We consider the inclusion of the space of algebraic (regular) maps between real algebraic varieties in the space of all continuous maps. For a certain class of real algebraic varieties, which include real projective spaces, it is well known that the space of real algebraic maps is a dense subset of the space of all continuous maps. Our first result shows that, for this class of varieties, the inclusion is also a homotopy equivalence. After proving this, we restrict the class of varieties to real projective spaces. In this case, the space of algebraic maps has a 'minimum degree' filtration by finite-dimensional subspaces and it is natural to expect that the homotopy types of the terms of the filtration approximate closer and closer the homotopy type of the space of continuous mappings as the degree increases. We prove this and compute the lower bounds of this approximation of these spaces. This result can be seen as a generalization of the results of Mostovoy, Vassiliev and others on the topology of the space of real rational maps and the space of real polynomials without n-fold roots. It can also be viewed as a real analogue of Mostovoy's work on the topology of the space of holomorphic maps between complex projective spaces, which generalizes Segal's work on the space of complex rational maps.