THE BEST OF THE ALGARVE: YOUR HOLIDAY GUIDE

Portugal is a magnificent country but perhaps the most magnificent part of it is the sun-kissed Algarve where millions flock every year in search of beautiful beaches, delicious food and drink, exciting watersports and some of the world’s best golf courses. Choosing the best of the Algarve is an almost impossible task and it’s hard to go wrong wherever you visit. However, we’ve thought long and hard and chosen some top picks for this glorious, and relatively inexpensive, part of Southern Europe.

What To Do In The Algarve

There are many astonishing sights to behold in the Algarve. The beaches are an obvious place to start and there's some breathtaking sights to see along every part of the coastline.

For some interesting history, try a walk around bustling Lagos to explore the spot where Henry the Navigator launched his ships and started to reveal the true extent of the world to Western eyes (there is also a notorious slave trading past to investigate). In the evening, don’t miss a live performance of Fado, the romantic, heartbreaking Portugese music that’s perfect for late night wine drinking.

Golfers will want to pack their clubs and explore the many sun kissed courses that the region boasts. You could spend a lifetime enjoying one round after another as you travel up and down fairways with a view of mountain and coastline. Take a look at these suggestions before you book your 18 holes and buy lots of suncream.

Inland, the countryside is stunning and you should try and book a guided tour to see the sights, sounds and smells of the landscapes. A visit to a local winery is also recommended to find out how the addictive Vinho Verde is made or one of the many full bodied reds that make this a premier wine growing country, particularly the Douro region.

The caves along the coastline are also a must visit and you’ll find plenty of boat tours that will give you an up close view of these cathedrals made of stone as glorious sea life swims close to your paddle.

Markets, monuments, and many fabulous restaurants also await. The entire Algarve is a must see place.

How To Get There

A road trip across Europe can be a once in a lifetime experience but for most people the aeroplane will be the transport of choice for reaching the Algarve. The region is well served by Faro airport that offers a central spot for most of the popular locations with plenty of flights available from major European locations.

You can expect journeys of up to one hour or more to get from the airport to the southern part of the Algarve by taxi or hire car. However, the roads are modern and the views are superb along the route. Alternatively, fly into Lisbon and hire a car for a 2.5 hour drive. Seville in Spain is also a couple of hours over the border by road and that’s another city well worth exploring. If you’re interrailing it this year then the train system can also get you to the region with regular journeys from popular cities.

What’s The Weather Like In The Algarve?

It’s nice. Very nice. Whilst you can never guarantee a sunny day anywhere, it’s almost a certainty in the summer in the Algarve and even wet winter afternoons are a fairly rare occurrence. Famously, the Algarve enjoys more sunshine every year than California with over 3,000 hours. You would have to be very unlucky not to get a tan if you spend a week there.

Of course, for some it might be a little too warm sometimes so dress accordingly. When you're by the Atlantic Coast it can also get a little breezy at times which might come as a relief to Northern folks and a reason to celebrate if you love surfboarding.

In short, we offer you a fairly boring weather forecast but that’s because it’s glorious all year round in the Algarve and there's nothing boring about that.

The Best Of The Beaches

Choosing the best beach in the Algarve is an almost impossible task. There are so many beautiful stretches of sand to be found amongst a selection of over 250. It's not just the beach and aqua-blue seas that make these coastal havens so attractive but many are surrounded by dramatic rocky landscapes that you can stare at for hours when not sleeping under an umbrella or having fun in the water.

Praia de Dona Ana, very close to Lagos, often wins the national beauty contest with its cliff top views, rocky formations and the sense of enclosure that makes the beach feel intimate as well as spacious. If you stay in the Lagos region then you can also get quick access to other magnificent stretches such as Praia do Camilo and Praia da Marinha.

If you’re heading for Albufeira then Praia da Falésia is an easy choice. Not only is it long enough so you can find room even at this very busy resort, but the white cliffs behind the beach offer a dreamy landscape for your sunbathing.

Do you like your waves big and your hair windswept? Praia Da Arrifana is the place where a massive beach also promises thrills and spills on the water due to blustery conditions. It’s less touristy than other spots and a great place to get away from it all.

Family Fun

One of the joys of the Algarve is how it offers something for everyone and families are particularly well catered for in a safe environment. You may wish to avoid some of the busier party resorts but instead head somewhere that offers a nice mix of things to do with the kids with plenty for the adults to enjoy. Lagos offers both without compromising on either: beach days, places to explore and plenty of activities for the kids as well such as waterparks and a zoo.

Don't stray too far from the airport and head for Faro itself, the capital of the region which offers markets and galleries for the old ones and miles of golden sands for the kids. If you fancy a base for boat trips, dolphin watching and exploration then Luz is a place to relax without ever getting bored.

Romance?

If you’re a couple looking to spend some quality time together in a beautiful country then this part of Portugal offers an endless array of options for places to explore, have an adventure or simply stare out into a beautiful landscape and then each other’s eyes.

Couples looking for peace and quiet are recommended to visit Sagres for the sheer majesty of its nature. Faro itself offers the perfect mix of interesting cultural experiences such as a metal fish market created by Gustave Eiffel and long walks along the beach that you'll never forget. Head for places such as Almufeira if you'd like to spend a week partying together but also consider the ‘couply’ activities in the areas such as horse riding, snorkeling and jeep safaris which means you can combine clubbing with memory making fun.

Do You Like To Party?

Long, lazy days on golden beaches are all very well, but for some people the nightlife of a destination is just as important when it comes to choosing a holiday. The good news is that the Algarve has plenty of places where the music plays into the small hours before the sun rises.

Albufeira is probably the most famous spot for party lovers and is only 40 minutes from Faro Airport. Enjoy cocktails and great views in places such as Matt’s Bar or tear up the dance floor in Kiss Disco Club. The Monte Choro strip is where you’ll find all the places of pure fun. For those who prefer a slightly quieter wild night then there are plenty more options where you can enjoy a good meal and a relatively peaceful drink.

Head further down the coast for Praia da Rocha, another great place for nightlife and family entertainment. It’s more intimate than Albuefeira but that means there’s also less distance to walk between the numerous bars and restaurants. Once again, there’s a mixture of modern venues while others offer more traditional nights (or nights off maybe). There are great views to be found and live music is a regular occurrence.

Fancy something a bit more upmarket? Vilamoura is the Algarve’s playground for celebs with yachts who like to park up in the large marina then hit the classy night spots that can be found nearby. If you fancy a gamble you’ll find Monaco-style casinos. But there are plenty of places to suit smaller budgets as well if you fancy the glamour without the big bill afterwards. And, of course there’s always the option of lazing on the many beautiful beaches in the area.

Feeling Hungry?

Many people return from the Algarve with the determination to do better in their cooking after experiencing new flavour sensations and spices that linger on the taste buds. It doesn't take long and doesn't cost much to discover the true charms of the region where the local seafood transforms a simple fish dish into something special.

If you see the name ‘cataplana de marisco ‘on a menu then prepare for a meal packed with everything from lobster to squid. Try the combination of pork and clams for a true taste sensation. If you like a certain chicken restaurant chain then give peri-peri chicken a go from the place where it was invented. It might open your eyes to the true flavours of the country.

Feijoada is a stew that is the very definition of ‘hearty’ and packed with beans, meat and vegetables, working surprisingly well even on a hot afternoon by the sea. If you're still hungry then don't forget that Portugal is famous for its custard tarts and make sure you finish at least one meal with a traditional pork sandwich or ‘bifana’. The locals will be impressed with how much you've adapted to their culture.

Let's Go Now

Whether you’re staying at the Club Med Da Balaia resort or elsewhere, the Algarve truly is a perfect place to spend your break. Choose the area that suits you best, pack for fun and prepare for adventure, relaxation on a feast for the eyes and stomach.