The Algarve is an award winning destination! But if you still have doubts about whether you should visit this southern Portugal region or not, I want to present you 12 reasons that will make you want to visit the Algarve!
1. The weather
The climate in the Algarve has a Mediterranean influence with mild temperatures throughout the year. Summer months are hot, dry and sunny, perfect to enjoy the beaches. July is the hottest month in the Algarve with an average temperature of 24°C (74°F). In hotter days, temperatures can get as high as 35°C (95°F).
Winter is mild and very cold days are rare specially on the shoreline, were during the day temperatures are normally above 10 °C (50 °F).
What’s the best part? The Algarve has an annual average of over 300 days of sun a year! During summer there an impressive 12 hours of daily sunshine and almost no rain.
2. The people
The Algarve has about 450,000 inhabitants. Due to tourism, during summer months the population almost triples!
Local people are used to tourists and lot of them speaks English (at least some basics words). If they don´t they are very good at improvising.
Specially, if you visit out of high season, or go to less touristic places, you connect with really nice and sympathetic people that truly wanting to help you.
3. Ria Formosa Natural Park
Ria Formosa is characterized by coastal sandy dunes that protect a lagoon forming a variety of natural habitats: barrier islands, mudflats, dunes, salt marshes, freshwater ponds and brackish water, waterways, forests and agricultural areas. These environmental characteristics make RFNP a place rich in biodiversity and full of beautiful landscapes.
You can make one of the several pedestrian trails, like Quinta de Marim or Ludo, and get in touch with natural fauna and flora. Or you can opt for a boat trip to have a different perspective of the natural park. You can go on board of the public ferries that make the passage to the islands or, for a better insight about the park and traditional activities, like fishing and seafood nurseries, get a guided boat tour.
4. Gastronomic Tours
The Algarve maybe known by its amazing beaches and great weather all year, but when it comes to food and culture it also has a lot to offer you.
This region was home of different peoples and cultures, like the Phoenicians, Arabs and Jews, played an important role in Portuguese discoveries. Its gastronomy is very diverse, with coastal cities living mostly from fishing and shellfish nurseries, while the countryside lives from the animals and agriculture products. The best way to know the gastronomy and history of the region is to join a gastronomic tour. You can choose from a walk in the city with stops to taste the delicacies or a visit to local producers. Either way, I guaranty it will be an incredible experience.
5. Sunset at Cabo de S. Vicente
Cabo de São Vicente (the Cape of Saint Vincent) is the most south-westerly tip of mainland Europe and its characterized by huge cliffs facing the Atlantic Ocean. Here, views are amazing and gain a special mysticism at sunset. The place is so famous for its sunset that you will probably be amazed by the number of people going there to enjoy the end of the day.
Cape of Saint Vicente is quite windy and can be chilly, even in Summer, so go prepared with a jacket or towel to cover you when the temperature drops.
6. Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
You probably have already heard about the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, as it was elected as one of the very best hikes in Europe by European Best Destinations. And I can tell you that the prize is well-deserved! This scenic route, near Lagoa, runs from Praia da Marinha in the east to Praia de Vale Centeanes in the west during 6 km. The trail goes along the top of coastal cliffs, that form amazing shapes and grottos surrounded by crystalline water.
7. Lost villages in the rural Algarve
The rural Algarve is full of small typical villages that will melt your heart! Ancient costumes and traditions, typical architecture, narrow streets, amazing landscapes and unspoiled nature. Some examples are: Alte, Querença, Salir and Alcoutim.
8. Amazing off the beaten track beaches
The Algarve is known for having over 200 km of beaches. Most get crowed during summer, but there are still unspoiled paradisiac beaches. Ria Formosa Natural Park has several islands with long white sandy beaches, that can only be reach by boat. Maybe because of that, most of then are still very calm when comparing with other beaches in the region. Also, in the western coast of the Algarve, there are almost desert beaches. On this coast, most beaches are only accessible by dirt roads. The sea can be a little rough but the scenery and the peace you will found here are unique comparing with any another place in the region.
9. Silves and its castle
Silves is a charming town filled with history and culture, as it was once the capital of the Algarve. The castle on the top of the hill, is one of the most well-preserved in the region and offers amazing views to the lands around. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes to explore the city centre, as the streets go up the hill in unlevel pavement. The atmosphere is really immersive and you will feel like the town have stopped in time.
If you have time to explore the area around, Silves is known by its vineyards and the citrus farms. Some producers receive visitors and offer tours.
During August, make sure you go to the Medieval Fair that takes place for 10 days every year (the days may change, so check before you go). During the fair, there are historical recreations of the medieval period of the former capital of the Kingdom of the Algarve.
10. Local Markets
In the Algarve, local markets are always full of fresh ingredients. From fruits and vegetables to fish, shellfish and meat, and of course traditional products like honey, sweets, jams, etc. The vendors are friendly local producers proud to show you their products. Go inside on of these local markets is an experience of colours, smells and tastes. I highlight the markets of Olhão and Loulé for their dimension, diversity of products and architecture.
11. Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park
The Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park is the finest preserved stretch of European coastline, covering over 100 km, from Porto Covo in the Alentejo, to Burgau in the Algarve. Here, the landscape is marked by steep cliffs and “secret beaches”. This park is also very rich in biodiversity, mainly bird species, rare indigenous plants and mammals, like the marine otter (only place where they can be found in Portugal).
12. Great rural accommodation
If you want to rest and relax a rural accommodation is the right choice. In the Algarve, you can find rural hotels and guesthouses of all prices and with all commodities just a few kilometers away from bigger cities and beaches! Do you want to be surrounded by nature and still close to the beach? I would advice to look for rural accommodation in Castro Marim. If you want to stay close to the airport look up for hotels in Estoi and São Brás de Alportel. And if you wish to enjoy the Natural Park of Ria Formosa, stay in Moncarapacho or Tavira.
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