The Algarve region offers more than any one city can. Beautiful beaches, a rugged coastline, culture-filled city breaks, and much, much more. Choose your area wisely and you’ll have the holiday of a lifetime.
Since the 1960s the central Algarve has been a resort-friendly destination, very popular during the summer months. But beyond the tourists fighting over sun-loungers, you’ll find a culturally diverse region, with great food, superb wine and a welcoming populace. On your Algarve holiday discover Albufeira, whose fishing history is laid bare in the traditional taverns serving delectable oil-drizzled sardines. Or make your way to the lagoons of Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, before stopping at Sagres to see the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Head into wine country, to the north of Portimao and Lagoa, to sample some of the finest Portuguese wines. Each area has its own hidden delights that will make you come back time and again, so why not book your flights to the Algarve now?
As the gateway to the Algarve, and its capital, Faro is more than just an airport. Full of history, plenty of lively students, superb restaurants, and a beautiful old town, it deserves to be explored thoroughly. Take a trip to one of the beaches around the stunning Ria Formosa National Park, just on the doorstep. Further to the west, you will find the affluent Almancil – home to world-class golf resorts and luxury hotels. The Quinta do Lago is ideal for golf enthusiasts, boasting seven courses.
This ancient town was a small fishing village until the 60s, when the tourism boom hit the Algarve. Parts of it still retain this village charm, but it is now a bustling seaside getaway and probably the most popular in the region. The neon-lit bars and lively beaches of ‘the strip’ will entice those in the party spirit. While the old town, with its narrow cobbled lanes and charismatic taverns, is ideal for those who wish for a quieter time.
As one of the biggest private resorts in Europe, its purpose-built shores offer something for everyone. Sailing is a big pastime here, with the 1000-berth marina playing host to the rich and famous. Vilamoura also has some of the best golf in Portugal, with several championship-level courses for your pleasure, but be warned a few of them will ask for handicap certificates so plan ahead. Great bars and restaurants also add to this areas appeal.
The largest town on the western Algarve, Portimão is the place to go for shopping. With everything from monthly markets and flea markets to high-end shops and boutiques selling designer goods, you will find it here. There are also some wonderful golden beaches and superb fish restaurants to add to the attraction. In contrast to Portimão’s abundance of shops, is the sleepy family holiday village of Carvoeiro. Beaches, bars and great restaurants populate the cliff front, alongside the stunning Vale D'Oliveiras Quinta Resort.
A wonderful town steeped in history and culture, dating back 4000 years. Lagos became the base for Henry the Navigator’s Age of Discovery, during the 15th century. This can be seen in the cobbled streets and elegant medieval architecture that dots the town. As in any beachfront town, there are great beaches and spectacular views across rocky bluffs to the Atlantic. Lagos is great for surfing too, with beginner-sized waves and friendly instructors, this is the place to learn.
Tavira is an elegant town east of Faro, near the Spanish border. It had kept the traditional style and sleepy atmosphere of a bygone era until the Algarve’s tourism boom. Described as the Algarve’s most charming town, there are probably more churches than hotels. There is also a captivatingly slow pace in Tavira, and exploring its cobbled streets may take some time. Wander through the old churches, sip coffee at one of the wonderful plazas, and take a few moments to reflect. Stay at the nearby Praia Verde, a stylish design hotel to complete this relaxing trip.
The most south-westerly village in Europe, Sagres sits on a rugged coastline facing down the power of the Atlantic Ocean. Henry the Navigator built his famous school of navigation here in the 15th century for this very reason. Glorious beaches are protected by craggy cliffs, and surfers and kite-surfers flock to Sagres for its great surf opportunities. Overall, it is a quiet town with quaint cafes and bars offering delicious traditional Portuguese cuisine to its friendly citizens and visitors alike. Stay at the stunning Martinhal Sagres for a beautiful boutique beach break.
Hidden along the road to Sagres, head south and you’ll find this secret gem. An unspoilt and beautiful village with a few bars and restaurants, the real draw is the stunning beach which is Blue Flag certified and perfect for swimming. It also has one of the best sunsets in the Algarve, and after the sun has gone down you have a beautiful array of stars above you. It is difficult to distinguish the fishing boats’ lights from the stars as there is so little light pollution.