Portugal’s southernmost region boasts an impressive coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. The Algarve’s charms include its scenic sea cliffs, beautiful beaches and hilly inland dotted with almond and orange groves. There’s so much to see and do in the Algarve, so here are a few of our top tips for your holiday to South Portugal.
Top six things to do in the Algarve
1. Kick back on the coast
From sheltered bays to surf-worthy beaches under sky-high cliffs, you’re spoiled for choice in the Algarve. Many say the most beautiful beach is the Praia de Marinha, a small belt of sand where the water is turquoise one minute, emerald the next – and framed by sea stacks, grottoes and 50-metre-high cliffs. Plus, there’s more to do than just sunbathe along the coast, you can also book a variety of excursions. Hop in a 4x4 or minibus and admire the Costa Vicentina, or the Cape St Vincent, continental Europe’s southernmost point.
2. Flitter around Faro
Algarve’s capital, Faro, is ideal for a daytrip and includes some of the region’s must-see sights. The influence of the Moors, who ruled here in the Middle Ages, is on show in a lot of the city’s architecture. The old town and its ancient city walls, the 500-year-old Faro Cathedral and the film-set-worthy cobbled lanes, are not to be missed.
3. Surfing in Lagos, Sagres and Tavira
The shorelines along Lagos, Sagres and Tavira offer up ideal surfing conditions and are full of surf schools and equipment rental companies. And, if you want to combine a bit of sightseeing with the surfing, the towns of Lagos and Sagres are great spots to visit. In Lagos, you’ll find a historic centre loaded with cobbled streets and churches. In Sagres, meanwhile, don’t forget to explore the clifftop fortress and the fishing port.
4. Visit Andalusia
Thanks to its location, you can easily visit neighbouring Spain from the Algarve and explore Andalusia. Seville is only two hours’ drive away and is packed with world-famous attractions. Some of the must-sees include the Plaza de España and the cathedral with its Giralda Tower, while the village-like former Jewish quarter, Santa Cruz, is also well worth a wander. And, if you pop across the border to Huelva, you’ll find traditional tapas bars and classical churches ready and waiting.
5. Taste the local cuisine
If you’re a foodie, take a culinary tour of the Algarve and spoil your taste buds with Portuguese flavours. Start your day with sweet pastéis de nata pastries and a Portuguese coffee – the roasts here are in a league of their own. For lunch, head to one of the authentic fishermen’s bars to try the catch of the day. And, for something a little different, head to the oyster beds in Alvor, where you can see how they are harvested before sampling them straight from the sea.
6. Head into the Monchique Mountains
One of the best inland excursions in the Algarve is to the Monchique Mountains. It’s dotted with picturesque villages that range from the rustic to the sophisticated. A must-visit is Silves, which is the gateway to the highlands. It’s famed as much for its oranges as its hilltop Moorish fortress – it used to be the regional capital. The town of Monchique itself, all cobbled alleys and whitewashed churches, is also worth a visit, as is the laidback spa town of Caldas de Monchique. And, for panoramic views of the Algarve countryside, head to the summit of Mount Foia.