The Algarve is home to some of Europe’s best beaches. This is the place to head for golden sand, year-round sunshine and perfectly manicured golf courses.
For more than four decades, visitors from all over the world have flocked to the Algarve in search of sun, fun and adventure. From the hustle and bustle of Faro to the quiet splendour of Albufeira and Vilamoura, there’s something for everyone here. Golf courses, marinas, lush sandy beaches and coves are all dotted around the shore, while historic towns like Tavira provide those seeking to immerse themselves in the local culture with enough to whet their appetite.
Oceanico Golf in Vilamoura has an astonishing seven courses, with many of them used for big professional tournaments where avid fans can watch Europe’s finest tee off. Towards the coast, water sports are a big deal, particularly around Lagos where kitesurfing and water-skiing are popular with holidaymakers and visitors. Polvo Watersports in Vilamoura offer tours as well as lessons in sailing and surfing.
The biggest city in the Algarve is Faro, which has a charming Old Town district. The city’s cathedral and Archaeological Museum are among its highlights, while it’s a good place to go shopping. History buffs will also like to visit Museu de Portimão, with its wide range of exhibitions dedicated to life way back when in this visually pleasing part of Portugal.
West of Vilamoura you’ll find Praia da Falésia, which takes its name from the beautiful red cliffs backing onto it. And near Albufeira you’ll find Praia da Marinha, one of the most photographed beaches in the Algarve – it’s home to those lovely rock formations you see on the postcards.
If you want to see dolphins in their natural environment, head to Mar Ilimitado at Sagres. You might also get to see porpoises and sea turtles, as well as lots of interesting birdlife.
The Algarve has more than its share of waterparks. Zoo Marine, a few kilometres outside Albufeira, is the region’s answer to Seaworld. Near here you’ve also got Aqualand, one of Portugal’s biggest waterparks. It’s got everything from kamikaze thrill rides to toddler-friendly slides.
The Algarve is known for its delicious fresh seafood. Dishes to try include caldeirada, a fish stew, and conquilhas – clams, Algarve-style. Wash them down with a glass of the local aguardente, a spirit made from locally grown fruit.
The Algarve is a great place to pick up traditional linens, pottery and leather goods. You’ll find small boutiques selling these in all the major resorts. For big-name brands, meanwhile, head to malls like Algarve Shopping in Albufeira, or Forum Algarve in Faro.
Albufeira is known as a hotspot for nightlife, with a big choice of late-night bars and restaurants lining the famous Strip. And Alvor’s cobbled streets offer plenty of bars within easy walking distance.
The Algarve is on the southern tip of Portugal. The main city is Faro, which is where you’ll also find the airport.
Beerfrom €1 a bottle
3 course mealusually a set menu from around €11