The Algarve is the southernmost region in Portugal, praised for having more than 300 days of sun per year, award-winning beaches and golf courses, authentic cuisine, and a range of outdoor activities that attracts thrill seekers and nature lovers.
The Algarve is a region of hidden cultural delights; small, simple restaurants that leave visitors in love while Michelin-starred restaurants attract an international clientele.
The sea is integral to the Algarvian way of life, one that is closely bound to nature. Inland, old villages preserve a life that is historic and rich in culture and lived in harmony with the seasons.
300 days of sunshine
With mild winters, hot summers tempered by Atlantic breezes and warm and sunny autumn seasons, the south of Portugal is a perfect year-round location for business or pleasure.
The region is home to 88 Blue Flag beaches (beaches which are certified by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that meet its stringent standards) that cater for a variety of interests. From sun worshippers to avid water sports enthusiasts, there is a beach for everyone to enjoy in the Algarve, be it for families, surfers, or honeymooners.
The Algarve is located just over two hours away from most of Europe’s major cities and transfers from Faro airport to all tourist destinations are extremely quick and efficient. Its excellent location makes it the ideal destination to escape to for a long weekend or holiday or as a short stopover during a trip through Europe.
Walking and nature
The Algarve is home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Europe. There are many unique and diverse expanses of pristine nature, as well as numerous cultural heritage sites to visit.
Hiking, walking and cycling are great ways to enjoy the sights and the abundance of birding hotspots,in particular the Castro Marim wetlands, the Ria Formosa and Lagoa dos Salgados.
Key walking routes include Via Algarviana, a long-distance pedestrian path running from Alcoutim, in the Eastern Algarve to the western tip at Cape St. Vincent, the Vicentina route which runs from Santiago do Cacém in the Alentejo to Sagres and Ecovia: a cycling route that runs along the Algarve coast stretching across 12 counties.
The region is packed with choices for people with a passion for simple, local and lovingly prepared produce, inspired by a healthy Mediterranean diet, and it is renowned as a gastronomic paradise for fish and shellfish.
Festivals and fairs celebrating the regions’ gastronomy are held in towns and villages regularly, for both locals and visitors alike to sample local delicacies. Seafood dishes, such as sardines, fish stew and octopus remain ever popular while inland vegetables are lovingly celebrated with pulses and broad beans; cherry chicken and bean stew, and cataplana are locally inspired traditional favourites.
Must-see food festivals include the annual traditional smoked ham Fair of Monchique in July and August is seafood festival season in the Algarve; seafood lovers will have a feast of a time at the Portimão Sardine Festival and the Olhão Seafood Festival.
Michelin star and local cuisine
The Algarve boasts the most Michelin Star restaurants in the whole of Portugal, with eight Michelin-starred establishments (and 10 stars as Vila Joya and Ocean have two stars each). As well as its exclusive offering of fine dining, many of the local restaurants in the region’s towns and villages of the Algarve offer extensive menus of both modern and traditional Algarvian dishes, made with locally sourced produce and ingredients.
Portugal’s southernmost region and its perfect and temperate climate is perfect for grape harvesting. Major towns that lend their names to the region’s four wine DOCs are Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira. For these traditional wines, the main white grapes are Arinto, Siria Alicant Branco and Moscatel Graudo, and for the reds Castelão and Tinta Negra Mol. More recently, new wine estates are making regional Algarve wine from national and international grapes: Syrah, Aragonez and Cabernet Sauvignon, Alvarinho, Chardonnay, Viognier.
The Algarve is synonymous with golf, with a remarkable collection of first-class championship courses and amazing resorts strung along the sun-kissed coastline. The region attracts hundreds of thousands of golfers to its fairways all year round, due to the quality and design of its golf courses, with many designed by some of golf’s most famous names.
There is plenty on offer for art and music lovers with cultural events throughout the year. Art galleries are located in most towns as well as concerts, theatre productions and dance shows.
Moorish influences are evident in the narrow streets and chimneys with varied shapes and designs which can also be seen in the local ceramics. Churches and castles built in previous centuries reflect a rich culture steeped in history. Local cultural artworks are to be found and preserved in museums in the major coastal centres and in smaller inland towns throughout the region.
Arts and crafts
The Algarve is home to a wealth of traditional and modern art and crafts, including embroidery, ceramics from the traditional ‘azulejos’ – traditional painted tin-glazed ceramic tiles – to modern, hand-painted pieces at the cutting edge of design. The best pottery to be found in the Algarve is in the village of Porches – visitors can observe the skills shown by the artisan’s hand painting the pottery. Jewellery is also popular; handmade pieces using cork, local modern paintings and sculptures, basketware and leather goods made locally are all to be found within the galleries and boutiques of local towns and villages.
Wide range of accommodation
The Algarve region houses a wide range of accommodation options for all tastes and budges, from all inclusive and luxurious four- and five-star hotels to great quality budget options. Villas and self catering accommodation are plentiful for those that prefer the comfort and privacy of a home away from a home.
For more information, see Visit Algarve Portugal on Youtravel.com or click on the logo above.