My first visit to the Algarve was back in 2007 and I instantly fell in love with the place. I’ve been back many, many times in the last few years, and there’s clearly something that keeps drawing me back.
To me the Algarve has some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. You won’t find mass-tourism or high-rise hotels here. Instead you’ll find pristine beaches and secluded coves backed by yellow sandstone cliffs. The Atlantic Ocean is so refreshing for swimming, and there are lots of grottos and caves to discover. I love the Atlantic breeze, the sound of the seagulls and the smell of the sea spray that lingers in the air. Above all I love the Portuguese seafood, which is some of the best I have ever tasted.
There are also plenty of cheap flights to Portugal from the UK, so it’s easy for me to go back again and again without breaking the bank.
What to Do: The Algarve is a top beach destination, so you can expect to spend most of your holiday sunbathing on the sand and swimming in the refreshing Atlantic Ocean. You can book a boat excursion to spot dolphins, or take a kayaking tour to explore the grottos and caves along the coastline. The west coast of Portugal happens to be one of Europe’s top surfing destinations, so if you’re interested in learning to surf you might want to head out to Sagres where there are numerous surf camps offering lessons. If you’re traveling with kids, you can take them to Slide and Splash Water Park for a fun day out. Meanwhile keen golfers will love the Algarve’s world-class golf resorts. If it’s shopping you’re after, the best places for this are Portimao or a shopping mall called ‘Algarve Shopping’ in Guia.
Make sure you visit Cape St. Vincent, the most westerly point in the Algarve, which was once thought to be the end of the Earth. As you look over the sheer cliffs down to the ocean, it really does look like the end of the world! Another place worth visiting is Monchique- a picturesque area in the hills known as the ‘Garden of the Algarve’.
The Food: Being on the ocean, the Algarve has some delicious fish and seafood. In the restaurants you’ll find dishes such as clams in white wine and garlic, monkfish kebabs, giant king prawns, grilled sea bass and fresh oysters. Baccalau is a Portuguese speciality- a dish of salted cod, potatoes and cream. Before your meal you will be presented with ‘Couvert’ which includes local speciality cheese, bread, olives, carrots with garlic and Sardine paté. Don’t leave without trying some of the country’s port wine after your meal.
Getting there & When to Go- The main airport on the Algarve is Faro Airport and you can find plenty of cheap flights from the UK. Flybe.com offers flights from a number of destinations including Southampton airport flights. While the Algarve has a mild climate all year round, the best time to visit is during Europe summer from May to October. During the summer months you can expect endless blue skies, warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. While temperatures can reach the mid-30s during the summer months, there is usually a cooling Atlantic breeze.