About

 The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal. It extends from Cape St Vincent in the west (The most westerly point of mainland Europe) to the Spanish border in the east. There are over 100 miles of sandy beaches. There is a wide range of sporting activities available, including water sports, horse-riding, tennis, bowls and of course golf. There are 39 golf courses at the last count, ranging from championship standard down to the, well still pretty good. 

The contrast between one resort and another couldn’t be greater so take great care over where you choose to stay. If young, vibrant 24 hour night life appeals then head for the resorts of Albufeira, Montechoro, Oura or Praia do Rocha. If you would prefer a quieter resort that still offers a good choice of restaurants and bars we would recommend Olhos d’Agua, Armacao de Pera, Carvoeiro. Praia do Luz or Burgau. If boats, water sports and golf are your thing then you could do no better than choosing Vilamoura. For upmarket sophistication, with luxury villas rather than high rise, head for the ‘Golden Triangle’ between Almancil, Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago.The choice of restaurants in this area, to suit all pockets is second to none. If however you prefer to get away from it all and experience the real, virtually unchanged Portugal then head for the hills. We would recommend the areas around Santa Barbara do Nexe, Sao Bras do Alportel, Loule, Boliqueme and Paderne. 

Those interested in history can find ruins left behind by the Romans, the Visigoths and the Moors. The Algarve is separated from Spain in the east by the Guadiana River while the Atlantic Ocean forms the western and southern boundaries. 

Eating out is particularly well catered for with most types of cuisine available. A Portuguese speciality not to be missed is cataplana. This is a kind of stew cooked in a copper dish rather like a wok with a lid, generally containing fish and seafood but sometimes includes pork. Chicken piri piri (a hot chilli sauce) is also delicious and the choice of fresh fish is second to none. 

The Algarve enjoys over 300 days of sunshine each year. Temperatures in July and August are mostly in the high 30’s but there is generally a light breeze to make the heat feel less oppressive. Winters are generally mild and even in December sunbathing can be an option. 

About the Algarve

The Algarve has been established as a holiday destination for many years and remains very popular as a golf and beach destination. However beyond the wonderful beaches and golf courses, the Algarve has plenty more to offer the discerning visitor such as beautiful countryside, traditional old towns and villages, a wealth of history and local culture and splendid scenery.

Our aim is to introduce you to the “Alternative Algarve” that most visitors never see and provide you with a holiday to remember.

Climate

The Algarve boasts one of the most dependable climates in the world, with typically more than 250 days of sunshine a year. Protected by the mountains from the influence of cool Northern air, conditions on the coast are similar to those on the coast of Northern Africa. High sunshine values are complemented by a warm, dry Mediterranean type regime on which the Atlantic exerts a moderating effect, producing pleasant mild temperatures even in winter.

Temperatures

The warmest months are June, July, August and September and during this period, the average daily temperature is around 28C but usually accompanied by a light sea breeze. It can however be much hotter than this and we will take account of the temperatures during this period when recommending activities for you.

During the spring, autumn and winter months, it is very rarely cold, with temperatures not often below 10C. These months are ideal for many of the activities on offer, such as walking, cycling and golf. 

Sight Seeing

A selection of places that you may like to visit includes:-

Albufeira

Albufeira is the biggest and best known resort in the Algarve and despite the sprawling development of new apartments and hotels, the old town retains a certain charm. In amongst the many bars, restaurants and tourist gift shops there are cobbled streets and whitewashed and tiled houses. The infamous “strip” a long street of bars and restaurants is actually a couple of miles away from the old town, so can be avoided if you choose. The beach at Albufeira is a long sweep of golden sands backed by cliffs and it will be busy in the peak summer months. Around the headland to the west is the new Albufeira Marina where brightly coloured new apartments mix with more new bars and restaurants. Albufeira provides plenty of options for a lively night out if this is to your taste.

Alte

Alte is a picture postcard village up in the hills some 30k north of Albufeira. Famous for its 16th Century “Our Blessed Lady of Assumption Church” and white washed houses and narrow streets with shops selling traditional crafts and pottery. Alte is also quite unique in that a stream flows through the town nearly all year round. Upstream is the popular Fonte Pequena (Little Fountain), a popular location for picnics and swimming throughout the summer months.

Almancil

Almancil is well known as the gateway town to its more famous neighbours of Vale Do Lobo and Quinta do Lago. Here are some of the finest golf courses in the Algarve as well as some of the best beaches. Close by is the Ria Formosa nature reserve of over 17.000 hectares and a stopping place for hundreds of different birds during the spring and autumn migratory periods.

Just outside Almancil is the impressive church of San Laurenco. The simple white 15th century church standing on a hill houses one of the most impressive displays of Azulejo ( tile) design available anywhere. Almost every square inch of the walls and vaulted ceiling is covered in hand painted blue and white ceramic tiles. Most of the tiles date from the 18th century and depict biblical scenes detailing the life of St Lawrence. The only part of the interior not tiled is the carved gilded altar, altogether an impressive sight and well worth a visit.

Faro (and Faro Island)

Faro is the administrative centre for the whole of the Algarve region with a population in excess of 55.000 people. The city has both Arab and Roman ruins but most of the present attractive older buildings were constructed after the disastrous earthquakes of both 1755 and 1532. With the decline of the importance of the city of Silves this town took over the role of administration of the Algarve area.

Particularly attractive is the old part of the city surrounded still by the Roman walls which date back to the 9th Century. Inside a spacious open square that was once the site of the Roman Forum is a 13th Century Cathedral that faces the 18th Century Episcopal palace. An interesting building is the neighbouring 16th Century Convent that is now turned into the home of the city’s archaeological museum. Within it is a section devoted to the Arab occupation. The “golden” church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo is claimed to be the best example of gold-leaf woodwork in southern Portugal. It also contains the macabre spectacle of a chapel lined with the bones from over 1.200 monks!

Loule

Loule is a rural administrative centre and active market town with some remains of a castle dating back to the 12th Century. The weekly market attracts tourists from all along the Algarve. Due to the demands of the tourism this town has blossomed in size. An important event is the annual Carnival held in February that is considered to be one of the best in Portugal.

Monchique

Monchique is little changed by the 20th Century invasion of tourism. It lies between the two high hills, Foia and Picota, the former reaching to 902 metres above sea level. Monchique has retained its rustic atmosphere with steep cobbled streets and small dark doorways housing various artisan trades. There is a much neglected 17th~Century Franciscan monastery which overlooks the town from which a visitor enjoys a panoramic view over the beautiful countryside. The 16th Century Parish Church has excellent examples of Manueline craftsmanship around its doorway. The surrounding area flourishes on the production of cattle, pigs, cork and wood. Another important local product is the popular “medronho”, which is the name of a strong schnapps style of drink made from distilling the fruit from arbutus bushes. Foia and its sister mountain of Picota are excellent locations from which to see dramatic views of the coastal plain to the south and to the western Atlantic coast.

Olhão

The town of Olhão is historically linked to the local fishing industry and only grew into existence as a significant location in the 17th Century. It was in this town in 1882 that the first canning factory for tuna and sardines was established. Architecturally the town is well known for an older quarter where the flat terraced roofs and straight box-shaped chimneys show a definite Moorish flavour. Another curiosity is the fish market in a long building on the waterfront. Every morning there is a lively atmosphere and the impressively large variety of fish caught locally is displayed.

From the town of Olhão there is a ferry service that takes visitors to the nearby small islands of Ilha da Culatra and Ilha da Armona. With their un-spoilt sandy beaches and lack of major buildings these islands act as a pleasant contrast to the noise and bustle of the neighbouring town.

Portimao & Praia da Rocha

Portimao is second in size only to Faro and traditionally a fishing town. There are many excellent restaurants in the old town where you can sample the local catch. Portimao is particularly known for grilled Sardines. Nowadays Portimao is renowned as a regional shopping centre

Portimao’s immediate neighbour is Praia da Rocha, which originally became a beach resort for wealthy Portuguese families back in the 19th Century. More recently re-discovered by the British in the 1930’s, Praia da Rocha (Beach of Rocks) provided an inspirational refuge for writers and intellectuals. Today the beach is still the main attraction, but the once small village overlooking the beach has been outgrown by hotels and tourist developments.

Praia da Luz

Prais da Luz is a pleasant seaside town that has recently been dominated by tourism. The old church and fortress remain of the old town, but the rest is a tourism takeover. There is however a pleasant beach and some gentle cliffs rising away from the beach on either side of the resort.

Quarteira

The one time quiet fishing village of Quarteira has long since been spoilt by unsympathetic developments of apartment buildings. Although the old town and beach remain intact, there is little else here to attract the visitor apart from the weekly market, although the town is gradually improving to bring it up to the standard of its more impressive neighbours. Quarteira market has developed into one of the largest and busiest markets in the Algarve offering a variety of produce and clothing, all at very attractive prices and so is well worth a visit.

Sagres

Sagres is famous for its old Navigation and sea faring school established here by Henry the Navigator in the 15th Century when Portugal was in its Golden Age.Explorers set out from here to sail the world. Nowadays the town is more famous as a holiday resort especially amongst the surfing community as the sea is highly recommend locally for surfing.

Silves

Standing proudly on a hill Silves can be traced back some 1.000 years BC. Evidence shows that it was also a place of note in Roman times but it really became an important place during its occupation in the early 11th Century by the Moors. Silves continued in importance as a main town of the Algarve until its commerce began a slow decline in the 15th Century due the silting-up of the Rio Arade that had given the town good access to the sea.

A reminder of the Romans occupation is the Ponte Romana, a fine strong bridge over the Rio Arade below the city walls and having been rebuilt from the original in the 15th Century.

Tavira

Tavira is probably one of the most immediately appealing towns in the Algarve, its historical centre rests between the Castle and the palm lined banks of the Rio Gilao. Until recently, Tavira has made few concessions to tourism with its long fine sandy beach only being reached by ferry. The Castle grounds filled with a variety of plants such as Fig and hibiscus provided views over terracotta tiled roofs down to the river and the old Roman bridge. Along the river from the bridge are the old market and bandstand, a pleasant area for a promenade or a quiet drink at one of the many pavement cafes.

Vilamoura

Vilamoura is the name given to an area rather than to an actual town. It is outstanding in that it is one of the largest single tourist complexes in Europe and covers some 2,000 hectares of land. The main attractions to the area are the six different Golf Courses and the centrally located Marina which is a pleasant area to walk around and there are many restaurants and bars to cater for all tastes.