The Algarve is a coastal region at the bottom of Portugal. With its Atlantic beaches and near year-round sunshine, it’s not hard to see why it’s such a popular holiday destination.
This part of the world has a strong association with golf holidays, but there is a lot more to this part of Portugal than golf courses. Not only does the Algarve has some of the prettiest little towns and villages, but it also has some of the most fantastic natural scenery on the Iberian Peninsula. And of course there are the beaches.
One thing to note about the Algarve is that being in a sparsely populated country on the western edge of the continent, transport options aren’t the best. While you can get by with trains in France and Spain, if you want to see the best of the Algarve you will need a car. You can get a cheap car hire in Faro when you arrive, and then drive to your accommodation from the airport. You will then have the freedom to visit other places on day trips.
Here are some of the highlights of the Algarve.
Vicentine Coast Natural Park
Vicente Coast Natural Park is one of the easiest natural parks in Portugal to access and for the entire family to enjoy. It has a fantastic shallow lagoon which is safe for both young and old. During low tide, rock pools form along the seashore giving you a chance to explore the pristine shoreline.
In the peak season, lifeguards patrol the beach and there is a full range of public facilities. You can take the opportunity to explore further inland by taking one of the easy to follow paths which start from the beach or car parks. When you visit the area in the summer, you can enjoy freshly caught seafood in the local restaurant close to the beach.
This popular holiday resort in the western Algarve was once a fishing village. Unlike other tourist hot spots on the coast, it has not lost any of its charms. However, the unspoiled beach remains the main attraction, Carvoeiro is an excellent choice for a visit when you would like to sample the local cuisine. There is a good choice of restaurants for both families and those who would like to enjoy a more exclusive meal. Watersports to suit all age groups are on offer and you can enjoy boat tours from the marina.
If you have older children or are traveling on your own, Lagos may be the perfect destination for you. Although a water park called Slide & Splash can be found in the vicinity, there is a strong focus on hiking and exploring the countryside. Most of the trails start from the town of Lagos itself, and after you have enjoyed a hike, you can relax in one of the many seafood restaurants or meet with friends for a few drinks. Lagos is often described as one of the most sociable and friendliest towns on the Algarve coast.
Golf on the Algarve Coast Portugal
When it comes to the Algarve, you simply must mention golf. The best golf courses can be found in the Albufeira area. That is if you can tear yourself from the lovely beaches and natural landscapes which make Albufeira a good choice for outdoor lovers. Again, having a car helps in this regard, as you can cart your golf gear around the best golfing sites.
Balaia is known to be one of the top challenging golf courses on the entire Algarve coast. But if you are not in the mood for a challenge, you should try the Salgados golf course which is perhaps the most scenic golf course in Portugal. All of the local golf courses have fantastic facilities for golfers and visitors who would like to enjoy the ambiance. Most are located close to hotels and offer a range of discounts to attract golf-mad visitors to this part of Portugal.
While it is popular to stay in hotels in the Algarve, there is plenty of private accommodation available. Both apartment and villa rentals are popular, and the quality of the accommodation is second to none. Rentals can easily be arranged online or through local agencies. Residential areas are located close to towns and within easy reach of facilities such as supermarkets. If you are looking for a luxury villa (like on a hillside with a pool, overlooking the ocean) then best to arrange a car hire as well.
If you would like to visit the Algarve to enjoy the seaside, the best time of the year to visit is from June to September. If you are coming just to escape from the colder climes of Europe or to go golfing, then anytime of year if going to pleasing.