It was here that, in the 15th century, the Portuguese set off on the epic journey that led them to discover other peoples and cultures… and it is in the Algarve that we cheerfully welcome many of our visitors. Even the climate is mild and sunny all year round!
There’s no shortage of high quality beaches either. Sandy stretches as far as the eye can see, framed by golden cliffs, virtually deserted islands marking the boundary between Ria Formosa and the sea, and small coves sheltered by the rocks. The ocean, in every shade of blue and mostly calm and warm, invites you for long swims and to indulge in water sports.
And there are also the mountains, where people live in harmony with nature and maintain traditions that they love to share. And the cities. Silves preserves traces of its Arab past and Lagos from the time of the Discoveries. More cosmopolitan Portimão and Albufeira are bustling towns by night and day. Tavira is a showcase for traditional architecture and Faro, the gateway to the region, deserves a long stop to discover its beautiful historic centre.
To relax, you can have various treatments in the spas and thalassotherapy centres and in the Monchique Thermal Baths. There are also many internationally acclaimed golf courses where you can enjoy a spot of exercise. And hotels, tourist villages, resorts, from the simplest to the most sophisticated. In short, a varied array sharing a genuine love for hospitality.
You can use footpaths and cycle trails to get to know the region, such as the Algarve Way inland or the Vicentine Route along one of the best preserved coastal stretches. And boat rides are another ecological way to observe the flora and fauna.
At the table, you will be delighted with the fresh fish and seafood, either grilled or in a casserole. These are divine flavours which you can enjoy on a simple beach terrace or in the most refined Michelin-starred restaurants, where chefs turn out new versions of traditional cuisine. They are further experiences not to be missed on a visit to the region.
The Algarve beaches
From long, sandy beaches protected by golden cliffs to small bays nestled between rocks, the Algarve has beaches to suit all tastes. What they have in common is the offer of a perfect holiday in the sun.
What are the ingredients of this offer? A mild climate, with sunshine for about 300 days a year. A clear sea, almost always warm and calm. And fine white sand, an invitation to relax that can’t be ignored – it’s as simple as laying on a towel in the sun to get a tan to die for or building sandcastles by the sea with the children.
There are about 200 kilometres of beaches between the southwest coast near Aljezur and the eastern end close to Vila Real de Santo António, which differ widely among themselves. The majority have the high safety and quality conditions recognised by the European blue flag symbol, with amenities that promise fun and sports. Many beaches are of great beauty, offering idyllic settings for more romantic moments, and others are close to nightlife spots, sought after by those who must have some music and dance on their holidays. But there are also almost deserted beaches, where nature is preserved practically in a wild state.
There’s a large number of beaches accessible to people with mobility problems and many even have facilities that allow everyone to enjoy bathing in the sea. And there are also beaches reserved for naturists, and others that are so little known that they have areas where naturism is tolerated.
The most pristine beaches are on the Costa Vicentina, in contrast to the central area, between Lagos and Faro, where you will find cosmopolitan beaches, as a result of the higher number of hotels and many high quality resorts. The Parque Natural da Ria Formosa natural park is a quiet reserve, an area of calm waters dotted with islands, water channels and lagoons, which marks the transition to the east, where the sea is warmer and more serene and the sand swathes are very extensive.
Almost all the beaches have restaurants and bars in which to relax and enjoy a refreshing drink when the sun is bearing down, taste the freshest fish in the region or sit to enjoy the sunset, with the sun dipping into the sea. The perfect finish to a day well-spent.
Best of Algarve
The climate - with over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and a low annual average rainfall, the Algarve enjoys mild weather throughout the year, which is certainly a big attraction for visitors, both in the summer for a few days on the beach and in winter to relax or engage in a variety of activities.
Praia Dona Ana
The sea in every shade of blue, almost always calm and warm, and the beaches of fine white sand are the hallmark of the region. The beaches, stretching as far as the eye can see, bound by golden cliffs in small bays nestling between rocks, provide many stunning backdrops for unforgettable holidays. There are around 200 km of coastline that are perfect for all kinds of water sports, including sailing, surfing and windsurfing. Yachting enthusiasts are guaranteed to find great support infrastructures in the modern marinas spread along the Algarve coast.
Golf has brought the Algarve many international prizes and awards, and the region has more than once been voted the best golfing destination in the world. The Algarve has about forty courses with excellent conditions for both experienced players and those taking up the sport for the first time.
Ocean Course Vale de Lobo
Nature is at its best in three protected areas: the Vicentina Coast which is the best preserved stretch of coast in Europe, the Ria Formosa, a maze of channels separated from the sea by a strip of sand, and the Marshland of Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António, rich in fauna and flora. But there are also the hills you can discover by bike or on foot, following the footpaths of the Via Algarviana, which connect the eastern end of the region to the westernmost point via the interior, ending at the Rota Vincentina - another set of trails not to be missed for those who like walking. For those seeking a bigger adrenaline rush, there is parasailing, scuba diving, hang gliding or abseiling.
Heritage offers many treasures to discover. For example in Silves, formerly the capital of the Arab Kingdom, in Sagres and Lagos, very important during the 15th-century Discoveries, in Tavira, a showcase of traditional architecture or in the historical centre of Faro with its beautiful cathedral.
Faro - Largo da Sé
Entertainment is red hot every summer in the many bars and clubs, especially in the most cosmopolitan areas like Albufeira, Portimão and Vilamoura. And throughout the year there are various events that bring colour and fun to the region, such as Carnival, music or food festivals, historical re-enactments and the traditional fairs and festivals which are held all over the region.
Food where the spotlight is naturally on fresh fish and seafood, either grilled or in a stew. But there are meat dishes, more common inland, and almond and fig cakes such as morgados or Dom Rodrigos, which go perfectly with the local almond liqueur or arbutus aguardente.
Resorts and Spas where you can enjoy some serious relaxation or health and well-being cures which are also available at the thalassotherapy centres and Spa at Monchique. But rest is within everyone's reach at a variety of resorts and hotels. From the simplest to the most sophisticated, what they all have in common is a genuine pleasure in offering hospitality.