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Pocket Guide: Algarve

The Algarve is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe so there’s no shortage of excellent hotels to stay in and enjoy your holiday. The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal renowned for good weather, great seafood, beautiful beaches, and excellent golf resorts and hotels.

Faro is the capital of Algarve and is served by the international airport of Faro. It is also a great and convenient spot from which to explore other cities along the coast, such as Lagos, Albufeira, Vilamoura, Portimão, Carvoeiro and Tavira.

History

The history of the Algarve is very interesting and dates back to the 2nd Century BC when the Romans spread through the Iberian Peninsula. It was the stage for battles during the era of the crusades, naval attacks from pirates and was also the port of departure for sailing boats throughout the Age of Discoveries. The 1755 earthquake of Lisbon destroyed many villages, but Roman ruins can still be seen today along with monuments, forts, castles, medieval churches and quiet villages and lovely beaches.

Things to Do

With its clear blue skies, limestone grottoes, whitewashed fishing villages and golden sand beaches, is it any surprise that The Algarve is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the wold. Stop in Lagos and take a boat out to the Algarve’s most beautiful caves. Visit the Ria Formosa Nature Park and enjoy its serene views. Absorb the beauty of the picturesque bay of Praia da Luz, which is a family favourite along with Praia da Rocha or Carvoeiro. Spend the day exploring hidden beaches.

Climb the highest point of the Algarve, Fóia, and explore the mountain range of Monchique. Enjoy a relaxed holiday in the popular spa town, Caldas de Monchique. Take a trip out to the westernmost point of the Algarve, Cape St. Vincent, where the cliffs rise vertically from the Atlantic to a dizzy height of 75 metres. Watch unforgettable sunsets and take long walks or bicycle rides along Alvor boardwalk. If you are travelling with kids, pick a family friendly hotel near a waterpark or take a boat tour along the coast to spot dolphins.

Food

The Algarve is famous for its seafood; local favourites include sardines, tuna, cod, octopus, squid, monkfish, prawns and clams. ‘Conquilhas’ are small clams, usually cooked in a traditional Portuguese Cataplana pot, mixed with seafood, tomatoes, wine, garlic and herbs – a dish that’s very popular in the Algarve. Another traditional Portuguese dish is grilled sardines, accompanied by potatoes, vegetables or salad. In Albufeira, Almancil, Vilamoura and Porches you can sample world class dining at six different Michelin star restaurants. Each of them offering something unique.

Nightlife

If you are looking for vibrant nightlife then grab a hotel around Marina de Vilamoura for the best bars and clubs - though you’ll soon discover that there are many lively nightlife hotspots spread all over the Algarve. Recuperate during the day on the breathtaking beaches - a match made in holiday heaven.

Shopping

There's great shopping throughout the Algarve, but the most popular areas are the Municipal Markets of Albufeira, Portimão and Lagos, where you’ll find top souvenirs and fresh food. Bigger shopping centres like Forum Algarve in Faro and Algarve Shopping in Guia are excellent places for finding clothing and gifts. If you want something traditional to take home, shop for hand painted tiles and local pottery.

Whether you want a cheap Algarve hotel located by the beach or a luxury five star hotel in Vilamoura, the Algarve has you covered when it comes to accommodation options.

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