The Algarve Tourism Guide
Nowhere in Portugal does the light reflect the beauty of the surrounding landscape as in the Algarve. Golden sand, clear blue water, whitewashed houses, bougainvillaea-lined streets, white expanses of almond blossoms and verdant slopes of mountain ranges all come together in this southernmost province of Portugal to create an idyllic backdrop for a holiday in the sun. Add the Algarve’s climate, with glorious sunny days in the summer, warm temperatures in the winter and limited annual rainfall and the allure is complete. Hardly surprising that the local saying is “Summer comes to spend the Winter in the Algarve”.
Approximately 200 km of coastline, running from the Costa Vicentina on the south-west coast of Portugal to the south-eastern coastline bordering Spain, provide a myriad of beaches that are suited to all tastes. The rugged escarpments of the western coast are interspersed with long stretches of wild, sandy beaches or sheltered coves and caves carved out by the sea, while the golden cliffs of the southern coastline look out over long expanses of sandy beaches that are bathed by calmer and warmer waters. The variety is endless and it’s all there: secluded beaches only accessible on foot or by boat; beaches offering all the activities and entertainment of the best resorts; or wilder beaches ideal for the more adventurous sports.
Other treasures await the unsuspecting visitor because the Algarve’s enviable beaches are by no means its only charm. Away from the livelihood of the more bustling seaside resorts, Nature awaits in all her splendour. Three inland mountain ranges provide nature lovers with breathtaking views of eucalyptus, cork oak and pine tree forests and the chance to visit the historical villages dotted around them. Relax in the natural spring waters of the Monchique spa, enjoy a trip up the Guadiana river, the natural boundary separating Portugal from Spain, and delight in the flora and fauna of the protected marshlands of the Castro Marim Nature Reserve where you can observe the flamingos and storks as they grace the land with their presence on their migratory flight southwards.
The coastal towns and cities provide all the hospitality and entertainment that many years’ experience of welcoming visitors to the region have fostered. The picturesque, historical centres with their narrow, winding roads usually have an historical tale to tell, the quaint white-washed houses bear testimony to 5 centuries of Moorish occupation and the many bars and restaurants provide a wonderful opportunity to sample the local cuisine. As befits a seafaring region, seafood is the traditional ingredient with the great favourites being caldeirada (fish stew) and cataplana de amêijoas (baked clams), the copper recipients they are cooked in being another legacy of Moorish domination. The local fruits, namely figs, almonds and carob beans, provide the basis for the multitude of Algarve sweets, all of which can be accompanied with medronho, the potent, local liqueur made from arbutus berry.
Possessing all the natural, unspoilt beauty that so characterises Portugal and offering a wide choice of beaches, good weather, fabulous golf courses, mouth-watering cuisine, enjoyable entertainment and the innate hospitality of the Portuguese people, the Algarve is a perfect holiday destination.