The Algarve is one of the best-loved regions in Portugal. Located on the southern tip of the country, it is famous for its thriving tourism industry, and attracts thousands of sun-hungry visitors every summer. Get off the beaten track, though, and you’ll find that the Algarve is also full of many quieter and more secluded spots. Here are four to look into if you’re planning a trip…
Tavira is a small town situated on the coast along the banks of the Gilão River. The town’s top historical attractions include the castle ruins, an old Roman bridge and several Gothic and Renaissance churches. However, the pretty cobblestoned streets also make it a wonderful place to just wander and get lost in. For the best sightseeing and shopping opportunities, head to the northern side of the river — if you’re on a budget, stick to the south. Don’t forget too that the nearby island beaches (only accessible by boat) are kept in immaculate condition and make for a fantastic half-day trip of sunbathing and swimming.
Located in the western Algarve, Lagos is for adventurers! The waters are clear, making snorkeling and diving a joy, and there are also opportunities to go kayaking. If you prefer to stay on dry land, maybe you can take to two wheels with a spot of mountain biking, or even to horseback a little outside Lagos and just canter along! For something a little more sophisticated you can go wine tasting, and to soak up some atmosphere, try the Lagos fish market where as well as seafood there is other local produce such as fresh fruit and bread.
Not everything worth seeing in the Algarve is located on the coast. Head inland and you’ll find amazing towns like Loulé. 16km northwest of Faro, Loulé is famous for its commercial business centre and weekend farmer’s market. It also has a fascinating old quarter and is home to the ruins of a Moorish castle (which now houses a museum). Visit on a Saturday for a day trip — and don’t forget to pick up some local meats and cheeses at the market.
Another inland destination in the Algarve is Silves. This picturesque town is situated on the hills above the Arade River and is an excellent destination if you’re seeking a quieter pace of life. The biggest draws for tourists here are the well-preserved red-walled castle, the 13th-century cathedral, and the quaint town square. Down at the river, you’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars, and many opportunities for peaceful walks by the water.
For the best Algarve holidays, don’t just settle for the first package deal you spot. Try a site like Villa Plus and research some different destinations. Then you can plan a trip that’s really something special.