10 Reasons to Book a Trip to the Algarve

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The Algarve region — touted as Europe’s most favorite secret — is in the southern part of the Portugal, located between Faro and Lagos. It is known for its great beaches, boating on the Atlantic Ocean, world-class golf courses, outdoor activities and delicious cuisine, including access to a record six Michelin-starred restaurants.

The region is already popular among British and Spanish citizens, but now Visit Algarve has teamed with Turismo de Portugal to attract travelers from around the globe. And thanks to TAP Portugal’s free three-day stopover program, which has added more destinations, travelers can visit the Algarve via flights into the region’s Faro Airport. Or, book a flight on one of the 46 airlines serving the airport for a longer stay. Below are 10 reasons why the Algarve should be considered for your next trip to Europe.

The Hotels:

The Algarve is home to more than 500 hotels and nearly 10,000 vacation rentals that fit within every price point. The 280-room Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort, a 15-minute drive from Faro Airport, is close to beaches and to five of the 40 golf courses in the region. The hotel has six restaurants, including Emo, which serves contemporary Portuguese cuisine using locally sourced food. An evening happy hour in the lobby features live Fado singing, along with appetizers. There’s a pool, a spa and an exercise facility. The hotel also offers what it calls Experiences, where guests can do things like a hot air balloon ride and picnic or a food tour in Ria Formosa Lagoon Natural Park, one of the country’s seven natural wonders.

Another hotel option is the Hotel Bela Vista and Spa, located right on the beach and considered to be the first hotel in the region, dating back to 1918. The facility, perched on the cliff of Praia da Rocha, has 38 individually designed rooms. It also has the coveted Relais & Châteaux designation, given to individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants around the world. The hotel is home to a L’Occitane-branded spa.

The Beaches:

The Algarve is home to 130 beaches that cover nearly 125 miles of coastline. Temperatures in the region range from 75 to 90 degrees in the summer and 60 to 65 degrees in the winter and visitors are treated to 300 days of sunshine a year. Eighty-two of the region’s beaches have the Blue Flag certification from the Foundation for Environmental Education, which requires following a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety-related and access-related guidelines. Among the most popular beaches in the region are Meia Praia in Lagos, Ilha de Tavira across from Ria Formosa natural park and Praia da Marinha, located between Carvoeiro and Albufeira.

The Food:

The 2017 Michelin guide lists 21 Portugal restaurants — five with two stars and 16 with one star. The Algarve has the most on the list, with four one-star and two six-star restaurants. Among those with one star is Restaurante Bon Bon, headed by Chef Rui Silvestre. The chef uses local food and wines to create food he calls “artisan cuisinier” that highlights local foods, herbs and wines. Another great eatery is the Vista Restaurante at the Hotel Bela Vista and Spa, run by Chef Joao Oliveira, winner of the Boa Cama Boa Mesa guide’s Gold Fork award, the country’s version of a Michelin star.

While in the region, visitors should be sure to try local Algarvian scarlet prawns, razor clams, grilled sardines or octopus, Iberico ham made from pork fed with acorns, salted codfish and clams in a cataplana, a traditional dish cooked in a clam-shaped copper pan. For dessert, there’s the country’s signature Pastel de Nata, pastries filled with a sweet custard topped with a sugar ​brulee. Another popular dessert is Doce Fino, an almond paste-based marzipan that comes in different shapes such as fruit and animals.

The Wines and Ports:

Portugal has long been known for its port, a fortified wine — authentic Portuguese port bottles are marked with “Porto” on the label. The Algarve is home to four wine regions (Denominação de Origem Controlada): Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira. The region is known for its white and red varietals from wineries including Quinta dos Vales, which produces a range of red, white and rose wines at different price points. It also features the art of owner Karl Heinz Stock. Other wineries in the region are Paxa Wines, Quinta do Barranco Longo and Quinta do Francês.

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