Alvor is a delightful town with a distinctively Portuguese appearance. Picture traditional white-washed houses, narrow cobbled streets and small fishing boats pulled up along the banks of the river. It may be a relatively small town, but Alvor contains a surprisingly large selection of restaurants, shops and late-night bars, all of which are found within the pretty historic centre and winding cobbled streets. In town there are a plethora of shopping choices from boutique shops that sell handmade goods to a bunch of gypsy markets.
Within walking distance of the town centre there is Alvor’s single vast beach that extends for over 3.5km, from the mouth of the Ria de Alvor in the west to the sandstone cliffs of Prainha in the east. Praia do Alvor is so long it offers both peaceful seclusion and tourist friendly sections.
Its cliffs and rocks attract thousands of tourists every year who enjoy kayaking around them. In the centre you will find a broad range of water sports activities where the fine sand, cool water and a strong breeze make the beach a top spot for kite surfers and windsurfers, especially in the afternoon. Divers are attracted to the four shipwrecks lying in the seabed. Several dive schools and operators await with jet skis, canoes, stand up paddle boards, pedal boats and equipment hire.
This is also one of the best beaches to practice sports since it has a lot of sand and it is flat, meaning your group can easily indulge in a bit of beach cricket, beach football, beach volleyball, beach rackets and more. Even at the height of the season there is plenty of room on the beach for you to lie down and relax.
A very popular attraction in Alvor are the elevated walkways across the sand dunes and mud flats of Alvor’s Nature Reserve. The pathways provide a unique view over Alvor’s river estuary and are perfect for birdwatching. This very relaxing track, which has now been extended eastwards along the main beach, is a very pleasant place to explore on foot or by bicycle.
One of Alvor's greatest assets is its wide riverfront. It has undergone major refurbishment over recent years and is now fully paved and lined with palm trees and several beach bars. All the bars down the promenade have plenty of outside seating ideal for watching the fishing boats come and go. At the end, near the lifeboat station, is a collection of restaurants tempting you with the aroma of freshly barbecued fish.
Alvor is home to several churches that are worth a visit thanks to their historical significance. Most important is Igreja Matriz Divini Salvador which overlooks over the town. Built in the 16th century, its main attraction is the entrance door. The gorgeous Manueline portico is heavily decorated with motifs alluding to fauna and flora, war scenes and religious symbols. In the interior, the tiles of the 18th century stand out as well as the rich images present in the six altars of gilded carving.
Another place of historic interest is the ruins of Alvor’s Castle. Built on top of an ancient mall that stood its ground during the Romans occupation. The only remains from prior to the 1755 earthquake are the foundations which have been converted into a children’s playground.