The fishing village of Alvor is situated on the estuary of the river, Rio Alvor. It is well known in Algarve history because King João II died here in 1495.
Although the earthquake wiped out most of the traditional Moorish village in 1755, you can still see remains of Alvor’s history in places such as the 16th century Igreja Matriz with its beautiful Manueline arches and pillars.
Despite steady developments since the dawn of tourism in the 1960s (especially on the eastern side) the buildings are mainly low-rise and the charm of the old town with the narrow cobbled streets leading down to the harbour on the lagoon of the river estuary still remains.
Praia de Alvor: The riverfront in Alvor has been done up over recent years and is now fully paved and lined with palm trees and several beach bars, which all have plenty of outside seating for those endless summer days.
The riverfront has to be one of Alvor’s most idyllic settings, as you sit and watch the fishing boats come and go. At the end, near the lifeboat station, is a collection of restaurants tempting you with the aroma of freshly barbecued fish.
Alvor’s main beach, Praia de Alvor, is just a short walk away, passing the fishermen’s smart new huts and Alvor’s sports complex on the way. It is a lovely long, dune backed, sandy beach. The eastern end of the sands, which offers a little shelter from some large rock formations is known as Praia de Três Irmãos. There are also several hotels at this side of town. Even at the height of the season there is plenty of room on the beach for you to lie down and relax. There are restaurants and snack bars on both beaches.
Wander into town and explore the network of streets that make up Alvor and discover a multitude of places to eat and drink, catering for all tastes – traditional Portuguese, Indian, Chinese, Italian – and equally as many bars to choose from, including several Irish bars.
Alvor is an ideal resort for families and has everything that you need for a relaxing holiday. There are plenty of shops including several smaller grocery shops for your daily needs, but if you do decide you want to go further afield then Lagos is just to the west and Portimão is just to the east. There isn’t even a need to hire a car as the bus stop by the taxi rank has regular buses to both places.
If you decide to drive to Portimão then park on the outskirts and negotiate the network of streets on foot – it really is quite a difficult place to drive through with narrow one way streets, often with cars parked on both sides of the road and no particularly clear signage to point you in the right direction. Portimão marina is only 10 minutes from Alvor! There is a large car park on the river front which you can get to by following the signs for Praia da Rocha, keeping on the dual carriageway that skirts the town, and at the bottom of the hill (passing a lot of hotels that make up Praia da Rocha) is a roundabout – right takes you to Portimão marina and left takes you to the river front parking. Portimão has a big fishing port (second only to Olhão) and a really good selection of shops – great for leather goods if you want to treat yourself!
Just the other side of the river estuary from Alvor is the long sweeping beach of Meia Praia which runs all the way to Lagos harbour entrance. Lagos has an historic town centre still surrounded by medieval walls, a fort at the harbour entrance and the ‘Golden Church’ of St. Anthony. As well as Meia Praia there are the lovely secluded coves of Dona Ana and Camilo to enjoy (worth remembering if the wind picks up on Alvor beach as it does occasionally in the later stages of the year!). The marina has a selection of bars, restaurants and some shops and the pedestrianised town centre is a network of small squares linked by cobbled streets, with of course, plenty of restaurants and cafés!
There are plenty of activities on offer in and around Alvor when you have had your fill of lazing on the beach! Slide and Splash water park is only a short distance away in Lagoa, there are canoeing trips on the Alvor river, bicycles to hire, several golf courses on the doorstep, fishing trips and boat trips to see the caves around Lagos or dolphin watching.
Zoomarine sea-life park is less than 30 minutes away on the outskirts of Albufeira and Lagos zoo is even closer – both great days out for families.