Gay Algarve Guide
The Gay Algarve is on everyone’s radar this year. With stunning beaches, charming beachside villages, great dining and a warm and welcoming gay scene, discover the very best places to stay and pay with our gay guide to the region.
The Algarve is home to more than 10 beautiful gay beaches.
The Gay Algarve is one of Portugal’s most famous holiday destinations and is home to perfect sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and rich culture. It is also extremely friendly and welcoming to gay visitors. Whether you are looking for a tranquil escape on a secluded beach on the Eastern strip or a night on the town with some hot locals, the Algarve will not disappoint.
How Gay Friendly is the Algarve?
The Algarve is a very gay friendly and liberal destination! You will find a warm welcome.
Although it is located in the southernmost part of Portugal, years of tourism and the locals friendly nature have created a warm and accepting attitude towards gay travelers. The local gay community is also very active and open.
The gay scene in the Algarve is quite vibrant, especially during the Summer Season (July to September). Many towns have at least one gay bar or popular gay-friendly venue; Portimao and Albufeira are the two most popular gay destinations. More than 10 gay beaches lie dotted across the Algarve. They offer everything from romantic seclusion and nudist sunbathing to afternoon cruising.
Our top tips to a gay stay in The Algarve
The Algarve is quite a large region. Some simple forward planning using this guide will help ensure you get to see the best the area has to offer.
- Rent a Car. It really is worth it. Public transport is ok, but the best gay beaches are easier to get to by car. Search all the major car rental agencies here and get the best price.
- Visit Albufeira for the gay nightlife. It is a real party resort.
- Stay in Lagos. The old town is charming and the hotels, bars and restaurants are authentic and friendly.
- Take a day trip to the beautiful Portimão and then visit Praia do Submarino gay beach. It is a must-visit. Sexy guys and breathtaking scenery.
- Cacela Velha beach is a close second on the list of top beaches, but is a little more off-the-beaten-track. Stay overnight in the town of Vila Nova de Cacela Velha. Amazing restaurants and a relaxed vibe.
- Spend an afternoon with the millionaires in Quinta do Lago. If fine dining is your weakness, you won’t be disappointed.
Gay Guide to Albufeira
Albufeira is a holiday resort town in the gay Algarve. It has gorgeous beaches and great weather. It has a charming and historic old town with over one hundred different restaurants and bars, and a nightlife scene that is gay friendly and welcoming.
What to see and do
- The Strip, in the Montechoro area of town is the heart of Albufeira’s nightlife with a host of clubs and bars. Albufeira is a touristy destination popular with English gay guys. It is a great base to explore the more charming rural towns and secluded gay beaches further along the coast and beyond the resort
- Explore Old Albufeira on a private Tuk Tuk and enjoy the “Portuguese pavement”, laid in pretty patterns. Traverse its meandering streets with views across Praia do Peneco.
- Igreja Matriz is the town’s old church from the end of the 18th century and is worth a visit. It is an example of perfect Neoclassical architecture.
Faro airport taxis to Albufeira cost around 45€ and the trip takes 40 minutes on a normal day. Save money and book your transfer in advance.
Map of Albufeira
Where to stay in Albufeira
Albufeira offers some great hotel options on the gay Algarve, from 4 and 5 star boutique design hotels, adult only options to charming 3 star affordable options in the old town.
Gay bars in Albufeira
- Espelho – gay friendly bar with a sunny terrace and a popular meeting point to begin your night on the town. Dutch owned and located right on the strip.
- Connection Bar – Located at the Vilanova Resort building, on the 2nd floor, with terrace facing the main street, Connection Bar is right on the best night street of Albufeira. Open every night from 10;00 pm to 4:00 am.
Gay Beaches in Albufeira
Praia do Cavalo Preto
- Praia do Cavalo Preto has wide pristine sands, bounded by distant cliffs. It is one of the most popular gay beaches on The Algarve. The Cavalo Preto (Black Horse) Beach is between Vale do Lobo and Quarteira. The beach is surrounded by a pine forest providing a beautiful landscape and great places for picnics. Here you are in contact with nature and the occasional rendezvous.
Praia de Santa Eulalia
- Praia de Santa Eulalia is a popular beach. It has a dedicated gay section. The beach is 2.7 miles east of the town of Albufeira and is 20.5 miles west of the regions capital of Faro. The beach is clean and well-maintained. In the summer, there are lifeguards patrolling the beach. You can also enjoy different sorts of water sports here, including jet ski, parasailing or banana boats. In addition you can hire sunbeds on the beach. Check out the best hotels close to this beach.
Other regular beaches worth visiting are Praia da Falésia, a six-kilometre beach on the way to the stylish port of Vilamoura. Praia de São Rafael is a stunning beach, closer to Albufeira’s old town but totally removed from the resort.
Praia dos Salgados is the most secluded and natural of all the beaches in Albufeira. The beach faces west so is more open to the ocean breezes, has vigorous surf for watersports and gets beautiful sunsets, perfect for a romantic moment on the Gay Algarve to remember.
Recommended Restaurants in Albufeira
- Vila Joya Sea – a gorgeously cool beach shack, which serves sushi, sashimi, nigiri and ceviche.
- The Palacete – serving up traditional Portuguese dishes with hearty steaks and fresh seafood.
- Restaurante Dom Carlos – a fine dining experience with a popular 5 course meal for EUR 49. Reserve well in advance.
- Castelo do Mar – Portuguese cuisine with a couple of British and European favourites with spectacular views.
Vilamoura is a 20 minute drive from Albufeira, famous for its large marina, golf courses and casino. It has a lovely sandy beach and is great for swimming and sunbathing. Cerro da Vila archaeological museum has a ruined Roman villa with bathhouses and mosaics. Take a trip to see the nearby Red cliffs on Falésia Beach. The cliffs stretch west to the fishing village Olhos de Água.
Gay Portimão / Praia da Rocha
Portimão is located in the western Gay Algarve. It is approximately 1 hour’s drive from Faro Airport. The popular beach resort of Praia da Rocha can be and is where most people choose to stay, offering sandy beaches, scenic promenades, historic buildings, great shopping, superb restaurants and café bars.
Things to see and do
Portimão has a famous old quarter, a busy marina and several gay friendly hotels. The Museu de Portimão is housed in a restored 19th-century cannery.
- Visit the Gothic-style Nossa Senhora da Conceição church, decorated in beautiful azulejo tiles.
- Explore Rocha Beach to the south. It is backed by ochre cliffs offering amazing views.
- The medieval Fort of Santa Catarina de Ribamar is steeped in history and tells the story of the Algarve through the ages.
- For the advernterous, book a boat trip up the Rio Arade or go skydiving from Portimão aerodrome.
Map of Praia da Rocha
Praia da Rocha
Praia da Rocha is a lively resort on the gay Algarve, with a long, broad golden beach, backed by limestone cliffs. Nestled at the base of the cliffs are numerous beach restaurants and bars serving Portuguese and international food, from early morning to late at night.
A great wooden boardwalk runs the length of the beach. Next to the beach, on the other side of the pier is the Marina, the perfect setting for a leisurely stroll. Admire the yachts or why not charter your own boat. You can also join a dolphin spotting excursion. The marina is home to some of the best restaurants in the area. It is also a great beach for surf lessons.
Where to stay in Portimão / Praia da Rocha
Gay Bars in Portimão
- Loft Portimão – fashionable gay bar with a real party atmosphere and excellent music.
Gay beaches in Portimão
Praia do Submarino
- Praia do Submarino is a breathtaking & hidden, nudist optional gay beach just outside Portimão. Bring sneakers, as flip flops just won’t cut it. There route is rocky but the beach itself is superb.
Praia João de Arens
- Praia João de Arens is close to Submarino and is a beautiful and tranquil hidden gem. It’s gay friendly and you can get naked at the far east end. ( There is a small tunnel to go through )
How to get to the Gay Beach
- Submarino beach is 13 minutes drive from Portimão, via Av. das Comunidades Lusíadas. You can also catch the train which takes approximately 45 mins and arrives at Prainha. The beach is a 15 min walk from the station.
- Look up tide times as you can only access this beach in low tide. Pack up when the tide is half way in. After parking, walk to the end of the road towards Casa da Guarda; make a right and walk around the two Gruta’s (holes in the rocks looking down onto the beaches); keep following the path to the right which will lead you down onto the beach.
Stay close to the Gay Beach
- Jardim do Vau is a beachfront aparthotel offers one and two bedroom apartments with fully equipped kitchens. It has an indoor and an outdoor pool, and a free shuttle from the property to Portimão.
- Pestana Alvor is a premium suite hotel features an outdoor swimming pool. The 4-star unit includes a restaurant, bar and an outdoor fitness centre.
Recommended restaurants in Portimão
- Vista Restaurante – Winner of a Michelin star in 2018, housed in Bela Vista Hotel, offering a sublime dining experience.
- No Solo Agua – beautiful beach club, spend the day by the pool or on the beach and dine out in the restaurant offering delicious gastronomic cuisine including Italian, French and amazing Sushi.
- Restaurante O Farol – beachfront open air restaurant offering a variety of dishes, from steak to fish. Friendly staff and reasonably priced. Great views.
Lagos is a popular historic town in the gay Algarve. It is our readers top choice as a base to explore the region. Over the past decade it has become one of the most popular destinations for gay visitors. It is located just 1 hour by car from Albufeira, further west.
Map of Gay Lagos
Things to See and do
- Lagos is filled with rich historic and cultural heritage sites. It is home to great natural landscapes and stunning sandy beaches. Many of the beaches are secluded offering gay visitors the perfect place for a romantic moment in the sun.
- Lagos Old Town has an old romantic feel to it, almost like you’re in a movie. You can spend an entire day here wandering through the cobbled streets and browsing the little surf shops, cafes and squares.
- Enjoy the sunset at Ponte da Piedade,a famous headland and instagram hotspot that shows off a group of rock formations consisting of yellow-golden cliffs standing up to 20 metres high.
- Visit the caves at Benagil. Benagil is a small fishing village, east of Lagos, made famous in recent years by the beautiful caves on its coastline.
Where to stay in Lagos?
Gay Beaches in Lagos
Meia Praia is the most popular beach in Lagos. Others include Praia da Batata, Praia da Dona Ana, Camilo beach, Porto de Mos beach, and Ponta da Piedade.
Praia Do Canavial
- Praia Do Canavial offers nudist optional, swimming & surfing off a popular, breezy beach below crumbling, weather-sculpted yellow cliffs. It is a narrow isolated and peaceful beach. You should visit during low tide. Access is on foot (small trail) along the cliff top from the street called Rua do Canavial, located about 650 m to the east of Porto de Mós Beach, along the Porto de Mós road.
Porto de Mos beach
- There are many great beaches in Lagos. The small ones such as Camilo and Dona Anna are picture perfect with stunning cliffs and scenery, but get packed quickly. Porto de Mos has plenty of room with nearby facilities and charming restaurants. You can almost always find an area with a little more space. The beach is much prettier than Meia Praia and just far enough out of the centre of town to feel like you have escaped for the day. O António Restaurant serves a delicious lunch with a view and there are sunbeds available. To the right of the beach you will find the gay area and in the middle are all families, so there is something for everyone here. Sunset here is very pretty and really lights up the red cliffs to the left side of the beach. Overall great place to spend the day.
- Stay close to Porto de Mos beach and get the best rate at these top hotels.
How to get to the Gay Beach
- Take the M534 from Lagos. There is plenty of space to park your car near the beach. The more you are on the eastern side, the easier it will be to find a parking spot. When you go by bus from Lagos, you can take bus number 2, which follows a route along several beaches, including Porto de Mós and Dona Ana. Buses usually go every hour.
- You can reach Meia Praia by water taxi. Take the water taxi from Avenida dos Descobrimentos in Lagos. The boat arrives at the estuary near the town center.
Gay Bars in Lagos
Restaurants in Lagos
- Campimar Restaurante Bar – Praia de Porto de Mós, is a Great fish restaurant in Porto de Mos on the beach with amazing sunset views. Porto de Mos is just half an hours walk from centre of Lagos or get Line 2 bus.
- Comidinha Restaurante – Praça do Poder Local 5, is a very small neighborhood restaurant offering some of the best traditional Portuguese food in the area. The wine list is top notch.
- Nah Nah Bah Restaurant – 11 Travessa do Forno, Opened in 2005 by family & friends, Nah Nah Bah has become a must visit for burger lovers and street food enthusiasts from around the globe. Located in Lagos; this foodie hotspot redefines the hamburger one bite at a time.
The best gay beach on the Algarve? Cacela Velha
Located to the west of Manta Rota beach, Cacela Velha is probably the best gay beach Portugal, alongside the infamous Costa da Caparica beach 19 outside Lisbon. The sandy gay beach is found on a peninsula. It separates the sea from the estuary, at the eastern end of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The beach is almost two kilometers long.
Exploring the dunes in this idyllic experience allows you to glimpse the whole bay of Monte Gordo, the islands of Fábrica, Cabanas and Tavira, the lagoon and its marshes, the historic village of Cacela Velha, with its imposing fortress, and in the distance, the elevations of the Algarve mountain range.
The beach is also popular cruising spot, along the stretch of bush scrub that covers the peninsula’s extensive duness, especially during the afternoons of July and August, and on the sunniest and warmest weekends of late Spring and early Autumn.
Getting to Cacela Velha
Cacela Velha is 50km to the east of Faro, or a 45-minute drive. With a large free car park, it’s simple to park and explore. Cacela Velha is about an hour’s drive from Albufeira and 90 minutes from Lagos. If you are using public transport, From Faro, you can get a bus to the nearby village of Vila Nova de Cacela Velha. From there it’s a short ride on a local bus to Cacela Velha, or a 2km walk. The journey will take around two hours, and buses depart Faro often. This is the same route that will allow you to get to Cacela Velha from the nearby towns of Tavira and Olhao. Alternatively, you can also take the train as Vila Nova de Cacela Velha also has a train station
Plan a day out and bring a picnic or head to the village for some authentic Portuguese fare at Casa da Igreja restaurant on R. de Cacela Velha 2, or Casa Velha restaurant. It’s a delightful day trip from anywhere in the Algarve and avoids much of the overcrowding that happens elsewhere on the coast. Stay in nearby Nova de Cacela if you want to rest overnight.
Other Gay Beaches in the Algarve
- Enjoy a beautiful scenic drive along the coast until you reach Praia Verde. This large beach is open all year and offers great views and is perfect for swimming. True to its name, this beach is surrounded by a stone pine forest growing down the gentle hills to the sands.
- Praia Verde has beautiful white sand, which is extremely fine. Its rock-free soft sand makes it a joy to walk on the beach barefoot. Praia Verde is situated in eastern Algarve, in between the popular towns of Monte Gordo and Tavira. It is only a 10 minute drive to the Spanish border.
- The sea in Praia Verde is calm and the water is crystal clear. The water is warmer here than in many other parts of the Algarve. A small holiday resort village is located behind the dunes with restaurants, bars and shops. Overall the feel of the area is much less touristy than many other parts of the Algarve.Praia Verde belongs to the town of Castro Marim. This is a cute little town, which is definitely worth visiting.
- You can reach the beach easiest by car. Take the main road (the N125), until you you come to the beach signpost. Take the exit and follow the road. The beach is a 45 minute drive from Faro or a 90 min train ride.
- For a luxurious escape stay at the Praia Verde Resort, located in the heart of Eastern Algarve with stunning views of the sea and a swimming pool surrounded by pine trees and served by a pool bar.
Praia do Barril
- Praia do Barril is a little further off the beaten track than Praia Verde. It is a 20 minute walk from the road to the beach. It is about a 40 minute drive from Faro. Alternatively you can take the train departing from the nearby Pedras d’El Rei Tourist Village, or take the ferryboat. It provides a regular service from Ilha de Tavira throughout the Summer.
- The atmosphere in Praia do Barril is relaxed and the scenery untouched. The beach forms part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and has warm waters from late Spring and an area reserved for Naturism. Praia do Barril is one of the best beaches to visit in the Tavira. The beach is basically an extension of Ilha de Tavira and is known for its bizarre anchor cemetery with over 100 rusting anchors in the sand.
A luxury escape in the Algarve
Quinta do Lago
Quinta do Lago is a gated community with several high end resorts and is home to some of the best restaurants in the Algarve. IT is just a short 22 minute drive from Faro airport. Put it on your itinerary if you want a luxury experience. Itis also close to the beautiful Ria Formosa Natural Park.
- Gigi’s – where the jet-set hang out and has views of the Ria Formosa lagoon. Excellent seafood.
- Gusto by Heinz Beck – located within Quinta do Lago’s Conrad Hotel. Italian flavours and technical wizardry combine to produce their signature dishes.
- Pure Boutique Café – A perfect place for breakfast after an early run on the beach, Pure offers a myriad of healthy drinks from vitamin boosters of lemon and ginger to fruit smoothies and herbal teas.
Quinta Shopping, is a great boutique mall with a selection of shops and eateries and a Farmers Market on the first Sunday of every month.
Faro, The Capital of the Algarve
Faro is the capital of the Algarve and is your gateway to all of the popular gay beaches and resorts spread across the coast. The city lies at the centre of the Algarve. Although most people head straight to their resorts, Faro is home to the region’s biggest nightclub and has some charming sights worth exploring. A day trip is definitely recommended. The capital has a distinctly Portuguese feel that you won’t find in the resort towns, apart from Lagos.
At its core, you can discover the beating heart of Faro’s old town or cidade velha, The Vila Adentro, as well as the 16th-century Renaissance Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assunção. Lying where a Jewish quarter once was, this special place represents much of Portugal’s ancestry. Somehow, it managed to endure the ages and cultures, surviving overtime throughout changes and transformations.
Today, it is the town’s history museum, housing an archaeological collection, including a 3rd-century Mosaic of the Ocean, 9th to 13th-century Islamic artefacts and many more. Learn more about Portuguese traditions as local legends are given new life.
- Prestige Night Club – Gay Club in the heart of Faro with theme nights, DJs and drag queens.
- Golden Beach Luxury – Located in the Faro Beach facing the ocean and one step from the sand, the Golden Beach Guest House offers comfortable rooms, a terrace with a hot tub and an on-site bar. Free WiFi is available.
Things to do in the Gay Algarve
- The gay Algarve is a heaven for Nature lovers with over 30 different hiking trails. Explore the Ria Formosa or hike from the Caldeirão mountains to the Sagres cape. If you don’t want to hike, consider a jeep safari or explore by bike. After a hard day, discover some amazing Spas and forget your aches and pains.
- Enjoy a relaxing boat trip along the coast or join a dolphin watching trip where you can get up close with these beautiful creatures.
- Explore the beautiful caves of Ponta da Piedade.
- For the more sporty, consider kayak tours or go diving at the spectacular Ocean Revival Park.
- There are also plenty of sailing, windsurf, surf lessons, kite surfing, wake board options available on most of the beaches in the region.
- Tour the old town of Lagos and take in the town’s wonderful winding streets in the historic district.
- Explore Silves the former capital of The Algarve and experience the influence of the Moors in the town’s imposing red stone castle.
- Enjoy the mountain-top views at Monchique and stop off at one of the many restaurants and cafes as you make your way to the charming village of Caldas De Monchique with its famous Roman spas.
- Dine out at the marina in Vilamoura with some great evening options for dinner. It is also the perfect place to book a boat ride along the coast.
Getting to The Algarve
Faro Airport (FAR) is the Algarve’s principal Airport. It is 4 km west of the city of Faro. Few visitors stay in Faro, preferring instead to explore the gay beaches and charming towns to the west. The airport is extremely busy in the summer. Most of Europe’s budget and charter carriers fly to Faro.
Getting from the Airport to your hotel
- Hire your car in advance and avoid long queues at the airport.
- Taxi / Private Transfer – can be expensive depending on your hotel’s location. Book in advance.
- Hotel Shuttles – most hotels offer an airport transfer service.
- Take the train from Lisbon and Faro with to 5 trains a day. The journey takes approximately 3 hours.
- Driving from Lisbon is relatively straightforward. It is motorway most of the way from Lisbon to the gay Algarve. Those coming from Spain can take the A22 dual carriageway that runs from the Spanish border to Lagos. Note there are several toll roads on this route.
- Taxis are available throughout the towns and villages. The best place to flag one down is by an official taxi rank. You can spot them by their beige or green and black liveries. All are metered. There are surcharges for luggage.
EVA and Frota Azul are the main bus companies in the region and offer limited services between the towns of Portimao and Albufeira and the popular beaches.
When to visit The Gay Algarve
The Algarve has a year round pleasant climate with short Winters and long and warm Summers. The gay Algarve is popular destination almost year-round.
If you want to avoid the heat, visit from May to early July. Mid July to end of September is the busiest time to top up your tan as the temperatures soar. The warm weather extends into late October when you can enjoy traditional end of season festivals.
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