The Algarve in a nutshell
The Algarve is a province in the south of Portugal, known for its golden beaches, impressive rock formations and nice weather. But the Algarve has much more to offer. Relaxing nature, history, culture and a buzzing nightlife. You can find it all in this part of Portugal. The Algarve attracts millions of tourists every year and is popular both in summer and in the winter. Our passion is to share all the secret tips for visiting the Algarve 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.
The Algarve has some of the most beautiful beaches of Europe. With almost 200 kilometres of coastline, you can expect a great variety of different beaches. 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. One thing is for sure: the beaches of the Algarve won’t disappoint you.
History and culture
The Algarve exists for over 2000 years. The Algarve was occupied by the Greeks, Romans, Moors and other people from the Mediterranean. Most of the towns and cities developed from settlements that already existed when the Romans occupied the territory. You can actually still find Roman ruins, for example in Milreu. 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. If you are interested in history, you have plenty to discover in the region. To get started, we have a dedicated article about the history of the Algarve.
For example, check out the town of Silves. It 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.
Food, without question, is very important to the Portugese. In the Algarve you can try traditional local cuisine, which consists mainly of fresh fish and shellfish. Meat lovers also won’t be disappointed by Portuguese cuisine. Of course you can have international food as well. Due to the many non-Portuguese inhabitants, you will have no problem finding a British, Italian, Indian or Thai restaurant. Trendy foodies can indulge at the many healthy organic places for an Açaí bowl for example.
Famous specialties of Portuguese cuisine are grilled sardines, grilled piri-piri chicken and cataplana (stew with meat or fish). Fresh fish and fresh fruits are an absolute joy, due to all the sun hours the Algarve is exposed to. And the Portuguese love their sweets and desserts. In one of the many pastelarias, you can taste some of the various traditional pastries of the area. Look out for the Dom Rodrigo, Bolinhos de Amêndoa and pastéis de nata. If you would like to learn more about Portuguese food, we have a separate article for you.
The Algarve is one of the sunniest destinations in Europe. With an average 300 days of sun per year, you will probably enjoy the weather. Make sure to bring sunscreen though. If you want to read more about the climate of the Algarve, we got you covered.
The Algarve has plenty of entertainment. For example, there are a number of events that are held every year. From the Sardine Festival to Medieval Fairs. Take a look at which events in the Algarve you would like to attend.
Looking for the perfect party destination? The Algarve is the ultimate pick for party girls and boys who like their booze. The nightlife in the Algarve equals fun and entertainment that lasts until early morning.
If you appreciate nature, there are several nature parks in the Algarve. For example, the Natural Park of Ria Formosa has warm waters, long stretching beaches and a diverse bird life. If you want, you can even grab a ‘boat taxi’ and sunbathe on the quiet islands of the Ria Formosa. You can also find amazing natural landscapes on the west coast of the Algarve. The Costa Vicentina has deserted beaches, wonderful rock formations and a variety of wildlife. It is an environmentally protected area which has remained unchanged and unaffected by tourism. This is the ideal place to get away from the crowded touristic towns and to immerse into a quiet and fascinating natural environment. If you like nature, visiting the Costa Vicentina is highly recommended.
The Algarve consists of several parts. First there is the coast. This is where most tourists stay. You can find some great beaches and amazing rock formations here. Then you have the central Algarve. Here you can find some agriculture. In general, the Algarve also owns an amazing countryside, ornated with endless orangeries. And last but not least, there are the mountains. You can for example visit Serra de Monchique. The hot springs of Caldas de Monchique are famous for their curative properties related to respiratory problems. Another beautiful mountain range is Serra do Caldeirão. This is located in the northern side of the Algarve, the least developed part of the region. Here you can find quiet and tiny villages which seem to not have changed for centuries. If you like, you can read more about the geography of the Algarve.
If you would like to visit the Algarve, it is good to think about how you would like to get around the region. Will you stay in 1 place or would you like to see several places? How do you arrive there? You can travel by car, bus, train, taxi or Uber. If you like, you can read more about getting around in the Algarve.
There are many things to do in the Algarve. For example, you can go hiking in nature. There are several short- and long distance walking trails near most towns. Or you could go shopping. 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. Another option is to go to Zoomarine. Besides being a water park, Zoomarine offers a complete 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). For example, you can see flamingos and exotic birds here. It also has a small monkey island, which can be quietly observed from one of the many benches in the area. Kids usually love to visit Lagos Zoo.
If you are an active person, there are several sports to enjoy. For example, golf, surfing or yoga are all quite popular in the Algarve. If you like, you can read more about the various activities you can enjoy in the region.