You may remember the Algarve from blissful childhood holidays spent in the sun, no doubt involving melted vanilla cornets and fresh sardines by the harbour. But with the Algarve experiencing a surge in tourism, we think it’s time to relive holiday memories or create some new ones!
So pack your beach towel and flip-flops, and get ready to find out the five reasons why the Algarve is the perfect holiday destination.
1. It’s the perfect place to discover a new you
With luxurious spas, yoga retreats and nourishing sea views around every corner, the Algarve is fast becoming a leading wellness destination. Places such as Vilalara Logevity Thalass, one of Europe’s most well-respected therapy centres and boasting jaw-dropping sea views, make it easy to see why the Algarve is perfect for a spa holiday.
The Algarve is also home to many yoga and surf retreats, offering workshops in everything from mindfulness and meditation to catching the perfect wave.
2. It’s easy to experience the joy of wandering
The Algarve’s beaches often steal the show, but journey inland and you’ll find that the region’s true personality lies in chattering coffee shops and cobblestone backstreets, in which getting lost is a pleasure. What’s more, with vastly improved road networks and intercity connections, the EVA Bus Network offers cut-price access to charming towns and the more secluded beaches, often overlooked by holidaymakers!
Perfect for getting to know the authentic Algarve. Rummage amongst the antiques, handicrafts and deliciously fresh produce of the city’s renowned daily market, and soak in its charming, whitewashed terraces.
The Algarve’s most picturesque town beckons wanderers with its charm and dazzling sea views. Once you’ve roamed the streets, the best way to enjoy Tavira is to settle in a beachside cafe and sip a cup of rich, Portuguese coffee.
A stroll through the streets of Olhão is sure to spice up your holiday. This quaint fishing village is permeated with North African influence, boasting stunning Islamic architecture and Moroccan cuisine that’ll trump sardines by the sea any day.
3. There’s much to explore beyond the shore
The Algarve’s shoreline is glorious, sun-drenched and hard to resist. But ditching the sun lounger and exploring the coast will reveal a brand new kind of beach culture!
Accessible by boat or road-bridge, Faro Island beach is a dramatic sweep of glorious sand. Its best feature, however, lurks beneath; some of the most incredible marine life can be found on the Portuguese coast, perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling fans.
Keen surfers should head straight to the panoramic expanse of Praia do Amado. With numerous surf schools offering lessons throughout the year, this popular local haunt is a watersports paradise.
4. Eating Algarvian has never been tastier
Chances are that your treasured Algarve holiday memories involve ice cream on the beach, hotel buffets and sardines. However, with six Michelin star restaurants and some of the best seafood in Europe, you may find the Algarve has found a new flavour.
For a delicious introduction to the fruits of the Atlantic, head straight to a seafood snack bar in Quarteira. Tico Tico is a local favourite, with staff who construct your perfect fish dish from the day’s fresh catch! Fish fiends will also revel in August’s annual Shellfish Festival. Held in Olhã o port, this event draws international merchants and foodies to sample the tastiest seafood on offer, so bring a healthy appetite!
For something a little heartier, head for the hills – the town of Monchique, to be exact. Here, rustic meat stews and hair-raising glasses of the Portuguese national drink aguardiente are the dish of the day.
5. The locals know how to party
Pumping discotheques and cocktail bars have their place, but the Algarve’s party scene is a tad more vibrant and colourful. From hilltop carnivals to family festivals, there’s nothing more Algarvian than celebrating life with music and dance!
One for the kids (and big kids), Fiesa’s annual Sand Sculpture Festival runs through the summer, showcasing the hottest sand art in Europe. After dark, the sculptures are illuminated and enhanced by local food stalls and live music.
If you head to the Algarve for a bit of winter sun, be sure to catch the hilly village of Querença’s Christmas Festival, which includes traditional cooking classes and music from the church choir.
Originally celebrating Algarvian farmers herding their flocks to the sea for a yearly bath, Loulé’s White Night Festival has evolved into one of Portugal’s biggest parties. In August, the city is transformed with decorations, live music and dancing ‘til dawn.
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