Listen, nothing against Lisbon; I recommend anybody with any interest in a beautiful city and Portuguese culture to visit Lisbon. But the city had enough time in the spotlight, being the prime supplier of tourist revenue in Portugal. I’d like to point you to a different, equally beautiful area of the country: the Algarve. The southernmost region of continental Portugal has been voted the best place to retire in 2016.
Let’s look at what makes the placeso special.
The Algarve region of Portugal has over 3000 hours of sunshine per year, a fact that gave the region the nickname California of Europe. Even winter is much sunnier there, with an average temperature of 18 °C during the day. It’s the sunny weather combined with a high standard of living that drive people to move here. Portugal is safe and has a good healthcare system, and its popularity among tourists leaves the populated areas and businesses wealthy and well-equipped.
Even though Lisbon still ropes in the most tourist revenue, the Algarve is considered the most important tourist region in Portugal, with its population almost tripling during holiday seasons. The coastline is practically littered with resorts and holiday lettings: https://www.holidu.co.uk/holiday-lettings/portugal/algarve.
We’re looking at three destinations today:
- The luxurious Golden Triangle
- The Capital Faro
- The Resort Town Albufeira
The Capital, Faro, is naturally a hotspot, but so is the Golden Triangle, just outside of Faro. It spans between the resort town Vilamoura (Monaco of Portugal), the Village Almancil (home to three Michelin Star Restaurants), and the luxury gated Communities Quinta do Lago & Vale do Lobo (hosts of golf tournaments like the Portuguese Open).
Considering prudent lifestyle and financial choices, I’ll assume most of you don’t have the budget to sleep in a high luxury resort and to eat in the most expensive restaurants. But especially the marina in Vilamoura is worth a visit. You can walk along the rows of fancy yachts and drink a coffee among all these wealthy people who get attracted by this town.
Maybe you might consider a cruise to the Mediterranean as a more relaxed way of travelling. There are many cruises from Southampton.
Faro is often just a stop on a holiday in the Algarve. The city is worth a trip, though. It is full of historic attractions, rooftop bars, and saltwater lagoons. Since it’s a student town, the shopping streets and plazas with cafés and bars are always vibrant.
I’d recommend it for a trip for grown-ups or families with older children. You can discover historical locations like the Capela dos Ossos, a little chapel next to the Igreja do Carmo church, that is decorated with the skulls and bones of 1,200 monks.
It’s not a typical beach and resort kind of holiday, though. The major city is not beautified to charm tourists, and there are no beaches nearby. But I don’t consider these facts to be bad. If you want a more authentic Portuguese experience, Faro is the place to go.
Albufeira is great for both a relaxed and a more energized holiday. It is the largest and liveliest resort town on the coastline. Since it’s so big, it has a wide range of different things to offer. From its sandy beaches to all kinds of activities like dolphin watching or deep-sea fishing. It’s a holiday destination, so it caters to families. You won’t have to worry about activities that are suited for kids. You can find beaches with shallow clear water where you can play with your toddlers and theme or water parks in the area to entertain your teens.
There is the old town with its traditional Portuguese cobblestone roads and plazas, charming shops, cafés, and restaurants. It’s connected to the Praia dos Pescadores, a relatively sheltered and calm beach for families.
If you want more action, you can check out the new town’s bustling strip. Especially at night, this is where you find many nightlife attractions like themed bars and clubs. Watch out, this area actively encourages partying and drinking, so it does not suit everybody’s tastes and is certainly not child-friendly. But with the separation between the old and new town, it’s easy to actively go looking for what interests you without having to deal with the other end.
Late spring or early autumn are the best times of year to visit the south of Portugal. This way you avoid tourist masses and the extreme temperatures during the summer months. Theoretically, you can comfortably spend time on the beach from May to October. Even the winter months are mild, but they can be a bit unpredictable.
If you want to visit a city like Faro rather than having a beach holiday, you can visit all year round.
Portugal is a beautiful holiday destination. The sunny Algarve has a good infrastructure, beautiful towns, and plenty of beaches to visit. When you look for affordable holiday lettings, you have total control over the location and the kind of holiday you want to have. From relaxed holidays by the beach to luxury restaurants and historic locations – the Algarve has a bit of everything.