Visit Algarve – Portugal!
Scenic blue beaches, fresh seafood, lots of sun and epic night parties – Algarve has it all and more to offer you!
The name Algarve (and its sound) comes from the Arabic al-Gharb which means “The West” and it’s the southernmost region of Portugal and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Portugal, where its population almost triples during summer holidays, reaching an average of 1.5 million visitors per year!
From a variety of typical dishes to natural attractions & protected natural parks, from clubbing to over 100 beaches and so on, Algarve is certainly a must-go place for your summer holidays.
Often called Europe’s West Coast, it offers a vast array of things to see and do and it’s directed to all type of travelers, with or without kids.
This post intends to explain and present you everything you need to know about it, so you may work on that holiday plan of yours at ease.
How to get to Algarve
Algarve’s main entry point is by Faro city. You can fly there and from the airport and city center choose one of the plenty options like taxi, bus, train and car rental. This is, of course, the easiest way, but you can also reach Algarve by car, bus and train.
You may get further info and directions here.
Top 5 cities you must visit
As mentioned before, this is where the international airport is located. Faro is situated right in the heart of the southern coast and its “Old Town” (Cidade Velha) is enclosed by old defensive walls from Roman and Moorish times.
Apart from historical stuff it also offers a (small) marina, lots of esplanades to enjoy the sunset and, Faro’s star attraction and what really matters: Reserva Natural da Ria Formosa, a nature park with its own beautiful sandbars and beaches, allowing for activities like birdwatching, hiking and kayaking.
Make sure to check:
- Old Town (Cidade Velha): Blog
- Faro’s Museum: Lonly Planet Website
- Ria Formosa Natural Park (Reserva Natural da Ria Formosa): Website | Tripadvisor
A lovely pretty town with 18th-century mansions and townhouses lining besides the river line, Tavira is elegant and historical, bringing a magical touch to your holidays.
Divided by a river – Rio Gilão – one of the best things to do in Tavira is to wander along the riverfront, enjoying the scenery, visiting local markets full of fresh fruits, getting some sunshine and, of course, going for an open-air dining.
Make sure to check:
- Zeca da Bica Restaurant (typical food): Tripadvisor
- Marisqueira Fialho Restaurant (seafood): Tripadvisor
- Vila Gale Albacora Hotel: Website | Facebook | Tripadvisor
- Pousada Convento Tavira (hostel): Website | Facebook | Tripadvisor
Undoubtedly one of the most scenic towns in Algarve, Silves is the birth place of Algarve as it was the Moorish capital until Christian forces conquered it in 1249. One of the star attractions is the castle on the hill – Castelo de Silves – constructed with red sandstone with some of the castle’s sections reaching the town below, here you can walk along the top of the castle walls and easily imagine how was life a thousand years ago, while getting those panoramic photos!
More about the Islamic presence, like pottery, ceramics, tools and, the centerpiece – a moorish cistern well from 11th century – can be seen in the Archaeological Museum.
Make sure to check:
- Castle of Silves (Castelo de Silves): Tripadvisor
- Silves Medieval Fair (Feira Mediaval de Silves): Facebook | Tripadvisor
- Archaeological Museum (Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Silves): Website | Tripadvisor
Perfect for nightlife, this town is full of vibrant and trendy bars & clubs located at the Marina area. Vilamoura gets super crowded during summer and peak golf periods, receiving no less than 5 golf championship and offering many programs and classes for you to improve that swing.
But not only from nightlife & golf is Vilamoura made. You can count with world-class hotels, cruises, beautiful beaches, casino, street performances and mouth-watering gastronomy at almost any restaurant.
Make sure to check:
- Kadoc Club: Facebook | Youtube
- Seven Vilamoura Club: Facebook | Website
- Golf Courses: Website
- Four Seasons Vilamoura Hotel: Website
Situated at Algarve’s breezy southwestern coast this ancient city offers scenic beaches, plenty of historical places and nature spots.
With a well-preserved collection of castle walls and beautiful churches, as well as a handful of museums, Lagos turns into one of the most historical places on Algarve. Regarding the nature part, you may count with plenty of caves, grottoes and cliffs, most of the times has a beach background, making it perfect to simply enjoy a picturesque beach view or go further and explore it, either on foot or by sightseeing cruises.
Make sure to check:
- Dolphins Safari Option 1: Facebook | Website
- Dolphins Safari Option 2: Facebook | Website
- Sightseeing Cruises: Facebook | Website
- Church of St. Anthony (Igreja de Santo António): Tripadvisor
- Governor’s Castle (Castelo dos Governadores): Tripadvisor
- Lagos Walls and Turrets (Muralhas e Torreões de Lagos): Website
- Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse (Farol da Ponta da Piedade): Tripadvisor
- Lagos Historic Center (Centro Cultural de Lagos): Tripadvisor
Algarve’s traditional food you must try!
Portugal is home of some of the best mouth-watering gastronomy, so we are sure that you will not leave with any disappointment. Algarve’s cuisine is mainly based on fresh fish and seafood, along with vegetables and juicy fruits, whose flavors were made perfect by the sun, so make sure to try some of the below south typical food.
This cold soup, originated from the Arabic presence in Algarve, means “Wet Bread” and it’s especially consumed in summer in order to refresh you form the hot temperatures.
It’s basically made of raw vegetables like tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and garlic, along with olive oil, vinegar, water, salt and stale bread. Although it certainly will not be appreciated by all mouths, still you shall try it, as its flavor is one of a kind.
No, this Tuna doesn’t come on cans – it’s actually a Tuna Steak and it’s gorgeously delicious!
The recipe may vary a bit from restaurant to restaurant, but the core will be to grab the Tuna and deepen it in a stew with green & red peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes and white wine, then drizzled with olive oil and accompanied with boiled potatoes. The version we like comes with home-fried potatoes instead – if you like you can ask the restaurant to change it, shall have no problem.
Chocos à Algarvia
Consists on small cuttlefish (no ink) pan-fried on olive oil with garlic, white wine and coriander, served along with boiled potatoes. Perfect for soaking some bread!
Sometimes more liquid, sometimes more concise, this is a dish made with corn flour, fish, seafood and herbs, bringing to mind Algarve’s Moorish times.
Strange for many, but undoubtedly one of the most appreciated snacks during summer in Portugal, you have to try it at least once! Although it’s not particularly from Algarve, still it is heavily consumed here and you can easily find it at almost all restaurants and taverns. The snails are boiled with spices like, pennyroyal, oregano and bay leaves.
In Algarve is very common to add a few small potatoes with skin, which become very flavor-reach. Eat along with butter bread and help pushing it down with Panache or a Portuguese Draught Beer.
We have an excellent climate to cultivate Figs, producing one of the most natural sweet and reach flavor figs in the world. We have two varieties for you to try: the green ones with sharp flavor and the purple ones which are very sweet. The way to eat them is simple: gently peel off the outer skin and eat it just like that. Make sure to try a bunch of both!
It’s also very common to eat naturally dry figs and there’s a version stuffed with almonds. Apart from that you may find quite a few desserts and cakes made with this fruit as well.
This super sweet dessert is made of egg threads, almonds from Algarve and cinnamon and it’s presented wrapped in colourful metallic paper with the shape of pyramids. Sounds easy, but it tastes like heaven!
Benagil Caves Tour
These tours will drive you to some of the most beautiful caves in Europe. We highly recommend choosing one of those small boats, so you can actually go inside the caves!
Algarve offers a vast array of these kind of activities, being the most well-known the four below water parks.
The first one is more focused on activities with animals, where you can swim with dolphins and watch some marine shows.
The remaining 3 are more for waterslide-fun, where we would recommend you to give a try on Slide & Splash – guaranteed fun!