Hotels in Alvor, Portugal
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Alvor: Authentic Algarve
Alvor is a quaint and calm resort town on Portugal's Algarve, faithfully preserving the charm of its ancient fishing village. You will find a lovely mixture of reasonably priced hotels and luxury villas amongst the white-washed houses in Alvor's old village and low-rise buildings in the town centre. The town is an ideal destination for mature visitors and families, and far removed from the rowdiness you often see on Portugal's holiday coastline. The main attraction here is the six-kilometre boardwalk that runs along its vast, golden sandy beach and sand dunes, towards a peaceful nature reserve.
Stretch out on the long expanses of sand
Alvor boasts, in a typically understated manner, one of the largest stretches of golden sandy beaches in southern Portugal. It is not the sheer length of the beach that is so attractive, but its beautiful, unspoilt nature. Bar a couple of beach restaurants, it has been spared the ugliness of modern development and is most notable for its splendid sand dunes.
Officially, there are two beaches: Praia do Alvor and Praia dos Tres Irmãos. Praia dos Tres Irmãos, or the Three Brother's Beach, named after some pretty rock formations, runs to the eastern side of Alvor. The rocks provide some nice shelter, especially when the wind picks up.
Praia do Alvor, the western part, runs towards the mouth of the Ribeira de Odiáxere estuary. The estuary forms a huge inland lagoon which is heaven for water-sports enthusiasts and ideal for kite-surfing.
Temptingly so close, yet agonisingly so far, on the other side of the estuary is an even longer stretch of sand – Meia Praia which runs all the way to the charming medieval walled city of Lagos.
A beautiful boardwalk
The port of Alvor, isn't actually on the sea, but on the banks of the river, overlooking the lagoon. To get to the beach, you can wander along a beautiful wooden boardwalk.
You'll be in for anything but a 'bored walk’ though as you stroll along a part, or all, of the wonderful six-kilometre stretch of wooden pathways and through the delightful nature reserve. The banks of the estuary constitute a veritable haven for migrating wild-birds and beautiful flora and fauna, including flamingos, lizards and sea daffodils.
The promenade runs along the full length of the beach and through the fabulous dunes – making it accessible to all, including those with limited mobility. There are several pleasant bars and restaurants dotted along it too – perfect to stop off for a cool refreshing drink or meal. Just make sure your head is covered, as the walk is exposed to the elements – the sun and the wind!
The quaint old fishing village
Alvor may have grown from a charming fishing village, but it was also once a relatively important port founded by the Carthaginians, Portus Hannibalis. The Moors seized control in 1716 and constructed the castle. It was then taken by King Sancho I of Portugal with the aid of Crusader forcers in the 12th century and became an important town, with King John II notably dying in its palace in 1495. The castle and much of the village, however, was reduced to rubble after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the Portuguese coast in 1755. Despite the terrible destruction there was incredibly only one loss of life.
You can still see the castle today though you may not even realise it is there, as there are just a few remnants of the walls remaining.
Having a wander through the narrow cobbled streets and past the white-washed houses of the old fisherman's village, you may think little has changed. The town has indeed preserved its heritage well and the harbour area is still a pleasant place to sit and let the time go by…slowly, whilst the scent of grilled sardines fills the air. There are a few bars and restaurants by the harbour, though they don't detract from the traditional feel.
You'll stumble across a few nice squares in the town and some pretty, yet unassuming churches, including the delightful Igreja da Misericordia, as well as the main Igreja Matriz, near the harbour, which even hosts a mass in English every Saturday night.
Alvor's town centre is well managed too with a nice selection of restaurants serving traditional and international cuisine and some low-rise hotels. There are some lively bars obviously, but on the whole there is a pleasant, non-threatening vibe.
A taste of the action
If you want a small dose of adrenaline, there are many activities to partake in, including Canoeing along the river, golf, or bike rides. There is a zoo and waterpark in Lagos and a huge Aqualand in Alcantarilha.
Boat trips to medieval Lagos, where explorers set sail from to discover the new world, or up the river to Silves are very popular. The nearby town of Portimão, popular for shopping and with a nice market, is also very easy to access by bus – in fact probably easier than by car. If you're looking for a real big night out, its beach area, the lively Praia du Rocha is your best bet.
So if you're craving an authentic flavour of the Algarve and a calm, leisurely atmosphere, hotels or villas in Alvor should be near the top of your list!