A Guide to the Algarve

The Algarve is a popular resort location in the southern region of Portugal that is one of the most popular places to holiday in the country due to the abundance of rich, hilly valleys which line the coastline creating the perfect ambience for a coastal holiday within walking distance of a historical quaint villages and towns.

So, if you decide to book a villa in the Algarve, you not only get direct access to the beach and local villages, but also to historical sites and beautiful, unique, once in a lifetime type of tourist activities.
Algarve Resorts
Albufeira
Albufeira is the largest resort in the Algarve and is located right at its centre. This wonderful resort is perfect for families, couples and singles of all ages and is central for all the tourist attractions with the added bonus of a short transfer (40 minutes) from Faro airport. It lies adjacent to some of the most beautiful beaches and the best golf courses in Europe.

Back in the 1960’s Albufeira was a quiet fishing village but this picturesque location is now a thriving tourist town offering activity and diversion day and night and surrounded by a host of beautiful beaches.

Albufeira’s magnificent beaches are renowned for all being different to one another yet all equally beautiful. They range from wide sandy bays to smaller coves, but with their golden sand and consistently reliable good weather you’re guaranteed a good experience. There are several golden sandy beaches to choose from in Albufeira, with the most well known being Fisherman’s Beach. Olhos de Agua and Falesia are the closest beaches, both offering good tourist facilities. The beaches are stunning and well worth a visit for any sun reveler. For those looking for a little more energy, aquatic sports (windsurfing, sailing and jet skiing) and boat trips are on offer and 10km away the Zoomarine marine park is situated where education about wildlife is offered via interaction with dolphins. For those looking for a more secluded experience the Praia da Galé and São Rafael are a few kilometres along the coast but still offer great facilities and the extra bonus of some stunning rock formations.

With an ‘old’ and a ‘new’ town, Albufeira offers history and tranquility alongside a lively nightlife. Head to Albufeira Old Town where historical sites are the main focal point such as the famous Bell Tower with its 28 metre staircase leading to the top. The Old Town Square hosts a lot of free live music and entertainment, attractions include Flamenco dancing, rock and jazz music.

With a modern seafront for a lively night out or cobbled streets in the old town with traditional hubs for a more peaceful evening you are guaranteed to find something that suits you. With beaches of the finest quality and a warm, friendly atmosphere generated by the locals, it has virtually everything for everyone. With its fantastic climate it provides over 3000 hours of sunshine a year and averages only 17 days of rain a year!
Alvor
Alvor is a charming and quiet coastal village which faces a natural lagoon linking to the open sea. It’s an authentic taste of Portugal with a bustling, modern resort. Alvor is the number one resort for people who long for peace, calm and comfort combined with modern conveniences of luxury hotels and some fantastic golf courses.

Alvor is located in the Western Algarve on Portugal’s southern coast. Approximately 8km (5 miles) west of Portimao, 8km (5 miles) east of Lagos and 5km (3 miles) west of Praia da Rocha, and 75km (47 miles) from Faro Airport.

Alvor’s own sandy beach faces a lagoon that spreads out onto the sea, and has a few coves sheltered under the cliffs. The beach is lined by restaurants and there are various water sports on offer. With nearly 3 miles of golden sand the lagoon and beach are an idyllic setting for any holiday maker.

Away from the beach you will find an attractive white washed fishing village. Here you may choose to wonder the cobbled lanes which curl between white-painted cottages towards the medieval castle remains. You will find an array of narrow streets which boast bars with live music and numerous types of restaurant, and you will always find some memories of the older fishing village. Despite the tourism growth, you can still watch fishermen bring in their daily catch down at the old quay alongside a new marina and numerous up-to-date tourist facilities. The marina offers boat trips and from the river walkway there are pathways to the mudflats and marshland which make the estuary a nature lover’s paradise, particularly bird watchers.

Especially popular for golfing and spa holidays, Alvor is more peaceful than some nearby resorts and has not yet been spoiled by mass tourism. It also has a colorful nightlife, especially during the tourist season, although it is really more of a destination for golf enthusiasts. There are eight golf courses within a 15-kilometer radius from the town, including the Alto Golf Club.

Other attractions include a nearby aqua park, a local golf course and easy access to the nearby tourist centre of Praia da Rocha and the city of Portimao.

Alvor today attracts numerous tourists who visit to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, the fine sandy beach, the excellent golfing facilities and the local bars and seafood restaurants. Add to this the splendid waterfront promenade, with its beautiful palm trees and open-air tables and seating and you’ll find yourself with a holiday destination where you’ll want to savour the atmosphere and come back to again and again.
Armacao de Pera
Once a remote tuna fishing village, Armacao de Pera is now a popular spa resort. The village is situated forty seven kilometres west of Faro and has a transfer time of ninety minutes. Pera, the old town, was once a tiny village while the small harbour was Armacao de Pera. Tourism brought expansion to them both, so that now they have merged and are one resort. Here you can choose to spend your days exploring the caves nestled along the shore, climbing the hillside, or exploring the ruins of the town’s original fort and cathedral. Visitors come for its broad sands and warm waters and also its lively, cosmopolitan atmosphere.

The beach of fine pale sand is said to be one of the longest in Portugal. Owing to its length and width there is no overcrowding. Surrounded by majestic cliffs and hillsides, the tranquil beach still provides the delicious seafood served up at local restaurants. The beach is safe for paddling children and weak swimmers and is accessible to disabled people as there are ramps and paths that reach the sand as well as disabled toilets. The Praia da Armacao de Pera beach is popular and has lifeguards during season time. Several beaches have also been awarded the ‘Blue Flag’ due to the quality of their waters. There is wide provision for water sports including surfing, water skiing, sailing and diving. There are restaurants and cafes near the beach where you can enjoy a refreshing drink after a day in the sun. At the end of the beach there are caves and rocks to explore.

Armacao de Pera like many of the resorts in the Algarve, has a selection of local clubs and bars which offer both live bands and discos. Some clubs boast several different rooms where party goers can dance to reggae, country, rock or even rhythm and blues.

The weather in Armacao De Pera attracts many visitors each year. Average temperatures between the months of July to September are 25C. Coastal breezes keep the temperatures lower which makes the climate very comfortable and pleasant for visitors in summer.

A beautiful family orientated resort with picture perfect long sandy beaches. Perfectly suited for visitors who enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors, the area boasts a Lagoon and a beautiful and unspoiled nature reserve. There are a few shopping centers, markets, and golf courses located in the town too so there is something for everyone.
Carvoeiro
Carvoeiro is a lively fishing village which has become popular for Algarve holidays during recent years, but still retains its local charm. The village is a charming place with a wide range of excellent facilities. This relaxed holiday haven lies forty-five minutes west of Faro airport. If you want the beauty of the Algarve, but hate to stray from the coast, then Carvoeiro might be just the place for you.

The village boasts traditional old-town narrow streets which twist down to a pretty village square. The square overlooks the sea which is often full of colourful fishing boats. Within walking distance is Algar Seco, with its amazing rock formations and Carvalho cove, where you can spend all day navigating your way through a labyrinth of tunnels.

There are four lovely sandy beaches around Carvoeiro, and other beautiful beaches such as Benagil and Marinha are close by. The main beach at Carvoeiro is charming, set in a small picturesque bay, backed by stunning sandstone cliffs and clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Right by the beach, there is a broad range of restaurants, bars and terraces providing the link between the sands and the lively village of Carvoeiro.

Apart from its wonderful climate and beaches Carvoeiro offers a wealth of leisure activities and entertainments which will satisfy the expectations of visitors. If you’re keen on strolling around places that you visit, then it will reward you with a good selection of sights, sounds and entertainments.

The water park, Slide and Splash will be a favourite with children and adults alike and is only a short drive or bus ride away. At Zoomarine there are displays by the dolphins, sea lions and seals and it is also possible to join dolphins in the water for a ‘dolphin experience’. A boat trip to visit the caves and spot dolphins swimming can be arranged from Portimao, a short drive away, and it is possible to hire local fisherman with their boats for a trip along the coast.

Within a short distance you will find three golf courses, Quinta do Gramacho which also has a driving range, the championship course at Vale de Pinta and the pretty 9 hole course at Vale do Milho.

Nightlife in Carvoeiro is fairly lively with many pubs, music bars and a few discos. There are excellent restaurants where evenings can be enjoyed in a more intimate atmosphere.
Falesia
Relaxing, tranquil and picturesque best describes this small resort. Falesia is an excellent choice for couples and families that are looking for a relaxing holiday. Situated on a cliff top which overlooks a long sandy beach, Falesia is a relatively laidback resort with some very good hotels and a good selection of cafes, bars and restaurants

You can spend your days walking on the beach, going out on a boat, swimming in the sea or pool or simply taking in the breathtaking views. With striking red sandstone cliffs which provides magnificent views over the sea this is an unrivalled location that is only 35 kilometres from Faro airport.

Many people who visit Falesia spend most of their days relaxing at the beautiful beach. It rarely gets crowded in the summer and is one of the safest beaches in the area. It’s ideal for children and weaker swimmers as the huge beach is gently sloping and boasts safe swimming conditions. Life guards are also available during the popular tourist season to add an extra level of safety for swimmers. This unique beach is reached by a scenic drive through pinewoods followed by descending steps cut into the naturally sculpted red and cream cliffs.

Falesia has an excellent selection of sporting facilities which will please even the most avid of sporting enthusiast and make them feel at home. Water sports available include water skiing, windsurfing and scuba diving. The open farmland and woodland in the Falesia region is ideal for cycling and horse riding, paragliding, clay pigeon shooting and even jeep safari.

As well as excellent sporting facilities the region boasts several championship golf courses which will be a key attraction for any keen golfer.

For those who enjoy a gentle walk, Falesia is a good base for experiencing a little more of the surrounding countryside. A half hour walk along the coastal path will take you to the little fishing village of Olos D’Agua. Alternatively this village is a five minute drive and has entertainment and restaurants. A stroll east on the beach will take you to Vilamoura (3km away) where you can explore the old roman ruins.

Falesia holiday nightlife is a modest affair and perfectly suited to those who are seeking a relaxed evening in one of the local bars or restaurants. For those who enjoy a more livelier evening it’s not a far drive into Albufeira or Vilamoura.
Faro
Faro is the largest city in the Algarve and serves as the gateway to Portugal’s most famous holiday region and some of the most stunning coastline in southern Europe. This popular holiday destination has plenty to offer beyond the beach and its nightlife and you’ll find many things to discover in this fascinating city. Faro stands out as an important commercial, artistic and cultural centre. Often simply passed through by visitors as a gateway, the city in fact offers fascinating architecture as part of the region’s rich history.

Every year the city attracts lots of tourists with a great deal of medieval historic places and monuments. The city itself, and especially the Old Town, is small enough to explore on foot, but renting a car is essential if you plan to venture further afield. At the heart of the Old Town is Largo da Se, a cobbled square flanked by beautiful buildings, such as the Bishop’s Palace. In the centre of the square you will also find the stunning Renaissance-style Cathedral. If you are a museum hunter there is a wide choice for you; Regional Ethnographic, Infante Dom Henrique, Ramalho Ortigão and many others. You can take your pick of historic churches around Faro. One of the most striking is the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo with its adjacent intriguing ‘Chapel of the Bones’. There are many good shops and shopping streets in Faro, where you can find everything from local handcraft to wine and port from local cellars.

If you prefer something a bit more scenic then why not take in Faros excellent port area where fine views can be found across to the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The nature reserve is over 170 km² and a stopping place for hundreds of different birds during the spring and autumn migratory periods, a must for any nature lover or bird spotter. Just behind the port there’s a ferry pier where you can partake in a boat trip to Praia de Faro beach which is around 10km from Faro centre.

Faro and the Algarve as a whole have a very typical southern European climate, meaning that in June, July and August it can get very hot indeed, upwards of 35 degrees.

Stay in the city centre to spend time discovering its narrow streets of white-washed houses or explore further afield and experience some stunning scenery. Either way, you’ll find Faro is a good base for exploring the Algarve with easy access to the motorway, trains and buses.
Lagos
Lagos is one of the few Algarve holiday resorts to retain its identity as a real town and not just a tourist destination. It is a fishing port and market town first, and a holiday spot second.

Unfortunately, an earthquake and tidal wave destroyed much of the original town in the mid 18th century. Since then it has evolved into a vibrant centre with stylish shops, promenades and cobbled back streets. Lagos will impress you with its relaxed atmosphere and quiet charm making it stand out as one of the most appealing locations in the Algarve.

There are a fantastic range of boat trips from Lagos and this beautiful coastline has lots to see. Stroll down the marine walk and you will see all that there is to offer. There are fishing trips, dolphin cruises, diving, beach barbeques and grotto trips to name but a few.

The beaches around Lagos are truly beautiful. Dona Ana is the most popular family beach which can be reached after a 25 minute walk from the center of the town. The beach is surrounded by fascinating rock formations which set a truly beautiful scene. Visitors are also attracted to the Ponta da Piedade which is a headland to the south of Lagos, surrounded by fascinating rock formations, caves and wonderfully transparent waters.

Eating out in Lagos restaurants is a big part of what Lagos is about. There is a fantastic array of dishes to try and one not to be missed, as with any fishing village, is the fresh fish.

Lagos was the capital of the Algarve from 1578 until 1756 and there remain several ancient buildings to testify to its historic glory. The city’s walls are the largest and best-preserved in the Algarve and well worth a visit. The walls were partly destroyed along with all the other buildings with the great earthquake of 1755. Among those which were rebuilt and have since undergone renovation are the Church of Santa Maria with 16th-century traces, the 17th-century regimental storehouse next to it, and the impressive Golden Church of Santo António which forms part of Lagos’ museum.

Lagos has beautiful beaches, a great climate, a warm and inviting sea, a scenic coastline and a real history. It is a really pretty town which is home to many sophisticated bars and restaurants and provides visitors with a great selection of cultural and night-life entertainment venues.
Vilamoura
Vilamoura is viewed as one of the most luxurious and prestigious resorts in Portugal. It is the biggest private tourism resort in Europe yet it retains a certain charm and personality often missing in similar developments.

Located virtually in the middle of the Algarve coast, within fifteen kilometres of the main airport at Faro, Vilamoura’s accessibility has helped it become one of Europe’s largest beach resorts.

Vilamoura is a purpose built leisure resort so it offers accommodation to suit all tastes, luxury hotels, privately owned villas and apartments on the golf course complexes and a wide range of hotels and apartments near the marina. The 1,000-berth marina, attracts the wealthy, yachtsmen, golfers, celebrities and in fact, anyone who just fancies enjoying a rather nice place in the sun.

Vilamoura also has a good selection of fine sandy beaches. The most easily accessible of these is Praia da Marina which is impressively catered for with every facility imaginable and has gained a Blue Flag award. Praia da Marina is located just east of the Marina and stretches to Quarteira and has the backdrop of big luxury hotels you expect to see at a major resort.

Vilamoura itself is pretty much inseparable from Quarteira, and a toy train links the two with an hourly service during the summer. Quarteira has a fantastic weekly market which is a must for anyone looking for a bargain.

This is truly a ‘one stop’ holiday destination, offering just about all you could wish for from water sports to walks and golf courses to horse riding to name but a few. All of which are easily accessible and you need not walk more than a few hundred metres to the next attraction should you so wish.

The resort is famous for its world class golf courses which frequently host prestigious tournaments and attract discerning golfers all year around.

Vilamoura nightlife is impressive and the selection of bars, restaurants and cafés around the famous Marina are in abundance. There is also a Casino with bandits, tables and dancing girls not forgetting many nightclubs and discos in town to choose from including the well known Kadoc club which features big name DJs from all over Europe.

Vilamoura is a great place to stay whether you just want to enjoy the beaches, play a few rounds of golf, or try something more adventurous like parasailing. Whatever it is you are looking for from a holiday destination Vilamoura will surely have it.
Algarve Tourist Attractions
As expected from one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, the Algarve is heaving with attractions to experience. Many come to this edge of Portugal for the glorious weather and the long stretches of sun soaked golden sands and blue, crystal waters. Some come to lounge all day and party all night, while others come to relax and enjoy this beautiful area.

Whatever you r reasons for heading here, it is worth taking time out from the inviting beaches and head off in search of other attractions. One of the Algarve`s biggest draws is the golf. And it is home to hundreds of quality courses, complete with stunning views and excellent club house facilities. In the west try out Vale de Milho or the Gramacho Course, or head east for one of the more challenging courses, such as Colina Verde Golf or Quinta de Cima.

Keeping with the sporting theme, one of the next most popular pastimes is fishing. As many of the seaside resorts began life as fishing villages, this is hardly surprising and the smaller villages offer some surprisingly good deals for boat hire, amid charming surroundings. Olhao in Eastern Algarve is a large fishing port that has a great fish market to tempt those who fail to catch! If you are looking f or a smaller village to fish from try Tavira for a more authentic feel.

Horse riding is also up there high on the list of popularity for travellers in Algarve, offering a unique and fascinating way to explore inland and coast, often taking you places you would not see on foot or car. The Portuguese are known for their worthy steeds and you will not be disappointed. For beach rides where you can gallop into the sunset try Vilarmoura.

For those looking for retail therapy the Algarve abounds with markets and shops. Silves, Loule and Portimao are all places to head for, or try the smaller villages scattered along the coast for more authentic markets. To relax after your shopping spree, there is nothing better than a cruise or boat trip, a great way to explore this scenic coast line. Caves and coves are a common sight and dolphin watching is a treat for young and old. Incorporate your trip with lunch or dinner aboard for extra decadence.

This area is also steeped in history and monuments and castles can be found wherever you go. The cities, such as Ribeira, Faro, Guimareas and Silves, are particularly rich is heritage and architecture. Museums are another common feature, such as the Museu de Atum in Tavira, or the Museu da Cortica in Silves are definitely worth a visit to learn more of the culture of the is fascinating land. And for those with family members, big and small, who just want to play, chill out and be enthralled, visit one of the many water parks, including those offering underwater zoos. Aqualand is the most famous, situated near Albuferia, but for pure splash entertainment head for Slide and Splash at Lagoa or Loule Atlantic Park. Couple this with a theme park visit at Almancil Karting, Krazyworld at Algoz and even the biggest kids will be heaven. Incorporate a stay at some of the Algarve`s best top secret hotels and your trip is complete.