Seven things you need to know before you visit the Algarve
Are you interested in holiday in the Algarve this year? The southern region of Portugal grows in popularity every year as more tourists discover the beautiful beaches, fantastic cuisine and friendly locals. But there are still plenty of things to learn and amazing places that many visitors overlook or don’t get to see. Here are seven things that you need to know before you visit the Algarve.
It’s amazing out of season
The Algarve is well-known as a sunny beachside destination. You might assume, then, that the summer is the optimal time to visit and that any other time of year it is disappointing. But this isn’t true at all. In fact, if anything the Algarve can be better to visit outside of the summer months. In the summer it is both exceptionally hot and crowded on the beaches as Portuguese holidaymakers are joined by foreign tourists seeking the sun.
Visiting in the spring or the autumn will ensure that the beaches will be quiet. The weather (considered too cold by many Portuguese) remains in the early 20s through the autumn and is still regularly climbs above 20 degrees the spring.
Don’t miss out on Faro
The vast majority of visitors to the Algarve will fly in to Faro Airport. But something that is interesting is the fact that most travellers will overlook the actual city of Faro in favour of more commercial resort towns but this can be a mistake. Faro actually offers some of the most interested sights in the region with charming Moorish architecture and medieval streets.
Faro makes an excellent choice if you’re looking from a base to stay somewhere cultured and comfortable, and then travelling around the area.
It’s easy to find culture
It is also assumed by many holidaymakers thinking of planning a trip, that the Algarve is a region that is purely for people who want to sunbathe and swim. To assume this, however, is to miss out of some of the best aspects of the countryside. The Algarve is definitely somewhere that you can get off the beaten track and find some adventure and culture.
It’s worth heading in land to Loule where you will find a traditional Portuguese market, or explore the village of Olhao for an interesting look at the Islamic architecture here.
Eat what the locals eat
When you come a holiday destination like the Algarve, it’s natural that many of the restaurants will be designed to cater for the tastes of tourists. Unfortunately it is true that many of the places to eat in the most obviously locations are effectively just a tourist trap, serving fairly bland food that with neither offend nor excite anyone. So don’t make the mistake of dining here. There are many fantastic places to eat around the Algarve and you can usually find the best places by establishing where the locals eat and following their lead.
It should be noted that if you are trying local food and you are vegetarian, there is something you need to be aware of. The popular and delicious local dish caldo verde is often translated on menus as ‘vegetable soup’ (it literally means ‘green broth’) but it usually contains tiny pieces of sausage to add to the depth of flavour, making it entirely unsuitable for non-meat eaters.
There are beaches for everyone
Of course, one of the best reasons to visit the Algarve is naturally for the beaches. And no matter what you are looking for from your beach, the region has something for you. The picturesque and famous Praia da Marinha is one of Portugal’s greatest beauty spots. Those looking for a lively and friendly atmosphere will enjoy Meia Praia at Lagos. While if you are looking for something remote and quiet, Praia de Vale Figueira is a good choice.
A great place to surf
As well as having beaches perfectly suited to relaxation and enjoying time with your family, there are plenty too that are known for the quality of their waves. These are fantastic surf beaches and can be a great place to learn if you have never tried it before. Praia de Arrifana has several surf schools based nearby – or if you’re an experienced surfer you can get out there and enjoy the thrills.
You shouldn’t miss out on the wine
You also might not be aware that Portuguese wine is fast developing an excellent reputation. There are a number of vineyards and wineries on the Algarve including many that you can tour including the Vila Vita Parc Wine Cellar and the Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate.