The lure of the Algarve is plain to see. For almost fifty years many thousands of visitors from all over the world have taken the Algarve to their hearts making it one of the most popular destinations in Europe. At the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula and stretching 155 km from the Spanish border to the western coast of Portugal, the Algarve has put itself firmly on the tourist map. With a classic combination of stunning coast and over 300 days of sunny weather a year it’s not hard to see how.
Over the past twenty years The Algarve has become a golfer’s paradise. A Mecca for sports (many top professional football teams use the area for its pleasant climate and top class warm weather training facilities) the Algarve is probably best known for golf and golfing holidays. It has more than 40 courses in total, 25 of which are within one and a half hours drive from Faro International Airport. With 14 of them listed in Europe’s top100 it’s not surprising that the area was voted by readers of Golfers Today as ‘Best Golf Destination 2008.’ Some of the world-famous golf courses in the area include Boavista, Palmares, and Quinta da Ria. If playing a round of golf each under a warming sun on a manicured course that challenges all abilities then it doesn’t get much better than the Algarve.
But what if you have very little interest in playing golf? Perhaps it’s the 200km of clean beaches, breathtaking cliffs, golden sands and natural bays that make the Algarve simply irresistible. Whilst some of the region, especially between Faro and Portimão, places such as Albufeira and Vilamoura (the largest tourist complex in Europe boasting a Marina, a number of golf courses as well as a casino, night clubs plus plenty of 4 and 5 Star accommodation) have succumbed to tourism, many areas still retain the ability to look after the seasonal arrival of holidaymakers and at the same time keep their charm and local identity. These include towns and villages such as Sagres (a small and charming town on the rugged west coast), Ilha de Tavira or Carrapateira (a little village with a few bars and restaurants popular with surfers.)
The Algarve can be glamorous too. If it’s glitz and glamor you want you don’t have to look too hard to find it in the Algarve. Former fishing village Albufeira with its many bars and clubs now provides almost everything tourist visitors are looking for. Museums and modern galleries and various types of restaurants all vie for attention. Regarded by some as the carnival queen of the Algarve, Lagos, with its small open squares, picturesque churches and maze of narrow streets also attracts a party crowd with its vibrant nightlife.
Peaceful options are available on the Algarve too. Beyond the razzle-dazzle of the Algarve’s beautiful coast the countryside inland also has a huge amount to offer and deserves close inspection. You’ll discover ancient castles, Moorish architecture and fields of wild flowers stretching up and over enchanted hill sides and down into almost forgotten wooded valleys. Amongst the many beautiful towns and villages is Castro Marim, a town with origins as far back as 5000BC, set on the banks of the Guadiana and close to Spain. Tavira is a small but active fishing port set along a peaceful river; it shares the ruins of a hilltop castle, an old Roman bridge and a handful of Gothic and Renaissance churches. Monchique is a picturesque town with splendid views over the steep wooded countryside, a perfect location for a more active hiking, cycling or canoeing holiday.
So variety and alternative choices are something the Algarve can easily provide. From walking to surfing to playing golf, do what you enjoy most in the Algarve.