About the AlgarveUncover the different regions of the Algarve and learn all about the Algarve's coast and beaches, Serras, culture and climate of southern Portugal.
Portugal’s Algarve is one of the world’s most beautiful destinations and is enjoyed by both locals and tourists alike. Its proximity to North Africa means it benefits from an average of 300 days of sunshine a year and very little rain, this means mild winters and long hot summers making it ideal for holiday makers all-year round. It’s not just the weather that attracts people, there really is something for everyone! Adrenaline junkies will love the water sports, mountain biking and skydiving activities. Those who prefer a slower pace, benefit from the miles and miles of beautiful beaches, historic towns and the amazing cuisine.
Places in the Algarve
The capital city of the Algarve is Faro (home to the region’s only international airport) and the Algarve has 16 municipalities (counties) across 3 regions; Western Algarve, Central Algarve and Eastern Algarve. Within each of these municipalities there are country towns and coastal resorts, for example Silves is the inland town and Armação de Pêra is the coastal resort. Both are in the Silves municipality. The most westerly resort is Sagres, boasting rugged beaches and fantastic surfing opportunities, while Vila Real de Santo António is the most easterly town with its boarder on the edge of the Guadiana River that divides Portugal and Spain. It’s always worth checking our Algarve map to ensure the accommodation you’re thinking of booking is in the area you really want to be.
The Algarve coast
The Algarve coast line is extremely diverse, offering long expanses of beautiful golden sand, dunes, nature reserves and ilhas (off shore desert islands). There really are Algarve beaches for everyone!
The eastern end of the coastline is known as the “Sotavento” and from the town of Vila Real de Santo António there is a continuous length of golden dune backed sands all the way to the western end of Manta Rota near the beautiful little village of Cacela Velha. From there to Faro the beaches are offshore barrier islands which protect the lagoons of the Ria Formosa nature reserve from the Atlantic ocean.
Going westwards from the popular resort of Albufeira (from where it becomes the “Barlavento” region) the coastline is a mix of rocky outcrops, sheltered cove beaches and sandy bays. The coastline around Carvoeiro and Lagos boasts an amazing network of caves which can be visited on one of the many boat trips and for those that prefer to take in the glorious views from above there are plenty of coastal paths for walkers and cyclists. In some areas the cliffs are quite fragile and subject to possible rock falls so do heed any warning signs that you may come across both on the cliffs and on the beaches below.
The western Atlantic coast of the Algarve runs from Sagres in the south to Odeceixe in the north and is one of the least developed areas of the Algarve, with the Costa Vicentina Natural Park considerd to be one of the finest preserved stretches of European coastline. There are small hamlets and pretty villages and near deserted beaches (much favoured by surfers) all the way to the Alentejo.
Inland Algarve is known as the “Barrocal” region and it is dotted with pretty villages, tiny hamlets, citrus groves, carob and fig trees and small farms. It is in these villages that you can step back in time and see a more traditional way of life – very different to the bustling south coast resorts. The main towns of the Barrocal are the historic town of Silves and the bustling market town of Loulé.
The Serras of the Algarve
The wooded hills in the west of the Algarve, before the Alentejo, are known as the “Serras”, with Serra de Monchique and Serra do Caldeirão which lies further to the east. The highest point of the Serras is Foia just above the town of Monchique at 902 metres above sea level – the views are spectacular but the temperature can drop quite dramatically! The stunning spa resort of Caldas de Monchique, famous for the curative powers of its water since Roman times, nestles in a valley just below the town.
This wonderful diversity in a relatively small area, together with the wonderful Algarve weather is what makes it such a popular holiday destination!