Whether you want to indulge in a bit of secluded swimming and sunbathing or like to be in the thick of things on your Algarve holiday, this place has it all. The west coast is the place to be if you want to enjoy the sound of the waves in seclusion. With its picturesque carved bays and quiet quaintness, this is the ideal spot for a bit of soul-searching. If you prefer to be at the centre of the action with watersports, parties and the buzz of the crowd surrounding you, then the southern side of the Algarve is the place for you.
With its vast swathes of national parks, golden beaches and rugged cliff tops, you can spend your days meandering your way between the fruit-laden trees of the citrus orchards or cooling off in a crystal clear lagoon or softly murmuring stream after a long day of hiking. If your favourite outdoor delights involve spotting some exotic wildlife, there are also flocks of fabulously feathered inhabitants worth bringing your binoculars for as well as more elusive creatures such as lizards and chameleons.
The Algarve was once known as the rustic agricultural community of Portugal with its rural farming and fishing villages and undeveloped landscape. For the past 50 years, however, it has become increasingly popular as a luxurious destination for holiday makers around the world. The area hasn’t lost its natural charm but it has certainly gained some top class amenities and a night life worthy of any continental hotspot. The locals are also very proud of their roots and take every opportunity to show them off through festivals, tours and sightseeing attractions which visitors are recommended to indulge in.
Sports fanatics of every sort, whether they prefer their activities to be on land or water, will be delighted with a holiday to the Algarve and its extensive range of opportunities. Those who will be particularly enthralled by the area’s unbeatable collection of sporting amusements are surfers and golfers. The Algarve has been recognised as one of Europe’s top golfing destinations, boasting more than 30 magnificent golf courses, designed by the likes of Sir Henry Cotton and Bernhard Langer. It has also featured in the World Surfing Championships and has some of the best waves in the world for beginners and pros alike to enjoy.
One of the Algarve’s most phenomenal spots to visit, the Ria Formosa Natural Park was recently voted as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal. Stretching for more than 70 square miles along the leeward coast of the Algarve through the municipalities of Loulé, Faro, Olhão, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo Antóni it is a vast area where visitors can experience a real adventure. A hotspot for more than its natural beauty, this park is also an absolute paradise for twitchers or other wildlife enthusiasts with is home to more than 20,000 aquatic birds and many other rare species such as the Purple Swamphen.
One of the most famous sights in Portugal the Benagil Caves are something of a mind-bending marvel. A secluded sandy beach hidden within a cave, this mysterious cove get its sunlight through a hole in the rocky ceiling. This makes it a dual destination where you can either hike to the summit of the rock and peer down at the paradise beach through the hole or take part in one of the many coastal tours to sail, kayak or paddle your way to the beachy shore beneath. It is recommended that visitors don’t attempt to swim to the beach due to strong currents but once inside the cave, the waters are protected from the elements.
The Castelo of the Algarve is a must-visit attraction. Not as whole but just as glorious as when it was constructed in the Visigothic period, this stunning royal residence looks strikingly modern with its building block-like architecture and unusual colouring of copper. A fantastic opportunity to brush up on your history, the Castelo also has plenty of views such as the three metre high bronze statue of King Sancho I that guards the entrance.
The best time to visit the Algarve if you want to skip the queues and the height of the summer sun, is from mid-April to mid-June or between September and October. During these times, the weather will be warm enough to lay on the beach and tan or enjoy a hike in the hills. If you want a winter getaway where you can get cosy in a traditional Portuguese fishing village and completely crowd-free streets, visit between November and early February.
If you hold a British Citizen passport or an EU National passport, you don’t need a visa to enter Portugal and are visa exempt for 90 days. For the latest information on travel regulations, visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal/entry-requirements.
The currency in the Algarve is the Euro (EUR).
In the Algarve, the main language spoken is Portuguese.