also accessible from the boardwalk, on the other side of the estuary, is the beach Meia Praia. This very open, wide stretch of light golden sand is quite a contrast to the cliff lined beach at Praia do Alvor. Meia Praia runs all the way to the neighbouring resort of Lagos, separated only by Alvor harbour.
But you won’t need to go as far as Lagos, as Prainha Beach is another idyllic coastal location in Alvor. It actually consists of a group of secluded coves, surrounded by ochre coloured rocks. With so many sheltered caves and arches, it’s a great area for bird watching as birds ranging from hawks to puffins choose to settle their nests here. Rock formations are interspersed in the water too, making the area great for scuba diving to see colourful fish hiding in underwater tunnels.
Heading east along Lagos Bay from Praia do Alvor, you’ll pass along the flat, open expanse of Torralta Beach. Continue eastwards and you’ll reach yet another amazing beach – Praia da Rocha. The cliffs here really rise into the sky, whilst the water is a combination of sparkling turquoise tones and deep blue aquamarine.
With so many beaches in Alvor, you’ll have the opportunity to stay in hotels with direct beachfront access. For example, the great value Prainha Cube complex available with Jet2holidays will take you right onto the beach by lift or steps from your accommodation.
Relaxed evenings with plenty of variety
Nights out during holidays in Alvor take on a suitably relaxed pace, much like the resort itself. However, that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of places to have an enjoyable drink in friendly, warm surroundings.
As Alvor is becoming ever more popular as a tourist resort, sociable British bars are now dotted around the village. One of the best is the Sports Cafe, which has twenty TV screens for watching all the latest sporting action. It also has pool tables and videogames, whilst at night the Cafe really heats up, with people dancing on tables and enjoying exotic cocktails. It’s certainly one of the liveliest bars in the otherwise sedate Alvor!
Mourisco and Chill-Out Bar are nightspots more suited to unwinding than partying. But then, they are located in beautiful surroundings, with Mourisco’s Greco-Roman style decor according well with its location on the cobbled streets of Alvor Old Town.
In fact, strolling along the pristine whitewashed townhouses of the Old Town is a great way to pass an evening. It’s likely you’ll come by authentic Portuguese restaurants and small bars where you can settle at the rustic wooden tables and chairs laid just outside. It’s fairly easy to find your way to the Old Town too – just head inland towards the elegant Alvor Church.