T he Algarve is not only the surfing paradise number one in Europe, the Portuguese region also attracts with gorgeous cliffs, gently sloping sandy beaches, secluded coves and a year-round balmy climate. So it is not surprising that the Algarve is Portugal’s most popular area – especially during high season.
I’ve already been to Lisbon, so it was not my first time in Portugal. But it was still the first time to the Algarve. And I can tell you, the region is not just different to Lisbon, but also to many European cities such as Barcelona or Rome. The Algarve invites you to linger, not to check out a place after another. The region lets you relax and calm down and doesn’t spread any hectic. That’s why it’s so popular and that’s why you need to visit it yourself!
The Algarve is the southernmost region of continental Portugal and has an area of 4.989 km² (1.926 mi²) which stretches along the southern coast of the Atlantic. It’s most famous for its numerous surf spots and especially for surfers the paradise and central hotspot in Europe. Here you also find the Cabo de São Vicente, the most southwestern point of Europe.
Best travel time
Besides the great location, the Algarve is blessed by its year-round mild climate with many sunshine hours. From December to February the average coastal temperatures barely get under 16°C (61°F). In the spring months of March to May it’s mostly about 20°C (68°F). The summer months are the driest and hottest months at an average of 28°C (82°F) with sun rays all day long. And the best of all: due to the cool Atlantic winds even high temperatures of over 30°C (86°F) are still bearable. Though, the water temperature of the Atlantic is quite cool with 20°C (68°F) in August and September.
Even though you can visit the Algarve all year round, the best travel time is still from April to October. If you want to avoid the crowds during the summer months, April to June and September to October might be best period for you.
Like every region, there are some places in the Algarve that are worth visiting. Especially if you have a whole week to discover the beautiful spots. From east to west or in other words from Faro to Sagres, find here the top places you should visit on your one-week trip to the Algarve!
Faro is the biggest city and pulsating heart in the Algarve. With an impressive shopping center and high-rise apartments, you get the big-city feeling, although Faro only has 65.000 inhabitants. However, the central area is not very big and easy to walk. The attractive mosaic-paved pedestrianized streets and beautiful gardens at the marina bring you into the vacation mode within seconds. And the university contributes a big part to the nightlife scene.
So you see, in Faro you get everything – from a charming city to a vibrant nightlife. In summer, make sure you check out the gorgeous Praia de Faro. There are busses and boats going to the closest beach of Faro.
After Faro it’s worth to make a stop at Albufeira. It’s situated west of Faro where you don’t get the unspoiled Portugal, but something much better: a fun and attracting city. It’s one of the Algarve’s most charming resorts with an old center, modern shops, bars, and apartments as well as a beautiful beach. So if you’re looking for a picturesque uphill location with whitewashed houses right at the ocean, in Albufeira you are going to find it.
Beaches & Benagil Cave
Between the two cities Albufeira and Portimão, you might want to visit some natural beauties. One of them is the Praia da Albandeira. It’s a wonderful small beach where you can relax and take a break from everyday life. Further to the west you will find the Praia da Marinha, just another beautiful beach with amazing rock formations.
But the highlight on this route is the Benagil Cave, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the southern Algarve. The cave itself is located directly on the beach of the same name Praia de Benagil. The easiest way to reach the cave is to swim from Praia de Benagil 100 meters along the coast and then climb one of the sandy cave entrances. For those who prefer to visit the cave dry can rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board. After climbing up the cave you can enjoy a spectacular view of the entire Algarve coastline.
Portimão is an attractive town with a nice riverfront, little cafés and inexpensive open-air restaurants. At the same time, it’s the largest city in the western Algarve and was once the center for sardine fishing. But the old fishing dock of the city has been transformed into a picturesque promenade that leads to the idyllic and green squares of the old town. Despite the considerable size of 55.000 inhabitants, Portimão has a relaxed atmosphere, unlike the hectic beach resorts of the area.
Lagos & Ponta da Piedade
Lagos is a historic and lively city which has become a popular tourist destination in the past years. The city doesn’t just offer breathtaking beaches, a buzzing nightlife and a charming historic city center that has retained its original character, but also the famous Ponta da Piedade.
It’s a series of weathered cliffs that form the southern promontory of Lagos. The powerful Atlantic Ocean has sculpted caves, stone vaults and sea caves in the colorful sandstone cliffs, so that now these cliffs are considered as a natural phenomenon in the Algarve. The Ponta da Piedade Formation can be seen from the top of the cliffs, but it is much nicer to do a boat tour and see the formation from the water.
Sagres & Cabo de São Vicente
Sagres is the last stop on the Algarve tour and is situated south-west of Portugal. Spread over a flat, headland, it’s not the most beautiful town, but the best address for surfers. So there you will find a number of surf schools and a string of beautiful beaches. The best surf spots for example are at Praia Da Bordeira and Praia da Arrifana.
But most visitors come to Sagres to see the most southwestern point of Europe. The area is called Cabo de São Vicente and has a little light house on the edge of the cliffs. It will take your breath away just to look at the expanse of the sea and to imagine how people in the 15th century have stood in exactly the same place without knowing whether there is anything beyond the horizon. At the same time, it’s the perfect end of the Algarve trip.
Have you ever visited the Algarve? Or are you planning to do so? Let me know in the comments and I can give you more tips about the region.
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