Portugal is one of Western Europe’s best summer holiday hotspots, and for good reason – with miles of gorgeous coastline, white beaches meeting the azure ocean, cheap accommodation, and excellent locally prepared seafood, it’s well worth a visit. The Algarve region is particularly popular with tourists, with over 150 km of coastline to explore, and many pretty seaside towns and historic villages to discover. The West coast of the Algarve is more rugged and isolated, with fascinating rock formations and hidden coves along the shoreline. The whole area is stunningly beautiful, and the perfect place for a sun-kissed summer vacation.
Sunshine, beach, ocean – bliss in the algarve
Need we say more? If you’re looking for a beach holiday, look no further than the Algarve. Although it’s a tourist hotspot, the Algarve has plenty of sleepy towns and secluded beaches for the traveller seeking privacy and relaxation. Spend your days sunbathing and swimming in the ocean, or take a trip into one of the nearby villages and stroll through the cobblestone streets in the late afternoon or early evening.
The town of Loule in the Lagos area of the Algarve is a great place to see some Moorish architecture – colourful whitewashed buildings with Arabian-style decor, pretty churches, and fortifications all within walking distance of one another. Get a taste of the heritage of the Algarve region whilst getting some shopping done, and sampling the local cuisine.
Superb Seafood & Portuguese Wine
Seafood lovers, take note – there is nothing quite like Portuguese seafood! Shellfish (clams and mussels), grilled sardines caught just off shore, calamari, and plenty of excellent line fish caught fresh and transported from the beach right to your plate. Pair a delicious Portuguese seafood dish with some local wine such as Arinto, a refreshing white wine with lemon notes that pairs perfectly with fish dishes. Alternatively, enjoy some red wine with a meat dish, or simple but fantastic vegetarian dishes made from local vegetables, complemented by country-style bread.
For dessert, you have to try Pastel de Nata if you have a sweet tooth – these are small egg-custard tarts made with phyllo dough, served warm and dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar. Also look out for Portuguese biscuit cake, sweet and savoury pastries, and all kinds of breads.
Things to do in the Algarve
In addition to relaxing, sunbathing, dipping in the ocean, and enjoying fantastic food and wine, there are many fun and interesting activities you can do whilst on vacation in the Algarve. There are several great golf courses for keen golfers, hiking and biking trails, horseback riding on the beach, windsurfing, sailing, and many great nature walks to enjoy during your stay. If you are more into culture and history, head into the cities and villages to explore the many churches and castles, and learn about the Moorish influence on Portuguese history. From the Algarve region, you can hire a car and take a road-trip to either Lisbon or Seville, Spain, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. After all, you may just want to spend a week in the sun, carefree and blissful. The choice is entirely yours.
Photo by Jorge Cardim