Most people, when they think of the Algarve, imagine beaches, sunshine, golfers and - let’s face it - rather a lot of people. But that is to ignore a whole sweep of the region. It is entirely possible to fly in to Faro airport, pick up a hire car and soon leave the crowds behind. Use our guide to the best off the beaten track hotels in the Algarve to plan your perfect getaway.
If you still hanker after sea and sand, then head to the south-west or the west coasts. The resorts between Burgau and Sagres, in the south-west, are low-key and low-rise while Sagres and the windswept cape of Sao Vicente attract surfers and divers. The best surfing, and the quietest beaches, are to be found on the west coast; wild and windswept and where Atlantic breakers roll in. As the whole coastline is a nature reserve, development has been restricted. The most attractive villages include Aljezur, Carrapateira and Odeceixe.
Inland it all changes again. Hugging the eastern border with Spain, close to Alcoutim, is the spectacular mountain scenery of the wild Serra de Alcaria while, inland in the western Algarve, is the Serra de Monchique, a wooded mountain range studded with cork, chestnut and eucalyptus trees, and popular hiking country. So, if you want easy-reach sunshine but without the crowds, browse our guide to the best off the beaten track hotels in the Algarve.
Best off the beaten track hotels in the Algarve
For great value
Close to the west-coast surfing beaches and next to a nature reserve, Muxima offers simple and colourful rooms with an exotic theme in the rustic decoration. Each room has a small terrace plus there’s an eco-pool in which to cool off.
Also on the west coast, and close to the beaches, Casa Vicentina offers colourful and contemporary apartments. As well as a pool and children’s playground, there’s a nearby nature reserve which is perfect for bird-watching.
Tucked away in the lesser-visited, eastern Algarve, Companhia das Culturas, a working farm, offers just eight cool and whitewashed rooms with a charming rustic style. There’s also a hammam, saltwater pool and yoga classes.
Also in the eastern Algarve, and close to Tavira, but feeling a world away, Quinta da Colina is a traditional manor house set amongst citrus and carob trees. Rooms are cool with high-beamed ceilings and white-washed walls, plus there’s a rustic-chic pool made from a former irrigation tank.
Best mid-price off-the-beaten-track hotels
Between Faro and Tavira, and surrounded by citrus groves and flower-filled fields near Moncarapacho, Vila Monte Farm House has a romantic, Moorish feel with rooms full of rich colours. A couples’ retreat with spa, several pools and an outdoor cinema.
Surrounded by citrus groves, and just 15 minutes from the beach, Quinta da Cebola Vermelha is a traditional farmhouse in central Algarve. Charmingly styled rooms are large and airy, plus there’s a large heated saltwater pool.
With the Monchique hills on the doorstep to explore, Vila Valverde offers a chic retreat to return to. Rooms are ultra-modern in natural materials and cool whites, plus there’s a spa and gorgeous surrounds of orange and olive groves.
Another couples’ retreat is Fazenda Nova surrounded by wooded countryside and not far from Tavira. Rooms are cool and modern in muted shades with tiled floors, sleek bathrooms and private gardens. Plenty of hammocks for lolling around the chic, low-key pool.
Surrounded by the Ria Formosa Natural Park, Villa Campina is a contemporary-style rural retreat. Rooms are white-on-white chic. There’s also a pool, honesty bar and lavender fields.
Because most people rush to Algarve’s beaches, it leaves plenty of space for seekers of space and privacy. The Algarve’s best off the beaten track hotels may surprise you with their range of styles and locations. Nothing here that fits the bill? Check out our full range of Algarve hotels or contact a friendly guru for advice.
Delightfully rustic eco retreat within striking distance of the best surfing beaches. Large suites with around the world themes, think India to Tunisia. Lovely terraces, eco pool, and nature reserve nearby. Great value for a family holiday and beach life.
A charming collection of suites that sleep up to 4. Stylish, bright interiors, pool, playground for children, and not far from the beach and a nature reserve. An ideal spot for a family holiday, and great value.
Charming and rustic hotel on 40 hectare working farm. Rooms have whitewashed walls, antique furnishings and French doors leading out into garden. With a hammam Turkish bath, outdoor saltwater pool, yoga, Tai-chi and Qi-gong classes. Close to beaches, local markets and great walks. Value chic.
8 rooms from $57
Great walks - Around Castro Marim and Cacela Velha
Traditional Algarvian manor which has been tastefully converted to provide B&B accommodation plus cottages and an apartment for self catering. Set amid 6 hectares filled with olive, orange and carob trees. A quieter, truly relaxing spot from which to enjoy the pleasures of the real Algarve.
3 rooms from $86
Swimming Pool - Created from the old irrigation tank with original well and water wheel feature on the terrace.
A refreshing Moorish style retreat, nestled in orange groves and organic gardens. Light, airy and effortlessly stylish rooms offer seclusion, comfort and private terraces. Gourmet farm to fork cuisine served in a relaxed atmosphere. Two pools, tennis courts, and open air cinema seal the deal. Bliss!
53 rooms from $128
Romantic Break - A sophisticated couples paradise- with secluded rooms, private terraces, couples massages and romantic picnics on the beach.
Foodies - The wholesome delicious cuisine never dissapoints- perhaps because it comes straight from the garden or local organic farms.
Cooking classes - The chef happily takes tours to the local markets such as Olhao's big fish market.
A beautiful family-orientated country farmhouse surrounded by orange, lemon, and olive trees. With a huge salt water pool, beautiful rooms, and nearby beach and golf course, this is a great hotel for a family holiday at a good price.
7 rooms from $129
Farmhouse - Magnificent farmhouse surrounded by olive, lemon and orange trees.
Country Escape - A great base from which to explore the Algarve
Lavish accommodation surrounded by orange groves and olive trees. Contemporary white building with lots of natural light, huge terraces, and beautiful views over the grounds. Portugese specialities in the restaurant and lovely swimming pool. A real hideout in supreme comfort.
15 rooms from $154
Total relaxation - Crafted for relaxtion, with comfortable suites, massage treatments, sauna and laid back atmosphere.
Great walks - Explore the Monchique hills on foot, the hotel will provide a light packed lunch.
Fishing - The hotel will organise big game fishing trips on request.
This traditional Portuegese villa cum modern sanctuary sits in the rolling hills of the Algarve. Private suites with their modernist luxury are perfect nests for a couples hideaway. The sporting scenery of the beach and hills around make it a fun spot too.
10 rooms from $174
Garden - Each apartment has its private garden and the property sits in 10 acres of land.
Hideaway - A luxury country retreat ideal for couples.
Bright white beacon of slick sophistication amidst rural farmland. A Moorish style guesthouse with modern white on white bedrooms, tranquil gardens, a stunning swimming pool, and nearby beach. Ideal for completely unwinding.
9 rooms from $185
Beach Life - Set next to some of Algarve’s unspoilt beaches, enjoy long walks, boats trips, swimming and fishing.
Birdwatching - The B&B sits in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, wander around its famed island lagoons and try and spot the local birdlife.
Local markets - A must for all foodies is the Olhão farmer's market every Saturday.