15 August 2018
With over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, a gorgeous golden coastline and an array of activities from golfing to water sports on offer, it’s clear to see why the Algarve is so popular with everyone from couples to families. But with so much to do and see, there are plenty of places that are left to discover and explore aside from the usual places of interest. Here we share our favourite hidden gems in the region, plus our top places to stay and eat.
The capital of the ancient Arab kingdom of Algarve was once the most important city in the area. Head up to the castle built by the Arabs to defend the territory for incredible views over the city and surrounds. Visit in August to absorb the atmosphere at the medieval fair, and make sure to see the artefacts and relics at the Archaeological Museum.
Where to dine: Aside from seafood, try popular dishes from the mountain areas such as Barrocal pork, papas de milho (a polenta maize dish) and delicious folhados (puff pastries.) Quaint Tabernaal Medina in the historic part of the city serves these amongst other dishes using fresh regional produce.
Where to stay: Vila Gale Nautico. The property has outdoor and heated indoor pools, a multipurpose sports field, plus a variety gastronomical offerings and a kids club filled with entertainment and activities.
Lively and carefree, Albuferia has beautiful beaches and plenty of entertainment day and night. Visit the Chapel of Our Lady of Orada, especially during its feast each August, to see a grand procession of colourful boats. The modern marina with its excellent bars and traditional restaurants is a must too.
Where to dine: Try the local specialty of roast chicken with chilli sauce. Restaurant Ramires in Albufeira does this dish to perfection.
Where to stay: The luxurious Pine Cliffs has six swimming pools, a spa and 10 bars and restaurants.
"Street performers and live music are not uncommon in the streets of Albufeira Old Town and make it a lovely place to sit and people watch. Sand sculptures are also a big feature on Fisherman’s Beach."
Andrea, Travel Counsellor
This charming town on the river Gilão shows Arabic and Roman influences throughout its lovely architecture. Head to the anchor graveyard on Borril Beach, a poignant monument where hundreds of anchors once used in tuna fishing stand embedded in the sand. You can also take a leisurely stroll around the meandering streets of the town and discover the remains of the Islamic walls.
Where to dine: Try the regional specialities of tuna salad and octopus at the cosy and casual Restaurant Vale D'el Rei.
Where to stay: Vila Gale Tavira Hotel in the centre of Tavira has Arabic influences in its architecture and facilities including Turkish baths and indoor and outdoor pools.
The gateway to the Algarve and capital of the region, this delightful historic city has plenty to see and do. Climb to the Cape Santa Maria lighthouse, the most southerly point of mainland Portugal, and admire the sea views. In summer spend a day on the beaches of nearby Deserta island, a space untarnished by humankind.
Where to dine: Try the fried seabass with tomato rice, the signature dish of Tertulia Algarvia - an authentic little Portuguese taverna.
Where to stay: Eva Hotel in central Faro has rooms with views of either the marina or the Ria Formosa National Park, plus a fabulous health club and a rooftop pool.
Ready to discover the hidden gems of the Algarve? Get in touch with your Travel Counsellor to discuss your Portuguese holiday.