The south coast of Portugal – the Algarve Province – attracts holidaymakers in summer, and digital nomads, remote workers, and retirees in autumn, winter and spring. Whereas visitors who are on vacation need a place to stay for one or two weeks, other travelers are looking for a place for a month or for a longer time. Here are a few tips on where and how to find the right kind of accommodation in Algarve.
The source for the tips is a travel guide Algarve, Southern Portugal that also features information on sights, beaches, villages, culture, activities, food, and towns.
Even though the Algarve region lacks big cities, large towns like Albufeira, Lagos, Portimao and Faro have lively nightlife, and popular pubs are sometimes packed from lunch time onwards.
Internet access in south coast towns is relatively reliable, but having a backup connection, like a mobile data connection for Internet access, is crucial if you are going to work.
A wide range of hotels and holiday homes are available for short and long term stay in Algarve. If you want to stay in large towns, the best selection and best prices are for rooms in apartment blocks.
Townhouses, bungalows, and other types of places with a terrace or a small garden can be found in villages, such as Luz or Carvoeiro. In addition, villas are available for rent outside towns in the countryside.
Apartment blocks that have been built for tourists often have a pool. In winter, however, these pools tend to be closed. A really convenient feature in recently-built apartments is that they often have spacious balconies. For instance, a place where I stayed in the outskirts of Albufeira was a one-bedroom apartment with three balconies. The kitchen, living room, and bedroom had their own balconies.
Travelers who are looking for a place to stay and perhaps work for a few weeks, month, or more, should get in touch with local real estate agents. This means face-to-face contact, probably a visit to an agent’s office. First, book a place for a few days only – perhaps via an online service. It will be your base while you search for a long-term place.
You should have an idea of the area where you want to stay along the south coast. If that’s not the case, hire a car and drive along the bumpy roads of Algarve and explore the region. Once you have decided on the area, contact a real estate agent in that particular district. The agent will show you the places available at your price level. For instance, I once dealt with an agent who handled the maintenance and rentals of apartments for entire buildings in a particular section of a town.
The key point of the process is to see the place with your own eyes before you pay. The nasty problem with booking a long-term stay via an online service, like Airbnb or Booking.com is that you have to pay in advance without seeing the place. When you open the door, step in, and realize that it is not at all like the information on the web pages, you have already lost money and time.
The better way is to research the area, contact an agent, and ask the agent to show you places you intend to rent.
Even if the apartment where you are going to stay may come with Internet access, always get a backup connection. This is easy to accomplish in Portugal. Walk in to a mobile phone shop (for instance, Phone House) or a mobile network operator shop (MEO, NOS or Vodafone), ask for a data only SIM card, and choose your initial data amount. There are no formalities, you get the card right away. After you have used the initial amount of data, you can top up online, at an ATM, or in a post office. I usually topped up my SIM card at a post office (cash only accepted).
If you are traveling with pets, the choices for places to stay are limited, but it is possible to find something. It just takes a little more time and requires flexibility.