The golden beaches of the Algarve attract admirers from around the world, particularly during the peak of summer when it may seem like the entire globe is converging onto your beach towel in Albufeira. Despite the Algarve’s widespread popularity, numerous excellent deals are still awaiting savvy travelers in this sun-soaked corner of Portugal.

Economical hotels are scattered throughout towns across the region. If you don’t mind a touch of old-world charm in the decor, you can secure some remarkable rates (even under $75 per night for a double room, even in August) – although booking well in advance is advisable. You’ll also discover ways to dine splendidly, navigate sustainably, and embark on island-exploring adventures, all without straining your budget. Below, we’ve outlined the top strategies for enjoying Algarve and Lagos on a budget.

#1 – Plan Your Trip Outside Of Peak Season

Room rates experience a significant surge in July and August as travelers from across Europe and beyond flock to the beautiful beaches. You’ll get excellent deals if you travel outside of peak season, which falls around June and September. During these months, you can still enjoy pleasant, warm days, though taking a dip in the ocean might be a slightly cooler experience. May and October also offer delightful conditions and attract fewer crowds. For the most budget-friendly rates, typically half the price of high season, consider coming between December and February. During this period, daytime highs hover around 16°C (61°F), making it ideal for outdoor activities like hiking, and you won’t have to contend with crowds. 

#2 – Stay At A Hostel

Aside from airfare, accommodation expenses typically represent the largest portion of your trip’s budget. However, you can change the game by opting for a wallet-friendly hostel. If you envision drab, institutional-style dormitories, it’s time to reconsider. The Algarve boasts many chic hostel options for a comfortable night’s stay. The finest among them offer outdoor pools, spacious terraces, and cozy lounges where you can socialize with fellow travelers over drinks. Many hostels also feature communal kitchens, enabling you to save even more by preparing some of your own meals. Lagos, in particular, boasts a dense cluster of hostels, including highly recommended options like those in the charming Old Town. 

#3 – Travel Around By Train

In Portugal, the combination of expensive rental cars and continually increasing fuel prices can strain your travel budget. A more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative is to utilize the train network. Portugal’s railway system offers reliable service, especially from Lisbon. You can also embark on rail journeys from Lagos to Vila Real de Santo António near the Spanish border, with stops in Portimão, Faro, and Tavira along the way. This not only saves you money but also reduces your carbon footprint.

#4 – Get Food From The Local Markets

You can reduce your costs by acquiring several meals from local markets. While less upscale than the fancy and costly farmers’ markets in the US and the UK, these markets are essential stops for budget-conscious travelers in Portugal. They offer an array of reasonably priced, top-quality local produce, including fresh bread, cheeses, olives, smoked meats, fruits, vegetables, wine, and all the essentials you’ll need. If you’re staying in accommodation with a kitchen, you can also discover fresh seafood straight from the boat at reasonable prices.

#5 – Skip Organized Tours – Enjoy The Area On Your Own

Sunset cruises and guided mountain biking excursions are enjoyable but costly. Instead, consider some strategic planning by organizing activities that you can pursue independently. Numerous rental outlets offer bicycles, allowing you to enjoy a rewarding day of coastal cycling. At various beaches such as Meia Praia, you can rent paddleboards and kayaks for affordable seaside adventures. This way, you can have an equally exciting experience while being mindful of your budget.