About the Algarve
It may boast a year-round balmy climate, breath-taking coastline, and some of Europe’s finest beaches, but Algarve holidays in southern Portugal aren’t just about the sea, sun, and sand. Whether you’re after some historic sights, want to try delicious Portuguese food, hit the neon-lit nightlife, or see the underwater marine life at a dive spot, there’s no shortage of things to keep all the family happy on a holiday here. It's famous for the great golf courses that line the coast, and there are plenty of water sports on offer. Kids will love whizzing down the slides at the water parks and paddling in the sea, while grown-ups will enjoy discovering nature reserves, centuries-old castles, and beachfront bars.
The most popular destination for Algarve holidays is Albufeira, which is situated at the centre of Portugal’s south coast. Holidaymakers of all ages love it for its sweeping, sandy beaches and huge array of shops, bars and restaurants. Just 15km west of Albufeira is the lively resort of Armacao de Pera. Take a walk down the bustling promenade before stopping in one of its many bars for a long, cool drink. The ancient fishing town of Lagos can be found in the southwest part of the Algarve. Explore its medieval city walls and pick up some handcrafted ceramics to take home.
There’s no shortage of attractions and things to do on your holidays to the Algarve. Whichever part of the region you choose; you’ll find beautiful beaches, historic sights, tasty food and fun-filled family activities nearby.
No holiday is complete without sinking your toes into the soft sand of one of its beautiful beaches. The Algarve coast has more than 150 beaches to choose from, including family-friendly beaches ideal for paddling or stretches of sand with perfect water sports conditions. One of the most popular beaches is Praia Monte Gordo Beach. Just 10km from the Spanish border, it has warm waters and soft, white sand to relax on. For a secluded and remote spot, the unspoilt island of Culatra is a short boat ride away. Wander along the island’s tranquil coastline, before enjoying some freshly caught fish at one of only a handful of restaurants.
There’s plenty to keep the kids busy on Algarve holidays. Aqualand is one of Portugal’s biggest water parks, with thrilling slides like Kamikaze for teenagers and a mini waterpark for the little ones to splash around in. One of the most popular places is the Zoomarine theme park. Kids will love the wave pool and slides, before they dry off and learn all about sea life in the aquarium. Lagos Zoo is a small but well-maintained attraction, featuring over 120 species of animals and a petting farm for children.
Whether it’s a quiet cocktail with sea views, watching live bands play in a bar, or hitting the late-night clubs, Algarve nightlife has something for everyone. Albufeira is well known for its great nightlife and offers everything from chic cocktail bars to all-night techno clubs. Partying is a serious business here; most clubs open after 11.30pm and don’t close until the sun comes up. With more than just poker and slot machines, most casinos also hold live music and cabaret shows too. Sitting on the clifftop, the casino in Praia da Rocha’s has beach and sea views. For an authentic taste of Portuguese culture, try one of the many bars and restaurants with live fado music and traditional folk dancing known as corridinho.
ALGARVE HOLIDAY RESORTS
HOLIDAYS IN ALGARVE
Language:People in the Algarve speak Portuguese.
Currency:You’ll need Euros (€) for your holiday.
Local time:The Algarve is the same as GMT/UK time.
Fly to:Faro Airport. Transfers to the Algarve take 30 minutes (Vilamoura), 45 minutes (Carvoeiro), 1 hour (Albufiera, Praia da Rocha) and 1.5 hours (Alvor and Lagos).
Flight time from the UK:The Algarve flight time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Tourist Information:Further tourist information can be found at http://www.visitalgarve.pt.
The Algarve is best for…
Sun-seekers: There are some spectacular stretches of sand on the coast. From family-friendly paddling to water sports and total relaxation, you’ll find a beach in the Algarve to match your needs.
Animal lovers:See all the sea life at the excellent Zoomarine attraction, go wild dolphin spotting on a boat trip, or bird watch on a nature hike.
Families:Build sandcastles on the beach, make a splash at one of the exciting water parks, and visit the children’s petting zoo at Lagos zoo.
Weather and Climate
Temperature:During the summer, it can get as hot as 28 (°C) but are normally around 24 (°C). Winters are mild with lows of 12 (°C).
Best time to visit: Algarve holidays are best in the summer, but the warm weather means it’s still worth visiting any time of year.
For the best beach weather, book your holiday for the summer months of July and August. Hit the nearby water parks or relax on the beach as you enjoy high temperatures of 28 (°C). In the evening, the temperature rarely falls below 20 (ºC), so you can try some traditional Portuguese food outside by the seafront or marina. During springtime, the weather’s cooler but still warm and there’s little rain. Autumn and winter may be the wetter seasons, but the weather is still pleasant, with temperatures rarely dropping below (15°C).
By hire car:Explore at your own pace and pick up a rental car as soon as you land at Faro Airport. Take a scenic route along the coastline, or head inland to make brief stops in pretty towns and village filled with whitewashed houses.
By taxi:You’ll be able pre-book or, in some places, hop in a cab at a taxi rank to take you to nearby resorts, towns and attractions. Some taxi fares go up between midnight to 6am, and you’ll be charged extra for any luggage you have.
Carnival time: Head to Loulé in February and take in all the spectacular sights at one of the oldest carnivals in Portugal. Colourful floats and dancers in extravagant costumes make up the parade, as it winds its way through the town’s streets. Expect non-stop music, food stalls and plenty of dancing.
For sandcastle lovers: Visit Pêra and see all the hand-sculpted works of sand art at the International Sand Sculpture Festival FIESA. The largest sand sculpture festival in the world, over 30,000 tons of sand is used to create impressive sand creations every year. There’s even a space for kids to create their very own sand masterpieces too.
History buffs: In August, get a glimpse into what life was like in the Middle Ages at Castro Marim’s Medieval Festival. The Medieval Fair in Silves has historical re-enactments, jousting tournaments, and children’s storytelling.
Food festivals: Foodies won’t want to miss the Seafood Festival in Olhão or the Sardine Festival in Portimão, which both take place in August. Most villages along the coast celebrate their own sardine festival, but the best and most famous is in Portimão. Thousands visit the fishing town for the traditional delicacy of sardinhas assadas and there’s even market stalls, fireworks and live music to keep you entertained once you’ve eaten.