Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. In the Algarve you will find the true meaning of this expression. Above all: the Algarve is here for everybody! So whether you are a nature lover who enjoys the bare minimal or prefer 5 star treatments living like a superstar, the Algarve is the perfect destination for you. These are the elements that will enrich your body and mind: the people, the food, the weather, the nature, the history and the activities.
365 days a year you can enjoy a wonderful life in Portugal. How do we know? Because we love the Algarve, we are from the Algarve and we are living the lives of our dreams! Our passion is to share our wonderful life with all travelers over the world and that is why we created this website. Here you will find all our local knowledge about this one of a kind region. We hope you enjoy reading all the secret tips for visiting the Algarve.
Before we start, first imagine this:
You are walking on a warm sandy beach, garnished by a relaxing light blue sky. You smell the salty water from the clear blue Mediterranean ocean and you hear the sounds of happy people chattering. You gaze to the beautiful red rock formations and think to yourself let’s have fresh fish for lunch…
The people – the most relaxed in the world
Happiness is almost always about unforgettable moments you shared with other people. That is why the core of a perfect holiday is about people. It is about the moments you have with your travel partners and the moments you shared with the people you meet. In the Algarve you are sure to meet an amazing passionate tour guide lecturing you about the history of the country, the sea and the people. You will most definitely be served by exceptionally friendly waiters in the restaurants and you will get to know people who are not afraid to open up about their lives.
The people of the Algarve are known to be friendly and super relaxed. Most natives are quite easy-going and care free! Without a doubt you will experience a different vibe than in other Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain and France. Another big advantage is that everybody speaks English. You will find it much easier communicating to Portuguese people than to other people from the Mediterranean. Especially the younger generation master English very well and you will have no trouble understanding menus or directions.
The food – a party in your belly
A holiday without tasty food or worse food poisoning is likely not what you seek. Whether you like to have your similar food from home on holidays or want to explore different cuisines, you are sure to please your belly in the Algarve. The Algarve is international and influenced by many other countries. You will find here all the famous American fast food restaurants and due to many non-Portuguese inhabitants you will have no problems finding a British, Italian, Indian and Thai restaurant. Trendy foodies can indulge at the many healthy organic places for an Acai bowl for example.
In addition, the Portuguese cuisine is rich, tasty and full of heritage. The Portuguese specialties are grilled sardines, grilled piri-piri chicken and a cataplana (stew with meat or fish). Fresh fish and fresh fruits are an absolute joy due to all the sun hours the Algarve gets. And the Portuguese love their sweets and desserts. In one of the many pastelarias (cafes offering a great variety of cakes and sweets) you can taste some of the various traditional pastries of the area.
- You can start by delighting yourself with a famous Dom Rodrigo, a sweet made of gems and almonds wrapped in colourful aluminums foil.
- There are also the traditional Bolinhos de Amêndoa (almond cakes) that come in all shapes, from fruits to little fishes!
- And if you seek for something typically Portuguese, you can try the pastéis de nata, which are delicious custard cakes. Although they have their origins in Belém, a quarter of Lisbon, you can find them all over the country. This is perhaps the most typical Portuguese pastry.
If you would like to learn more about Portuguese food, we have a separate article for you.
History and culture
The Algarve exits for over 2000 years. You can feel the powerful forces that left behind countless historic treasures and tales. Occupied by the Arabs, Roman and Spanish, every nation made a lasting impression on the region. Most of the towns and cities developed from settlements that already existed when the Romans occupied the territory. The origin of the name Algarve dates back to the early Middle Ages, when the Muslims occupied the region and called it ‘Al-Gharb’, meaning ‘the west’ in Arabic. Many places in the Algarve present a quite peculiar architecture, thanks to Arabian and medieval influences.
Silves – the medieval city
Silves is definitely a town not to be missed! Silves was the capital of Al-Gharb during the Moorish reign; therefore it possesses numerous examples of the Moorish architecture, as for instance its famous castle. Silves hosts a Medieval Festival every year, attracting thousands of visitors.
Sagres – the end of the world
You can visit the fortress of Sagres and imagine Henry the Navigator, a Portuguese prince from the 15th century, sitting on the cliffs and wondering if there was any land beyond the vast ocean. In fact, Henry the Navigator, known as the initiator of the European Age of Discoveries, was the founder of Sagres. For the history enthusiasts, we have a dedicated article about the history of the Algarve.
Beaches in the Algarve
The Algarve is known for having perhaps some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Here you can find long sandy beaches along the coast from the Spanish border to Albufeira, as well as sheltered lagoons and sandy islands from Tavira to Faro. But there also hundreds of beaches protected by sandstone cliffs between Albufeira and Sagres. Traditionally, these two completely different parts of the south coast of the Algarve are known as Sotavento (which corresponds to the sandy Algarve) and Barlavento (which corresponds to the rocky Algarve). Besides that, there is a strong environmentally protected west coast called Costa Vicentina, which is a paradise for lovers of nature and tranquility. In fact, the west coast is a natural park and no hotels or others buildings have been allowed there.
If you prefer a more cosmopolitan atmosphere, there are cities like Portimão and Albufeira, where the nightlife lasts till morning. Nightlife in Portimão is mainly concentrated mainly in Praia da Rocha, with lots of bars and busy discos like Kathedral. In Albufeira you can walk around the busy center and you can find lots of bars and clubs with their own performances, live music and entertainment. Also famous for its night scene is the so-called Strip area with all sorts of discos, pubs and bars. If you like dancing this is perhaps a good tip.
If you appreciate nature combined with culture, visit Faro and the Natural Park of Ria Formosa to enjoy its warm waters, long stretching beaches, diverse bird life, interesting museums and the fascinating old town. If you want, you can even grab a ‘boat taxi’ and sunbath on the desert islands of the Ria! On the other side, the west coast of the Algarve concentrates amazing natural landscapes with deserted beaches, wonderful rock formations and a variety of wild life in an environmentally protected area which has remained unchanged and unaffected by tourism. This is the ideal place to get away from busy environments and to immerse into a quiet, fascinating natural environment. This is one of our strongest recommendations.
The Algarve also owns an amazing countryside, ornated with endless orangeries. You can visit the Serra de Monchique mountains and spend some time relaxing under the tree shadows and enjoy some massages on the Villa Termal. Caldas de Monchique’s hot springs are famous for their curative properties related to respiratory problems. And besides all of that, you can visit monuments and numerous hotspots! But one cannot forget the mountain ranges of Serra do Caldeirão, in the northern side of the Algarve, the least developed part of the region. Here you can find quiet and tiny villages which seem not to have changed for centuries and also a lovely landscapes. If you like, you can read more about the geography of the Algarve.
Camping lovers and surf lovers, the Algarve is the perfect destination for you. Feel the spirit of the nature and wake up with the most incredible sunrises just by opening the curtains in your van! You can park your camper at the many camping sites situated in Monte Gordo, the Island of Tavira, Olhão, Albufeira and Lagos. If you don’t own a camper, there are several companies where you can rent a camper van. From the ultimate family vans to vintage Volkswagen!
The Algarve is also the home of several large water parks, like Slide & Splash, Aquashow and Aqualand. Here you can experience adventure in one of the many water attractions and enjoy extreme feelings of rising adrenaline.
Why not take your family to Zoomarine? Besides being a water park, situated in Guia, just about 6 kilometres from Albufeira, Zoomarine offers a complete marina experience for adults and children of all ages. Here you can watch aquatic shows with various marine beings, like dolphins, seals, and sea lions, and even swim with them!
If you enjoy animals, you can also visit the Zoo of Lagos, which is home to various friendly animals (most of them). It has a small monkey village, which can be quietly observed from one of the many benches in the area. You can walk among kangaroos and pet ponies, and even visit the cave of the lords of the night… bats!
AlgarveTips.com is a non-commercial tourist information project that has spontaneously arisen out of love for the Algarve region, where we were born. The website has the following aims:
- To provide objective information for tourists with special interests visiting the Algarve. In most cases we aim at providing more information than currently available websites.
- To give the right advice for visitors wishing to discover the Algarve and help tourists get the most out of their trip in this region.
- Revealing secrets about places in the Algarve and providing you with unique, unforgettable experiences, not currently available for the ordinary tourist. These secrets are based on our deep knowledge of the region, its people and its culture.