Holidays in Algarve : what do I have to know
Want a day out in the Algarve? Nothing could be more understandable! The Algarve is a region in the far south of Portugal that is renowned for its historic and lively towns, inviting beaches and beautiful scenery. So before you go, find out what you should see and do, as well as some tips on the best time to go and places to stay. In short, everything you need for a successful trip to the Algarve!
Whic towns to visit in the Algarve
The Algarve has many towns and villages of interest. So it's hard to say which ones are a must-see. To help you decide, take a look at our selection:
Faro is the capital of the Algarve. The city is renowned for its pristine lifestyle and historical heritage. Start your tour in the cidade velha (the old town). It is entirely pedestrianised, making it easy to walk around the surrounding walls. You will see Moorish-inspired buildings that will take you on a journey through time, as well as storks that have taken up residence on their roofs. As you walk along the cobbled streets, you will see a Gothic cathedral and a Piscopal palace. Then head for the Arco da Vila (the Arch of the City), one of the city's main entrance gates, and the Catherdral of Sé, the city's main cathedral. Finish your historical tour with a visit to the carmelite church in Faro. Finally, after dark, enjoy the festive atmosphere of the bars and restaurants on the other side of the city walls.
Lagos, in the western Algarve, was the capital of the region between 1576 and 1756. It has preserved the vestiges of its rich past, to say the least. Like Faro, Lagos is famous for its charming old town. Once you have passed through its walls, you will pass by the Infant Don Henrique square. Here you will find an old slave market, the first in Europe, as well as a parish church. Then visit the fort of Ponta da Bandeira, built in the 17th century and hosting temporary exhibitions. Then admire the São Gonçalo Gate before visiting the Centro Ciência Viva de Lagos.
Moving out to sea, Lagos also offers a variety of options. You can choose between sandy beaches and coves with rock formations. Both offer clear waters for swimming in the ocean. In the evening, you can enjoy the lively nightlife of the town's bars and restaurants.
Located on the southernmost tip of the Portuguese coast, Albufeira is the largest of the Algarve's seaside resorts, and has many facets. In terms of culture, you can stroll through the narrow streets of the town centre. Here you can admire the architecture preserved from the five centuries of Arab occupation and be attracted by the whiteness of the houses and the colours of the ceramic tiles. Learn more about the history of the region by visiting the municipal museum of architecture and the museum of sacred art. Olhos de Água situated 20 minutes away and known for its beautiful Praia da Falésia.
What are the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve?
The entire coastline of the Algarve is sublime. However, some beaches stand out for their beauty. Check out our selection of beaches not to be missed.
The Praia da Rocha
The Praia da Rocha is one of the most important beach resorts in the Algarve. This status is partly due to its extensive beach. The beach is nestled by turquoise coves. It is a magical place to enjoy the view of the red and ochre cliffs. The beach is also an ideal starting point for a boat trip on the coast. You can also venture into the mysterious caves. Finally, visit the nearby cultural and historical attractions and enjoy the activities on offer before taking a break in one of the bars or restaurants lining the beach.
The Praia da Falésia
The Praia da Falésia is located at Olhos de Agua, 20 minutes from Albufeira. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve, it is bordered by colourful cliffs punctuated here and there by pine trees. These give the place a unique charm and will certainly give you the impression of being in the middle of a postcard. The beach is also known for its beautiful sunset, so don't miss out on a late night visit. Its calm waters are ideal for sporting activities. Finally, note that the beach offers the possibility to enjoy even more privacy by lounging on the beach.
La Praia dos Pescadores
The Praia dos Pescadores is accessible on foot from Albufeira’s old town and is therefore the most popular in the city. Its fine sand invites you to relax, while its warm waters are ideal for activities. It's a great opportunity to go jet skiing in Albufeira! Concerts are often organised here by the town hall so don't hesitate to ask around and hopefully attend one of them. On your walk eastwards, you will be charmed by the small fishermen's boats that give the beach a picturesque appearance and give it its name, which translates as "fishermen's beach".
The Praia da Marinha
The Praia da Marinha as for it is considered not only one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal but also in the world. It is protected from over-exploitation by the cliffs at the heart of which it is nestled. These superb rock formations resulting from the erosion will also allow you to make some surprising excursions. Finally, take advantage of the richness of its waters to discover its seabed, both in terms of its fauna and flora. Sea horses, octopuses, cuttlefish... Don't forget your mask and snorkel!
What to do in the Algarve to discover the most beautiful natural areas?
Discover the must-see natural areas by visiting the following places:
- The Parque Natural da Ria Formosa is a group of lagoons located near Faro. This natural park stretches along 60 kilometres of the Algarve coastline and covers an area of 60 hectares. Internationally renowned for its beauty, it also boasts a rich diversity of ecosystems including birds, molluscs and crustaceans. The area is mainly made up of islands, cages and canals.
- The Mount Fóia is the highest point in the Algarve. It is located in the serra (mountain) of Monchique. From the top, you will have a superb view of the whole Algarve, from the forests to the villages.
- The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos aka "the trail of the 7 hanging valleys" is a pedestrian trail. Its markers guide you through sublime landscapes. You will walk between limestone cliffs tending to the rosion, greenery and karst caves, all facing the ocean and accompanied by the seabirds that nest here.
- The Ponta de Piedade is a beautiful natural site located near Lagos, in the western Algarve. It consists of beautiful cliffs that occupy part of the coastline. Although accessible by land and sea, choose the latter for a complete immersion. However, the land route will allow you to take the stairs leading to the foot of the cliffs and learn about the show in a different way.
- The cliffs of Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St Vincent) tower 75 metres above the Atlantic and are the most south-westerly point in Europe. As well as offering impressive views, this nature reserve is home to a wide range of species, including otters, eagles and herons. The Sagres lighthouse and the monastery are also two visits not to be missed.
What to eat in the Algarve
When discovering the menu of a restaurant in the Algarve, you will understand that the gastronomy is mainly based on sea products. Start, for example, by tasting the star dish: the cataplana. This stew is made from stock, vegetables and fish or seafood. Sometimes cataplana is cooked with meat and accompanied by rice. The name of this dish comes from the medium in which it is cooked, a small pan, usually made of copper or aluminium. Then try these other equally delicious specialties:
- An octopus risotto. Very tasty, it is cooked with rice, octopus, tomatoes, onions. Laurel and coriander are added to make it even tastier.
- Fish grilled over the coals. Grilled sardines are a speciality of Portimao. They are served on a slice of bread or with a salad.
- Any sweet treat served in a pastelaria (the equivalent of a bakery). From doughnuts filled with cream to almond pastries, your taste buds will be delighted!
When to go to the Algarve
With around 2,700 hours of sunshine a year, the Algarve is one of the sunniest regions in the world. So when you decide to travel to the Algarve depends more on other factors. Here are some of the things you might want to consider:
- The climate in the Algarve in summer is dry and warm, with temperatures averaging between 20 and 30 degrees. However, the sea wind makes it more pleasant. The region is more popular at this time of year, which can lead to an increase in the price of accommodation.
- The winter is the wettest season of the year but precipitation remains relatively low and the days sunny. Temperatures rarely fall below 10 degrees. During this low season, hotel prices decrease but some tourist sites may close.
- The autumn and spring have ideal weather conditions. These two seasons are synonymous with long sunny days, mild weather, and outdoor activities.
Where to stay in the Algarve?
Now it's time for you to find a hotel in Algarve. As it must be adapted to your desires and needs, VeryChic private sales offers you several extraordinary addresses to stay in. Would you like an overview of the offers? Here is some:
- A five-star hotel: the Vidamar Resort Algarve. Ideally located, it will allow you to access a superb beach, prestigious golf courses, and the natural wonders of the region in a few minutes.
- An all-inclusive resort in the Algarve. Imagine not having to worry about anything except enjoying the moment and the region's treasures; something for the whole family!
- An idiosyncratic address located in Portimao, such as the Hotel Jupiter Algarve. Inspired by the sea and the region's biodiversity, it is ready to offer you a memorable getaway.
- A hotel in the Algarve by the sea. This location is ideal to enjoy the main asset of the region: the beaches. Enjoy this unique experience by choosing an address on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.