Gorgeous beaches, superb golfing facilities and picturesque harbours typify the Algarve coast, which is Portugal’s most popular travel destination. Throw in snorkelling in secret coves, bumping along on jeep safaris, wandering cobbled streets, spotting millionaires’ yachts and enjoying a world-class round (or two) of golf and you’ve got a heavyweight year-round destination on your hands!
The major city of Faro is a great starting point to explore both the Algarve and also further into Portugal. The capital of the Algarve has a fantastic array of clubs and bars and is something of a party destination. If you visit during the shoulder seasons or during the winter, you’ll experience a very different Faro: the white washed city oozes Moorish and Iberian influences. It’s also a great base for hikers and walking looking to get into the rural heartland of Portugal.
Much of Faro city is surrounded by Roman walls and the old town district has quaint winding cobbled streets. Don’t miss the sights including the Teatro Lethes, Faro Archaeological Museum and archaeological site of Milreu.
Faro has a great selection of beaches too with the Barreta, Culatra-Mar, Faro-Mar and Ilha do Farol-Mar all holding blue flag status. And of course, fine golfing facilities are never far away. Check out the Jack Nicklaus designed Monte Rei, the tree-lined San Lorenzo and the excellent Royal Vale do Lobo.
All of the Algarve resorts boast south facing beaches, sumptuous sandy beaches coupled with sun soaked days and buzzing nights. And Albufeira, Portugal’s best known destination continues that trend with cobbled streets lined with white-washed houses underneath the dazzling blue skies.
The Old Town district is crammed with Portuguese shops and cafes and the center of town has the best selection of bars, restaurants and nightclubs. There is a daily market and plenty of varied multi-coloured shops and boutiques to while away your time. Oh and there’s also seven superb beaches with excellent facilities and a myriad of watersports on offer, thanks to the perfect conditions provided by the Atlantic Ocean.
And why not head over to the Albufeira marina in the evening to spot the luxury yachts and for a spot or people watching. Albufeira is also close to a clutch of golf courses including the Quinta da Lago championship course, Salgados and Pine Cliffs.
Located in the Barlavento region is the Algarve resort of Lagos, which is bursting with rich history, from the 14th century walls, impressive fortress and range of exquisite churches.
The main draw however is the plethora of quiet sandy beaches punctuated with hidden coves and rugged cliffs. There are seven current blue flag beaches in Lagos including the Batata, Camilo, D Ana and Luz. And if you’re looking for some action and adventure, head to the Meia Praia beach (also blue flag status) which offers just about every watersport under the sun!
Head into Lagos if you’re looking for some culture. Don’t miss the mediaeval Hermitage of Saint John the Baptist (São João), the beautiful Church of St. Anthony and the 17th century Church of St Sebastian with its bell tower and chapel of bones.
Head into Lagos center in the evening for superb lively nightlife and spend your days on the local golf courses of Boavista, Palmares and Espiche and find out why Portugal is one of the most friendly countries on earth.
Couples and families will appreciate the laidback nature of Alvor, which is based around the cobbled streets of the pretty Old Town and the beautiful natural lagoon. Alvor, like much of the traditional Algarve has shunned mass development and retained its tranquil fishing village atmosphere.
The main beach in Alvor is popular with families and is dotted with sand dunes and secluded coves. Spend the day swimming and snorkelling or wandering the cobbled streets soaking up the culture of the 16th century parish church. In the evening enjoy the low key nightlife, which is centered around fresh seafood, live music and handful of bars.
Praia da Rocha
Calling all sun-worshippers and beach bums! The superb sandy beach and mile long promenade are the main attraction in this most modern of Algarve resorts, Praia da Rocha. This location is one of the popular spots along the Algarve coast so has an excellent range of nightclubs, bars and restaurants. There is also a casino within the resort and like the rest of the Algarve; you’re never far from an excellent golf course.
Image credit; 2; TheDentist via wikipedia CC-ASA-3.0