Algarve, a Summer Dream
Natural beauty by the sea
The coast has about 200 kilometres of extensive beaches that beautifully hug the calm and warm sea. Divided in half (Western and Eastern), Algarve has some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe and even… in the world. Discover them, one by one — it’s indeed a rich experience full of challenges and pleasures. Along the way, you will find caves, cliffs and trails that can show you why this Portuguese corner is often chosen as a holiday destination by people from all over the world. From Aljezur (on the Southeast) to Vila Real de Santo António (on the other side), we’ll give you some suggestions to include in your itinerary through the best beaches in the Portuguese South.
But the discovery of the best beaches continues to the other extreme of the Algarve. Nearby, in Lagos, you will find one of the most photographed — the Dona Ana Beach. The turquoise blue sea that excels among the cliffs has given it the title of one of the most stunning beaches in the region. Not very far, stands another wonder — the Ponta da Piedade Beach which was recently considered (by the American newspaper the Huffington Post) one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Once we arrive there we can clearly understand why. Enjoy the surrounding beauty and discover its caves with a nice stroll by boat.
In Lagoa stands the Carvoeiro Beach gracefully located in a small bay with a lovely fishing village surrounding it. Despite offering a good tourist infrastructure, it still keeps the Algarve’s traditional way of life. Since you are around, we suggest a visit to the Marinha Beach, another wonder of the South and much for its cliffs and natural tunnels.
If you prefer more agitated and cosmopolitan days, your itinerary should include some beaches like the Falesia Beach (Vilamoura), the Rocha Beach (Portimão), the Galé Beach or the Oura Beach (Albufeira) — here is also where the Algarve’s nightlife has more expression. If you follow the directions to Vila Real de Santo António, make a stop at Cabanas, Manta Rota, Altura and Monte Gordo. All of these beaches are part of the Eastern Algarve where the waters are even warmer.
Nature trails and its labyrinths
From the waterfront to the interior depths or from the most traditional towns and villages to the beautiful drawings of the mountains, Algarve’s diversity is one of its strongest points. It is almost like a journey through different worlds, but in the same place. There are many ways to discover its greatest secrets and many trails to do it as well. If you enjoy hiking or riding a bicycle through nature’s paths, try, for example, the options that Via Algarviana has to offer — it’s a beautiful route that connects Alcoutim to Cabo de São Vicente with about 300 kilometres, mostly in the Algarve’s mountains. But there's a lot more!
How beautiful is this ria…
The Ria Formosa Natural Park is one of the Algarve’s greatest natural treasures and one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal. With about 20 000 hectares of protected area it extends for about 60 kilometers along the coast and in the municipalities of Loulé, Faro, Olhão, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António. Among the vastness of flora and fauna that offers, here you will find sand dunes, marshes, beaches, the most diverse forms of life and different ecosystems. Enter into the wonderful world of nature and discover it as you like — on foot or by boat. Learn more about the routes that will best suit you and consult the information available on the Marim Environmental Education Centre.
The islands of the ria
The ria has many natural charms and some of them are in the form of islands. You can reach authentic dream places with lovely small trips by boat. In Faro, stands the Barreta Beach Island, one of the Algarve's most beautiful secrets — it’s an island with fine sand and clear waters, more isolated and with plenty of room for everyone.
The Fuseta Beach, Culatra and Armona islands are closer to Olhão and, because they are so extensive, they serve either the ones who like more excitement or those who prefer a quieter environment.
With about 11 kilometres, Tavira Island is also an essential place to visit during your discovery through the Southern islands. The peaceful fishermen’s days, the fresh air and the sea breeze can truly open your senses and offer you perfect days of peace and quiet.
Algarve tastes like the sea, the mountains and… almond
Algarve also means joy of flavours — a result of the numerous historical influences that were mixed over time and which differ according to the geographical areas of the region. With a strong Mediterranean influence, Algarve’s cuisine is divided between the freshness of the flavours from the coast and the substance of the ones from the mountains.
The freshness of the fish and seafood belongs to the part of the Algarve that has a view to the sea. We are in fishermen’s land so tasting what the sea has to offer is one of the many local pleasures. Cataplana (typical dish with fish, seafood and potatoes), sopa de peixe (fish soup), arroz de polvo (octopus rice), arroz de marisco (seafood with rice), sardinhas (sardines), cavala (mackerel), atum (tuna), feijoada de polvo (octopus with beans), lulas (squid) or búzios (whelks) are some delicious examples.
And due to the familiarity with this kind of flavours, it’s in Algarve that take place some of the most important gastronomic events related to the sea. In Olhão (during August) takes place the Seafood Festival and in Portimão (also in August) people gather near the bay to eat at the Sardine Festival.
On the other hand, on the countryside (in the Barrocal and serra algarvia), the traditional dishes have a clear influence from the mountains, they are much more rural. Take note of the stars that you will be able to find on the table: guisados de carne (meat stews), favas à algarvia (fava beans) or galinha cerejada (chicken).
In Monchique, during the month of March, takes place the traditional Sausages Market, very famous for the wide range of regional products, from sausages to honey, crafts and, of course, the famous traditional liquor called medronho (made with the fruit of the arbutus tree that grows in the mountains).
Most of the sweetest traditions in Algarve are made with almonds and have the influence of the Arabs passage in the past. It’s the land of the almond trees so in order to feel Algarve’s soul you should taste the essence of this dry fruit. Try the morgadinhos and the royal Dom Rodrigo.
Yes, we assure you that Algarve tastes just like the greatest things in life.