Sandy stretches as far as the eye can see, framed by golden cliffs, virtually deserted islands marking the boundary between Ria Formosa and the sea, and small coves sheltered by the rocks. The ocean, in every shade of blue and mostly calm and warm, invites you for long swims and to indulge in water sports.
Let us reveal a secret: the word Algarve comes from the Arabic “Al Gharb”, meaning “West”, but if you’ve been here before you know that it could also mean sun and sea. The sun shines brightly in the Algarve for around 300 days a year, during spring and summer naturally, but in autumn and winter as well. You’ll find a coastline almost 200 km long, over 100 beaches, more than 50 of which fly the blue flag, and better still, a huge variety of landscapes, cliffs, endless stretches of sand, inlets, islands, lagoons, some of them well-known, others still secret and accessible only to those who know the way.
It's easy to find somewhere to stay for your dream holiday in the Algarve. There is a wide variety of excellent accommodation, apartments and villas for rent all around the region.
Between the blueness of the sea and the sky, there’s another colour that’ll catch your eye in the Algarve: green. It’s the best kind of green, the green of around forty golf courses covering the whole region, which has been twice named the best golf destination in the world by the most prestigious golfing organisations and publications. When you play golf in the Algarve you’ll discover the pleasure of playing to the sound of the waves, the birds and the wind rustling through the leaves of the trees shading you from the strong rays of the sun that shines all year-round.
Whether you want to relax or restore your energy, you’ll find a multitude of options, from thalassotherapy, therapeutic massage, sports massage, manual lymphatic drainage and hot stone massage to alternative therapies like reflexology, yoga, tai-chi or reiki. Caldas de Monchique, for example, is a natural spa in the Serra de Monchique and has been renowned since Roman times, when it was known as “Aguas Sagradas” (Sacred Waters).
Thankfully the passing of time has not diminished our cultural heritage, which continues to harbour secrets to be discovered in-between your trips to the beach. Monuments, century-old customs, religious rites and craft markets are a living heritage handed down from father to son and from local people to visitors. As for the food, it’s all about gathering the best that the sea and the land have to offer: fish and shellfish stews, clam cataplanas, sweets based on figs and almonds and wines from the DOP sub-regions of Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira, although not everything is traditional: the Algarve is the Portuguese region with the highest number of Michelin stars. Look up from all this entire heritage and you will discover the symbol of the region, the result of five centuries of Islamic occupation: the chimneys of the Algarve. Just like our own individual experiences in life, no two of them are alike.
Give the beach a rest, pack your rucksack and cross the Algarve along the Via Algarviana, a 300 km footpath that begins in Alcoutim and ends at Cabo de São Vicente in Vila do Bispo, crossing several towns that still live according to the traditions of the rural world. The Algarvian microclimate provides the perfect conditions for environmental tourism, with idyllic landscapes like the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, Ponta de Sagres, where the eastern and southern coasts meet, creating a unique marine ecosystem, the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, with its 60 km of islands and channels forming a birdwatcher’s paradise, the Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim, where you’ll find one of the largest flamingo habitats in Europe and many other places where nature remains untouched.
Some people say the Algarve has become one of the most successful business destinations in Europe because of its year-round pleasant climate, the variety of its Mediterranean food, its historical and cultural heritage and, naturally its landscape, which combines heavenly beaches with the well-kept secrets of the mountain range. Others argue that it attracts companies from every corner of the world because of the growing number of luxury hotels, providing the perfect conditions to host large conferences, small meetings and incentive travel, whether in a conference hall, a historic building or during a golf match, but both of them are certain about one thing: Faro International Airport receives professionals from Europe’s major capital cities every day and many of them answer “no” to the question: is this your first time in the Algarve?