Location: Carvalho Beach, Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal; Photography: AT Algarve
When planning their honeymoon, couples often choose destinations that have some sort of significance to them. Perhaps they jet off to the Amalfi Coast, where they had their first romantic getaway together; or maybe they choose to honeymoon in Hawaii, where they return every year for an annual retreat. Honeymoons, however, also provide the perfect opportunity for couples to explore a new region together and experience everything for the first time as newlyweds. The coastal areas of Europe are ripe with luxury resorts and gorgeous seas that set the stage for romantic moments by the shore. Algarve, Portugal – also referred to as, “the Algarve” – is no exception. What is the Algarve? To put it simply, the Algarve is to Portugal what Saint Tropez is to France. It’s beachy, scenic, and has a swanky yet laid-back vibe. In terms of where to stay and where to go in Algarve, Portugal, there’s a variety of options for honeymooners and visitors who’d like a chic travel experience along the western Atlantic coast.
Location: Belharucas Beach, Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal; Photography: AT Algarve
Where to stay in Algarve
Choosing where to stay in Algarve can be tricky, as many resorts in the area have successfully combined Algarve’s beach setting with modern luxuries; so it’s hard to go wrong. For honeymooners though, an upscale property with world-class amenities is a “must,” and will make your stay in the Algarve that much more memorable.
To get to the Algarve, couples can fly in to the region’s capital of Faro, which has its own international airport. Alternatively, Lisbon Airport is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. It may not be the quickest option, but the drive is a great way to get a feel for the lay of the land.
Top left & Right: Location: Marinha Beach, Lagoa, Algarve, Portugal; Photography: AT Algarve
Bottom Right: Location: Odeceixe Beach, Aljezur, Algarve, Portugal; Photography: Carlos Duarte- AT Algarve
The first half of the journey consists of water views and passing the Vasco da Gama Bridge before the scenery switches to the countryside. If couples or any lingering wedding guests have just enjoyed a destination wedding in Lisbon, then they’ll love following up their celebration with a relaxing drive down to the Algarve, and ending up at the Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort – a luxury resort with a beautifully tranquil setting.
Also located in Vilamoura is The Lake Spa Resort. This five-star property is a mere 300 meters from Falesia Beach and is an Algarve hot spot with its sandy beach pool and floating restaurant. In the case of honeymooners needing to plan a “family moon” or recommend a post-wedding destination to wedding guests with children, The Lake Spa Resort is very family-friendly with a spa area for adults to unwind and a Koala Kids Club to keep the little ones occupied.
Location: Cidade Velha de Faro, Faro, Algarve, Portugal; Photography: Turismo de Portugal
The beachfront Tivoli Marina Vilamoura Algarve Resort is another favorite among luxury travelers. Honeymooners will undoubtedly want to spend at least part of their stay in the Algarve exploring the area, but Tivoli has so many restaurants, bars, and activities onsite that it’s possible to enjoy an entire honeymoon together without ever having to leave the property.
For a more relaxed setting that doesn’t skimp on the 5-star accommodations, the Martinhal Sagres Family Resort is an absolute haven for nature lovers. The resort is set within the boundaries of a protected natural park in Sagres, which is the southwestern-most point of continental Europe. Sunshine and an endless ocean view can also be enjoyed at one of the most picture-perfect beaches in Portugal, Praia Dona Ana, which is a half-hour drive away and a paradise for surfers. This is one of those destinations where honeymooners can stay after their wedding, then return time and time again over the years with their growing families.
Left: Location: Largo da Sé, Faro, Algarve, Portugal; Photography: Rui Morais de Sousa
Right: Location: Tertúlia Algarvia Restaurant, Faro, Algarve, Portugal; Traditional Cataplana de Marisco Dish; Photography: 4 Eyes Photography
Finally, for history lovers, Bela Vista Hotel & Spa is an exquisite hideaway perched on a cliff overlooking Praia da Rocha in Portimão, with direct access to the beach. It’s colorful, romantic, and historic, with the property rumored to be the first hotel in the Algarve. Dating back to the nineteenth century, the hotel was originally built to be the private home of a local fishing and canning industry businessman, and later opened as a hotel in 1918. Sidonio Pais, President of the Portuguese Republic at the time, was the guest of honor, and the Bela Vista Hotel guestbook continued to collect signatures from notable visitors like Umberto II – the last King of Italy.
Location: Marina de Faro, Faro, Algarve, Portugal; Photography: Turismo de Portugal
Where to go in Algarve
After deciding where to stay in Algarve and checking in to a fantastic resort, honeymooners can fill their itineraries with several exciting and photo-worthy places to go. As anyone would expect from the region’s capital, Faro offers an eclectic experience with beaches, entertainment, restaurants, and maze-like streets filled with historic architecture. One of the most historic sites is the Igreja do Carmo, which is an 18th century church with Baroque architecture, built by the Algarve’s own renowned woodworkers. Step even further back into the past with a visit to the village of Estoi, just outside Faro. There, couples will discover the Roman ruins of Milreu. The preserved mosaics of flowers, fish, and other works of art were discovered in 1877, but it is believed that the Roman villa was used from approximately the first century until the tenth century.
Location: Marina, Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal; Photography: C Duarte AT Algarve
Culinary-minded couples may enjoy a date night at Tertulia Algarvia in Faro, where they can watch a live cooking demonstration of a cataplana dish. A cataplana is a type of cookware traditionally used to prepare Portuguese seafood dishes, and it is especially popular in the Algarve. This copper, pressure cooker-like contraption can be used to cook almost anything, but the most common cataplana dishes consist of prawn, clams, or pork. After shopping together for fresh ingredients at the local market, newlyweds can prepare their food with a Tertulia Algarvia chef and enjoy their meal on a terrace overlooking the city. It’s a wonderful, hands-on way to experience some Portuguese culture. Plus, couples can always try to recreate their cataplana dishes back at home if they want to recapture the feeling of being on their honeymoon.
Location: Armona Island, Algarve, Portugal; Photography: Algarve Tourism Board
It's not uncommon for couples to invite their wedding photographer or hire a local photog for a day of capturing some destination honeymoon photos. In this case, Lagos should definitely be on the list of places to go in Algarve. The beaches are simply breathtaking with endless stretches of ocean in the background, arched rock formations, and clear blue skies that transform into a mesmerizing medley of colors during sunset.
Other must-see towns in the Algarve include Tavira (also known as “the prettiest town in Algarve”), Monchique (a quaint resort town up in the mountains that feels like a world of its own), and Albufeira (which has everything from family-friendly beaches to a bustling nightlife scene).
Of course, honeymooners would be remiss if they didn’t explore the Algarve by boat as well. Passeios Ria Formosa offers boat tours of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, sailing up the channel by Armona island. It only takes one afternoon of sightseeing and being surrounded by unspoiled natural surroundings to understand why the Algarve is such an idyllic destination for a honeymoon in Portugal.
Airfare provided by TAP Air Portugal