Algarve vs Costa del Sol

Algarve Sandy beaches

If you are in a situation to choose between Algarve and Costa del Sol, you are really lucky because there is no wrong option. Both places are really good to visit and to live there. They are the essence of Portugal and Spain, and in fact, it doesn’t matter whichever one of them you are going to choose. However, Algarve and Costa del Sol are definitely not the same thing and you might like one of them much more than the other. Let’s make together the choice easier for you.

The Spirit of Marbella

The Spirit of Marbella by Nick Kenrick/Flickr

Weather in Algarve and Costa del Sol

Climate

Since the Algarve and Costa del Sol are located very close to each other, and because both are located in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula, they offer very similar types of climate.

Both places have a subtropical Mediterranean climate with long, hot and dry summers and short mild and rainy winters. The temperatures over the year are nearly equal with the small difference of about 1 degree.

Temperatures

From January to December usually the average daytime temperature in Costa del Sol is approximately 1 degree higher than Algarve. For example, the average temperature in January in Albufeira and Faro is 16 degrees compared to 17 degrees in Marbella and Malaga.

The same applies to the summer months when the average temperature during the day is 28 – 29 degrees in Algarve and 31 degrees in Marbella and Malaga.

Costa del Sol Mijas

Costa del Sol Mijas by Nick Kenrick/Flickr

The common between Algarve and Costa del Sol is that they both offer really warm and sunny weather 8-9 months per year and really pleasant winters. Here are the average temperatures during the day in Algarve (Faro) and Costa del Sol (Malaga):

January – Algarve 16°C / Costa del Sol – 17°C

February – Algarve 17°C / Costa del Sol – 18°C

March -Algarve 19°C / Costa del Sol – 20°C

April – Algarve 21°C / Costa del Sol – 22°C

May – Algarve 23°C / Costa del Sol – 24°C

June – Algarve 27°C / Costa del Sol – 28°C

July – Algarve 29°C / Costa del Sol – 31°C

August – Algarve 29°C / Costa del Sol – 31°C

September – Algarve 27°C / Costa del Sol – 28°C

October – Algarve 23°C / Costa del Sol – 24°C

November – Algarve 20°C / Costa del Sol – 20°C

December – Algarve 17°C / Costa del Sol – 17°C

Lagos cove beach

Lagos cove beach by Gemma Louise Lowe/Flickr

Rainfalls

There is a small difference between Algarve and Costa del Sol when it comes to the number of rainy day throughout the year. With 90 rainy days per year on average, the weather in Algarve is a bit wetter.

At the same time, Malaga, which is the most important city on the coast of Andalusia, gets only 44 days with rainfalls. The maximum amount of rain in Algarve falls in February, while in Malaga the wettest month is November.

Despite the bigger number of rainy days, the weather in Algarve and Costa del Sol gets nearly the same amount of rainfall – 534 mm per year in Costa del Sol (Malaga) and 508 mm in Algarve (Faro).

Sea temperature

The differences between the seawater temperature in Algarve and Costa del Sol is insignificant. The seawater temperature along the coast of Algarve varies between 16°C in March and 23 – 24°C in August, and in Marbella it is respectively 15 – 16°C in February and 24°C in August.

Since the Mediterranean is less dependent of the ocean currents temperature, the water along the coast of Marbella could more easily become warmer or colder.

Algarve Sandy beaches

Algarve Sandy beaches by PortoBay Hotels & Resorts/Flickr

Beaches

Both Costa del Sol and Algarve are well-known for their incredible beaches. Each one of these places has its own advantages. For sure, they are really famous all across the globe, but which of these places is better, you have to decide for yourself.

– Costa del Sol

Costa del Sol is approximately 150 km long and stretches between Punta Chullera to the west and Maro to the east (just east of Nerja). The coast is famous for its superb beaches, whose color varies between creamy white and beige with pale brownish nuances.

In some areas the beaches of Costa del Sol strongly remind these of California, especially the shore of Malibu. However, the sea surface along Costa del Sol is usually much more calm and quiet, at least during the summer season.

– Algarve

The coast of Algarve is nearly 155 km long or approximately 5 km longer than Costa del Sol. It stretches between Cape Saint Vincent to the west and the Spanish border to the east.

The coast of Algarve is considered the most picturesque in Southern Europe. It is very steep, with vertical yellow, red and orange coastal cliffs.

The beaches are just wonderful and are for sure among the most beautiful in Europe. They offer very gentle golden sands. Some of them are very small and secluded, while others are kilometres long.

Praia da Marinha Algarve

Praia da Marinha Algarve by Ricard12

Algarve or Costa del Sol is more expensive

If you are searching for a cheaper place to live or to spend your holiday, you should probably consider Costa de la Luz instead of Algarve or Costa del Sol.

However, even if relatively expensive, they both offer plenty of places to buy a cheap apartment or even a house as well as to spend an affordable vacation.

Normally, Costa del Sol is more expensive than Algarve BUT don’t forget that some towns on the southern coast of Portugal could be still much more expensive.

It all depends on where you are and what part of the year it is. The most expensive in the region of Algarve are considered the towns of Lagos and Albufeira while the top spot on the Costa del Sol belongs to Marbella.

Albufeira Beach from above

Albufeira Beach from above by Wiki/CC BY-SA 3.0

Both places have their famous residents, including Cristiano Ronaldo in Algarve and Antonio Banderas in Costa del Sol.

Algarve or Costa del Sol is safer?

Both Algarve and Costa del Sol are very safe places to visit or to live in and are nearly identical in this respect. Portugal, together with Malta, is the safest country in South Europe and one of the safest in the world.

The levels of crime are very low in both Algarve and Costa del Sol and are comparable (or in most cases lower) to every other tourist area in Europe, no matter if in France, Italy, Greece or other country.

However, there are some differences from one place to another depending on if you are in a bigger city like Malaga or in smaller towns like Marbella or Albufeira.

Mijas at sunset, Costa del Sol

Mijas at sunset, Costa del Sol by Andrew Hurley/Flickr

Algarve or Costa del Sol is more cosmopolitan?

Both places are really cosmopolitan and attract people from around the world. The coast of the Algarve is a popular spot for visitors and settlers from the Netherlands and Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland).

However, Costa del Sol is considered the most international spot in Europe after London. Because of the large number of settlers from UK, this part of Spain is often referred “the new London”. It a popular destination for settlers and visitors from all 6 continents.

Which offers more exciting nightlife and which is more quiet and relaxing?

Although some parts of Algarve, such as Albufeira, are popular party destinations, the southern coast of Portugal is generally much more quiet and relaxing place.

Here is much easier to find some privacy and secluded place just for yourself. On the other side, Costa del Sol offers more entertainment options and is generally more hectic and noisy place with more exciting nightlife, which attracts a huge number of young visitors.

Albufeira beach

Albufeira beach by najarich/Flickr

Which is more romantic?

If you are searching for a romantic spot to spend your holiday with your significant other and can’t decide between Algarve and Costa del Sol, you should definitely consider the idea to spend some time in the South of Portugal. It is for sure more romantic for young but also for elderly couples.

Which is more gay friendly?

Algarve and Costa del Sol are considered two of the top destination in the world for gay travelers. They are very tolerant in every aspect and are popular gay wedding destinations.

And yet, if you want to travel mostly around the province, in the region of Costa del Sol you will probably find better acceptance. But as we said, there is no wrong option here because people are really open-minded and tolerant in both Algarve and Costa del Sol.