The Algarve: Holidays
The Garden of Portugal
Backpacking in The Algarve
The Algarve is a great backpacking destination and has a number of youth hostels ranging from the very inexpensive (11€ for bunks in the low season) to those with mid range hotel prices for private rooms with baths in the high season. Backpackers in the Algarve usually camp or stay in hostels (called Pousadas de Juventude) which feature both shared and private rooms. The most popular backpacker location in the Algarve is Lagos due to its youthful scene, charming ancient lanes, local city beach and proximity to other nice towns and beaches.
Beach in The Algarve
In Portugal, beach holidays are synonymous with the Algarve. Even in a country surrounded by such a beautiful coastline, the Algarve is the national beach holiday destination. The Algarve is home to charming and convenient city beaches like in Lagos, surfing beaches such as Arrifana, family resort areas with expansive beaches like Albufeira and Vilamoura and countless “secret” remote beach spots up and down the coast. Most accommodation is geared towards being beach-accessible and the Algarve’s beautiful beaches, with their spectacular backdrops, promise not to disappoint. Though the water is colder than in the Mediterranean, the Algarve may be Europe’s last unspoiled beach holiday destination.
Camping in The Algarve
Camping in the Algarve is a popular and pleasant way to spend your Algarve holiday. Camping facilities in the Algarve range from “roughing it” in tents to campsites with more comfortable cabin accommodation, and of course spaces for RVs, motor homes and trailers. Most Algarve camp sites charge only around 5€ per person and many, especially larger sites, have swimming pools, shops, bars and sports facilities. Strictly speaking, camping in the wilds or on unofficial “free” camping areas in Portugal and the Algarve is illegal, although you will still see some campers doing this. If you do set up on the beach, do not be surprised if you are ordered to pack up and move by the local police. Although camping in the Algarve is generally safe, campsites are much less secure than hotels and some may attract thieves. It is therefore advisable to exercise caution and do a bit or research about specific campsites before planning your camping holiday in the Algarve.
Corporate Weekend in The Algarve
Beautiful beaches, near-perfect weather, affordable prices and loads of great accommodation options make the Algarve an excellent choice for corporate weekends. For winding down with coworkers in a safe and relaxed environment with plenty of nightlife, restaurants and cultural activities, the Algarve is a great corporate getaway option. The proximity to the rest of western Europe, the year round sunshine and golf and beach holiday settings don’t hurt either. Several companies organize team building holidays and corporate weekends in the Algarve and many larger hotels have corporate rates and facilities geared towards English and German-speaking groups, as well as the local corporate market.
Cruises in The Algarve
Cruises in the Algarve or Algarve cruise holiday packages are a great way to experience the stunning natural beauty and many glorious beaches that the Algarve has to offer, all from the luxurious comfort of a cruise ship. Week-long cruises explore the scenery and charming towns of the Algarve and nearby Ayamonte, Spain as well as the Guadiana, a major river of Spain and Portugal. Also popular are mini cruises of 2.5 or 6 hours exploring the incredible rock formations, caves and coves along the Algarve coast.
Culture and Arts in The Algarve
The Algarve’s culture and arts scenes are thriving. Cultural holiday events include the unique Loulé Carnival, the Algarve International Film Festival, the Arts and Crafts Fair of Alcoutim, and the Algarve Folklore Festival or “Folkfaro”, which features traditional song and dance with performers from all over Portugal during the month of September. Also of particular interest for cultural and arts holiday travelers in the Algarve is the month of Moorish Nights, when the village of Cacela Velha recreates the ambience of the Arab presence in the region from the 10th-13th centuries during the entire month of August. Museums in the Algarve are naturally more provincial than those found in Lisbon, but the rich history of the Algarve region is on display in several local museums. Faro, Albufeira, Loulé and Silves each have their own museums of archeology, while and Vilamoura has a fantastic museum on the site of a 2nd century Roman villa complex, replete with sunken baths, salt tanks, a burial tower and brilliant patterned mosaics.
Disabled Needs in The Algarve
The Algarve is a very good option for the disabled tourist. Since the Algarve has been developed more and more in recent years for holiday makers and pensioners, facilities for disabled tourists are quite good in many places. Many hotels, resorts and golf and villas have been equipped for disabled people and beach promenades in many Algarve holiday spots are great for wheelchair bound holiday makers. Companies such as Wheeling Around the Algarve and the UK based Access Travel specialize in holidays for the disabled. Keep in mind that much of the Algarve is still very rural and close to its original pristine state, which is part of its charm, so the more wild places will of course not have great wheelchair or disabled access.
Family Holiday in The Algarve
The Algarve has much to offer as a family holiday destination. A safe, family oriented holiday atmosphere with a wealth of family activities to choose from, including water sports, hiking and trekking, camping, natural parks like the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve in Faro and the Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim, make the Algarve a fantastic family vacation spot. ZooMarine oceanographic theme park in Guia provides an educational, environmentally conscious experience including interacting with friendly dolphins, while Aqualand water park in Alcantarilha is full of exciting water rides. The Algarve’s numerous resort areas, expansive beaches like Albufeira and Vilamoura, and many camping locations provide a wonderful setting for families. Chalets, holiday houses and cottages are plentiful in the Algarve and are great holiday options for family accommodation, as are the regions many full service hotels for those who want full service options.
Gay and Lesbian in The Algarve
The Algarve is an excellent gay and lesbian holiday destination. Beautiful beaches and stunning nature coupled with a great nightlife and modern attitudes make the Algarve a very attractive place for gay and lesbian holiday makers. There are lesbian/gay friendly resorts throughout the Algarve and the principal gay and lesbian-friendly beaches are at Vale do Lobo, Armação de Pera and Quinta do Lago.
Hen Destination in The Algarve
For hen parties the Algarve offers a wide selection of hotels, venues, clubs, bars and other nightlife options to suit most budgets. English is widely understood and many organizations that run hen celebrations are owned by British expats or UK-based companies. The Algarve’s beautiful beaches, near-perfect weather, affordable prices and loads of great accommodation options make it an excellent choice for hen parties. Wind down with friends in a safe and relaxed environment with plenty of nightlife, restaurants and fantastic beaches. The proximity to the rest of western Europe, the year round sunshine, golf courses and gorgeous settings don’t hurt either. For those willing to splurge, the many resorts with full spa and wellness facilities make the Algarve’s hen getaway package complete.
Stag Destination in The Algarve
For stag parties the Algarve offers a wide selection of hotels, venues, clubs, bars and other nightlife options to suit most budgets. English is widely understood and many organizations that run stag celebrations are owned by British expats or UK-based companies. The Algarve’s beautiful beaches, near-perfect weather, affordable prices and loads of great accommodation options make it an excellent choice for stag parties. Wind down with friends in a safe and relaxed environment with plenty of nightlife, restaurants and fantastic beaches. The proximity to the rest of western Europe, the year round sunshine, golf courses and gorgeous settings don’t hurt either. For those willing to splurge, the many resorts with full spa and wellness facilities make the Algarve’s stag getaway package complete.
Honeymoon in The Algarve
The Algarve is a fantastic destination for a honeymoon holiday any time of year. Whether it’s romantic seclusion, bright sun, beaches or luxurious resorts your after, there are many choices and reasons for ho-neymooning in the Algarve. The wealth of first class hotels and pristine, stunning natural beauty make the Algarve a magical environment for a honeymoon holiday. Add that to the Algarve’s fantastic weather, romantic atmosphere, replete with awe-inspiring views, modern spa and wellness facilities, and old world southern European charm, and you have a first class honeymoon destination.
Party Holiday - Singles Life in The Algarve
The Algarve’s singles life is lively during the high season with parties and bars in towns and on many beaches. Larger cities such as Faro and Lagos have a decent party scene even during the winter, but it doesn’t compare to peak times. Lagos is a very popular destination for young backpackers and travelers and Albufeira is known as the Algarve’s main party town. Of course, beaches will be packed with young single people during the peak season and on public holidays, making many parts of the Algarve prime party holiday spots.
Naturism in The Algarve
There are many secluded beach spots for naturist holidays in the Algarve. Popular beaches for naturism in the Algarve include Pinheiros beach, near Lagos, the west side of Barril, near Tavira, Cabanas Velhas near Burgau, and Prainha between Lagos and Portimão. Naturist camping, swimming and sun-bathing have been growing in popularity in the Algarve and throughout Portugal since the 1970s, and serious naturists can experience a great holiday in the Algarve’s rare unspoiled wilderness and beaches.
Couples Holiday in The Algarve
The Algarve is a splendid destination for a couples holiday any time of year. Whether it’s romantic seclusion, bright sun, beaches or luxurious resorts your after, there are many choices and reasons for taking your special one on a romantic getaway in the Algarve. The wealth of first class hotels and pristine, stunning natural beauty make the Algarve a magical environment for a couples holiday. Add that to the Algarve’s fantastic weather, romantic atmosphere, replete with awe-inspiring views, modern spa and wellness facilities, and old world southern European charm, and you have a first class couples destination.
Golf Activity Holiday in The Algarve
The Algarve is known among golfers as a golf paradise. With its gorgeous weather (an average of 3000 hours of sunshine per year), absolutely stunning scenery and an incredible variety of courses, the Algarve is considered one of the top golf holiday destinations in the world. In fact, many consider it to be the best in the world. Course fees range from bargain (under 50€) and midrange (60-85€) all the way to exclusive (90-180€). Many golf courses in the Algarve also have substantial discounts for seniors. World famous Algarve golf courses include Vale do Lobo, Palmares, Boavista, and Quinta da Ria. Also of note are Benamor and Vilamoura, but this is just a short list. Those desiring a golf holiday in the Algarve will be truly spoiled for choice!
Sailing Activity Holiday in The Algarve
Sailing around the Algarve coast on a sailing holiday is an ideal way to spend your vacation. The large Marinas at Lagos, Portimão, Vilamoura, Vila Real de Santo António and Tavira offer great sailing facilities. For those who prefer, non marina anchorages are also available. Because of its great sailing facilities, spectacular coastline and beautiful sunny weather, the Algarve is a perfect place for a leisure filled sailing holiday.
Scuba Diving Activity Holiday in The Algarve
For a scuba diving holiday in the Algarve, Lagos has a PADI 5 Star IDC Centre at the Lagos Marina called Dive Time. Another scuba holiday option in the Algarve, offering speciality scuba courses, is the Tivoli Diving PADI dive center in beautiful Carvoeiro. Also check out Sagres and Armacao de Pera, which are high cliff areas, ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Hiking Activity Holiday in The Algarve
Algarve hiking and walking holidays are great ways to experience this beautiful majestic natural paradise. Hike from beach to beach or through forests and mountainous areas. The Algarve’s limestone region, located east of Silves, offers spectacular views and fresh water springs, while the agricultural areas of the Algarve are full of citrus groves and farming villages. Walking and hiking holidays are plentiful in the Algarve. The mountainous area of the Serra de Monchique, sometimes referred to as the garden of the Algarve, is covered in cork, chestnut, pine and eucalyptus forests, with valleys rich in fruit and vegetables. Self guided holidays, tours, and hiking and walking packages in the Algarve vary less in price according to high and low seasons when compared to beach holidays, so expect deals of around 250-350€ per week, including bed and breakfast and other extras.
Cycling Activity Holiday in The Algarve
Cycling is a great way to spend your holiday in the Algarve, whether you prefer mountain biking, road or hybrid cycling. The weather in the Algarve is great for cycling and bikes can be hired in many places. Many varieties of cycling holidays are available in the Algarve with routes from locations such as Portimão or Sagres. You can plan your Algarve cycling holiday independently on a range of routes, combine it with camping or avail yourself of a holiday cycling service or package deal. Self guided cycling holidays in the Algarve start at around 500€ per week and up, including bed and breakfast accommodation, airport transfers, maps and general assistance. Cycle rental may be extra at around 70€ with a typical cycling distance of 30-35 km per day. Remember to be careful when traveling on busy roads and to lock up your bicycle whenever you leave it unattended.
Touring - Driving holiday in The Algarve
Touring or driving around the Algarve is a great way to experience the beauty and diversity of the region. Seeing the Algarve by car allows you to sample many locations, a broader selection of the accommodation on offer and see the manifold beauty of the region from the comfort of your own vehicle. Car rental rates are especially reasonable during the off season. Prices start at 14€ per day / 84€ per week, and the selection of vehicles and service are generally of a very high quality. Expect rental to be about 50% higher during mid season and almost double during high season. On the down side, driving around Portugal can be hazardous, as the country has one of the highest accident rates in Europe and drink driving is not uncommon on the weekends, so caution is advised.
Shopping Holiday in The Algarve
The Algarve itself is not a major shopping destination, however some good shopping can be combined with another sort of holiday, such as resort, golfing, cultural or beach holidays. For fresh local food and crafts on your holiday, try the many local markets and boutiques in the region. Large shopping malls with a variety of dining options exist at Algarve Shopping Forum Algarve, just outside of Faro, while the elegant Quinta Shopping at the resort of Quinta do Lago caters to a wealthier, more exclusive clientele. Local wines, pottery, decorated tiles, crystal, copper ware, embroidered tablecloth, filigree jewelry and cork products are recommended items for your shopping holiday in the Algarve, in terms of distinctiveness, price and quality.
Well-being and Spa in The Algarve
The Algarve is the perfect place for a spa holiday. Resorts in the Algarve tend to combine beautiful scenery and beach locations with first class spa and wellness treatments. Vila Vita Parc, a five star luxurious resort featuring attractive Moorish architecture, a tropical park, swimming pools, lakes and sports facilities, overlooks the Atlantic from its perch atop a large cliff. The Lake Spa Resort, Praia da Falésia in Vilamoura, and the Vilalara Thalassa Resort on Praia das Gaivota in Alporchinhos, are both wellness-themed resorts, combining the wonderful nature of the Algarve with harmonious and luxurious pampering spa and well-being facilities.
Wine Tasting Holiday in The Algarve
The Algarve is not one of the top wine regions in Portugal, however it does border the Alentejo region which is famous for its wine. So the Algarve can be a good destination if you want to combine a wonderful beach or golfing holiday with some wine tasting. The majority of Portugal’s famous wines come from the north such as Porto and the central Dão region, and should of course be available in the Algarve. Specifically in the Algarve there are wine tasting holiday options such as Adega Algarvia, on the road from Almancil to Vale do Lobo and Quinta dos Vales in central Algarve, a holiday wine and fruit farm with country house accommodation.
Winter Sun in The Algarve
Holiday makers in search of winter sun will certainly find it in the Algarve. The Algarve averages an impressive 3000 hours of sunshine per year. Though there is of course more sun during the high season of June to September, the rainfall is still relatively low during December through February, at an average of 6 or 7 cm. During March that number falls to 3.5 cm, making March a great month for a winter sun holiday in the Algarve. Also keep in mind that prices are also much lower in the Algarve during the winter, up to half of peak season rates.