Explore this coastal paradise where LGBTQ travelers will find themselves warmly accepted, and experience a vibrant cultural scene.
Words by Marc Graser Photos by Fred Rivett, Vinicius Morandi, Julia Solonina, Sherry Kanabar, Diego Gennaro, and Max Sed
While the classically beautiful cities of Lisbon and Porto are typically on the list for any traveler visiting Portugal, the stunning sun-drenched coastline, scenic limestone cliffs and golden beaches of the Algarve should also be included on any future itinerary.
A scenic three-hour drive from Lisbon, the Algarve is an attractive destination for nature enthusiasts located in the southernmost region of Portugal, and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west.
It’s a coastal paradise where LGBTQ travelers will find themselves warmly accepted, and experience a vibrant cultural scene. That’s especially true in the charming towns and villages of Albufeira, Faro, Lagos and Portimão, where you can relax and catch the sunset over glasses of chilled Vinho Verde and meals of freshly caught seafood from local Michelin-starred restaurants and bars.
Portugal is known for its delicious red wines, and you can find a variety of them in the Algarve. Look for wines made from grape varieties such as Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, and Aragonez (also known as Tempranillo). The country’s whites, like Alvarinho, Arinto, and Antão Vaz are also excellent.
The stunning sun-drenched coastline, scenic limestone cliffs and golden beaches of the Algarve should also be included on any future itinerary,
Unlike Europe’s Ibiza and Mykonos, the more budget-friendly Algarve hasn’t established itself as a popular gay destination just yet. But it’s equally worthy.
In general, the Portuguese people have a reputation for their warm hospitality, embracing diversity and treating travelers with respect and open-mindedness. The Algarve’s fourth Pride parade was held this year in Faro.
Known as one of the sunniest regions in Europe, Algarve’s Mediterranean and Atlantic climate gives it pleasant weather throughout the year.
You’ll find the best beaches with incredible rock formations in Praia da Rocha, in Portimão, and Praia do Trafal, in the working class town of Quarteira, where you’ll find a more authentic experience away from the three upscale resort communities that make up the region’s Golden Triangle: Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo, and Vilamoura.
Alvor, Lagos and Tavira are where gay travelers will want to stay, as these are the towns with gay-friendly beaches, including the secluded Praia João de Arens.
One day trip worth taking is a boat to the Benagil Caves, an iconic local sight you can only access by water. There you can bask in the sunlight that streams through the hole in its roof.