In Summer, especially during July and August, the Algarve’s population can triple! Foreigners and Portuguese make their way to the region to enjoy their family vacations. They mostly come for the amazing beaches, great food and hot Summer nights. Because of that some places can get a bit overcrowded. For a more authentic and relaxed experience I would advise for you to choose a different time to visit the region, avoiding high season.
Nevertheless, some places are still calm even during these months and there are some things you can do to enjoy the Summer in the Algarve and avoid the big crowds!
I have 5 suggestions of what to do in less touristic places. These 5 suggestions are not less remarkable, they are just underrated and out of the beaten-track!
1. Dolphin watching in Sagres
The coast of Sagres is the best spot in the Algarve to do dolphin watching. Maybe because it is located on the Western corner of the region, it stays out of most tourist’s itinerary.
During all year is possible to observe Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin and the Harbour Porpoise. Orcas, Risso`s Dolphins and Striped Dolphin are also frequent spotted. Some whales pass by Sagres coast during their migratory route, such as Minke Whale and Fin Whale. Not easy to observe, but also present in these waters are: Moonfish, Hammerhead Shark, Blue Shark, Basking Shark and Loggerhead Turtle.
Take in consideration that as the animals are in the wild, to spot them is not 100% guarantee, but during Summer the animals are spotted almost every day!
2. Learn how to surf
Costa Vicentina Natural Park goes from Vila do Bispo municipality, in the Algarve, until the Alentejo coast near Odeceixe. This coastal area is known by its great surf conditions.
This area of preserved nature has breathtaking, rugged character that is different to other parts of southwestern and southern Portugal. Here you find empty swathes of sand or tiny, inaccessible beaches. The beaches around Sagres, like Martinhal beach and Cordoama beach are perfect for a surf lesson, either you are a beginner or an advance surfer.
3. Swim in a desert Island
Is there a desert island in the Algarve? Yes!
Barreta island is one of the 5 barrier islands in the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The island is also commonly called “Deserta”, which literally means desert or deserted.
On the island there are only two buildings: a restaurant and a house from the unique inhabitant. It has 7 km long and it is only accessible by boat from the nearest cities: Faro and Olhão. The cross by ferry can take between 35 and 50 minutes. Maybe, because of that, even in the Summer, the island is very calm and peaceful. The long white sand and the pristine calm waters make it a paradise for those who enjoy the beach.
This beach is inside a protected area and has an amazing biodiversity, from birds, to plants and flowers, crustacean and chameleons! It is very important to follow the code of conduct to preserve the ecosystem.
4. Visit a cork factory
Portugal has the biggest cork production in the world! In Central Algarve, you will find São Brás de Alportel. This municipality in the rural Algarve is known by its cork factories and plantations. Here you can visit a factory to discover all the process of making cork and discovery different ways of use the cork.
5. Visit Estoi Palace
Estoi is a small village just 10km from Faro. The main attrattion in the village is the Palace of Estoi (Palácio de Estoi). This palace is a building from the 19th century with “Rococo” style. Its impressive saloons and the surrounding gardens are the main attractions. Although the building is now a hotel, these common areas can be visited for free, any day of the week. Anyway, you can call the hotel in advance to make sure there isn’t a private event, in which case visits are not allowed.
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